5 Tips to Make Your Own Home GymArticle posted in: Fitness
Yoga. HIIT. Kickboxing. Barre. Weight training. You used to do exercises like these at the gym. But maybe your gym is still closed. Maybe your finances have changed. Maybe you just aren’t ready to venture out. Whatever the case, there’s never been a better time to build your own home gym. With a few simple adjustments to an open space in your house, you can have your own personal fitness studio that can keep you fit while you stay home.
Here are five simple ideas and tips to make your own home gym or fitness space:
1. The Space
Find a space in your home, apartment, garage or patio where you can lay down with your arms outstretched. Make some snow angels. Next, do a few jumping jacks. If you aren’t hitting any walls or furniture with your hands or feet, you have enough space to do the exercises above. Next, make sure you have some air. While garages and basements are great home-gym locations, if they’re not climate controlled, you might need a fan or portable AC unit. If you’re uncomfortable, you’re not likely to have a great workout. And then, what’s the point?
2. The Floor
A carpeted room provides cushion for noise as well as your back and knees. However, a hardwood, tile or other flat surface can be more stable (especially if a carpet is quite thick). Plus, a flat surface is much easier to clean if you sweat or spill your water. Again, garages, basements and porches are ideal because the floor is usually concrete and won’t shake or bother the neighbors below if you jump.
There’s a reason your gym has rubber tiles on the floor. They’re durable, they offer excellent cushioning for your body, they absorb sound and they’re easy to clean. Similarly, yoga mats offer the cushion and traction you need to hold poses, do core workouts and more. Better yet, they’re easy to stash away.
3. The Equipment
If you can afford—and have the space for—a large weight machine that allows you do 50+ exercises, scoop one up. You may be able to find used equipment at a discount if you’re lucky! If you need equipment that can be easily moved because the space must multitask, dumbbells should be your first purchase. Weight training—even if you’re using lighter weight—not only helps build and maintain muscle mass and strength, but can increase stability, build strong bones and decrease the risk of fractures from osteoporosis, says Harvard Health. If you need a variety of weights, look for adjustable models.
Resistance bands can also offer the benefits of weight training but are really compact, double as stretching aids and are adjustable. The looser the loop, the lighter the resistance. Hold the band tighter or double it to increase difficulty.
As for cardio equipment, the same scenario applies: If you have static space for a good-quality elliptical machine, bike or treadmill, great! (There’s nothing worse than a beat up secondhand or low-quality machine.) If bigger isn’t better for you, consider other versatile equipment like a step with risers to give you instant stairs or an incline on which to do dips, pushups or chest presses. Jump ropes take virtually no space and a balance platform can make any exercise more challenging.
4. The Feel
If you’re building a yoga studio, some indoor plants and soft or natural lighting can help you feel grounded and calm. If you’re building a kickboxing gym, punching bags and speed bags are important. If you’re doing a little of everything, you’ll likely need a variety of equipment you can build over time. No matter what exercise(s) you pick, one thing is essential: eliminate distractions. You can’t be thinking about work while you exercise, so don’t have your laptop and email open. Turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb” so a call or text can’t tempt you to abandon your plank.
Here at the South Beach Diet, we recommend 30 minutes of exercise per day. This adds up to over three hours per week, making it a large chunk of your schedule. Turn your home gym into a place where you actually want to be and somewhere that makes you feel good. Fill your space with as many motivating things as possible. That Rocky poster is perfect. That motivational quote wall decal is sure to help you keep running. A photo of you at your heaviest weight is really effective. A TV or computer positioned to stream your favorite workout or music videos is ideal.
5. The Proper Technique
Not sure you’re lunging properly? Experiencing a little back pain when you do a tricep kickback? When you’re on your own, it’s tough to know if you’re on the right track. Consider inviting a trainer to come show you a full body workout or to Zoom with you while you work out. Not only can they correct your form and offer new exercises, they can motivate you to keep going or to push yourself harder. If you can’t swing the cost for a trainer, at least try to get a full-length mirror in your space to help correct misalignments—if only when you first begin. Finally, think about the exercises you are doing as you workout so you can make the most of your effort while preventing injury. You can even invest in some informative fitness posters with step-by-step instructions on classic exercise moves.