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By Raphael Calzadilla


Monday, October 4, 2010.


Hectic schedule? Chaotic lifestyle? Don’t want to pay “through the nose” for an expensive gym membership and contend with waiting for equipment? And, you actually DO want to work out. You’re the perfect candidate for a home gym.

The home gym is quickly becoming the solution many have been looking for, since convenience is one of the biggest reasons people say they stop exercising. Why agonise over researching and paying for a health club membership that you may not even be able to take advantage of when you can get the same results in the privacy of your own home?

Having a home gym even with minimal equipment and limited space lets you keep your workouts regular when your life isn’t so cooperative. You can’t beat the convenience.

Here are the key points to consider when setting up your home gym:

1. Determine a realistic budget

Write down exactly what you’re willing to invest in your home gym. Stay in a range that is realistic for you (i.e. £250-£450) Exercise equipment is a good example of getting what you pay for. Your equipment needs to be sturdy and durable and come with a warranty in writing.

Being frugal may be necessary, but don’t buy poorly designed equipment to save a few quid. It’ll only hurt you in the end - and the back - and the neck!

Whatever you purchase, make sure that it is scaleable so that you can add to it to meet your future fitness needs. For example, you wouldn’t want to purchase a weight bench that can only support 20 kilos if you can eventually use 40 kilos. Consider buying quality used equipment from a reputable distributor. This may help stretch your budget further than expected.




2. Space availability

Determine exactly how much space is available to you. Measure it out so that you not only have enough space to accommodate your current plan, but also for any potential future equipment growth. Also, don’t forget to consider floor to ceiling space. Make sure it’s a space that will be pleasurable for you to work out in.

Don’t congest the area with too much equipment, and make sure the room takes into consideration safety and traffic flow. Make sure the space you’ll be using is well ventilated and has sufficient lighting and electrical outlets.

Use the following guidelines to determine how much room you may need:

• Treadmill - 3 square metres
• Stationary bike - 1 square metre
• Free weights – 2 - 5 square metres
• Single station gym – 3.5 square metres
• Rowing machine - 2 square metres
• Stair climber – 1 - 2 square metres
• Multi-station gym – 5 - 20 square metres

3. Equipment

Strength equipment:

Every home gym must include equipment for strength training. Weight training helps boost the metabolism, increase strength and bone density and burn body fat. If you have limited space, then a multi-purpose weight machine (£300 and up) may be your best bet.

However, excellent choices for basic equipment that will allow you to perform multiple exercises for your entire body include: an adjustable bench with leg extension and leg curl feature (£40-£100), dumbbells (£15 a set), one barbell (£30) and a selection of weight plates up to 40 kilos (£20).

I also recommend investing in a Swiss Ball (£15). Made of a synthetic vinyl, these inflatable resistance balls are great for abdominal work, stretching and honing balance skills. Always keep in mind that any equipment purchased should not only challenge your present fitness level, but also allow for progression.

Cardiovascular equipment:

To balance the strength equipment, invest in a quality treadmill, stationary bike, stair climber, rower or other equipment of choice. Cardiovascular exercise will assist in strengthening your heart and lungs, improve endurance and help burn calories.

Make sure the equipment is something you will enjoy, and that it has been built with safety in mind. The equipment should also be easy to learn how to use, operate smoothly and be space efficient. Look closely at features, design, manufacturing, safety and service before buying.

Examine features that promote safety, such as safety switches on treadmills. Make sure parts are easily removed and replaced. In addition, the frame of the unit should be thick and sturdy. Prices will vary depending on quality, but this is one area where you are better off spending a bit more than less.

4. Features and benefits comparison

Use the following checklist to perform your feature/benefits evaluation of all products:

• Price
• Estimated length of product life
• Trade-in programs for new product design
• Sturdy design
• Safety
• Comfort
• Quiet operation
• Adjustability
• Reputation of manufacturer
• Cost to service equipment
• Service plan and parts availability
• Warranty

It’s important to research and select pieces of equipment that meet your specific fitness needs and that stay within your budget. Try to purchase equipment from knowledgeable sales people who are savvy about health and fitness equipment. They should be able to answer specific questions and help you buy the right equipment for your needs.

You can get a complete strength and cardiovascular workout with very little equipment. Many exercises can be done with limited space or a tight budget. As long as you follow the basic principles of exercise training (such as overloading the muscles, progressing your workouts and working within your target heart rate), you are guaranteed to see results.


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