Setting Up A Home Gym

By Nancy Moffett

Exercising at home has its advantages. Pros include the convenience of working out whenever you want, with privacy, and saving the expense and travel time of a gym membership. Another benefit is that you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started and you can tailor what you buy specifically to your needs. Of course, there are many treadmills and elliptical machines gathering dust around the Valley, so you need to do your homework before getting started.

Steve Hrycko, president of Fitness Central in Schnecksville, says you first need to find a way to make fitness fun. “It’s important to not just buy what everyone else has,” he says. “You need to figure out your overall goal and make sure the equipment you get will motivate you.” The best way to do that is to consult with a fitness professional to discuss your needs, possible ailments and what results you’re looking for.

Ian Savitz, vice president of operations for Facts Fitness (parent company of Steel Fitness Riverport, Bethlehem), agrees. “No matter how you start or where, everyone needs lots of instruction – even in a gym setting – in order to avoid injury and not waste your money and time,” he explains. Many trainers will come to your home for a consultation, and then continue to work with you to make sure you’re on the right track. Some trainers and vendors will also help you design your home gym.

For equipment, Savitz recommends starting small. “Begin with a stability ball, a Bosu® balance trainer, resistance bands and a TRX suspension training system – all for a total investment of about $350,” he adds. This “functional” training approach uses body weight and resistance to improve balance, posture, general strength and flexibility. Hyrcko adds hand-held dumbbells and kettlebells to the list for strength training.

When you’re ready to move on to cardiovascular, Hyrcko suggests you visit an equipment showroom and try different machines. “If it’s not good there, you won’t use it at home,” he says. Choices include treadmills, stationary bikes, steppers and elliptical (or cross) trainers. Both men agree that you should buy quality equipment not only for longevity, but also for better ergonomics, which equals better training. “Some of the newer ellipticals and climbers (brands such as ARC and Intense Summit) offer smoother movement and are easier on your joints,” Savitz notes. This is a major investment, as prices can range from $2,000 to $5,000 for a quality machine.

Universal gyms (weight machines) are a good fit for people with limited time and experience, Hyrcko adds. These have interchangeable parts and weights to work all the muscles of the body.

So, where should this home gym be located? Shane Smoyer, owner of Painting & Decorating by Shane, says that basements are the most common location, with bedrooms coming in second. No matter where you choose to put your home gym, the most important consideration is to make it a one-purpose space that’s closed off from the rest of the house. The space must be free of distractions—no phones, no kids’ toys or office stuff—so when you go there, you know it’s only to work out.

The home gym room should be 12’ by 12’ or larger, depending on how much equipment you have. Smoyer also recommends painting the space a warm color to make it more inviting. “No pastels or cool colors,” he says. “Use yellows, reds or oranges to get the blood flowing.” One distraction that’s allowed is a wall-mounted TV or your favorite iPod playlist.

If you decide on carpeting, make it a commercial, low-nap style – nothing plush. Also consider using rubber for part of or the entire floor. “There are several brands, including Armstrong®, some offering DIY interlocking 4” by 4” squares you can use to make a gym mat,” Smoyer says. If you’re into yoga or kick boxing, a wall of mirrors can help perfect your form as well. These can also be commercially installed, or you can tackle the job yourself using mirrored squares.

“Most of all, you need to find what works to stay consistent,” Savitz advises. “There are 5 to 10 percent of people who are self-motivated; the rest of us need a support system to keep going.” Working with a partner, a trainer and doing group workouts at an outside gym can help you stay focused. Hrycko adds, “Change your routine so you don’t get bored. Get outside and bike or walk to give you a different mindset,” he says. “When you start seeing a healthier lifestyle and see yourself as being active, it can be transforming.” Having a home gym may be just the incentive you need to get started and to keep you motivated.

Fitness Central
4337 Route 309
Schnecksville, PA 18078

Painting & Decorating by Shane
3870 Crestview Court
New Tripoli, PA 18066

Steel Fitness Riverport
15 West 2nd Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015

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