Gym Closed? Build Your Own – It’s Easier Than You Think!

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things in our lives, and many activities that directly contribute to our personal mental and physical health have not been exempt. One activity in particular –going to one’s favorite gym or fitness club – has been particularly hard-hit by the demands to stop the spread. But, with a little ingenuity and persistence, you’ll find you have all you need to build a little gym of your own at home.

You may not have needed to think about it before, but you can build your own home gym out of many things you already have at home, and you can make it as basic or as ambitious as you desire.

There are many options for building a home gym that meets your specific needs. According to Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Wellness Specialist Sharon Field, your home gym plan should have three main considerations: space, technology, and equipment.

 

Space

“When setting up your home gym, you have to consider what you want to do in that space,” says Sharon. “You need space to move. Whether its yoga, resistance training, indoor cycling, jumping jacks or any combination of those and more, you’ll need to plan accordingly.”

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Things to consider:

  1. Flooring: Cement and wood floors are unforgiving and can contribute to injury. Look into having at least a yoga mat, or cover your floor in rubber matting or Styrofoam padding to save your knees, joints, feet, etc.
  2. Storage: Seems like a minor concern, but in order for your home gym to be a safe and inviting environment that you feel good about, you’ll need a place for things such as resistance bands, jump ropes, hand & ankle weights, equipment/stack pins, etc. A cluttered gym, or not being able to find what you need for your next exercise, can be the difference between a workout and workout-killing frustration.
  3. Mirrors: No one is going to stop you from using a mirror for a selfie after a satisfying go in your own home gym. But far more importantly, mirrors are in fact a very important workout tool. Use a large wall-mounted mirror (preferably large, but a small mirror will suffice in a pinch) to ensure that you are using proper form during your exercises. You’d be surprised at the difference between what you think you are doing and what the mirror tells you. Improper form can cause of injury and ineffective exercises.

 

Technology

We’ve entered the third decade of the 21st century and, while flying cars still seem to be at least a light year away, technology in the home gym has become a near-necessity.

According to Sharon, here are the things to consider:

  1. Mobile device/laptop: This can serve as your hub – whether to catch a workout video on YouTube or live stream online or simply to listen to some inspirational music, you’ll want a laptop, iPad, or mobile phone.
  2. Tripod/Stand: To go along with #1 above, a convenient accoutrement for your viewing device is a suitable tripod, stand, or small table on which to prop/place your device in a manner so that you can watch the workout and simultaneously perform the exercises comfortably.
  3. Online videos: In addition to YouTube, do some online searching for workouts that appeal to you. Yoga, bodyweight, dumbbell, Tabata, kickboxing, and much, much more are all available online.
  4. Smart TV/monitor/DVD player: An upgrade to #1, but not a necessity; if you have a treadmill or stationary bike in your gym, you may want a smart TV or monitor with a DVD player or Apple TV, etc. (or the capability to mirror one of your devices) so that you can play your own workout DVDs or catch your favorite show while reaping the benefits of exercise and without squinting.

 

Equipment

The pandemic has created some shortages in the home fitness equipment world as more people than ever have flocked online to buy what they need to get their fitness on at home. So, whether you want to save money or your favorite equipment is out of stock, here’s where your ingenuity can really shine. Some of you may already have some hand weights, dumbbells, a treadmill or stationary bike, while others may be thinking they have no gym equipment at all. Not true. You can outfit a gym with many things you already have at home. And, that’s in addition to the fact that simple bodyweight exercises, using no equipment at all, can provide a very challenging full body workout for even the most experienced fitness enthusiast. Here are some of Sharon’s recommendations:

  1. No handweights? No problem! Use (filled) water bottles or unopened 16 oz. food cans.
  2. No kettlebells? Use laundry detergent containers with handles
  3. No ankleweights? Put dry beans in a Ziplock bag, put the bag into a sock, and tie it around your ankle.
  4. No resistance bands? Use a towel! In fact, a towel can fuel a full body workout:
  5. No time to even prep household items? No problem. Try these bodyweight workouts:
  6. Surprisingly, you can work out with nothing but a simple chair. Try it!

 

Other considerations

Fitness can be a family affair. It’s much more difficult to shrug off a workout when your loved one(s) are putting on their sneakers and getting ready to go. And don’t forget your pets. A dog can make a great workout buddy. Let him or her take you for a walk. “A home gym is a place where you can feel completely at ease doing as much, or as little, as you want, however you want to do it—as long as you use proper form,” Sharon concludes. “With no one else watching, it’s a judgement-free zone!”

Now build that gym! No excuses!

Edward Byrnes

Ted was born and raised in Central New York. He is the regional communications and community relations manager for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield in Utica.
Edward Byrnes

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