Design Your Own Home Gym
Image Courtesy of Gym Source
A room totally dedicated to the body started off as a perk for the rich but has now become more affordable. In 1951, a self described, recovering sugarholic named Jack La Lanne appeared on national television and encouraged people to get in shape by running in place and doing calisthenics in the living room.
Thus, the first home gyms were born and the first piece of exercise equipment was probably a chair borrowed from the dining room. La Lanne remained on TV for the next 33 years and took us right to the edge of the modern age of serious home- based work out systems.
Richard Miller is the president of Gym Source, a specialty store for the fitness minded. Miller traces the beginning of the boom to the 1980’s and lays the credit or the blame at Hollywood’s front door. “It started with the celebrities, we had home gyms in CEO’s homes for years but it didn’t mean anything to people,” he said.
Pumped up entertainers including Madonna, Cher, and Sylvester Stallone put well recognized faces on the power of a good work-out and took the idea out of the gym and into the house as they yammered away on talk shows about the benefits of pumping iron.
Fitness rooms started appearing as a matter of course in hotels, apartment buildings and community centers. People came to expect the amenity and then started looking around for a spare room that could become a home gym. Many are completed by do-it-yourselfers but more complex projects, require an expert.
Image Courtesy of Case Design & Remodeling
While home contracting companies specialize in basement conversions that include bells and whistles like changing areas, saunas, spas, and decadent bathrooms, the essential components of a home gym don't have to be deluxe.
First, pick the room. A spare bedroom or rec room will work, but most home athletes end up in the basement, which can be good or bad. “You have to have the proper environment and you want to make it comfortable," says Miller, "you want to be in a room that you want to be in.” For the basic layout, don’t box yourself in. If you lift, make sure the ceilings are high enough for an overhead press. If you’re doing cardio, make sure you have enough headroom while standing on the gear.
Keep in mind that some equipment doesn’t come apart or fit through residential-sized doorways. Get the dimensions of large pieces and make templates on the floor using non-stick tape. Give yourself plenty of space so the room doesn’t feel claustrophobic. “You need a good amount of open space, so a lot of people do basements,” said Phillip Bergman, who’s been a personal trainer for 20 years. “You need mirrors, a proper gym floor, a good sound system and a TV.
Mirrors make the space look bigger, and if you’re doing strength training you’ll need them to check body alignment. Walls that aren’t mirrored should be painted in light, neutral colors. Commercial-grade carpet can be bought as remnants, or, better yet, buy some interlocking sections of rubberized flooring at one of the big sporting goods stores. It’ll run you about $10 a square foot.
The gear that goes into the room is generally divided into three categories, strength, cardio, and balance. Strength equipment includes free weights, benches and weight machines. Cardio systems stretch from bikes to rowers to ellipticals to treadmills. Balance gear is defined by balls, beams, bars and boards.
Equipment prices are all over the map depending on quality levels. But simple bits of gear like benches, dumbbells, and stationary bikes are relatively inexpensive and can often be purchased used. Be careful, because when it comes to equipment, you get what you pay for. To cut costs, add good quality gear one piece at a time.
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