When we bought our home a few years ago, one of my criteria was to have space for a home gym. When I say home gym I don't mean some elaborate, state-of-the-art space, more of a space for a TV, treadmill, and maybe some weights. The house we found had a great basement. Half of it was finished and would be a perfect playroom for my son. The other half was storage space which provided plenty of room for my home gym. It was perfect for all the equipment I had with some space to grow.
Why I Love Home Gyms
I like having a home gym because I have never been a fan of working out at gyms. The convenience of having a space at home in which to work out what I like most. The time I spend working out is “me time” and i like the peace and quiet I can have doing that at home. I also found that whenever I joined a gym and worked out regularly, I would get sick just as regularly. There were too many germs from the equipment being used by so many people each day.
Esthetically speaking my home gym is not pretty, but that will come over time. The first step was arranging the equipment I did have. My “anchor” piece of equipment is a treadmill. I am a runner and need a treadmill. When I decided to buy my treadmill, I wanted something that would last a long time. It is going on 13 years old and going strong.
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Building Your Own Home Gym
For an effective home gym, you don't necessarily need a lot of equipment. You don't even necessarily need a dedicated space for it. You can use your family room or wherever you have a television or computer as your workout room. Wherever you work out, the following foundational items are enough to get you started:
Strength training is essential to good health. While aerobic activities like running or walking are great for burning calories, strength training will help keep the weight off longer term by building muscle.
To do floor work it helps to have a mat or even a thick towel to lie on. You'll need a mat or towel for things like ab work, leg work, stretching, and some weight work. It beats lying directly on carpet or hard concrete floors (as are typically found in basements)!
If you want good aerobic activity, a jump rope is a great place to start. Running and walking are great forms of aerobic activity but if you want a quick but effective aerobic burst, jumping rope is the way to go. Periodically I'll pick up my son't jump rope and try it out only to be reminded how quickly it gets your heart rate up. Also it's a lot of fun!
A good pair of running shoes are essential for working out. Even if you're just walking initially, a good pair of shoes will make a huge difference. I recommend going to a running store to be fitted for your shoes. Even if you're not a runner, this is still a recommended practice to make sure you have the right shoes for your activity. My running shoes are below. I clearly need a new pair given the wear and tear!
A resistance band is a great introductory piece of equipment for strength training. You can use it to strengthen many areas of your body. I recommend finding a good video to help walk you through some basic exercises.
A TV or Computer is essential for working out, especially if you are going to use videos or a streaming service for work outs. I watch TV when I'm running on the treadmill to help pass the time. It allows me to watch things I enjoy or that motivate me. I tend to pick specific series or types of shows that I'll allow myself to only watch when I'm on the treadmill. That provides more motivation to want to work out, especially if I really like the shows and want to find out what happens next!
Videos or a streaming services are a great thing to provide versatility to your workouts. They can be used for either watching TV while you work out (as I do when I'm on the treadmill), or to use for work out videos of all kinds. There are many videos available for almost any type of exercise that you could want to do.
I remember when I first started working out in 9th grade. We had a Jane Fonda work-out video that my sisters and I did all the time. We would say, “we're going to go do Jane” and off we'd go to the basement for a group workout session. Next came the Joanie Greggains videos. That was what I used to lose weight the very first time and it was quite effective. Workout videos have come a long way since then, thankfully, and are readily available on DVD as well as streaming.
Some favorite DVDs I've had and continued to use over the years are The Firm videos. They are aerobic and strength training combines and are a great workout. Another one that is great is Beach Body. I've just signed up for those and will report back on my progress in a future blog post. For those who have done Beach Body, I welcome your feedback!
No matter what you do for exercise, it's important to get include some sort of activity in your life. I find by having a home gym, I have the space and equipment necessary to help me along the way. I like to eliminate as many of the excuse factors I can from the equation so there's nothing to hold me back from reaching my goals.