Exercise in Your Own Home Gym

Turn a spot in your house into a fun fitness area that meets your needs.

Woman doing sit-ups at home

Woman doing sit-ups at home

Let's face it, joining a health club isn't for everyone. The dues can be pricey, and the clientele can be as intimidating as the equipment.

But don't give up on fitness clubs yet! Instead, why not create a personal gym under your own roof, one that's ideal for serving your purposes? Not only is a home gym convenient, but it makes exercising easy, effective and enjoyable.

"Over the years I'd bought several fitness machines, including a stair stepper and a treadmill, with the best intentions of working out regularly," says Eric Miller of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

"Unfortunately, the equipment remained mostly unused. I gained weight, and my cholesterol level and blood pressure started to go up.

"Knowing I needed to get back in shape, I created a space where I would enjoy working out. After turning a portion of my basement into a fitness area, I actually looked forward to exercising.

"I'm happy to say that for nearly 2 years now, I've been working out regularly in my home gym," reports Eric. "I've lost 40 pounds and lowered my blood pressure and cholesterol. I have a lot more energy and I feel great."

Creating a Fitness Area

Start off by finding the right spot. Basements tend to be popular for home gyms because they're removed from common living quarters. However, you can turn a corner of any room into an ideal fitness space—often by simply rearranging some furniture.

Consider areas with lots of light. Eric painted his basement walls white and installed additional lights so his gym wasn't dreary.

Make sure the area is large enough to accommodate any regular exercises you might do (such as jumping jacks and push-ups)…and any fitness equipment you own. But keep in mind that while stationary bikes are terrific additions to personal fitness areas, comfortable shoes and a little exercise know-how are enough for a good workout.

Add a mat or a piece of scrap carpeting to your gym to make stretching more comfortable. If you own a full-length mirror, move that into the area so you can check your posture while using the treadmill or jogging in place.

Keep a notebook handy to record your progress, and decorate the spot with inspirational quotes. Once your doctor approves your workout plan, you can put your home gym to use.

If you're considering purchasing a fitness machine for your gym, research which type best fits your needs.

"My favorite is the treadmill," Eric says. "It's ideal for beginners because it's easy to use and can be adapted as workouts advance.

"Similarly, a stair stepper is a good basic piece that offers a thorough cardiovascular workout," he adds.

If you know what type of equipment you're interested in, try it out at the store, then wait a few days to see how your body reacts. Did it cause back pain? Was it hard on your knees? If so, ask your doctor what exercises you might do instead. If you think the equipment is right for you, ask about the store's return policy before making a purchase.

"And if you're torn between which machine you need, get a trial membership at a health club," Eric suggests. "Try the equipment and see which piece you like best."