The lure of owning your own home gym may be a dream for most, but sometimes a factor other than money can quash your plans. Unless you like having a giant universal machine in your living room, you are more than likely confined to a very small area for your home gym.
Depending on where you live, space is more than likely the number one determining factor for what you can have at home. If you live in an apartment, renting a two bedroom will cost more than a health club membership.
This is why we decided to take a closer look at what you should look for when you are out there. This way you can make an informed choice when you decide to plan for your own home gym, especially if you have a tight space to work with.
The first thing you need to do is to determine exactly how much space you have to use. Maybe you have a large storage closet, or maybe you have a spare room. The basement is another popular spot, although this may not be an option for everyone, namely those in an apartment. Once you have the space allocated, measure it up so you know exactly how much room you have for the equipment you need.
Note – if you have no room at all, then you need to look at equipment that can fold up and slide under your bed. There are many such machines out there that are made for exactly this purpose, ranging from treadmills to pilates equipment. So don’t use having no space as your excuse to give up your dream of a home gym!
Now that you have space allocated, you need to decide what you are going to do with it. If you are planning to do cardio only, then you will be looking for one or two machines. One thing to keep in mind for cardio-only is the height of the ceiling. Jumping rope is an excellent, inexpensive cardio exercise, but it requires a fairly high ceiling or balcony.
You may also want to have room for pilates style stretching exercises, which will require a door handle or radiator to tie an elastic cord. If you are doing weights, then you need to make a decision. Free weights take up a lot of room, unless you want to change plates every exercise.
Another option is the weight machines – Nautilus, Universal, etc. – which have everything built in. The downside to these sorts of machines are that they are expensive, require regular maintenance, and the higher end models take up huge amounts of space.
Now it is time to go and shop around for the equipment you need. Bring a measuring tape and check each piece out yourself. The boxes don’t always have exact measurements, and you don’t want to haul a piece of equipment back to the store after you have assembled it, especially since some of them weigh hundreds of pounds! Here are a few common sizes of some of the basic pieces of equipment that you may be looking at:
- Treadmills 30-40 sq. feet
- Single-Station Gym 35 sq. feet
- Free Weights 20-50 sq. feet
- Stationary Bikes 10 sq. feet
- Rowing Machines 20 sq. feet
- Stair Climbers 10-20 sq. feet
- Multi-Station Gym 50-200 sq. feet
Some other key things to consider when purchasing equipment are:
- Noise – As mentioned in our article on treadmills, if you live in an apartment you may want to ensure the equipment you buy is not overly noisy.
- Usage – The more you use a piece of equipment, the more wear and tear will occur. Don’t buy something that requires lots of maintenance, because you don’t want to be dragging it back to the shop every month. It may be wise to spend a few extra dollars and get better quality, rather than skimp and pay more in maintenance.
- Service & Set-Up – Many stores will come and set everything up for you, as well as do in-home service. Don’t purchase from a store that will be gone when the machine breaks down.
- Price – Just because something is more expensive, does not mean it is better quality. More often than not you are paying for features that are unnecessary. You need to rationalize exactly what you want the equipment for, and then make sure your machine meets those standards.
- Cleaning – You also want a machine that is easy to clean. Ever notice how some health clubs smell? Often what happens is the vinyl/plastic backing cracks on the benches, allowing perspiration to soak the foam. The disgusting smell will never go away! Make sure that the machine is designed with easy cleaning in mind, and ask about replacements parts.
Now that you have your home gym equipment, it is time to get set-up and start working out! Most people turn to home based gyms because they do not have the time to spend a few hours each day at a health club. But the one downside of a home gym is that there are lots of distractions at home, so you need to make sure you get into a solid routine and stick to it.
You may want to consider bringing in a personal trainer once a month to change up your routine and to make sure you are on track. Another option might be to get a work out buddy. If you have a friend come over 3-5 times a week, then you will both be forced to stay with a routine.
Don’t be afraid to upgrade! Although free weights will last forever, machines often don’t. Find out where the best placed is to either trade-up or sell your old equipment. Keep in mind that the body adjusts very quickly, particularly to cardio workouts. You need to change things up every now and then, and make sure you avoid doing the same routine longer than 30 days.