Convenience is Key to a Fitness Routine
We all know the benefits of working out — reduced stress, better health and hopefully a longer, more active life. But we also know how hard it can be to fit in a trip to the gym. Building a home gym can get your whole family on a path to better health in the New Year. Here are some tips and things to consider before you start shopping for a treadmill or weight bench.
Dedicate a Space
If you have a finished basement, spare room in your home, or a guest room you rarely use, space shouldn’t be an issue. But you can also carve out a corner of a living room or bedroom and dedicate it to your workout — no large equipment necessary. The important thing is to keep your hand weights, mat, resistance bands, or other small fitness items handy and in the same spot. Before you decide on a space, consider how many family members will be using it, the type of activities each person prefers, and how much you want to spend. Also keep sound and temperature issues in mind — lower level home gyms offer both cooler temperatures and better sound absorption for fitness equipment than gyms on the main or attic level.
If you are in the process of building a new home and think you might want a home gym, even at a future date, consider the type of equipment, flooring, ceiling height and lighting you’d like in the space while you are still deciding on of finalizing a floor plan.
Lighting and Flooring
Fitness experts recommend a gym space that has lots of natural light, if possible. If your workout area will be in a basement or garage that has few windows, consider adding track lighting or other, extra overhead lighting. Installing a large mirror panel will make your home gym space feel larger, although experts recommend mirrored walls not for aesthetics but to help you watch your form and get inspired while exercising.
If your fitness area is carpeted, a yoga mat or thicker excercise mat can provide a more comfortable surface for stretching or floor work. Thick rubber flooring or foam or rubber interlocking tiles are a good choice for concrete floors in garages and basements, if that’s where you have your gym set up. If you plan on using very heavy equipment or free weights on flooring other than concrete, you might need to add bracing to the floor joists to support the weight.
If your home gym is only a corner of the living room or bedroom, you can still get a good workout with little to no equipment. Weight-bearing exercises such as squats, push-ups and jumping jacks are old-school, but still very effective, ways to get into shape. Even in a small workout space, though, you can comfortably use an inflatable exercise ball, hand weights or a medicine ball, a yoga mat, and resistance bands. With enough ceiling and side clearance, jumping rope also offers great conditioning.
With a larger room or basement area and a substantial budget, you might be able to fit in a weight bench and a few larger pieces of equipment, such as an elliptical machine, rowing machine or treadmill. Before you purchase any large piece of equipment for an attic or basement gym, make sure that your doorways and staircases are wide enough to move it into the space.
Now comes the hard part for many people — motivating yourself to use your home gym. If you have reluctant yet competitive family members, you can try and establish a fitness night once a week that involves some type of contest, such as who can jump rope the longest. Or, suggest a movie or other family outing as a reward at the end of the week if everyone meets a fitness goal.
Music is a must for many people while they are working out, and headphones let everyone to enjoy their own tunes. But you’ll probably want to have a stereo or speakers in your home gym, as well as a television if you like to be distracted by movies or a show while you are on the stationary bike or elliptical.
If your gym membership goes unused because you just can’t find the time or motivation to get there, setting up a routine and an appealing workout space at home can be money well spent.