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Gym Perks

We’ve only been in Cleveland a few days….and we’ve already joined a gym! We definitely have our priorities in order! I haven’t actually belonged to a gym since living in Chicago which was about a year ago. I’m pretty excited to actually have all the amenities I want and workout classes at my disposal! I did just fine in my apartment gyms…but there are certain pieces of equipment I’m happy to let back in my life. Here are just a few of those!

Swiss Ball


I’m sure most of you have some experience with swiss balls. But there are so many different exercises you can do with it! Here are some of my favs:

  • Hamstring Curls- These are a great hamstring exercise. You start by laying down on your back resting your feet (legs straight), on top of the swiss ball. Next, you lift your butt and hips off the ground and bend your knees towards your chest. When you start bending your knees, you also start rolling the ball towards you. Then, you straighten back out, rolling the ball out again. The whole time keeping your hips off the ground. If this is too easy for you (then you’re a freak), then you can try this one leg at a time. Really hard!
  • Crunches– Crunches on swiss ball’s make it so much harder! Sitting on the swiss ball with feet flat on the floor, walk your feet forward until the ball is under your hips and low back. Next, just do a regular crunch until the middle of your back is off the ball, then lower. You can put your feet against a wall to feel more stable (while still on the ground), or pick your legs up and place your feet against the wall so they’re at 90 degrees, which is more challenging. There are lots of variations of ab exercises on swiss balls so they’re nice to have around!
  • Pushups- There are a couple different ways you can perform pushups with a swiss ball. I like doing them with my hands on the ground (basically in normal pushup position), but my feet are resting on the swiss ball instead of the ground. This really works your chest hard! Another challenging way you can do pushups with a swiss ball is with your hands actually on the ball. I find this pretty hard because I feel like I’m going to fall down, and I usually do. So, whenever I try this I push the ball in a corner of the room so it can’t roll around. That helps!

Medicine Ball


Medicine balls are basically weighted balls. They come in all sorts of weights so you can do quite a bit with them. Here are a couple exercise suggestions:

  • Wall Balls- All you Crossfitter’s out there might know what I’m talking about. Basically, you hold a medicine ball between both hands, squat down, then as you come up toss the ball up and against the wall, then catch it and squat back down repeating the sequence again. It’s a great exercise because it works your lower and upper body and also gets your heart pumping. When I’ve been in smaller gyms I’ve also just thrown the ball in the air and caught it.
  • Russian Twist– This is another great ab exercise! You start by either sitting down with legs bent, feet on the floor, or legs bent, feet in the air (like a table top position). Holding the ball in both hands, lower your upper body backwards until you find your center of balance (this should be a challenge to hold this position). Next, rotate towards the right then to the left, and back again. Lifting your legs off the ground makes this harder.
  • Pushups– There are so many variations of pushups! This one is also pretty tough. You can start either in full pushup position or with knees on the ground. One hand is on the ground, while the other is resting on the medicine ball. Next, you do a pushup, then roll the ball to the other hand so that hand is now resting on the ball. I can only do a couple of these with my knees off the ground, they’re pretty hard!

Bosu Ball


I love bosu balls! If I weren’t so cheap I would totally buy one! They are a great way to make your workouts harder. They add lack of stability which is always good for the core. Here are just a few exercises I do with them…there are so many more though!

  • Squats- With the blue side facing down, I basically just get on the bosu (I made that sound’s not) and do regular squats. I used to do these quite a bit. Once I did them a few times, getting on the bosu wasn’t so tricky. At first, you might need to start by holding onto something. Once you get used to it though, you can add weights to the squats to make it harder. Getting on the thing is hard enough, even before the squat!
  • Pushups-See? There are so many ways to do pushups, it’s crazy! Using the bosu, I put the blue side facing down, then both my hands on the black side. Then I just do a regular pushup! You could also switch this up by resting your feet on that side instead and keeping your hands on the ground.
  • Crunches-Crunches on the bosu are pretty tough. With the black side down, you basically lay on the bosu so the middle of your back is on the middle of the ball. Then all you do is a regular crunch. The slope of the ball makes it much more difficult though!

Those are just a couple pieces of equipment I look forward to using again. I also can’t wait to start taking classes! I’m going to one today called, hopefully I’ll gain some of that soon!

Besides the exercise equipment, it’s also nice to have the stretching aides at your disposal. Here are the ones I try to always use:

Stretching Strap


We used these quite a bit when I worked in a physical therapy clinic. You can use them to stretch a lot of different muscles! If you don’t have one laying around, you could also use a belt (which is what I do when I don’t have a gym!).

  • Hamstring Stretch- Laying on my back, I keep one leg straight on the ground, and place the other foot in the strap. I straighten that leg and pull it towards me until I can no longer keep it straight. I try to hold that stretch for about 30 seconds, 3 times.
  • IT Band Stretch- To stretch my IT band on the side of my leg, I start in the same position, except I bring the leg in the strap slightly across my body until I feel a stretch. Then, I try to hold that for about 30 seconds.

Foam Roller


I love foam rollers! I think foam rollers become every runner’s best friend at some point. When I’m running a lot, I try to use them as much as possible. I’ve had IT band and piriformis issues before so I know I need to foam roll to loosen up. It can hurt at first, but that just means your tight! You’ll notice a difference after rolling your muscles a couple times.

  • Foam Roll IT Band- I try to do this as much as possible. Basically all you do is place the foam roll under the side of the leg you want to roll out, for example, my right outer thigh. You move your body back and forth therefore rolling the roller up and down . Just try to avoid rolling it over your bones! You can use the foam roller anywhere…over your hamstrings, calfs, back, quads, etc. It’s basically a massage so it helps loosen up tight muscles.



Those are some of my gym favorites! Do you have any other exercises suggestions using these tools? I gotta get ready for my Muscle class now…or maybe I’ll just go downstairs and work on a puzzle with the old folk :).


4 comments to Gym Perks

  • Glad you already found a gym! I bet that makes you feel pretty excited about your new city AND a rest from training for the marathon = lots of great gym time.

  • Very helpful post! At home, my parents have a medicine ball and a Swiss ball but I don’t think anyone knows how to properly use them. To be honest, I think they just like throwing the balls around especially since my brother is 7 and that is exactly what little boys like to do lol.

  • Amy

    haha thats so funny. my husband actually bought one for working out but it’s usually just thrown around too. its hard to see your house as a gym sometimes haha definitely am more productive in a gym!

  • Glad you are getting comfortable in Cleveland. These are some of my favorite pieces of equipment also. Hamstring curls on the swiss (or stability) ball are on of my favorites. You really feel it. Way better than the weight machines. I love doing pikes and ab roll ins with the ball too.

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