For some of us, going to the gym for our workouts is something we enjoy, whether you go with friends or get in the zone alone, the atmosphere can be motivational, not to mention the different types of machines and equipment. But if you don’t enjoy the gym, don’t have the time to get there, can’t afford membership prices or simply would prefer to sweat it out in private, then a home gym is a great option. I’m not talking celebrity style state of the art work out rooms complete with swim and sauna, but if you do have a spare room or garage space in your home, there are definitely ways of converting it into an exercise area, without forking out a load of cash. Here’s how:
Don’t Fall for the Big Brands
The appeal of a home gym to some is that if you add up the cost of a gym membership throughout the year, you could probably build your own little home gym, for the same price, and not have to share any of the equipment. One of the number one rules when it comes to setting up your own, is making sure that you don’t fall for big, expensive brand names and ‘top class’ fitness equipment just because you think you should. There will always be a cheaper alternative that works just as well. Some equipment is marketed in such a way that you truly believe you’ll be able to achieve an amazing physique simply by purchasing the product. Two words; ‘abs belt’. We all know that a nutritious, protein rich diet combined with blood, sweat, tears and heavy lifting is the only way that’s gonna get you those abs – no matter how flashy your tools are. Places such as Gumtree and Ebay will supply you with some really great quality second hand gym equipment such as bar and dumbbells, running machines and bikes. If you’re looking for a squat rack or a couple benches just be sure to read the seller’s reviews first, to be on the safe side.
One of the best parts about creating a home gym is being able to design it as somewhere that’s personal to you. You can fill the space with things that particularly motivate you and mirrors to watch your form, or you can have totally bare walls if you prefer a stripped back feel. Of course, the decoration of the room itself doesn’t really matter if you’re literally just getting a workout in but there are some essentials that you will need to consider. The first important one being flooring. You could spend fortunes on flooring if you wanted a gym with a flashy appearance, but really all you need is something durable and easy to clean. You also want it to protect your property should you decide to use the room for something else years down the line. Your best option is foam flooring which can be bought in jigsaw style pieces and slotted together on the floor. Get together some measurements so you know how many squares to buy – it is extremely affordable. The second thing to consider is the lighting. You don’t really want to be working out in a dark, dingy space as it won’t do anything for your motivation. At the same time, working out somewhere so bright you have to squint between reps, is only going to lead to a headache. Consider LED lighting for your home gym because not only will it save you money by using up less energy (particularly handy if you’re using it early in the morning or late at night and have to have all the lights on) it is also available in a range of different colours and brightness options, from a warm yellow glow to a cool, bright white and everything in between. Lastly, be sure to invest in some hardwearing speakers. They don’t have to be Bluetooth, as long as they blast out the tunes to spur you on, then who cares?
If you are an avid cardio lover, or are cutting for a competition then yes, you might benefit from a Stairmaster, Airdyne or Treadmill in your home gym. However, if you simply use cardio as a workout finisher, or schedule it in once or twice a week just to make sure you’re doing it, then do you really need a snazzy piece of machinery? Cardio exercises typically associated with circuit training and other conditioning type classes include burpees, mountain climbers, press ups and even running on the spot/high knees. These hit style workouts increase your heart rate quickly and can even be more effective than a slow cardio session. All you need is a mat for knee/hand protection. So think carefully about what you can do just with yourself, before you invest in all the cardio machines. NOTE: Running/walking, outside, in the open….is also a free form of cardio.
Make your Own
Most gyms these days have moved away from just having a weights and cardio area and there is a lot of different types of equipment appearing which makes working out a lot more interesting. The TRX suspension equipment focuses mainly on bodyweight exercises and is great in the way that it is so versatile – there are literally tonnes of fat burning and toning exercises to be done using the ropes. However, at the end of the day, that’s all it is. Ropes. With handles. If you can’t afford your own TRX frame and ropes, an alternative would be to use resistance bands wrapped around something sturdy. These bands are dirt cheap and will help tone arms and legs using different forms of exercise – just like the TRX.