The more difficult it is to do something you’re already dreading, the more likely it is that you won’t do it. For many people, that’s going to the gym. Maybe you’re sleep-deprived and you need that extra hour in the mornings instead of going to spin class. Or maybe you’re just starting out on your fitness journey and you feel self-conscious about working out in front of other people. So you’ll do it tomorrow. Or maybe the day after. Or maybe just… never.
Since you can’t go to the gym, what if the gym came to you instead? Home gyms don’t have to be all about treadmills and stationary bikes, nor do they have to be terribly expensive – unless you want them to be.You’d never have to worry about travelling times or being judged, and having the equipment within arm’s reach every day would be a great motivator for you to use it.
Interested? Here’s what you need to know.
Start with an honest assessment of what you want a home gym for. Do you want to get ripped or just keep yourself trim? How often are you willing to dedicate time to working out? Are you familiar with using gym equipment? Do you have health conditions (heart problems, knee or back injuries)?
These are all questions that trained home gym consultants will ask you – usually on a questionnaire – in order to get a profile of your habits and goals before they can make recommendations on the equipment that would be best for you.
If you’re new to the whole fitness thing and don’t know the difference between a treadmill and a TRX suspension trainer, sign up for a trial session at a local gym to give the equipment a test run. You can get help from the trainers there and find out what you like to do.
Alternatively, bring your running shoes to places like the DFG Wellness Lifestyle Centre, run by wellness and fitness solutions provider Dynaforce International, to try out the Technogym equipment on show there. They’ll even hire a trainer for a session if you’re really serious!
SIZE MATTERS, BUT NOT THAT MUCH
You don’t need a large space to start a home gym, but it will affect the type of equipment you’ll be able to buy. Edgar Ng, Regional Director of Dynaforce International, notes that 20sqm2 is enough for a set each of cardio and strength equipment, as well as a stretching area. If you’re not sure whether your home has that amount of space, trained consultants can come to your home and take measurements, or they can ‘carve out’ the space for you from an AutoCAD-style blueprint.
Working out in cramped spaces is always a turn-off, and home gym equipment design is increasingly taking that into account. There now exist Kinesis machines that can be folded against the wall when not in use, foldable treadmills, and dumbbells that can be disassembled and displayed on a countertop as home décor. Besides being space-saving, the sleek look and design of equipment like this becomes a point of pride and gives owners the inspiration to work out.
Think about the people who will be using the equipment of your home gym. Is it suitable for them? Do they know how to use it? Besides that, things like power points (floor mounted is preferable), extensions, wires and dumbbells left lying around can be dangerous if you have elderly or very young family members around.
It’s also recommended that you get rubber flooring laid on or a thick rug put in if you’re using free weights or dumbbells as they can injure the user if dropped, not to mention cause noise pollution if you’re in a condominium.
Ventilation is also important for your comfort and health. Edgar recommends keeping the room temperature to around 24-25C, with a fan switched on to keep the ventilation going. Ideally, the equipment would also not be directly facing the airconditioning so you don’t get too cold while you’re exercising.
Setting up a home gym isn’t the cheapest thing in the world, but it doesn’t have to drain your bank account either. “Start small,” advises Edgar, “and once you are well-adjusted and feel that you want more, then you can look at upgrading to better machines.”
Accessories such as skipping ropes, active balls and stretch bands are functional training tools that are budget-friendly and don’t require a lot of space or maintenance, particularly if you’re just starting out.
A bigger budget, however, means you have a wider selection of more interesting and more high-tech fitness equipment. How would you like to be able to turn on an app, go for a run, then come home and replicate the run conditions on your treadmill to improve on your time? Or what if you could hop on a stationary cycle and watch a monitor that makes it look like you’re cycling through an international city’s streets? Want to share your new personal best time from the machine straight to Facebook? It’s all already possible.
All this comes at a cost, of course, but it can be a good investment. “Better brands have better resale values, just like a branded car,” says Edgar. “There’s a big market for second-hand equipment, but only the good ones. If you buy something from a good brand, chances are it can be kept for a long time.” It’s often also easier to find international representation from larger brands to help you pack up, ship and set up your equipment when you move.
At the end of the day, however, only your own motivation will prevent any gym equipment you buy from becoming a white elephant in your home, says Edgar. “We can help you incorporate exercise into your life by designing your home gym to complement your space and lifestyle, but we can only do so much."
"You can have the car, but if you don’t get in and try to drive it, you won’t get very far. Exercise is a habit, and when you have a home gym, you’re creating a habit that forms part and parcel of your daily routine.”