Times are tough. Fortunately, exercise can be performed nearly anywhere so you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to get a great workout. Many people are opting to workout at home, whether for convenience or due to the cost of pricey gym memberships. If this appeals to you, before you race to the store and buy a truckload of equipment, bars, and weight plates, I urge you to ask yourself why you want a home gym and be sure to answer it honestly. Or better yet, if you invest the money, will you really use it? You really don’t want a $100 laundry hanger or a $1,000 dust collector, do you?
Once you commit to creating your own home gym, the next step is to determine what room you will set it up in and how much space you realistically have. Look around the room and analyze the space. Many people with good intentions tell themselves that each time they use their gym, they won’t mind moving the couch, rearranging the table and chairs, or pushing the desk across the room. But after a while, they start using this as an excuse not to exercise. Will having to slide a couch 10 feet out of the way be a deterrent to getting your workout in? Is there a big television in the room? If so, do you have the self-discipline not watch your favorite episode of reality TV? Can you control the temperature in your new exercise space? If not, can you add a fan? Once you start exercising, you will probably need it since you will be sweating like crazy! Who else uses the room? Will there be conflicts? Will someone move your exercise equipment or think it is a toy for them to play with? Don’t be intimidated by these questions. Working through them shouldn’t be that difficult or time-consuming, especially if you let your family members or roommates know exactly what you are doing.
Now the excitement begins because it’s time to get started! A simple and inexpensive home gym can be built with five basic pieces of equipment. They total about $100 and are easy to find and transport home. You can buy them from local sporting goods stores, online, or perhaps locate slightly used equipment for a great price on Craig’s List. Here are the 5 pieces of exercise equipment to invest in:
- Exercise Ball (abdominal and core stabilization, upper body exercises).
- Resistance Bands (exercise bands can give you a total body workout).
- Yoga Mat (push ups, abdominal and core work, stretching, Pilates, and yoga).
- Pull-Up Bar – some can be installed in a doorway or just follow the traditional installation method (great for targeting the back muscles and biceps along with abdominal and core work).
- Jump Rope – if you have enough ceiling clearance (this cardio exercise burns lots of calories).
Also, make sure to use what you may already have available in your home:
- Move a chair without wheels or arms into the area (decline push ups, tricep dips)
- Run the stairs (cardiovascular, leg work)
- Stairs (standing calf raises)
- Wall mirror to check your technique and form
- iPod or MP3 player to listen to your favorite music
If you aren’t sure how to start, meet with a certified personal trainer for a couple of sessions. It will be money well invested because you will be given a program based on your family history, exercise history, and your goals. You will understand how to properly use your equipment and you will have learned how to use proper form and technique which reduces the chance of injury. As with all exercise, you should wear appropriate shoes and comfortable clothing. Bring a bottle of water and a towel, and get to it!
Ways To Improve a Basic Workout Area
Okay, so you have already built a basic home gym and you are ready to move to the next level. You’re excited, knowing it will help improve your fitness and overall health, and also add some much-needed variety into your workouts but you aren’t sure where to start when adding to your private home gym space. Consider these options:
- Dumbbells – Choose a few different sizes of individual dumbbells based on your strength levels or purchase adjustable dumbbells (Bowflex SelectTech, etc). Using dumbbells will provide many upper body exercises and also some lower body exercises such as lunges and squats. Single dumbbells are generally about $1 per pound so a 15 pounds dumbbell costs around $15. When you are planning your budget, remember you should buy 2 dumbbells of each size.
- Stationary Bike, Treadmill, or Elliptical Machine – Don’t go overboard on these machines. You might want to start with just one of them and move up from there. Which one will you likely use the most? Craig’s List is a great option to find slightly used cardio exercise equipment that has barely been used and pick it up for a big discount (usually at least half of the original price). Be careful though and make sure to plug-in the equipment at the seller’s house and fully test the machine out before handing over your hard-earned cash!
Next, ask yourself where you are going to position it in your home gym space. Do you need to purchase a mat to lay under it so you don’t permanently damage the floor? Do you need to store it? If so, make sure the models you like either fit in the space or can be folded up to easily fit.
As mentioned earlier about buying used equipment on Craig’s List, always try out the machines thoroughly before you buy anything. Check the position of the bike’s seat with pedals. Do you prefer standard or recumbent? Check the length and width of the belt on the treadmill. Does the display show all of the information you are interested in analyzing? Does the stride on the elliptical machine feel comfortable to you? Here are a few more tips:
- Exercise Bench – Choose an adjustable bench that can be used for pressing movements, step-ups, and incline and decline exercises.
- Workout DVDs – If you have a TV and DVD player, buy a couple of fitness DVDs. What type of workouts do you like? Low or high intensity? Boot camp style or dancing? Thirty minutes or sixty? An instructor who gives a lot of direction or one that is more “do as I do”? These are all important questions to answer before buying a bunch of DVDs.
Whatever products you choose to buy, do your own research. Rely on Consumer Reports, online reviews, and talk to family or friends who own similar machines. Ask what they like and what they don’t like. Then go to some different stores and test drive them for yourself. Again, think about avoiding the dreaded $1,000 laundry hanger at all times! This is exactly what you don’t want to have happen to your newly purchased workout machine. For all of your purchases, make sure to check prices and bargain hunt. Look on Craig’s List, stores with going out of business sales, discount sporting goods stores, and bulk stores like Costco, Sam’s Club and Big Lots.
For other exercise equipment that you can use in your gym space, look around your home. A second chair without arms will help you perform more challenging tricep dips and incline push-ups. You can also use an ottoman for step-ups, with or without dumbbells.
Is there any space on the wall for a mirror? It’s not for looking at yourself posing! It’s to check your exercise technique to make sure your form is correct! Following proper form is essential to improve your health while not injuring yourself.
I hope this article has provided you with some helpful tips and advice for creating your own home gym. The time and money invested in your own private space to exercise will pay huge dividends down the road in both your physique and your overall health!