Tips For Creating A Home-Based Workout

Tips For Creating A Home-Based Work Out

By Vicki McGrath, Harbinger Advisory Council Member Reprinted by permission of Harbinger (

Space, Variety, Goal-Setting Are Key In Staying Motivated Each year, thousands of people invest in expensive home exercise equipment -treadmills treadmills , stationary bikes exercise cycles , stair climbers stair climbers , elliptical trainers elliptical trainers . In 1998, Americans spent $5.5 billion on home workout machines. Typically, enthusiasm runs high in the beginning, then declines. The high-priced equipment is used infrequently, then is moved to the garage to collect dust. Makes the phrase “healthy investment” quite an oxymoron, being neither good for your health nor your wallet.

And while some people do use the exercise machines they purchase for home use, if it’s the only piece of equipment they’re using, these exercisers aren’t gaining a complete program of health benefits. Current studies indicate that in addition to cardiovascular exercise, weight training, stretching and resistance work are integral to a balanced fitness program that builds and tones muscles, burns fat and helps prevent injury and disease. According to a 1998 study, Americans are participating in fitness activities to achieve their overall goals of a toned body, improvements in strength and flexibility and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Pros & Cons Should you work out at home? Many people prefer the convenience for a variety of reasons – savings in time and money, no driving, no child care needed, workout schedule not dictated by the gym’s hours. A 1997 study by the Fitness Products Council (FPC) found that home exercise equipment is regularly used in 33 percent of U.S. households. Then why does enthusiasm for home exercise fade away? Contributing factors may include:

Mental boredom from lack of variety in the exerciser’s program Waning motivation due to insufficient gains or a plateau in physical Improvements Inferior ventilation, a poorly lit room

Getting Started All the “cons” can become “pros” by building the right home fitness area. Embracing variety is key to creating a home gym environment you’ll use frequently and enjoy. How much will it cost to create a home mini-gym? Think you might not have enough room to exercise in your apartment? You’ll be happy to learn how economical – fiscally and spatially – it is.

Cost: About half the price of joining a no-frills gym for a year Space: A little furniture rearranging usually does it Gear: The equipment is easily stowed in a tote bag in the closet

What type of equipment should you select in building your home gym? Personal exercise preferences are important, but remember variety will help keep you motivated and help you achieve cardiovascular fitness, strong, toned muscles and flexibility. According to fitness trends cited in the FPC study, the top five ways people get and stay fit are:

1.Training with Free Weights free weights 2.Treadmill walking or jogging treadmills 3.Fitness Walking 4.Running/Jogging 5.Stationary Bicycle workouts exercise cycles

For cardiovascular training, investing in a treadmill or stationary bike isn’t mandatory. Running or jogging, a power walk, a swim or cycling can all be done outdoors. Keep it interesting and fun – change the scenery by taking different routes. On cold winter days, jumping rope jump ropes , running in place and aerobic exercise to videos can be done inside. For strength training strength equipment , free weights are the equipment of choice. There is a wide variety of equipment on the market to choose from for your in-home gym. You’ll want to integrate new pieces as steadily as you feel comfortable, starting with the basics. Here’s a list:

1.Free weights – dumbbells dumbells or wrist and ankle weights wearable weights in the ¬†¬† 3-5 lb. or 8-10 lb. range 2.Resistance bands resistance bands with “How-to” instruction manual included 3.Jump Rope jump ropes – more challenging now than in grade school! 4.Exercise Mat exercise mats for stretching stretching , abdominal work abs , Pilates ¬†¬† reformer and yoga Pilates 5.Heart Rate monitor heart rate monitors – to ensure you’re in your target zone, and not ¬†¬† working out at a dangerously high level – or not hard enough 6.Exercise videos books and videos – available online and in better bookstores 7.Music – try something rhythmic with a steady beat 8.Mirror – to help you maintain proper form while exercising

Goal Setting & Personal Trainers Prior to beginning your at-home workout program, I highly recommend making an appointment with an ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine, certified personal trainer. Here’s why it’s a worthwhile investment:

A professional fitness instructor will help set up your home workout pace, show you how to properly use the equipment in all its variations and most importantly, help you set “S.M.A.R.T. Goals” – fitness objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Trackable. Here’s a checklist of things you’ll want to accomplish at your initial session with a certified trainer:

Set “S.M.A.R.T. Goals. ” Start small, and set goals you can achieve. Work to accomplish at least one goal during the first week of your program. Learn your target and maximum heart rates heart monitors to understand the range you need to work within. Find out your body’s circumference measurements as a base assessment and starting point. Learn how to use your fitness equipment for proper alignment and to prevent injury. Create a training program with a lot of variety to keep boredom at bay.

Set up a follow-up meeting with your trainer within three months to review your progress and set new goals. I also recommend monthly follow-up phone calls with your trainer – it will help you feel accountable, and you’ll get extra encouragement, support and motivation.

Whether you’re new to exercise, a fitness buff or getting back to it after time off, setting goals is a huge motivating factor – especially in an at-home workout environment, where isolation and distractions can play a role in whether you stick with your fitness routine. Setting goals helps keep your eye on the prize. Once you begin to see and feel results, you’ll become even more dedicated to your at-home fitness program.

Statistics attributed to the 1999 edition of Tracking the Fitness Movement, from the Fitness Products Council ( and the Sporting Goods Manufacturer’s Association.