Anyone who has ever watched me workout knows three things: 1) I work really hard, 2) I do weird stuff, and 3) I use equipment in ways it probably wasn't meant to be used. This is because when it comes to fitness, I have ADHD. Doing the same workout day-in and day-out absolutely bores me to tears, so I'm always looking for ways to switch up my routine. So, when I was recently given the opportunity to test out a few pieces of equipment from Empower Fitness, I jumped at the chance. Check out what I discovered and how I incorporated their equipment into my routine in normal (and abnormal!) ways:
Portable Pilates Studio
The Portable Pilates Studio is one of those pieces of equipment that makes you say, "That's genius! Why didn't I think of that?" The equipment is simple, portable and effective, making it easy to take your workout with you wherever you go.
Even though the Portable Pilates Studio was designed to perform Reformer-like, full-body toning exercises at home, I quickly saw about a million other ways to put it to use, including using it as:
- a "rowing machine"
- a tool for making jumping jacks more difficult (targeting your inner & outer thighs!)
- a way to add resistance to exercises like squats, shoulder press and more
Check out my video review to see a few of these exercises in action:
When it comes to performing the exercises it was designed for, the Portable Pilates Studio does those, too. Empower Fitness provides instructions for six exercises online and also provides a Long & Lean instructional video led by Gin Miller on YouTube, making it easy for even the Pilates novice to get started with an at-home routine.
For anyone who travels regularly or is looking for a way to tone up at home without investing in a lot of equipment, the Portable Pilates Studio makes for a common sense purchase at only $24.99.
Weighted Walking Vest
I'm a big fan of weighted vests, but you don't usually see them flying off the shelves in the women's department at Sports Authority. I think this is primarily due to the fact that most weighted vests on the market are big, bulky and masculine-looking, and many women just don't understand what the benefit of wearing one could be. So, when I tested out the Empower Weighted Walking Vest, I was pretty pleased. Here's why:
- The eight-pound maximum weight is appropriate for women who want to take advantage of the benefits of a weighted vest without feeling weighed down (not to say women can't handle more than eight pounds - they can! - but for most women, eight pounds is plenty).
- The vest is a feminine purple color and the cut is more flattering than the full-torso vests found in most stores.
- The variable four to eight pound weight limit allows you to alter your workout accordingly - for instance, you can remove the weighted bars while doing plyometric exercises, then add them back in when you head out to walk your dog.
- It's comfortable! The vest is filled with sand and the material is a spandex/lycra blend that ensure a close, but comfortable fit.
So why would someone want to wear a weighted vest? Simply put, carrying more weight enables you to burn more calories. And unlike dumbbells, ankle or wrist weights, a weighted vest distributes the weight evenly around your body, making it safe and effective to use while performing cardiovascular exercises.
To learn more, check out my video review:
I'm particularly fond of using the vest while jumping rope and doing plyos. Just keep in mind that if you're doing any exercise that requires you to lie down on the floor, the additional weighted bars could interfere with your position or cause discomfort - you may not want to add the additional weight when doing this type of exercise.
The vest is available for $39.99 or less at a variety of retailers including Amazon.com.
Cardio Core & More Fitness Hoop
I've been wanting to try hooping for awhile, so I was thrilled to test out the Cardio Core & More Fitness Hoop. This three-pound hoop can be taken apart into eight separate sections and reconfigured several ways to alter the intensity of your exercise routine. Plus, the fact that it can be taken apart makes it easy to travel with and use wherever you happen to be.
The great thing about hooping is that it really is fun - I have the hoop sitting in my living room, and every time I walk past, I can't resist grabbing it and hula hooping for a couple minutes. It engages my core, gets my heart rate up and helps me add activity to my day - something that is super important since I spend most of my time sitting in front of a computer! The hoop also comes with a DVD that walks you through a number of fun hooping exercises that are really creative and help break up what could eventually become a boring routine.
The thing I was most surprised by was that the hoop became a great post-run cool down for me. My back has a tendency to "lock up" after a run, and one night by chance, I grabbed the hoop and gave it a whirl. The combination of the weighted hoop "massaging" my low back and the side-to-side rocking motion of my hips really seemed to help loosen things up and prevent me from suffering from my normal post-run lock down.
Empower Fitness offers two different hula hoops for purchase, but the weighted hoop that comes with the workout DVD is priced at $39.99.
All-in-all, I'm a firm believer that the more pieces of exercise equipment you have readily available and visible in your home, the more active you'll end up being (there have been studies that prove this). So, keeping the hoop, weighted vest and portable Pilates studio close at hand have already increased my general daily activity. Granted, none of these routines will completely replace my current workout, but all of them will continue to supplement what I'm already doing.
To learn more about the company and the other products they offer, check out the Empower Fitness website. Also, be sure to enter to win a Strength & Tone Kit from Empower available on our giveaways page until April 1, 2012.