Getting in shape at home can be a lot more convenient than signing up for a gym membership. If you put a treadmill, elliptical machine or weight bench in your house, you can work out whenever you have time and energy.
When you’re ready to start exercising at home, create a space that encourages you to stick with it. Some ideas:
- Dedicate a space for your workout equipment. If you cram your rower into a storage area or laundry room, don’t be surprised when someone piles boxes on top of it or drapes wet clothes over it to dry. You’re more likely to hop on if the machine is clear of clutter and ready to ride.
- Make the space a pleasant place to spend time. Your workout will last for 30 minutes or more, and you’re likely to stay longer if your environment is appealing. Place your treadmill or recumbent bike near a window. Or mount a flat-screen TV on the wall so you can watch while you ride.
- Lay a PVC mat under each piece of exercise equipment to protect your wood, tile or laminate floors. If you like to keep fit with step aerobics or dance moves, place the pads in the area where you’ll do your footwork. They will cushion your steps and save your knees.
- Try to choose a ground-floor room for your home gym. The floor underneath will be concrete, which can support the weight of a heavy treadmill or elliptical trainer. If you must put your equipment on the second story of your house, invite a structural engineer over to evaluate whether the floor can handle the weight. You might need reinforcements.
- Choose a space that is well-ventilated or that at least has a window to open while you exercise. Working out is a sweaty, smelly business, and those odors can linger.
- Measure your room before buying your exercise machines. That way, you’ll be sure what you buy will fit into your space. Leave enough room to use the equipment, too. For example, to use a weight machine for leg extensions, you’ll need enough space around the machine to extend your leg without kicking a wall.
- Add some storage space. Leaving dumbbells scattered around the floor can lead to stubbed toes and tripping, so buy or build a weight rack and keep hand weights there between workouts. Add a shelf for clean towels, a rack for towels in use during the workout and a hamper for sweaty towels that need washing. Tuck away TV remotes, water bottles and anything else you handle during your workout once you’re finished. If you work out for long stretches, a mini refrigerator is a handy holder for bottled water and sports drinks.
- Stay safe. If your children live at home, keep the gym locked when you’re not using it and keep them out of the room when you are. Same goes for pets.
- Don’t do it all at once. Before you sink your life’s savings into exercise equipment, choose a single piece that you think you will enjoy using, and see how often you use it. If it turns out you’re a born gym rat, go ahead and add more machines to your home gym. But a home gym isn’t a good investment if you don’t use it.
- Protect your investment. If you choose a treadmill or another machine with a power cord, plug it into a surge protector, not a simple power strip, that will sacrifice itself rather than allowing the machine to take the hit from a power surge.