Outfitting Your Home for Fitness

An inviting personal workout space keeps you motivated


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With a few inexpensive essentials, you can set up an effective workout space in the comfort of your home.

Image provided by Shutterstock

No time for the gym? In-home fitness training has seen steady growth for the last five years. Read on to discover the steps you can take to design an in-home training center that will fit your needs as well as your budget.

Step 1 – Assess your needs
Decide what you want to accomplish while training — weight loss, muscle building, stronger heart, stress relief, sports skills improvement. Next reflect on what fitness activities you enjoy, such as running, walking, calisthenics, strength training, cycling, ab work, cross training or circuit training.  This step will help later on when deciding on equipment.

Step 2 – Decide on the room you will use

All too often I see folks put their fitness room in the dungeon. Or, they cram the equipment in the bedroom or den. If the space is uninviting, you will not use it. If there is any way you can dedicate a room to your training center, do so. Try to pick a room with plenty of windows to invite the outdoors in. If you must put your equipment in a room with no windows (the dungeon), then try painting it up wild and crazy (geometric designs or faux painting) so you will look forward to your sessions. Mirrors are also great to assess form and make the room appear larger.

Step 3 - Try out equipment

There are several alternatives for this. Alternative number one is to join a fitness center for one of those two-week specials they offer. Then get on all the equipment to assess which pieces you enjoy. Another method is to go to a reputable fitness equipment store and actually get on the equipment and try it for at least 5–10 minutes. Another idea is to ask a fitness trainer for recommendations. Trainers have seen it all and our suggestions usually reflect a broad base of knowledge and first hand experience with different pieces. No matter which method you choose, be sure you punch all the buttons, try all the programs and pull, push and press on all the bars and pulleys.

Step 4 – Match the equipment you like to your budget

Consumer Reports has information on all types of fitness equipment, so check out their website to assess price and quality. Here again, a trainer can be of service. Ask their opinion of certain brands.  Trainers can also clue you in on features you need to spend extra on and some you can probably do without. When you are ready to purchase, and your budget allows, purchase from a store that is local and deals exclusively with fitness equipment. They will be able to offer you set-up, delivery and a maintenance agreement.

Step 5 - Now you are ready to begin

Hire a trainer to teach you how to use the equipment safely and effectively. Depending on your budget, you can see them for an extensive one-time shot or, better yet, try to schedule 3–10 visits. I find it truly takes three visits for most people to understand and remember correct form.

Now let me give you my version of a versatile in-home training center.

For overall cardiovascular, muscular conditioning improvement and weight loss:

Purchase a good recumbent bike that has programs. You can use the great outdoors for your walking program and the bike will be an effective cross-training tool. Cost: $300-$700.

Purchase elastic tubing and bands of varying resistance. These are great because they will literally take the place of those expensive weight-training machines. Cost: $25 for a complete set. 

If you have room, I also recommend dumb bells. Buy a set that includes 5, 8,10,12,15 and 20-pound dumbbells. Free weights are great low cost options to selectorized equipment. You can work every muscle in the body with free weights. Cost: about $.50 per pound.

Another great purchase is a “Fit Ball” (large inflatable ball) and a set of medicine balls for core strength. Cost: $20-$40 per ball.

Finally, get a flat-to-incline bench for use with your dumbbells and tubing. Cost: $100–$200.

Total cost: approximately $900-$1000.

Julie Luther, a member of our 2016 Fit Family Challenge Panel of Experts, is the founder and president of Julie Luther’s PurEnergy Fitness Center located at 1905 Ashwood Court in Greensboro. She has worked with business, community organizations and individuals for over 26 years in promoting mind body wellness. You can contact Julie at julieluther.com, follow her on twitter @julieluther2008 or “like” PurEnergy Fitness Center on Facebook.

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