Saturday, September 19, 2009

Creating the Perfect Home Gym for Little Money and Even Less Space

Exercising and paying attention to our health and fitness in our time of majority overweight and obesity is essential. Working out at home can be more convenient and cost effective than joining a gym. A home gym does not have to be a dedicated room in your home. You can carve out space in almost any room.

Let's break it down to the types of activities you'll need space for. Fitness training consists of three main elements: strength, cardio vascular (cardio), and flexibility. Additionally, I like to add balance as a fourth element.

I'll start with flexibility and balance because these are the most neglected areas of fitness and the easiest to do at home. You need little or no equipment. What you really need to improve these elements of fitness is information. Although there are all kinds of balance exercises, you can start with simply standing on one foot. Stretching can be a little more complicated. There are some basic stretches that we all learned mostly as kids in gym class but, also from various other sources over the years. However, it has been my experience as a trainer that most people do not really understand stretching. They don't understand which stretches are important, how stretching should feel, how to make improvements and how to push themselves hard enough without pushing too far. Take the time to learn about this. Many injuries and daily aches and pains can be prevented by maintaining flexibility. Buy a book, research on the Internet or hire a personal trainer to teach you. If there's any equipment I would recommend for stretching it would be a mat for floor work and a yoga strap.

Let's talk about fitting strength training into your home gym. This is an absolutely critical and yet often neglected element of fitness, especially among women. It is easier than you think to find the space in your home to do strength or resistance training. Many exercises can be done simply using your own body weight. When you want to add resistance you can use resistance bands. There are many types and levels of resistance to choose from and they take up very little space. If you want to use dumbbells there are a couple of ways to approach it. One way is to buy one of the models of all in one adjustable dumbbells. These are sold in pairs where each dumbbell can be adjusted to the weight you need for the particular exercise. These can be somewhat costly and bulkey so their not my top choice. However, I've seen less expensive models that will do the job and they are fairly space efficient. I've also seen people keep their dumbbells in a decorative box or chest or a rolling crate that you can keep under a table or in a closet. Other great and easily stowed pieces for strength training are a removable pull-up bar and push-up handles. The pull-up bar in particular is well worth it. It will work muscles in the upper body and especially the back that can otherwise be hard to get.

Last but not least, cardio training. This is the hardest thing to fit into a home gym. My first suggestion is don't fit it in your home gym. Go outside. Walking, running and biking are excellent choices. In the warmer months, I am also a fan of hiking and in-line skating. In the winter, cross country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing are great choices. I understand that sometimes going outside is just not practical. My top choice for indoor cardio which takes a minimum of space is videos. There are a million good cardio workout videos. Modify the moves a little and you can do them in the smallest of spaces. This I know from personal experience during years of apartment living. There are workouts for men and women, beginner to expert. The more videos you have the more variety. Since the biggest problem with cardio training is that people find it boring, a good collection of videos is the answer. If you don't want to collect videos, check out your cable listings. Many people have access to Fit TV as well as workouts on demand. Netflix also has a selection of workouts you can try before you buy. If you really want a machine for cardio my top picks are treadmills (they have ones that fold up into a fairly small space) and the Nordic Track. Nordic Tracks, as far as I know are not being made anymore but, this means you can get a great deal on the second-hand market. I see them for sale on Craig's List all the time.

No matter where you live you can likely find a little space. Move the coffee table aside for an hour and get exercising. Working out at home eliminates travel time and membership fees. You don't have to worry about how you look or whether the machine you want to use or the class you like is available when you want it. You can get just as fit working out at home as you can at the gym. Take the suggestions here, incorporate the four elements of fitness into your routine and make the time to do it. You'll be feeling fitter and seeing results before you know it.

Brought to you by Best Ever Fitness

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