If you’re a new personal trainer, it’s time to pull together your toolkit — especially if you freelance. Sure, our bodies are amazing, built-in equipment free of charge, and clients can certainly progress through bodyweight exercises like push-ups and crunches. But to keep them motivated, you can’t stop there.
You want equipment that will exceed their expectations and help you facilitate a complete, varietal program.
It’s not only about what’s hip and fun but also what’s high quality, practical, and cost-effective. Plus, won’t your life be a whole lot easier if you can carry your gear around town?
To give you an idea of what’s out there, here’s a list of the best portable equipment that personal trainers use with (and without) their clients. You may be surprised to find that many of these tools are old school. You know what they say: Why mess with a good thing?
#1 – Resistance Bands (a.k.a. Superbands)
Your clients can use these stretchy bands in several ways: for resistance during strength-building exercises, to perform pull-ups and other bodyweight workouts, and to achieve proper form — especially during an otherwise difficult stretch or reach. These simple bands vary in thickness for different levels of resistance.
#2 – Foam Roller
This popular tool helps improve flexibility and range of motion by exerting pressure from the body to knead and stretch tight, knotted muscles. To help your client loosen up, recommend foam rolling before an intense workout. This roller is also perfect for a post-workout massage. The Triggerpoint brand is short and lightweight, which makes traveling a breeze, and its grooves enable more thorough muscle recovery.
#3 – Exercise Mat
Even if you’re not a yoga instructor, you’re allowed to touch a mat. Mats make your clients more comfortable while they stretch on a hard, cold floor or ground (perhaps with a foam roller or superband, eh?). If you lead group classes, exercise mats can function as handy dividers that mark each participant’s territory. Everybody likes their own space to work out, and they’ll like you more for it.
#4 – Medicine Ball
This timeless item often used for strength training and rehabilitation has evolved over the years. If you want to amp up plyometrics or power training, give your clients the double-grip version. It will allow them to maintain a strong but comfortable hold during these intense, full-body workouts.
#5 – Jump Rope
Jump ropes aren’t just for playground kids who chant rhymes while doing tricks. For a client who wants to lose weight or step up their cardio game, hand them a rope instead of sending them out for a run. Not only will jump roping burn calories, but it will also boost coordination, agility, and balance.
Not to mention, it will be a fun way to keep your people motivated. After all, those playground kids know what’s up. And hey, if you need to throw in some rhymes to keep things interesting, go for it!
#6 – Sliders
Are planks on your workout plan? Add in some low-cost sliders to kick things up a notch, like in the video above. Optimal for toning and stretching, these small, comfortable discs will help your client slide into position on an otherwise resistant surface. The challenge lies in keeping oneself upright and balanced enough to perform movements correctly.
#7 – Kettlebells
Some form of the kettlebell has been a part of fitness since the 19th century, and this tried and true method still stands. Like the medicine ball, the kettlebell’s versatility aids with power training and strength building. When used properly, this weighty device also improves flexibility and endurance.
So, (carefully) toss a pair of kettlebells into your client’s program. For transport’s sake, you may want to keep a lighter pair with you.
#8 – Agility Ladder
It’s self-explanatory what this piece of gear boosts. Use this adjustable, durable ladder to increase speed, strengthen balance, and enhance coordination. It’s low-cost; easy to set up, break down, and carry; and it should last you a long time.
#9 – Balance Board
A wooden balance board or the inflatable version will work a new client’s core while they learn to stabilize their body, leading to calorie-burning and ab-building. Consider carrying one of these inexpensive boards to your next session. With equipment like this, “balancing acts” can get creative!
#10 – Suspension Trainer
As one of the most popular and versatile exercise tools today, this strappy apparatus gives users of all levels a challenging, full-body workout. It’s ideal for targeted and low-impact training, building muscle, strengthening the core, and cardio exercises — so, a lot of things!
The suspension trainer is the most expensive item on our list, but the price can vary depending on the brand and type of kit, some more portable than others. TRX is a well-liked brand, but you can click here to compare it with a few others.
Pick and Choose
We hope our list has been helpful. Don’t feel pressured to get out and purchase every item immediately. You could start with a few and then add more as you continue to build your clientele, expand your program, and grow your business.
Use what fits your training focus and budget.
Trust your instincts, learn from your clients’ needs, and decide which pieces of equipment will help you strike the balance of challenging and fun.