Skip to main content

North Hills Monthly

Creating the Right Home Gym May Make Workouts More Likely

Aug 29, 2019 09:07AM ● By Kathleen Ganster

A home gym makes it possible for Karen Raman to exercise regularly despite her health issues. Raman has a compromised immune system so when she and her husband, Srini, designed their Cranberry home, they included a home gym.

“It is small, but it serves its purpose. It is also very useful when the weather is bad,” she said.

As Raman knows, a home gym doesn’t have to be large to be sufficient.

“Our gym is a separate room in the basement.  It has a window to let in light and a TV mounted on the wall similar to real gyms. I like to go down and watch the news while I exercise; that way, I get two things done at once,” she said.

Although the Raman’s gym is a separate room, a home gym can be as simple as a small area in the same room designated as a workout area.

Raman’s personal trainer, Janette Poppenberg, said that having a well-ventilated, open 

space with natural light is helpful. 

“The space should be in a convenient location and uncluttered,” said the ACSM certified exercise physiologist and cancer exercise trainer. “This helps us to be mindful of the need for physical activity and provides us with a space where we can be calm and focused.” 

There are a variety of reasons that make a home gym a worthwhile project. Some people are like Raman and have health issues that make working out at home necessary. For others, it offers convenience and saves time because they don’t have to travel to a public facility. Others may be too self-conscious to work out in front of or with others, so having a home gym allows a measure of privacy. 

Before setting up a home gym, it pays to do a bit of research. 

“Unless you know exactly what you like to do or have an exercise prescription you follow, you may want to work with a personal fitness trainer to help you decide what type of exercises you will do and what equipment you will need,” Poppenberg said. 

A common mistake when first creating a home gym is to go a bit overboard, buying too much or unfamiliar equipment. 

“Keep it simple. Start with buying the minimum you need and build your gym as you progress,” said Poppenberg. “If the equipment is new to you, get a lesson on it to make sure that the settings are right for you—for your height, weight, resistance, etc.” 

Starting small makes it easier on the pocketbook and also lets you know what works and what doesn’t work. 

“You don’t have to buy a lot. If you are working with five-pound weights right now, that is all you need to get. And start with a piece that you are comfortable with—don’t invest in a new piece of equipment that you have never used,” Poppenberg said. 

She also recommended waiting to see how a new piece of exercise equipment does on the market before purchasing it.

“I never buy the ‘latest and greatest’ piece of equipment. I usually wait until it has been out for at least a year to see how well the product holds up and what others think of using it,” Poppenberg said, adding that she also suggests reading reviews about the equipment. 

Knowing and understanding what types of exercises work for you is also very helpful in setting up a home gym. Other questions that you should ask yourself include who you like to exercise with, what time of day you like to exercise and what types of equipment you like to use. The more information you know about your own preferences and physical activity choices, the more likely you are to use the home gym you create. 

Raman’s gym consists of a treadmill, weight bench, yoga mat, a small and large physio ball and free weights. Srini, an avid walker, also uses the gym, utilizing the treadmill in inclement weather. 

“The area you set up should allow enough space for stretching. You really only need the basics. You can also perform exercises that use your body weight if you do not have free weights,” Raman said. 

The main thing to keep in mind when designing a home gym is to locate it where it is easy and convenient to use. 

“Consistency is the key with any exercise,” said Poppenberg. “Locate a home gym in a place ​that ​is​ not only easy ​to access, but in a ​space​ where you want to exercise​. And ​only buy the equipment that you​ ​currently need.”