Getting into shape doesn't mean you have to go to a gym weekly and work out. You can actually get plenty of exercise at home, by allocating a room or other part of your house as an exercise area, and either building or purchasing appropriate equipment for your exercise. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when designing your home gym.
Room Placement - wherever the space is that you're allocating as an exercise room, keep in mind that the placement is very important when you design your home gym. Pick a part of the house where you can generally create a ruckus without bothering anyone, for one thing. For another thing, pick spot near a bathroom, as you will most likely want to hit the shower to cool off after a workout. Lastly, make sure that the room has plenty of ventilation, you'll need the fresh air.
Floor Space and Ceiling Clearance - before going out to buy or build any equipment when designing your home gym, know the dimensions of the room. This doesn't simply mean the floor area; also consider how high the ceiling is, to make sure that you don't buy anything that won't fit. Also consider the shape of the room, if it is square, rectangular, built long and narrow, etc. as you can pick equipment that will let you maximize the space you've got to work with.
Purpose of the Exercise - you should know what you're trying to achieve with your exercise when you design your home gym. For example, are you going to be doing mostly cardiovascular workouts that will require mats and/or treadmills? Or maybe you're just out to lose weight. Or if you're serious about building muscle mass, consider free weights and home gym machines. Knowing what you're really after will let you concentrate on what equipment to buy first; you can expand into other types of exercise later.
Muscle Groups you want to Hit - similar to knowing what type of exercise you're after, you should also take into account which muscle groups you need to build up first when you consider your home gym design. Generally, the divisions are arms, shoulders, chest, back, waist, and legs. If you want to go holistic and work out all groups, then you'll probably need to pick up a jungle gym. If, on the other hand, you have a few “trouble" spots that you want to work on extensively first like losing a beer gut, you can narrow down your choices when buying stuff.
Support Gear - Don't forget that the gym should have some additional things aside from exercise machines. A poorly designed home gym is one with nothing but exercise equipment. A good, safe one has an adequate water supply for when you get thirsty (or a cooler with Gatorade), windows for ventilation, mirrors on the walls so you can observe yourself through the motions to ensure you're doing your exercise right, a locker for holding clothes and stuff, and a first aid cabinet for emergencies. Oh, and a good sound system in case you're the kind who likes to listen to tunes to get the adrenalin going.
Other Specific Purposes - aside from free weights, treadmills, and the usual work out equipment, if you're into other sports you may want to add their touches if possible when designing your home gym. Boxers and martial artists will usually add a punching bag or even, if there's room, a large mat area for sparring. Fencers will have ring loops hanging from strings to practice thrust targeting. Stuff like this will allow you to use your work out room to it's maximum potential.
Aesthetics or Functionality - lastly, when designing your home gym don't go overboard and try to make it look “cutting edge". There are some people who get into designing a home gym so much that they forget the room's original purpose, which is to allow them to exercise. There's no point to having a home gym stuffed to the armpits with the latest, flashiest exercise equipment, wall to wall mirrors, a floor mat that looks cool, and a paint job in “power" colors, if you don't have a body that does the room justice. I'd rather look good and have a lousy looking home gym than the opposite.
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