Much like sticking to a diet or getting proper sleep, maintaining a fitness workout routine is more easily accomplished by self-motivated individuals. For others, not so much. A gym membership can help, with its financial commitment perhaps boosting commitment to working out. But commercial gyms aren’t for everyone: Crowded facilities, traffic and potential parking issues, community health concerns, inclement weather and increasing monthly fees can quickly dampen exercisers’ enthusiasm. Instead, many fitness enthusiasts have discovered home gyms provide a preferable solution.
Removing the various distractions and inconveniences of commuting to a gym, yoga studio, boxing center or other remote facilities, the use of exercise equipment at home streamlines potential obstacles. It also enhances the chance for individuals to practice fitness routinely.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, adults should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, 1 hour and 15 minutes per week of vigorous exercise, or a blend of the two. The HHS also recommends separating workouts over days and including muscle-building workouts at least twice a week. But what’s the best approach? What equipment is needed? What are the costs?
“It all depends upon what kind of space you have,” says Mike Edwards, owner and manager of Fitness Inside & Out in Naples. “I always recommend at least one piece of cardio equipment. It also depends upon what kind of limitations a person might have. It could be a recumbent bike, an elliptical machine or a rowing machine.”
Newbie or experienced, he recommends a physical assessment for anyone considering a home gym. “It’s best to see what’s best for a person first,” says Edwards, who has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and consults with clients in their residences or his company’s workout facility. “A lot of times, what happens is that someone might have talked with a friend who has a multi-unit in their garage, and he has a stair-climber and he has a rower and [the person thinks], ‘I might do that.’
“But you have back problems or shoulder problems. You’re trying to do something that somebody told you about and it sounds neat. But you’re not realizing, ‘I’ve got shoulder impingement.’” Edwards generally meets with home gym practitioners once every three months or at least twice a year. He gauges progress and offers workout suggestions for improvement, or to correct a potential workout weakness.
First Place Fitness Equipment, a specialty company with eight locations in Florida including Naples, has provided consulting for and equipped commercial gyms, hospital rehabilitation centers, apartment complexes, hotels, condos, country clubs, corporate wellness centers and homes. The company emphasizes the need for the proper home gym.
“Space is needed for a treadmill or ellipticals or anything like that,” says Nash, a First Place Fitness Equipment staffer. “Definitely, space is going to be big. Treadmills can range from 70 to 80 inches in length. Elliptical machines have free-moving arms, requiring more space than may have been considered. You may find an elliptical machine that, when standing still, will keep to a small space—but when you are moving on it, the arms will move out and backward to a full length. You need adequate space.”
The ideal fitness equipment and associated requirements for a specially designed rehabilitation center wouldn’t be appropriate for a studio apartment.
“When it comes to flooring, if you are going to have free weights and dumbbells and equipment like that, it’s always best to buy gym mats, so you don’t ruin the tile or any type of flooring you may have,” explains Nash. “For cardio equipment, any flooring will be good. But you can also buy yoga mats to use so you don’t scratch the floor.”
Numerous entrepreneurs with YouTube channels, from Budget Home Gym to Home Gym Essentials Illustrated to Garage Gym Reviews, offer expertise for beginners to veteran fitness practitioners. One common theme: Less can be more. A simple home gym with a few equipment choices, such as dumbbells, can cost a few hundred dollars, while elaborate home workout facilities may represent $15,000 investments.
To decide, consider the available space in a spare room, basement or garage and who will use it. What are your fitness goals? Will you read, listen to music, watch television for entertainment or virtual fitness instruction? What equipment do you enjoy the most? “It all depends on what you are looking to get out of your workout,” says Nash.
Bryan Green, the founder of Fitness Design Group of Southern California, has a global business including clients in Southwest Florida. He has worked with private and public health clubs, universities, hotels and individual homeowners.
He believes a home gym is a sanctuary. He explains what arguably are the best reasons to ponder for anyone considering a home gym: “Your home workout environment should be a place to treat and invest in the well-being of your family.”