If you’ve had a gym membership in the past, then you know how monthly fees can be hard to swallow, especially for higher-end workout programs that cost thousands of dollars each year. And you also know how cumbersome it gets to travel to and from the gym. Everyone has a busy life and carving out time, even if it’s an hour or two per day, can quickly add up.
Let’s be honest, though. Some people aren’t comfortable working out in a large setting with dozens — hundreds in some cases — of eyes there to see your every move. The good news is exercising at home is convenient, affordable and provides privacy. Plus, there’s the health and safety variable everyone is navigating. Working out at home keeps you away from people who could be carrying harmful bacteria and viruses.
To help you get started, we’ll go over home gym essentials, including what equipment you’ll need, how to combine design with functionality and where to buy equipment for your home fitness studio.
How to workout at home
Before you start thinking about buying equipment, get a firmer idea of your goals, interests and aspirations. Create a workout calendar to figure out how much time you can devote to exercising and how your workouts will look.
There’s no need to create a space for weights and dumbbells if strength training isn’t your preference. Likewise, you may need only to dedicate a small space if you’re into yoga and resistance band training.
There isn’t a right or wrong answer regarding how to set up your home for workouts. You may have a more challenging time finding space if you live in the city in a small apartment versus someone who has an expansive house in the suburbs.
For starters, see if you have a spare bedroom, office space, basement or room in your garage to transform into a home fitness studio. If you’re tight on space, focus on an area of your bedroom or living room to place your equipment.
Home gym equipment
Now that you know the benefits of a home gym, the next step is to choose what you’ll use to exercise. Building your home gym doesn’t require fancy equipment or an expansive storage space to house your belongings.
We compiled a list of home gym equipment ideas, including many of the items featured in our blog on workout equipment everyone should own.
Free weights are an ideal alternative to fitness machines. Many believe they provide a better workout. Free weights allow for more range of motion, and they activate more muscles to stabilize the weights. When storing your free weights, placement matters, especially if you have hundreds of pounds of weights; spread them across floor joists to avoid warping or wear and tear.
Don’t think of weightlifting as gender-specific, either. There are many weightlifting benefits for women, ranging from lowering stress levels and improving heart health to boosting confidence and helping with weight loss.
How you treat your body after exercising is just as important as the workout itself. Ever wonder why your muscles are sore after a strenuous workout? Lactic acid forms in your muscles when you exercise and this buildup only dissipates by allowing it to metabolize through recovery.
Using a foam roller applies pressure to specific areas of your body to relax muscles and improve blood flow. Foam rolling alone won’t reduce your tightness and soreness. You should incorporate a stretching routine to help maximize your recovery. Get more familiar with the importance of foam rolling and understand the dos and don’ts.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are becoming increasingly popular these days. While many professional workout classes use treadmills, ellipticals and rowing machines to achieve intense cardio followed by a period of rest, a jump rope is a cheap and easy way to boost your heart rate.
For example, combine burpees, lunges, push-ups, jump squats and high knees with a jump rope set as part of a quick workout. Perform these exercises for 45 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest.
These bands, which are rubber or latex, allow you to build strength using your body weight as resistance. Check out our easy resistance bands exercise you can do anywhere. It’s a cost-effective way to work out your chest, arms, shoulders, back and legs.
There are many types, but looped bands, elastic tubes with handles and mini bands (commonly used to work out your hips) are the three most common bands. Each band varies in thickness — thin bands are easier to stretch, while thick bands are harder to stretch.
These balls may look like a children’s toy, but it will provide a well-rounded, whole-body workout. A stability ball emphasizes your core, such as your abdominal muscles, but certain exercises will also target your back, arms and legs.
Additionally, you can buy a BOSU ball to improve flexibility, stability, balance and core strength. Use the hard, flat side for push-ups or planks. The plastic side that has more give to it is ideal for balance and stability exercises that engage your core.
For those of you who spend time on the floor for workouts, you’ll want a comfortable space to support your body. Use your mat to warm up or cool down — don’t skip your stretches! — or as a place to perform a workout. Planks and crunches are easy ways to work on stability without the need for any weights or equipment. We featured them here as a way to build core strength and a strong foundation with these easy exercises.
You can also use your yoga mat for Pilates workouts, another low-impact exercise that works out your core muscles.
Where to buy home gym equipment
Many big-box stores, such as Walmart and Target, have basic workout equipment to get you started. Sporting goods stores, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods or Academy Sports + Outdoors, have even a more comprehensive selection. Home gym equipment is also available online as an alternative to brick-and-mortar stores.
Many of the individual workout items we listed earlier won’t break your budget. But, the more you expand, the more you’ll have to spend, so consider checking Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or other search methods for home gym equipment for sale.
Used equipment may be easier to come by in our current climate. People who quarantined for months spent time reorganizing their houses and could be looking to offload workout equipment they no longer need or use.
Home gym design ideas
From both a design and functional standpoint, consider adding padding to your floor, when applicable. Several options exist, including large rubber mats, interlocking tiles or carpet. Again, your setup will depend on how you work out. If your focus is on Pilates, yoga and other resistance band work, this won’t apply to you. But, a padded surface is best suited for intensive cardio, circuit training and weight exercises to keep your joints from taking a pounding.
If you’re revamping an entire room, try repainting the walls to transform the vibe into something more colorful and upbeat for a workout. Decorate your space with inspiring and motivational quotations or add plants for tranquility if you’re into yoga and meditation.
Do you ever ask yourself if you’re doing a workout move right or holding a yoga pose exactly how the photo describes? In a crowded gym setting, you may not always have a way to see what you’re doing. A mirror allows you to keep an eye on your form and ensures you’re maintaining the proper posture during exercises. Plus, it can make your cramped room appear bigger and will add a design element to workout spaces in the process.
While a mirror on the wall will stay out of the way, you’ll still need a place to store your equipment. If you’re short on space, consider purchasing a storage bin to put in a closet or under a bed. Vertical storage racks to hang equipment is another ideal way to save on space and prevent your area from becoming a cluttered mess.
If you need inspiration, Reddit has a large community of home fitness enthusiasts who provide tips and advice on setting up the ultimate workout space.
Contact our team of primary care physicians if you want to learn more about how you can incorporate an exercise regimen into your daily routine. Or look up an INTEGRIS physician near you to set up an appointment.
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