Published in The Journal Inquirer Newspaper

Home Gyms


Wayne A. English

Want some privacy? Had enough of crowded locker rooms, cold showers, parking lots, sweat covered machines, and lockers that don’ lock? Would you like to be able to pick the music you will be hearing? Or maybe watch a movie? Does your job require you to work odd hours? Maybe you just want to put the aggravation behind you and just work out.

You can. With a home gym. In the time it takes you to drive to a health club and back you can you can have your work out half done. This is especially true if there is no health club in your town. The time on the road can be far more productively spent. And your home gym will last for years. So, look around your house or apartment, pick out a corner, and get ready to go shopping.

Your home gym should contain the same type of equipment that you have at a health club, or at least equipment that will perform the same function. You will want something for aerobic exercise and something for resistance training as well. Luckily you have a great deal of equipment to choose from. The information you see here is from Robert Steere, the store manager at Omni Fitness, located near the Target store in Manchester. Robert was knowledgeable, helpful, and polite. He answered all questions without hesitation. All prices quoted are the manufactures suggested retail price, MSRP.

For aerobics you can choose an exercise bicycle, treadmill, or elliptical trainer. Some exercise bikes will also work your arms with handles that move forward and backward while you pedal. Or, you can use the handles alone and not pedals. These bikes give you an upper body as well as a lower body workout at the same time. A exercise bike will cost you about $600 or more. As in the rest of the equipment listed here, more money means more features, both electronic and physical. The interesting thing about bikes is that they are available in two styles. A regular type of bike where you sit up like you would on a pedal bike for the street and a recumbent bike. Recumbent’s are interesting and comfortable. When you sit on one your feet are at about that the same level as your hips. You may have see one of these on TV, in a movie, or in a gym. They are very comfortable because your legs are out in front of you and because there is less weight on your seat. So, should you find that the position of riding a regular bike uncomfortable, a recumbent may be just the thing. You can also find them for street use should you want to ride outside.

Treadmills are still available, of course, and range in cost from about $1000 to $7000. For your home gym, plan to spend around $2,000. High end treadmills will have a more powerful motor, more computer controlled programs, and a LCD touch screen. Who could ask for more? What, you wanted it to feed the cat and do the laundry too? Treadmills are being replaced by elliptical trainers for several reasons.

Elliptical trainers can be easier on your legs and ankles because you do not walk or run as on a treadmill. Rather, your feet travel in a path that is roughly foot ball shaped, but of course not so pointed at the ends. This combines the natural stride of a treadmill and the simplicity of a stair climber. On an Elliptical trainer, you stand comfortably in an upright position while holding the machine's handrails and walk either forward or backward. They are unique in that they offer a weight bearing workout while placing minimal stress on your joints. How do they do that? Easy, your feet never leave the pedals and so the impact associated with walking or running is eliminated. This also results in less risk of injury. And that’s a good thing, because besides being painful and expensive, injuries can result in months of enforced inactivity that will set you back in your efforts to get into, or stay in shape. And that just won’t do.

For strength training you will want to consider one of the machines that provide resistance. Mr. Steere’s best seller for this is the Parabody GS4, at $1699. A machine like this will give you a total body work out. Should you want a Parabody with a full bench, ask him about the GS6 model.

If you do want a total body machine. You can always pump iron. Barbells and dumb bells have been used for a long time with excellent effect by people the world over. Barbells and dumb bells can be had for 49 cents per pound. When using hard weights, that is anything over 40 or 50 pounds, consider a weight lifters belt for comfort. And then there are rubber bands. They are a length of tubular rubber with a handle on each end. For $12.99 they can’t be beat. We have two of them in our home gum, and use them constantly for shoulder and arm exercises in addition to our weights, exercise bike, and resistance machine.

So there you have it. A very well rounded home gym for aerobics, and strength training. Don’t for get to warm up, warm down, and maybe do some stretching. And, oh yeah, pick out some nice music. Enjoy.