How To Build Your Own Home Gym

By on October 5, 2011
Building a Home Gym

Many people choose to designate a room or an area of their homes for fitness equipment and exercise. Basements and rec rooms work wonderfully for this purpose, but a mat and some floor space are truly all you need.

After you’ve chosen an appropriate space, decide whether you require or desire additional equipment, considering your fitness level, budget, and time constraints before you go gung ho into the nearest fitness equipment retail store. All the following are possibilities, but not necessities, in terms of home fitness equipment:

Traditional Stationary Equipment

Treadmills, bikes, rowing machines, stair climbers, and elliptical trainers can all provide significant cardiovascular benefits when used properly and consistently. Be sure to test the equipment before buying, and check that it comes with a warranty. Because these pieces usually involve a pretty significant financial investment, do your homework and research the equipment with Consumer Reports before buying. Be sure you feel comfortable operating the equipment and understanding the display panel.

Cheap alternatives: Use your stairwell for an intense aerobic workout or for providing short bursts of activity for a circuit type workout; jumping rope is also a huge calorie-burner (make sure that you have plenty of room, or just use an imaginary rope); when weather permits, brisk walking is one of the best all-around choices for health. If weather or safety becomes an issue, try walking at your local mall. Whenever I spent the night at my grandparents’ house as a kid (okay, sometimes as a young adult, too), one of my favorite activities was mall walking with Grandma.

Home Strength Training Equipment

Follow the same guidelines as with traditional cardio equipment. Research the product before buying, test it if possible, and make sure that it is sold under warranty and includes safety features.

Cheap alternatives: Resistance bands or tubing, hand weights, and stability balls are effective strength training tools available at most major retail stores; see the sample exercises at the end of the chapter that use resistance tubing for a total body strength training routine. Really frugal exercisers use items around the house or their own body weight for resistance! Fill a clean gallon milk jug with water, and you’ve got an 8-pound weight; fill it half full for 4 pounds if you’re just embarking on a strength training program. Use the weight of your own body in exercises such as push-ups, abdominal crunches, tricep dips, lunges, and toe raises.

Exercise Videos

These little fitness gems can be used for cardio, strength, and flexibility training and provide the advantage of a low-pressure introduction to new exercise skills. However, it is challenging to assess your own form and technique without personal attention from an instructor. You may want to try a group fitness class geared toward beginners first, and then move on to videos.

Cheap alternatives: Borrow videos from your local library or rent them from a video store to prevent boredom. Another low-cost option is to start a video swap with co-workers, friends, relatives, or neighbors.