Can’t find a nearby gym? These pieces of indoor workout equipment make it easy and convenient to stay on top of your fitness goals right from the comfort of home
Whether you’re hoping to begin an exercise program to work your way back into shape, add a new element to spice up your regular fitness routine or push yourself to a higher level of performance, the start of a new year can be the spark of motivation you need.
Getting started can be a daunting — and expensive — proposition, but it doesn’t have to be, not even for those with spinal-cord injury or disease (SCI/D).
People with SCI/D can use many pieces of exercise equipment with little to no modification, according to Kenneth Lee, MD, a rehabilitation physician who specializes in spinal-cord injury medicine and adaptive sports medicine at the Milwaukee Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
“Everybody thinks for adaptive sports, they need some specialty equipment. Yeah, if you really get to the elite level, you do,” Lee says. “However, they can go to the sports store, Dunham’s or Sports Authority or whatever. … Everything that’s over there, they can use — weight sets, dumbbells.”
Those on a particularly tight budget can get the benefits of exercise without any additional cost.
“They don’t need to go get something special,” Lee adds. “Their endurance exercise is their own wheelchair. They just need to use it.”
However, for those people looking for some specific gear to incorporate into their workout plans, here are a few pieces of equipment to consider.
No matter if you’re looking to improve your strength, endurance or aerobic capacity, an ergometer, also known as a hand bike, can help you reach your goals.
“Once you are able to do some more intense exercise, the best thing out there is the arm ergometer,” Lee says.
Ergometers are available in many forms, but if you’re looking for a smaller, less expensive piece of equipment, the MagneTrainer-ER Mini Exercise Bike Arm and Leg Exerciser may fit the bill.
Its pedals have molded hand grips for comfortable hand pedaling. If you prefer or require vertical hand orientation, optional ergo handles are available for $39 a pair.
The MagneTrainer’s pedals are bidirectional, which allows you to exercise different muscle groups. It uses magnetic resistance allowing for an adjustable degree of difficulty. The company says this provides twice the resistance range of its competitors. The electronic display allows you track speed, distance, time and calories burned.
With a 16-inch base and a weight of 22 pounds, the MagneTrainer is relatively compact and portable and can easily be mounted on a table. The steel base helps offer a sturdy, stable workout, an important consideration.
$159.99, magnetrainer.com or 877-426-3292.
Hit The Slopes
If you’re looking for a more intense workout, the Concept 2 SkiErg might be right for you. It was for Dan McCoy. McCoy, who won a gold medal with the U.S. national sled hockey team at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, was looking for a way to increase his endurance. The SkiErg caught his eye.
The SkiErg uses flywheel resistance, similar to some stationary bicycles, to simulate the motions of Nordic skiing, but it also can be an effective upper-body-only training device.
McCoy, who was born with spina bifida, contacted the manufacturers to make sure the SkiErg would fit his needs. The 21-year-old is pursuing a degree in rehabilitation science and sports medicine and encourages anybody with SCI/D who’s wondering about the suitability of a piece of equipment to do the same.
“The way I adapted it to fit sled hockey, for me, is I just put a workout bench in the middle of the machine, so I can sit on the bench while I’m pulling with my arms,” McCoy says. “It’s just all resistance. It’s based on a windmill kind of thing, so the harder you pull, the more resistance the wheel exerts. It builds up your endurance for the most part and your strength if you crank it up.”
The SkiErg includes a monitor that tracks distance, speed, pace, calories burned and watts. You can also do pre-set workouts and with its Bluetooth connectivity can download information to devices or even race those on other machines.
$770 (plus $180 for floor stand), concept2.com or 800-245-5676
There are lots of ways to gauge your workouts, but for a lot of people one important measure can still be found on the bottom line, on a scale. Lilypad Scales offers those with SCI/D or other mobility issues the opportunity to track their progress by weighing themselves at home.
The Lilypad consists of four pads, each its own scale, one for each wheel of a wheelchair. Each of those pads attach to a mat, ensuring they’re in the proper configuration for your wheelchair.
The Lilypad also takes advantage of wireless technology, allowing the pads to communicate with your smartphone, combining the individual weights to get a total. It’s compatible with Apple Health and Google Fit.
Another big advantage of the Lilypad is its size. The Lilypad is less than ¾ of an inch tall and weighs just 7 pounds. The pads are small and lightweight, resulting in a less expensive scale.
The Lilypad works only for manual wheelchairs, though the company website adds that they’re developing versions for power wheelchairs and scooters.
$628, lilypadscales.com or 855-590-5459.
Row Your Boat
Rowing has taken Angela Madsen many places. The 55-year-old Marine Corps veteran has rowed across both the Atlantic and Indian oceans, for instance. But Madsen believes the sport can take anyone a long way, even if they never leave their own homes.
Madsen not only has competed in two Paralympic games, she has competed in two different sports, placing seventh in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games in rowing and winning a bronze medal in the shot put in the 2012 London Paralympic Games. And Madsen is a big proponent of the Concept 2 rowing machines.
“Rowing is all-inclusive,” says Madsen. “Everyone, from (those with) autism and TBI (traumatic brain injury) through high-level quads can use the Concept 2. It’s a piece of home exercise equipment that every member of the family can use that has more return for all, including those that don’t use the legs and slide.”
Concept 2 specifically offers the ability to modify its rowers for adaptive athletes, including specially made tractor seats that offer a wider, more stable base, and make it easier to get on and off the rower. There are also third-party add-ons available. There are adaptive rowing races for those with a competitive streak.
“I’d love to see them add indoor rowing racing at the (National) Veterans Wheelchair Games,” Madsen says. The Model D rower features a quick-release framelock mechanism, allowing it to be separated into two pieces for easy storage.
$900, concept2.com or 800-245-5676.
Resistance Is Not Futile
One thing McCoy and Lee both emphasized is that simple equipment can produce terrific results. Resistance bands are a good example. SPRI offers Xertube Resistance Band Exercise with door attachments that can be the base of a great strength training workout that you can take with you anywhere you go.
Bands are inexpensive and versatile, being commonly used in a wide variety of workout programs. They offer progressive resistance, allowing you to tailor a workout to your own level of strength.
The SPRI Xertubes give you the option for even more control. They’re available in three different lengths — very light/light (44 inches), medium (50 inches) or heavy/ultra (53 inches).
They also offer five levels of resistance, helpfully color-coded — very light (yellow), light (green), medium (red), heavy (blue) and ultra heavy (purple). As a general guideline, the SPRI website (spri.com) notes the single-strand yellow tubes offer approximately 10 pounds of resistance, with the green offering 20 pounds, the red 30 pounds, the blue 40 pounds and the purple 50 pounds. Dual-stranded tubing, which is also available, offers approximately double the resistance.
The SPRI Xertubes are made of high quality rubber created using a dipped process instead of extruded, increasing durability.
$14.98–$18.98, spri.com or 800-222-7774.