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How to Plan a Home Gym

If you want to get fit at home, be sure to cover all the bases when planning your home gym: aerobic fitness, strength, and flexibility. Before you even set foot in a fitness store, size up your goals, your budget, and your available space.

A complete home gym can consist of a rubber tube, a step, and a handful of videos — equipment that a student on a budget could fit into a studio apartment.

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Here are some specifics to consider before you go shopping:

  • Look at the big picture: Think about your goals and consider what type of equipment you’re going to need to succeed in all three areas of fitness. If you plan to get your aerobic exercise outdoors — walking or jogging, for example — then, spend all of your home-gym budget on weight equipment. Just make sure you have an aerobic exercise plan for the winter. Buying flexibility gadgets needn’t be a priority, but be sure to buy a cushy mat. You might also install a mirror, preferably in the area where you plan to lift weights. A mirror gives your home gym that health-club feel and enables you to keep an eye on your form.

  • Choose an inviting spot for your equipment: Place your equipment near entertaining distractions such as the TV or stereo (or away from them, if you want to be away from other family members). And make sure that the spot has adequate ventilation, space, lighting, and climate control. If you’re lucky enough to have a spare room, consider reserving it exclusively for your gym. If you don’t have an extra room, at least try to keep all your gadgets near one another.

  • Take careful measurements: Before you buy a major piece of equipment, carefully measure the length, width, and height of your available space. You don’t want to bump your head against the ceiling when you press the incline button on your new treadmill. Measure your door to make sure that you can get your new machinery into the house. Keep in mind that many equipment stores have high ceilings to accommodate tall equipment.

  • Think about flooring: If you use exercise DVDs, place your DVD player in a room with a rug rather than a tile or cement floor. The extra padding provided by carpeting helps protect your joints. Plus, there’s less danger of slipping. Don’t pump iron on a tile floor, either. If you drop a weight, you’ll crack the tile. Whatever type of floor you have, consider putting rubberized mats ($50 to $100) underneath your cardiovascular equipment. This reduces vibration and keeps your floor from getting stained by the globs of oil and other junk that inevitably drip from the underside of a treadmill or other equipment.

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