The Target: Total Fitness - Special equipment

Keeping a program simple ordinarily rules out expensive equipment. But some equipment will make it possible to add the spice of variety to the program. For example, barbells may help to make flexibility an easily achieved goal.

One or two exercise mats provide the base for many lying-down exercises. Mats can be purchased from sporting goods stores, ordered from mail-order houses, or made at home out of 1.5-inch foam rubber. If made at home, the mats can be covered with a fabric that goes with the room. The material may be terry cloth, vinyl-coated fabric, canvas, or some other type that is soft, easily washed or wiped off, and durable.

If the mat has a line running down its center lengthwise, it will make body alignment a simple task. The line can be made out of a similar fabric of a different color from the mat covering proper.

The mat or mats should be sized to fit the individual's body. The perfect mat is somewhat longer than the user is tall, and wide enough to provide protection against bumps and bruises. That means it should be wider than a line drawn from heel to heel when the person lies flat and stretches both legs as far apart as possible. Another way to measure the ideal mat width is to lie flat and extend the elbows as far as possible straight out from the shoulders. The points reached by the elbows indicate a good width. The good mat has plenty of “give.” It also springs back into position when pressure is removed.

Choosing and arranging permanent equipment may take a little thought. With care and planning, the room's appearance need not really suffer. Equipment may come in chrome, steel, or natural wood.

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