The exercise zone
A lack of exercise during winter can take its toll. But setting up a simple home gym will soon get you back in a routine.
NOW that the weather has turned, it’s not always easy to keep up your exercise routine outdoors. But creating a home gym can be one of the many ways to stay healthy as the temperature plummets elsewhere.
The best place to set up a home gym is in an empty spare room, in the garage or on a covered deck outside. That way, you can leave the equipment out and it will be ready to use whenever you need it.
But when space is precious, examine ways to adapt a room quickly by shifting furniture. If possible, clear the space of clutter and distractions so your attention is focused solely upon your workout.
If you’re thinking long term, buy furniture that doubles as storage so your equipment can be put away with a minimum of fuss. This may include seating or coffee tables.
If you prefer a quiet space for Pilates or yoga, integrate what will work best for you. If that means plenty of natural light or closing the blinds, do it. Hang motivational posters to inspire you and, if you’re lucky, have a TV or an iPod dock on hand to allow music to enhance your performance.
Mirrors can increase the sense of space and provide an immediate feedback tool, while plants, such as ferns, bamboo palms and spider plants, are renowned for their indoor air purification powers. Try to avoid working out on a concrete floor even if you have a mat. More importantly, create a little time. Star of 10 Minute Solution: Ultimate Bootcamp Jessica Smith advises you to schedule a daily appointment for your fitness and well being.
“Organise not only your space but also your plan of action. Even the best home gyms won’t do you any good unless you actually do the workouts,” Smith said on the bhg.com website.
“Create a schedule for your week and decide when you’ll fit in your home workouts. It’s too easy to get distracted by the phone, computer, or kids being home, so make an exercise appointment you won’t miss by scheduling it into your week. And when it comes time to get going, go full out.”
LESS is more when it comes to a basic home gym. Given the expense and a general desire to preserve space, it’s best to keep it simple.
The internet and YouTube are full of examples of inventive people replicating the gym experience with everyday items.
“Use your body weight for exercises like push-ups, squats and lunges, while everyday items can be adapted to suit your purposes,” 12wbt.com recommends.
“Sturdy chairs, stools or benches can be used for exercises like tricep dips and step-ups. For upper-body workouts, use cans of soup or water bottles filled with water or sand as weights. These are great for bicep curls, tricep push-backs and shoulder presses.
“For lower-body workouts, fill a backpack with books or other heavy objects and hold it or strap it onto your back. This will add intensity to exercises like lunges, squats and sumo squats.”
Similarly, an old soccer ball or basketball filled with sand and then sealed can become a medicine ball.
If you can’t resist the temptation to get some professional equipment, such as a treadmill or exercise bike, try hiring it first.
Then, when the time comes to outlay your cash, the decision you make will be informed.
There are many anecdotes of rarely used gym equipment becoming very expensive clothes horses – just check out Gumtree for proof.
In 2014 Choice Australia surveyed people who had bought exercise equipment in the previous 12 months and found they were typically using it three to four times a week. But use tended to drop off over the years and by the five-year mark about half of our respondents who bought treadmills and three in four who bought exercise bikes were no longer using them.
Most people were satisfied with the machines they’d bought, especially those who’d bought treadmills (87 per
cent) were satisfied, compared with 77 per cent of people with exercise bikes or elliptical trainers. Not surprisingly, the more satisfied people were, the more likely they were to still be regularly using the machine. The main complaints or reasons for giving up using equipment were: boredom or loss of motivation; not being able to watch TV as planned, because the machine was too noisy; taking up too much space; niggling faults with the machine, or breakdowns; and, poorer quality machines than those you find at the gym.
Floor space is another consideration, particularly if you’re using machines. But vertical space is equally important. The American Council on Exercise has guidelines that recommend treadmills have 2.8 sq m of space for optimal performance.
This consideration should also be made for a stationary bike (1 sq m), free weights (1.8 sq m to 4.7 sq m), single-station gym (3.3 sq m), rowing machine (1.8 sq m), stair climber (up to 1. sq m) and multi-station gym (up to 19 sqm).
Gabi from the 12wbt.com blog said that whatever equipment you buy, it’s worth paying a little extra for the best
item you can afford.
“Invest in quality pieces from the outset – you’re going to use this equipment a lot, so you want it to be safe and to last,” she said. “You want to be able to add new pieces to your gym over time, not just replace stuff you’ve already bought that hasn’t lasted.”
Also, look for second-hand items on online sites such as Gumtree or eBay. “Check with the gyms in your area – many sell their equipment when upgrading or renewing, and provided it has been well maintained, you can get really good bargains,” Gabi said.
WHEN it comes to equipment, you can get started for less than $100.
A skipping rope is ideal for cardio. Not only is it easily transportable, it’s affordable and takes up next to no space. Likewise, dumbbells are incredibly versatile, and it’s not necessary to buy a whole set. Pick a few weights that suit you now and add to your collection as you become stronger and fitter. If you’re graduating to a larger weight, consider swapping with friends.
Exercise balls can also be used for a multitude of exercises and resistance bands are perfect for stretching and increasing flexibility.
bhg.com said some of the most effective workouts are simple.
“Follow the basics of good training – working within your target heart rate, loading your muscles, and progressing your workouts – and you’ll be rewarded with positive results no matter how elaborate or simple your home gym set-up is.”
“Get your winter workout wardrobe ready. Get a couple of pairs of long tights – try and find some that lined on the inside and ideally compression to keep the muscles nice and warm, and invest in some beanie hats, headbands and running gloves. You can also enter some events through winter so you have something to train for – it may be that you have your goal set on the Melbourne Marathon in October, meaning runs until September are vital for your training and it keeps you accountable. I also like to use some summer images as motivation – stick your fave holiday destination up on your fridge or on your laptop screensaver – when you lose your mojo you can imagine yourself there.”
– Colette McShane, aka The HIIT Mum, runs The HIIT Factory fitness facilities and workout app PT in My Pocket (thehiitmum.com.au)
“There’s nothing like a little competition to help motivate you through winter, so team up with some friends. With the power of wearables and social media now, the options are endless. You can create a mini challenge between friends and even put up a prize for grabs to ramp up the stakes. Our research has also shown that people sharing workout information with friends via an app are working out 5.5 times harder than those with no
– Michael Jordan, MYZONE (myzone.org)
TEA UP RESPITE
“Tea is a great option for winter diets and to help fight those winter blues. It can do a lot more than just keep you warm, a good-quality blend can help soothe that sore throat or your lethargic winter feeling. Try and pick a tea that is organic, as it won’t contain nasty additives or flavours. During winter months your body produces more melatonin, which is a hormone that makes your feel sleepy and less motivated to workout. There are now exercise teas on the market that can provide that much-needed energy boost and help you recover from a workout as a natural alternative to artificial supplements. You can also benefit from adding a few key ingredients into your diet over winter – for example, ginger and lemongrass are two examples. Both have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits that can assist with circulation and sore muscles, which often flare up in winter.”
– Andrew Smith, The Organic Trainer (www.theorganictrainer.com)