Fitness Equipment: Sun PT Recommends

Looking for some new equipment for your home gym? As a physical therapy clinic, we love trying out new items. Here’s a list of some of our current favorites. 

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(Please note that the list below is not medical advice and, when necessary, we suggest you consult your doctor or treating clinician before purchasing.)

Theraband exercise ball

Average retail cost: $20-$30.

Why we love it: Nothing quite like it.

Listen up on this one because we’re kind of exercise ball experts here.  As PTs, we’ve been working with these things since day one, literally. And we’ve tried many of the different brands. But honestly, the tried and true Theraband brand is the Sun Physical Therapy favorite. Simply put, this is the quintessential exercise ball. It’s study. It’s durable. It does what it says it’s going to do. It comes in the basic primary colors, which is fitting too. Because it’s simply The Standard exercise ball. What’s so great about exercise balls? Look around your home gym. Chances are there is nothing else shaped quite like them. The sphere shape is great for stretching over. When it comes to certain stretches, we are hard pressed to find another piece of equipment that assists quite like an exercise ball. And they are wonderful for strengthening and stability exercises as well. One consideration is that these babies, especially the big 75 cm one, will take up some space in your exercise room. (The appropriate size depends on the height of the user.) But if you have the space, there is lots of fun exercise in store with the Theraband exercise ball. 

Tiger Tail 5.0 Foam Roller ball

Average retail cost: $25-$30

Why we love it: So much more versatile than foam roller. 

Foam rolling is great, right? Well, it’s even better with the Tiger Tail 5.0 Foam Roller ball. Sun Physical Therapy staff love it because its small, rounded shape gets into the contours of the body in a way traditional foam rollers cannot. It’s 5-inch diameter makes it larger than a tennis or lacrosse ball which sometimes are too small to get to deeper muscles. We think it’s great for muscles like the glutes and hamstrings. It also comes in cork which is environmentally friendly. 

Rogue Fitness AbMat

Average retail cost: ~$33

Why we love it: Makes core workouts more fun.

Need to spice up your abdominal workout? The Rogue Fitness AbMat will do the trick. This sturdy mat is placed beneath your spine and enables you to begin a crunch or sit up from a slightly extended position. This captures more of your abdominals. We like it too because it just makes abdominal, back, and oblique exercises more fun. While similar products are offered from different retailers, we like the Rogue Fitness version because it’s durable. 

Fitness Timer

Average retail cost: $5 – $300. 

Why we love it: Accountability.

We don’t care how you time your workout, so long as you time it. Little handheld timers can run a few bucks. A professional gym timer can cost up to $300. And there’s all sorts of options in between. Pick what works best for you. 

Let’s be serious. You need the accountability. You need the timer to make sure you perform the exercise the entire set duration. As physical therapists, our job is to assist patients with exercise. Over the years, we’ve watched plenty of patients cut exercises short of the true benefit. And we’ve learned that timers are our friends. They ensure that you get optimal results. They ensure that you meet your goals.

We recommend that you not use your phone for this. That’s too distracting. A trusty instrument that’s prime function is simply to time your workout in minutes and seconds is the best. It will keep you focused and will hold you accountable. 

OPTP Stretch out strap

Average cost: $15

Why we love: Loops galore.

This item is a 6’4” nylon strap made with 10 loops along its length. Who knew a few loops would make such a difference in your stretch game? 

Sure, you can use a dog leash or a long belt to stretch, but this trusty strap enables you to place both hands through the loops at whatever level is comfortable for you. This takes the strain out of stretching and makes the whole process more comfortable and effective. 

It’s great for the upper body and the legs. We love that it’s made by OPTP, a trusted brand for a variety of products you see in physical therapy clinics. Many versions also come with a guidebook or poster that demonstrates basic stretches utilizing the strap. Get the guidebook if you can. It will help you to get started. Your muscles will thank you. 

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