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Homemade Fitness Equipment and Active Toys

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Updated August 22, 2013

Homemade bowling game with recycled plastic bottles
Erica Greis

You don't have to be a celebrity or a millionaire to set up your own home gym. Versatile items like hand weights, exercise balls, hula hoops, jump ropes, and resistance bands are inexpensive, but you can stock your workout area without spending a dime. Try repurposing everyday household items to turn them into free, homemade fitness equipment for you and your kids.

Weights: Cans of food; milk jugs or water bottles filled with dried beans or colorful beads

Balance beam: Painter's tape directly on the floor; two-liter square milk cartons, washed, dried, stuffed with newspapers and taped together in a straight line; an old 2"x4" beam (sanded, to minimize splinters)

Parachute: Old bed sheet (bounce small balls on top—if you don't have any, try rolled socks, balloons, or wadded paper)

Scoops/catchers: Empty laundry detergent jugs, with the bottom cut out (sand edges or cover with electrical tape). Use to toss and catch small balls, alone or in pairs.

Junior baseball bat: 2-liter soda bottle fortified with an 18-inch dowel rod (put rod in bottle, secure with a wood screw, finish with duct tape). Use with wiffle balls, Nerf balls, wadded socks, beanbags, etc.

"Volleyball" net or limbo stick: Piece of yarn, string, or old fabric sash. Hang across empty, carpeted space and loft balloons, beach balls, or wadded paper back and forth. Or do the limbo!

Knock 'em down target: Cereal boxes; plastic bottles (empty, or filled with newspaper, beans, jingling balls—whatever you have handy)

Goalie target: Old sheet hung on clothesline (make sure there's nothing fragile behind it!)

Twister target: Colored tape; non-slip shelf liner cut in shapes; old mouse pads; silicone hot pads. Use to create obstacle courses, jumping games, stretching games, etc.

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