Are you considering “investing” in a Home Gym? Here are a few things to consider:
1. Exercises you Enjoy
The most important and most obvious consideration: What do you want to DO in your home gym? Are you a treadmill junkie? Love Exercise DVD’s? Enjoy Yoga? Weight Lifting? Considering a stationary bike because you have knee trouble? What you intend to do in your gym will direct every part of its design.
2. Space & Convenience
What kind of space do you have? Thinking of a treadmill or elliptical? Weight bench? It is important to remember that this kind of equipment is HUGE and will take up a large amount of room in your home. Do you have that much space to commit to it? Do you have room left over to do other kinds of exercises? Will it be visible from other rooms? (I don’t think HGTV would approve…)
Choose a space that is as convenient to your daily life as possible. If you have the choice between a spare bedroom next to the master bedroom and the detached garage – choose the spare room. You are much more likely to actually USE the room if it is convenient.
3. Equipment, Costs & Time
All three of these elements really go together. Choosing equipment is not just about how much room you have or what exercise you like but also about how much it costs and how much time it will save or cost you during your workouts.
Large (& Expensive) Equipment
So, you have a Large Space. You don’t want to completely fill it up with large equipment but you don’t want it to be barren either. I am not a huge fan of the expensive and enormous resistance contraptions that fill an entire room… A treadmill, elliptical or bike is reasonable for a large space but also expensive. A weight bench is about the right size to take up ‘just enough’ room without being overbearing and relatively inexpensive. If you choose to get a bench, make sure it is adjustable, comfortable and sturdy. There are a ton on Craigslist but if you get one of them be sure to CLEAN it!
Small and inexpensive equipment that I highly recommend:
A THICK yoga mat (use for any kind of exercises on the floor), a set of resistance bands, a “thigh toner” band, a pull-up bar (if you have a doorway to hang it on), a jump rope, large exercise ball and a pair of 5 lb and 10 lb dumbbells. You don’t have to go out and buy these things all at once – start with the mat and resistance bands (you can find each of these for $15-$20 each).
Other equipment I like:
A door-pulley system, medicine balls, kettle bells, “Bow-Flex” Style adjustable dumbbells (EXPENSIVE but wish I had some…), standard dumbbells of all sizes and aerobic steps.
A note about the dumbbells: plates are fine but realize that you will spend time changing them between exercises (adding around 20 minutes of “down” time to your workout…) The other thing about dumbbells is that you don’t want to keep them on the ground because you don’t want to “bend over” to pick them up (you could hurt your back!) and it is very tempting to do that… so it’s better to store them on a rack($$) or shelf. – Another good argument in favor of resistance bands…
Worthless pieces of junk:
“Ab” machines – basically all of them – they don’t work. It’s much more effective to work your abs doing regular crunches, cardio, yoga, pilates, stand-up ab routines (“Hip-Hop Abs”), or ball exercises… you don’t need these large hunk-of-junks.
4. Climate Control & Air Pollution
Remember that you will be spending time in this room. It should be comfortable – not too hot or too cold. You should have a couple fans to help cool you off. If the room tends to run cold in the winter, that’s okay – once you get moving you won’t notice anymore! If you are discouraged from going in there before you workout because it’s cold just put on a sweater and get started- you’ll want to take it off after a few minutes. 🙂 If your room runs hot in the summer you will want to have a few fans and potentially a bucket of ice water and a towel to help you cool off.
Keep air fresheners going – it makes the room pleasant!
5. TV & Sound System
These can make a huge difference in how enjoyable and effective your workouts are. If you use exercise DVD’s a 32″ TV screen is really the smallest you can go. It’s much easier to follow someone if you can actually see what they are doing! Being able to “pump up” the music can be motivating and push you to push harder. A TV can make all the difference if you use an elliptical or treadmill – watch a movie or tv show instead of the timer!
Especially if you do any kind of cardio/aerobic exercises like jumping rope, dance etc. it is crucial that you have a cushioned floor to reduce the impact on your knees. If your floor is too hard: There are rubber exercise mats ($), rugs or you can consider using spare pieces of carpet.
Lastly, and potentially MOST important… or at least VERY important – the Decor. Again, you will be spending a good amount of time in this room. You should ENJOY being in it. Paint the walls bright colors, put up inspirational quotes, posters etc. (I made a collage of inspirational phrases, people exercising and healthy foods!)
Keep things neat & tidy. Consider using baskets or shelving for your small equipment. Things to keep nearby: water bottles, a few small towels, protein bars, any electrolyte replacement powders or other supplements you use during your workouts. I also have a dry erase calendar to help me track my workouts. (I log them online and on the dry erase board – a constant reminder to myself – keeps me motivated!)
BUT WAIT! I DON’T HAVE ANY EXTRA SPACE!
No Problem! Keep resistance bands, “Thigh toner” band and yoga mat in the closet. Move your coffee table out of the way, pop in a DVD and hit “play.”
What are your thoughts?