It's a common occurrence — a close kin of those cast-aside New Year's resolutions inhabiting the round file labeled Good Intentions. It's that guilt trip that comes at bill time every month when you pay for your seldom-used gym membership.
We know you meant well. The hype was inspiring as the young fitness expert took you on a tour of the facilities. You felt inspired; you felt determined; you felt energized. But, let's face it — with long hours at work, family responsibilities and the demands of a busy life, where does one find the extra hours to spend at the gym?
With a little imagination and some of that left-over determination, a home gym can provide a very effective workout. And contrary to what those persuasive infomercials claim, it doesn't mean spending your life's savings. With a relatively modest investment and a little creativity, you can pump iron at home and achieve worthwhile results. In fact, for the person who has a foundational knowledge of resistance training, home exercise has some real advantages; the most obvious, of course, is convenience.
"A lot depends on what your goal is when setting up a home gym," says Patty Traxler, certified fitness trainer at Oz Fitness in Medford. "Budget is also a consideration, and I've seen very elaborate home gyms, but with a few good choices of equipment, you can set up a very good program for not too much money."
For overall fitness and weight loss, cardio exercise is important. Many types of treadmills, stair steppers and elliptical machines can be found for a fraction of their original cost in the classifieds. You will want to consider speed variations, incline options and whether you have irritable knee, hip or ankle joints. Elliptical machines are usually considered a better choice if you are inclined toward soreness in these areas. Many machines offer fold-up, space-saving capabilities.
Although cardio exercise is the basis for any good fitness regimen, keep in mind that weight training builds bone mass, promotes joint and tendon strength and burns fat. Some women fear building "too much muscle" when they think of weight training. Never fear. The average woman working with 5-, 10- or 15-pound dumbbells can greatly improve muscle tone, joint health and overall strength without any worries of bulking up.
The first consideration for your home gym is space. Many people turn their garages into mini-gyms. If you go this route, temperature is a serious consideration, and good-quality rubber mats are a must. Sweltering heat or a frigid set of dumbbells is a good excuse to skip your workout, so use this option only if you have some control over the temperature.