Starting Your Own Home Gym

Are your workout goals being hampered by lack of time?
Are expensive gym dues getting you down?

Perhaps its time to consider setting up a home gym!

Home gyms have their advantages – and disadvantages – just like those high-priced public gyms. But for some, investing in a few basic pieces just may mean the difference between getting in that workout to get – or stay – in shape and allowing your overall health and wellbeing fall by the wayside!

Home gym setups don’t need to cost a bundle or take up an exorbitant amount of space. Just a few basics and a game plan, and your fitness goals can get back on track!

Be Realistic
A practical approach to investing in a home gym is a necessity. First you need to assess your fitness goals – want to lose some weight? Tone up? Increase your endurance? Enjoy better cardiovascular health? Improve strength?

The best fitness goals are well rounded. To get – and keep your body in the best possible shape its best to stick with the three basics – stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular training. By blending these three concepts, you can strengthen your heart and lungs, endurance, metabolism and strength while increasing the amount of calories and fat you burn.

Gym memberships can be expensive. Though many offer “no obligation” month-to-month memberships, fees for this arrangement can start at around $25.00 per month or more. Better monthly fees can be obtained when signing a contract for a certain period of time, usually between 12 and 36 months, or taking advantage of special discounts occasionally offered. But many gyms prefer a certain amount of month up front, including a one-time “enrollment fee” which can cost anywhere from $50.00 to $150.00 or more.

So considering the cheapest month-to-month membership plus enrollment fees you will be paying a minimum of $350 per year. An investment of $350 can get you started on a modest home gym set-up, which in the long run can save you time and money (travel and gas especially).

When considering a home gym think about the types of exercises you enjoy – why purchase a stair climber for a couple hundred bucks if you avoid it at the gym? Or buy a row machine if you don’t want to increase the muscle mass of your arms, chest and back?

After considering your goals and exercise preferences, you must develop a realistic budget. Home gyms can be expensive, but you don’t need every piece of equipment you can find at the local gym – there are ways to set up a home gym without breaking the bank!

Treadmills for example can run anywhere between $350 to $7500, whereas walking around your neighborhood is free (except for the purchase of some good walking shoes!). And stationary bikes can cost between $200 and $3000. But a good old fashioned workout tape will cost you between $10 and $20.

Multi-station gym setups can run anywhere from $1500 to several thousand dollars, whereas an adjustable bench and some free weights may cost you a few hundred dollars. Dumbbells can cost around $150 and ankle weights or exercise bands $5 to $30. And exercise balls cost between $15 and $30.

Do not purchase “cheap” equipment. You want durable sturdy pieces and a warranty in writing – don’t settle for a poor design or less safety to save a few bucks. Purchasing a reconditioned piece from a reputable distributor may be a way to get professional quality equipment at a discounted price.

Space and Safety
Once you’ve considered your options you must consider the space necessary for each piece of equipment. Treadmills take up around 30 square feet of space; multi-station gym set-ups around 50 to 200 square feet; stationary bikes about 10 square feet and a free weight set-up around 20 to 50.

Safety and traffic flow must also be considered. It is not optimal to place your treadmill in the middle of the family room floor where your family spends most of their time or your free weights in the hallway!

Other necessities for a home gym are lighting, ventilation and electrical outlets.

The Necessities
In order for a home gym to be advantageous you need to focus on the three basics – stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular. You need adequate space, motivation and a few key pieces of equipment.

A starter home gym should consist of a few weights or resistance bands, floor space, an exercise ball and some type of aerobic tapes or aerobic equipment (treadmill, stair climber or stationary bike).

If space – and funds are limited, aerobic exercise can be performed by taking a brisk walk, jogging or jumping rope. Even strengthening exercises can be done with these limitations by purchasing an inexpensive set of ankle weights or resistance bands.

The Workout
One of the downfalls to having a home gym is the isolation. Some people thrive by the companionship they experience by working out at the local gym. If loneliness is hampering your workout, find a workout buddy to keep you motivated.

Write out your goals and a plan. If you need help invest in a session or two with a personal trainer.

Don’t skimp on the basics. Stretching, for example, helps the body prepare for more vigorous workouts plus it helps increase the amount of motion in your joints, thus decreasing the risk of injury.

Strengthening is important for every workout, not just when you want to “bulk up”. Strengthening increases not only your strength but your metabolism (which helps you burn fat) and bone density as well. To tone without building muscle mass, use smaller weights and increase the repetitions.

Strengthening can be performed by doing calisthenics or remedial exercises such as bicep and tricep curls, abdominal curls, leg lifts and squats. Performing any exercise on an exercise ball will not only help you increase your strength but help with stretching and balance as well.

Cardiovascular workouts are essential for strengthening the heart and lungs, increasing endurance and burning calories. Cardiovascular routines are those that increase the heart rate for at least fifteen to thirty minutes. Brisk walking, jogging, swimming, stair climbing, elliptical training and jumping rope are all excellent ways to increase your overall cardiovascular health.

Keeping to a schedule can also help maintain your fitness goals – perhaps you can get up thirty minutes early and do a cardio workout or squeeze in some strengthening right before dinner. The beauty of a home gym is scheduling. No longer do you have to consider the “busy times” where equipment may not be available.

Putting It All Together
1.Decide on a budget and stick to it
2.Decide on location or room in your house to set up your home gym and take measurements
3.Research types of equipment for purchase and start with essentials
4.Devise a workout plan and schedule
5.Have a great workout in the comfort of your own home!

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