Setting Up a Home Gym

By Eve Lees

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The convenience and privacy of a home gym offers a greater chance of sticking to your fitness promise. And if you are already an avid exerciser with a gym membership, home equipment allows a quick workout when you are just too time-strapped to hit the gym.

Before you start buying equipment, make a plan. First, you need to establish your goals. Are you exercising for weight loss, muscle strength, or increased flexibility? Are you a recreational exerciser or an athlete training to compete? All these goals require different types of equipment, and possibly room size.

Next, consider the space you have available for the gym. You’ll need the right height, width and depth to accommodate your equipment, and your exercise form (you don’t want to be swinging your arms into a wall!). A mirror to check your technique is also a good idea. Flooring isn’t a big issue unless you are frequently jumping on it – or you worry about dropping weights onto expensive hardwood. If that’s the case, a cork floor will absorb the shock on your joints and avoid any floor dents. Interlocking rubber tiles may also work. These can also be placed under heavy or larger exercise equipment (treadmills, etc.). Proper ventilation is also an important consideration for the room: install ceiling fans or set a large portable fan by an open window.

If you plan to have mechanical cardio equipment (like a treadmill, rowing machine or stair climber) measure the equipment to ensure it will fit into the available space. Draft a rough floor plan. Upright stationary exercise bikes take up less space. Rebounders (mini-trampolines), skipping ropes or bench stepping are other less expensive “cardio” options, but be sure you have sufficient ceiling height.

If your fitness goals include strength training, you can choose free weights and a bench. These are compact and inexpensive. Your own body weight can also be used for many exercises and there are specially designed machines that take up little room, using your bodyweight as resistance. Machines, also called weight stack systems, may or may not take up lots of room (depending on the design), so you’ll have to do some research. Machines are much more expensive than free weights.

Think about accessories too: weight training gloves, if you are using free weights, proper footwear to use on the treadmill (suitable for either walking or running). Resistance bands or exercise elastics work for a variety of exercises. Stretching mats (or yoga mats) and foam rollers assist with various flexibility (stretching) exercises. And don’t forget storage ideas to conceal the smaller exercise items, like large baskets or ottomans that also serve as storage units.

Another cost consideration, especially if you aren’t knowledgeable about exercise, is hiring a Certified Personal Trainer. One session may be all you need to learn how to use your equipment properly and design a routine to help you achieve your goals. You can also consult the trainer before you begin setting up your gym, to be sure you choose the right equipment for your needs.
Eve Lees was a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Counsellor for 30 years.



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