by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here!
Yesterday, while I was in the midst of running on the treadmill (24 minutes non-stop — a new record for me), I was chatting with my personal trainer and she was telling me her plans for re-decorating her studio. I was surprised to hear that she has been planning to install a tv near the treadmill for quite some time.
I suggested now is the perfect time to set up her tv because in the past, I’ve found watching the Olympics while exercising myself to be a lot of fun. It just gives you an extra boost of energy and somehow you end up increasing your speed and your enthusiasm. She agreed wholeheartedly and said “It’s a great motivator” and “thanks for the reminder!”
If you’d like to add a home gym to your home spa, here are my suggestions. Start small and build as you can. And don’t just admire it, use it!
- Dedicate Space: Where will you workout? Do you have access to a spare room or is your living room multi-purpose like mine is? If you’re going to be setting up shop in your living room (I don’t recommend your bedroom because the equipment and the activity will interfere with your sleeping environment), then you’ll want to choose equipment that you can store and access easily. I have a treadmill that folds and stands upright against a wall and that works for me. I keep it next to the tv so when it’s time for a walk/run, I just move the coffee table and extend the platform and I’m off to the races.
- Big Equipment: I’ve already mentioned a treadmill because that’s what I use. I highly recommend getting one. They can be quite expensive and keep in mind that the cheaper ones will be noisy (which will annoy the rest of your household) and will not have a lot of extra bells and whistles, like built in heart-rate monitors or a cushy running base, but even a cheap one is good to have. If you prefer some other equipment or have a lot of extra room, you can look into buying an elliptical trainer, a stairmaster, a stationary bike, a rowing machine or a strength-training machine. You might even consider installing a pole which will work your abs like nothing else once you get past the hanging upsidedown part. Your home gym will be really high end if you also have access tennis courts and swimming pools and saunas. I have a friend you had a squash/basketball court in his house which was really cool, I always thought.
- Handy Equipment: There’s a ton of great equipment that you can use in your home gym. Start with a yoga mat for your stretches. Hand-held weights are useful to have — start with low weights (two each of 1-, 2-, 3- & 5-pounders) and work your way up to 7’s, 8’s, 10’s, 12’s, 15’s, and 20-pluses. There are also adjustable weights you can strap on to your legs. For more resistance, get some tubes or bands that come in green, red, pink and purple depending on their strength. Suzanne Summers’ Thigh Master is still a winner. There are also inflatable pilates balls that are very versatile but only buy the ones that say “anti-burst.” You can also buy a mini trampoline or a low-tech jump rope that will really save space. I also have a plastic step from the 90’s which I’m planning to use again one of these days. Remember to use the built-in stairs in your house, too. My trainer has a Bosu (that half-ball in the picture) and last week on the Biggest Loser, I saw an Olympic athlete balance on one foot while doing the hoola-hoop on one. It looked fun and hard to do at the same time. I wonder if you can buy those speed skating gliding strips that they also used on the Biggest Loser for home use? My trainer told me that those are way harder than they look and are great for building endurance.
- Extra Features: To make your home gym more enjoyable, design it with care. If it’s a dark and dingy room in your basement, you won’t use it. To brighten things up, install a large, full-length mirror so you can see your form while you’re working out. Also, having a tv within sight that plays your favourite workout videos will add variety to your exercise routine. A stereo is also good to have. I have a few playlists on my iPod that I listen to while running. Also hanging posters with inspiring quotes and photos of fit people also help with motivation. And have a place for your bottle of water. Remember also to plug in some fans to circulate air. Even though I always seem to forget this, have a clean towel handy. You might also like to buy tools like heart-rate monitors and pedometres to track your progress.
- A note on safety: Make sure your home gym will give you an effective workout and will also be a safe environment for you. I advise getting pets and small children out of the room while you’re exercising. Also, make sure the room is clean and uncluttered and there aren’t any tripping hazards or electrical overload concerns with your equipment. Read the safety manuals and use the equipment as intended. Clean your equipment regularly with disinfectant wipes, especially if many people are using the facilities.
I hope you use your home gym for many years to come. Invite your friends and workout buddies over from time to time so they can enjoy your gym too. Leave a comment and tell us about your home gym. And have fun working out while watching the Olympics — that’s what I’ll be doing for sure.