FITNESS EQUIPMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
While thinner mats may be fine for some yoga applications, I prefer a mat that's a little thicker when doing floor work with my clients (or on my own, for that matter). The extra cushioning goes a long way in adding comfort to seated moves and those performed on your back, stomach, elbows, etc.
I've used these bands in the studio and as part of my in-home personal training, and I like them a lot. This particular set is adjustable, and the handles are made of a hard plastic (no flimsy foam that will degrade over time).
Exercise Stability Ball
Turns out those big funny inflatable balls you may have seen have a ton of versatility when it comes to fitness training. They can turn nearly every move you do seated on one into core and balance work, can be used as a bench (one that wobbles!), and can even be used as mild resistance themselves. Adding this to your "home gym" instantly adds a boatload of exercise options. Stability balls are sold in different sizes based on how tall the user is, so be sure to get the correct size for your height.
Push Up Handles
The push up is a basic, functional and effective move, and with the addition of push up bars/handles, you can increase the range of motion and make it that much better. Some personal training clients have mentioned that they also remove some pressure from the wrists while performing push ups.
Medicine balls are an old school piece of fitness equipment that can add fun and variety to your workouts. They come in handy for core and power work, and unlike a dumbbell you can throw them! There are plenty of brands and styles out there, but I've enjoyed Cap Barbell's medicine balls' simplicity of design and easy-to-grip coating. They come in various sizes, and for most of my clients, the 6 pounder was a good place to start.
A stopwatch is almost a must-have, especially if you don't have a clock with a second hand where you're working out. Though I have a stopwatch app on my cell phone, I still use my simple digital stopwatch rather than put wear and tear on the phone and use up its battery. My biggest uses are tracking exercise duration and rest intervals, two important parameters in workout design. As such, I don't need a ton of bells and whistles...or a high price tag.
An aerobic step can be a nice addition to your home gym. I've used the 14 inch step from The Step, and it's sturdy and doesn't take up much space. If you need a little more room, elect for a wider step. I like the fact that you can add or remove the stacking pieces to alter the height. The link here appears to be the 12 inch version, which for most people is plenty. Steps aren't just for stepping! They can be used in squatting, lunging, plyometric work, seated moves or to elevate your feet for chair dips or push ups.
The kettlebell is another piece of equipment that can be quite effective and spice up your workouts. In fact, I've designed entire workouts for clients that use nothing but kettlebells. They allow you to do pretty much anything you can do with a dumbbell, with the added bonus of having the ability to swing the weight. As with all exercise types, do your homework, start light and master proper form. These come in a wide variety of sizes and coatings. I've historically liked Cap's simple black design. Again...everything you need, and nothing you don't. Simple is good.
A pedometer's basic function is to track your total steps over a given period of time. You can use this information to increase your total steps each day, thereby increasing your calories burned. As pedometers go, this appeared to be the best in its class in terms of accuracy and ease of use, based on research and ratings. I bought one some time ago and was pleased with the simple setup. People often underestimate the power of walking as an exercise for weight loss. Every step counts, every day....and a pedometer gives you a way to easily track and increase your movement.
PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbbells
I know, I know....they aren't cheap. But here's why I invested in my own set of these bad boys: they save a LOT of space, adjust weights in a flash, and are durable. The set I use with my personal training clients is the "Classic" design, and is adjustable from 5 to 50 pounds in each hand. They make several types with various features now, and I've liked all that I've used. I've had several clients purchase their own set. They initially appear blocky, but I've never had anyone complain that their hand couldn't fit or felt boxed in, and in general I find that they feel like a typical dumbbell in your hands. There are alternatives out there, but having dealt with the ones that make use of vertically-positioned plates that get stuck in their base due to inferior locking mechanisms, I really do prefer the PowerBlocks. Remember, read reviews and make an informed choice. I have yet to encounter a problem with mine or my clients'.