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Originally published Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 5:10 AM

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Double duty: Turning your kitchen into a home gym

Looking for exercise equipment? Everything you need to get in shape is in your kitchen.

Special to The Times

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On Health

If you forgo the gym to get your workouts in at home, you know outfitting your home gym can be just as expensive as a gym membership itself, and with the holidays upon us, chances are there isn’t much room in your budget to splurge on yourself.

Don’t let that justify waiting until the New Year to get fit. You already have everything you need in your kitchen.

The kitchen traditionally is a place you want to avoid when getting into shape, but if you use it right, it can be the home gym of your dreams.

Use soup cans as hand weights. Soup cans are very light, so if you are just starting out, they are easy substitutes for weights. As you become stronger, you can trade the soup cans for heavier objects such as jars of coins or frozen water bottles.

Use milk jugs as kettlebells. Anything heavy with a handle can double as a kettlebell. Use a jug of milk while doing a kettlebell workout or lower-body strength training. Save old jugs and fill them water, or for a heavier kettlebell, fill them with different levels of sand or pebbles. Save them and you’ll have a whole set of kettlebells without spending an extra dime.

Use bags of rice as sand bags. Sandbags are an effective piece of fitness equipment because they are awkward to handle and heavy, perfect for lugging and throwing to break up a cardio workout. Use a bag of rice, or even a bag of flour, the exact same way: Throw one over your shoulders as you do lower-body exercises or climb stairs, use one for resistance during crunches, or bring a partner into the mix and toss the bag back and forth. Just make sure the bag is sealed tightly to avoid any mess.

Use your broom as a barbell. While your broom isn’t as heavy as a barbell, it can help your form. Rest the broom across your shoulders and grasp the ends at a comfortable distance away from your shoulders while you do squats or walking lunges. The broom will help keep you from dropping your chest during these exercises, a common form mistake, and will also help stretch those notoriously tight pectoral muscles.

Use kitchen towels for a good stretch. Towels are great aides to help with your post-workout stretching. Wrap a towel around your feet and pull backward lightly when stretching your hamstrings. Get a good chest stretch by sitting with your legs straight in front of you with good posture. Place a hand towel in both hands and raise your arms above your head, keeping your elbows by your ears. Slowly and gently, move the towel from directly overhead backward so your elbows move slightly behind your ears, until you feel a stretch across the front of your chest.

Use what you have before buying new, expensive equipment you don’t actually need.

Don’t be afraid to get creative — if you can get a full workout using only objects from your kitchen, imagine what a gold mine you have in the rest of your house.

Kelly Turner is a fitness freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @KellyTurnerFit or Instagram @KellyTurner26.

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