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Designing a Home Gym
(Part 2 of 2)

Last issue, I went over the steps you should take before purchasing a home gym and the types of equipment available. In part two I'm going to tell you what you need to look for and a few of the companies you can choose from.

There are seven things to consider when buying a home gym. Ignore any of these suggestions only if you like gambling with your money and your health.

Use - First, settle on what the equipment is going to be used for. If you plan on doing as much cardio as weight training, then dedicate an equal amount of space to each activity. If you want a circuit training routine, your machine should be easy to change from one exercise to another, so you don't lose the aerobic benefit. Bodybuilders might want to look more at free weights or weight stack machines. If you're just into conditioning, then piston or bodyweight machines could work well. Consider rubber band or flexible rod technology if you're not sure which way you want to go.

Space - Decide how much space you're willing to dedicate to the equipment. Measure the length, width and height, and remember to give yourself enough room to get around the equipment once it's in place. Be sure to avoid lighting fixtures, air conditioning units, heaters and ceiling fans. A good rule of thumb is a single-station gym typically needs 35 square feet of space, while most multi-station models require 50 to 200 square feet.

Setup - Find out what tools you'll need to set the equipment up, how many pieces are in the boxes and how long the manufacturer estimate's it will take to build. Some can be assembled in as little as 10 or 20 minutes with half a dozen parts. The most complex has hundreds of parts and can take an entire day to put together. If you choose the latter, it's a good idea to pay for delivery and setup if available. If not, make sure you have enough time and materials to build it when it arrives.

Portability - For those of you who are lucky enough to dedicate an entire room to the equipment, portability isn't a concern. But if you live in a small space and you have to take the equipment out of a closet each day, it shouldn't take more than a minute or two to set up. Any more than that and you might not take the time. For equipment that's sharing space with a home office or guest room, you should make sure you can get it out of the way or hide it when guests or business associates arrive.

Ergonomics - Make sure the machine is designed with your comfort in mind. When pieces move, they should be smooth and friction-free. Pulleys must operate uninterrupted, and no part of the machine should be rubbing against any other. Find out if you can adjust the machine to your height and weight, especially if you're taller or shorter than average. If you're not in a comfortable body position when performing the exercises, you risk injuring yourself. Finally, make sure the machine provides a full range of motion during every part of the workout.

Construction - Look for a frame built with heavy gauge steel. It should be easy to lubricate any moving parts. If there are any bearings, they should all be sealed. Material covering seats or benches should be covered under warranty from cracking or flaking. Ask the manufacturer if they stock replacement materials and how long they'll remain available.

Your Brain - Don't be taken in by fast-talking salespeople, equipment that promises miracle results or anything that claims it can spot reduce a specific part of your body. Read the fine print of all the warranties to make sure you know exactly what they'll fix and under what circumstances. Consider the entire cost, including any shipping of heavy weights, setup, ongoing maintenance and extended warranties.

Once you know what you're going to look for, you can go through the list of home gym manufacturers below.

(This list is in alphabetical order. Please, please, PLEASE, before you spend hundreds or even a couple thousand dollars on any of this equipment, you should see how well they fared when Consumer Reports tested them. Don't just rely on the glossy brochures and smiling models! Consumer Reports is online at: www.ConsumerReports.org)

Body-Solid - http://www.bodysolid.com/
Bowflex, Nautilus and Schwinn - http://www.nautilus.com/
Hoist - http://www.hoistfitness.com/
Parabody & Life Fitness - http://www.lifefitness.com/
Precor - http://www.precor.com/
Pro-Form - http://www.proform.com/
Soloflex - http://www.soloflex.com/
Total Gym - http://www.totalgym.com/
Weider - http://www.sears.com/

Before you move the equipment in, follow these suggestions to set up a healthy and productive workout space.

  1. Be cautious about setting up your workout space in the basement or anywhere that smells moldy.

  2. If you live in a humid environment, consider a dehumidifier for the workout room.

  3. The workout space should have a flat indoor-outdoor carpet with a good pad for cushioning.

  4. Both the carpets and drapes should be easy to clean and cleaned frequently.

  5. Check to see how many electrical outlets your equipment needs and that your space has enough. Remember, you may want to play music and have a fan as well.

  6. Hang or position mirrors in the room so you can make sure you're maintaining proper form while doing the various exercises.

  7. Places where you sweat a lot should have washable rugs or plastic exercise mats you can wipe down.

  8. Use an alcohol-based cleanser when wiping down equipment to make sure it's clean. Don't use anti-bacterial cleaners because they can lead to the development of anti-bacterial resistant germs.

  9. Don't allow pets in your workout space.

  10. Make sure the room is well ventilated.

Now that you know how to choose your home gym, what are you waiting for?

Part 1 2

Call for a FREE Consultation (305) 296-3434
CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

Updated 3/25/2011
Updated 7/6/2014
Updated 11/14/2020