Still, a home gym has limitations. Space and budget can affect the variety of exercise equipment you are able to purchase. If you exercise alone, you must also be self-motivated. It can be difficult to create the motivating gym environment in your own home. To avoid injury, you must be comfortable using your equipment without supervision. Despite these pitfalls, a home gym can be a very practical solution for those who are strapped for time and money yet want to keep fit.
It is easy to fall into the trap of buying the latest fad fitness equipment offered on TV infomercials or whatever happens to be on sale at the local sporting goods or department store. Usually, equipment purchased this way ends up as an expensive spot to hang laundry. So what should you consider before starting to buy your own gym equipment?
Aerobic fitness, strength, and flexibility are the main goals of exercise training. Do you want to work on one or a combination of these elements? As well, consider how much you expect to improve your fitness over the next six to 12 months. Will the equipment that you buy allow you to progress with your fitness level?
If you love walking but hate cycling, your options for aerobic training could include a treadmill or elliptical trainer. Your equipment should allow some variation to keep you interested in your exercise program.
If space is limited, consider buying free weights instead of a multi-station gym for strength training. You might also choose a foldable treadmill or elliptical machine. Ideally, your workout space should be a dedicated room uncluttered with other things. This helps make your gym feel like a place where you should work out. Think about adding stretching mats for the floor, a mirror, music or motivational posters.
This is usually the most limiting factor. Remember, you shouldn’t have to spend much to build your home gym. It also isn’t necessary to buy all of your equipment at once. Instead, add more equipment as your fitness improves and you gain appreciation of what you enjoy doing. Look for used models of more expensive equipment in good condition such as treadmills and exercise bikes.
Once you’ve thought about how you plan to use your home gym and the budget you can dedicate to it, you are ready to make some purchases.
Elliptical trainers, stepper machines, stationary bikes, and treadmills are the main types of equipment for aerobic training. They can vary greatly in price depending on whether they are motorized and have extra features like programming and heart rate monitoring. Aside from cost, other aspects to consider include ease of use, how simple the display is to read, noise, size, assembly, maintenance, and warranty.
Before buying any type of aerobic training equipment, make sure you try it. Wear what you would normally wear to exercise and adjust the equipment to how you would use it at home. Purchase your equipment from a dealer with a good reputation.
Treadmills are very popular for aerobic training. Expect to pay several thousand dollars for a good model, even if it is just for walking. Choose a treadmill with at least a 1.5-horsepower, continuous-duty motor. The running surface should be wide and long enough to let you walk or run comfortably without falling off. Look for a machine sturdy enough to support your weight. Display readings should provide feedback about heart rate, speed, incline or slope, calories burned, and time exercised.
Exercise bikes are a great low-impact option for aerobic training. They are highly recommended for those with lower extremity injuries like knee arthritis. These bikes come in two varieties: upright and recumbent. Recumbent bikes allow you to pedal with your legs and feet in front of you, placing less strain on your arms, neck and back.
Expect to pay at least $500 for a decent exercise bike. If your budget is tight and you already own a regular bike, consider using an indoor bike trainer. This device allows you to make your road or mountain bike stationary by suspending your rear tire on a rolling wheel. A magnet or air turbine provides resistance. Competitive cyclists often use this type of trainer during off-season training when weather prevents riding outdoors. A decent indoor bike trainer costs less than $200.
The most basic and inexpensive method of resistance uses gravity and body weight. Push-ups, sit-ups, and tricep extensions, using a chair or a pull-up bar mounted in a doorway, are all great ways to start strength training. Resistance bands and fitness balls are simple and inexpensive ways to add a variety of lower and upper body and core strengthening exercises. None of this equipment takes up much room. Dumbbells and free weights are more expensive but provide more resistance. They can be used with a fitness ball or weight bench.
Although single or multi-station gyms provide a variety of exercises and more resistance, they require much more space. Look for a heavy-gauge steel frame, smoothly-operating pulleys and bearings. Make sure the machine holds enough weight to give you a good workout both now and as your fitness needs change. As with your aerobic training equipment, make sure you buy from a respectable dealer.
Bringing a fitness program home can have advantages, without causing excess burden on your pocket book. Start off with basic functional equipment and add more expensive and elaborate equipment as your fitness level improves. If you are still unsure about how to exercise or create a home gym, consider taking a fitness class at your local fitness facility or hiring a personal trainer. The American College of Sport Medicine’s website contains detailed information on how to select and use a variety of fitness equipment.