Getting and staying fit is not always easy, especially if you have a busy lifestyle. Joining a commercial gym is a great way to work towards your fitness goals, as you can do both cardio exercises and strength training. But unless you’re lucky enough to have a good gym next door to your home or workplace, you’re going to be adding travel times to your time commitment whenever you want to exercise. In fact, time constraints are a big problem for lots of people who would like to stay fit.
Couple that with the high cost of some gym memberships and body image issues experienced by some of those new to exercising in public and you may have a real barrier to getting fit. Could a home gym be the answer? If you have some free space in your home and are looking for a simple, private way to get fit, this may well be the best option for you. The below guide will introduce you to the different types of home gyms and what you should look for when buying and setting up your own.
The benefits of a home gym
The main benefit of having you own gym at home is the fact that you can exercise at any time of day or night. You won’t need to spend time traveling to the gym itself (which in many cases, in the US, especially, involves driving) and you won’t need to wait for your next machine to be free. As soon as you’re ready to exercise, you’re basically good to go.
A home gym is also a good investment. Although it may appear expensive, you’ll get your investment back within a couple of years (compared with gym membership fees). Home gym equipment tends to retain its value, too. If you decide to move away from home fitness at a later date, you’ll be able to easily sell your gym equipment to someone else without any major losses.
If you’re at all self-conscious about exercising in public, having a gym at home means you can train and keep fit without embarrassment. This is especially important if you’re brand new to exercising and have a lot of weight to lose before you meet your goals.
Of course, having a home gym also has its drawbacks. You will need space to put it in, some self-discipline and some basic knowledge of how to exercise safely to get the most out of it.
Types of home gym
The term “home gym” is an umbrella term that can encompass any type of equipment you choose to buy. Just like in a commercial gym, there are different groups of equipment you could get, each geared towards a particular result.
Machines like treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical trainers, rowing machines, etc. are designed to increase lung capacity, strengthen the heart and burn calories. These can be expensive and take up a lot of space, but are highly popular because of their many health benefits. If running outdoors is not an option for you, consider investing in a good cardio machine. Alternatively, aerobic steps, jump ropes and exercise videos involving cardio workouts can serve as a cheaper alternative.
These are great for increasing strength and toning the body and are one of the simplest home gym options to invest in. The Internet is full of exercise videos involving free weights, so you can quickly develop a routine to suit your goals and level of fitness. Free weights come in complete sets and can also be bought individually, making it easy to add more weights to your collection as you grow stronger. Keep in mind, though, that weightlifting won’t help you lose weight as readily as cardio and won’t have the same effect on your heart and lungs. For the best result, you’ll want to combine the two.
These are the familiar machines you see at commercial gyms. Many people think about these when they think about a home gym. While these machines are often large, they are great for working many different muscle groups. Many people prefer them to free weights because they feel more like a “real gym”.
You can complement the above with other equipment often found at commercial gyms – exercise balls, medicine balls, mats, resistance bands, etc. depending on your personal goals and preferences.
Things to consider when buying a home gym
What are your fitness goals? Are you looking to lose weight and protect your heart? Do you want to build muscle mass and become stronger? Maybe both? Determining your goals should come first, so you know what equipment to get. Once you know what it is that you want to achieve, you can start looking at other considerations.
Space is going to be one of your biggest issues. If you’re not lucky enough to have a spare room, basement or garage that you can convert into a gym, consider investing in space-saving equipment. Many cardio machines are foldable and free weights take less space than resistance machines. On the other hand, if you prefer resistance training to weights, you can cut out the cardio machine and use a jump rope instead. The important thing is to make exercising as simple as possible by making your equipment readily available. If you need to move furniture around every time you want to set up your gym, you may find yourself less inclined to do so once your initial enthusiasm subsides.
Quality exercise machines can be costly, but you don’t necessarily need to furnish your home gym with state of the art equipment. There are always cheaper options available, such as using bodyweight exercises instead of weights or using cheaper equipment like resistance bands, exercise balls, etc.. You can also build up your home gym over time, starting with one machine that’s important to you and adding more as you go on.
It’s worth investing in equipment made by a trusted brand. You want sturdy, reliable equipment that won’t come apart or break with repeated use. Badly made equipment can be dangerous and, of course, will not retain its value should you choose to sell it in the future.
As your level of fitness increases, you’re going to need to increase resistance, change your cardio routine or choose a different set of exercises. Make sure your equipment is versatile enough to allow for these changes. Also, as you’re hopefully in this for the long run, choose equipment that will allow you to vary your routine over time so that you don’t get bored.
A home gym is a wonderful way to stay in shape or work towards your ideal weight in a private, hassle free setting. If you’re serious about setting up your own, do spend time working out your goals – possibly with the help of a personal trainer. With so many options out there for home fitness equipment, it’s worth putting some time and effort into market research as well – read reviews, maybe visit a showroom to try out some equipment before buying, and work out a budget that won’t involve compromising on quality. If money is tight, it’s worth spending your money on one quality machine rather than attempting to furnish an entire gym with low quality equipment. There are, after all, many exercise routines you can do absolutely free.