Monday, 30 October 2017

Home gym considerations

I don't often get to workout at my fitness studio, contrary to popular belief amongst clients. Why?  Well, after you work a full day of appointments, get some book work and/or computer work done, and tidy up at the studio, it's time to head home for parent duties, errands to run, things to get done at home etc... Granted, sometimes I get to sneak in a workout between clients if someone is away that day, but otherwise, time is tight. 

I've always had equipment at home (obviously not as good as my "toys" at the studio) but it gets the job done. After the past 12-months of our family adventure / chaos (in opening the Artizen Cafe), my "home gym" has been.... non-existent.  Business took priority over an orderly home, that's for sure.  But I do still have my equipment, and I'm in the process right now of getting the room downstairs back into a workout room very very soon. 

With that in mind though, since that room was a workout room last, my equipment has moved around;  to the upstairs room, to the garage, to the backyard, back to the garage.... And I have to say it's a total pain moving all those weights etc from place to place. 

I have always been interested and excited when people say, "I want to make a workout room in my home" because so often people buy unnecessary equipment and inevitably it becomes the most expensive clothes hanger you've ever purchased. I also, get excited to offer some suggestions because quite often, people are attracted to the "latest and greatest" equipment or the shiniest and most fancy items. 

One of my favourite stories to share about home equipment, was when I was asked (not long out of college) about someone wanting to buy an elliptical, and they wanted my thoughts.  Here was my recommendations; 

1) Are you doing any kind of routine or activity right now?  (The answer was 'No')s

2) Start a routine for at LEAST 4-weeks.  Keep it simple.  Let's say going for a walk 3-days per week, for 20min or more.  Do that consistently and see if that habit builds.  If you can't do that, a $300+ piece of cardio equipment in the corner won't make you do it either. 

3) If you keep whatever simple routine you've created for at least a month, now start the process of getting the equipment you are thinking about. 

4) Measure your space, your doorway width (and path to bring it into the house) and look into the dimensions of the machine.  You don't want to get it home, and have no where to put it, or can't get it into that space. 

5) If you still want it, go get it and enjoy.

I thought that was pretty sound advice, and it would potentially save this person money, space, time and a lot of hassle if they bought it and wouldn't use it.  Naturally, my advice fell on deaf ears.  6-7 weeks later, it was a fancy, expensive coat rack in an awkward corner of their small home.  But again, this is more of a norm than not, unfortunately.  We get sucked in to thinking a big purchase will automatically eliminate bad habits. 

Here's my typical recommendations to clients when they want to create a space in their home for workouts; 

  • Have some habits in place already (even for a short time).  If you can't do something easy consistently, like walking every other day for example, you may want to consider holding off until you work on your habits first. 
  • Measure!. Make sure you have room for the equipment in the room you're planning on putting it.  Make sure you can get whatever equipment you plan to buy in your house and into that space.  Make sure you consider the dimensions of the equipment itself. 
  • Consider resistance equipment as your main purchase. Cardio equipment is the biggest seller and biggest cost in the fitness industry.  Cardio machines are bulky, take up a lot of space and they break down.  They require maintenance.  Things like dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells etc don't break down.  It's a one time cost.  
  • Consider getting cardio work with your weights or by getting outdoors. Playing with your workouts, you can easily create a cardio effect by using your dumbbells, bodyweight, kettlebells etc... and you don't have to worry about a clunky treadmill.  Or, consider getting outdoors whenever possible (we don't do that enough) and get your cardio work done in nature.  Bike, walk, run, paddle, sprint, climb, play sports or games, crawl... whatever you enjoy doing, do it. At most maybe have a skipping rope available to you in case the weather doesn't allow you to get outside that day (cheap, amazingly effective workout, and takes up zero space). 
  • Talk to a Fitness Professional about places to purchase fair priced equipment.  You don't need top of the line stuff for your home gym.  It's not to impress people, it's there to help you stay healthy.  Browse 2nd hand sites like Kijiji or Varage Sale, or ask a Fitness Professional places to get commercial grade "no-name" equipment.  I've had clients add a half-rack, barbell/weights set and cable pulley that attaches to the half rack for under $700.  You don't necessarily need all that, but I'm just saying, it's do-able if you don't go for the top of the line, that really you don't need since it's just you and your family using it at home. 
And....
  • Consider where you're at right now. Only purchase the equipment you need for the time being. See the next paragraph....

One of the best pieces of advice that I am now working with for my home gym, is to "be a minimalist" in a way.  I guess, I have sort of done so at my studio where we have just the things we need;  but at home, as I mentioned earlier in this post, I would lug all my stuff from place to place as I shifted my workout space around at home.  This isn't necessary. As one of my favourite Strength Coaches, Dan John says;  you only need what you need at the time.  Not to mention, having less means you'll be more creative with what you have.  For example;  I have about 200lbs of weights at home.  I don't need them all once.  I can bring in 30 or 40lbs dumbbells and a stability ball and get a damn good workout, and not to mention, save a lot of space and hassle.  

Here's an article from, Dan John about building your home gym.  Like the rest of his work, his simplicity and approach are contagious.  


Have a read, and consider your home gym space (or creating one).  Maybe it's not even a space for a workout, but perhaps a "zen space" or a "health zone" where there's no technology, wifi or distractions.