Set up a smart and stylish home gym and watch your fitness level soar

Even for fitness professionals very familiar with the benefits of regular exercise, it’s sometimes hard to fit in a workout when things get hectic. Setting up a home gym can help you stick to your fitness goals – there’s little room for excuses when your workout area is just steps away.

Combine Strength, Cardio and Flexibility

A balanced program should include cardio, strength and flexibility exercises. Do you like to run, dance, jump rope or cycle? Are you fond of the lengthening and balancing involved in yoga or Pilates?

Once you’ve decided what you like, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper space at home to carry out those activities.

Setting Up a Workout Space

Do you have space for a dedicated workout area, or will you need equipment that can be stored away when not in use? Any spot you choose will need the height, width and depth to accommodate your exercises, and preferably a mirror to check out your form. You’ll be able to make do with whatever flooring you’ve got, but cork is ideal underfoot.

Since you’re going to be working up a sweat, make sure your workout area has proper ventilation, like a window or a fan. If you’re going to purchase mechanical cardio equipment (like a treadmill, rowing machine or elliptical trainer) your best space-saving option is a cycling trainer, which allows you to convert your bicycle into a stationary bike. Protect your flooring by placing large equipment on interlocking rubber tiles.

Enlist stylish storage so you can temporarily transform your media room into a workout space, and follow along to workout DVDs or physically engaging console games. Conceal your equipment in a basket that slides into a bookshelf cove or use a sturdy ottoman that has storage inside.

Strength Training

To build strength, it’s necessary to gradually increase the difficulty of the exercise via repetitions or resistance, whether you’re using dumbbells, resistance bands, your own body weight or a machine. If you have the space, an adjustable bench, exercise ball or foam roller can add to the variety and challenge of exercises.

Flexibility

Foam rollers are also great tools for increasing flexibility (and easy to store), both for myofascial release (where you knead tight muscles by using the roller like a rolling pin) and for increasing the range of motion during a stretch. For stretching, try yoga mats rather than the cumbersome exercise mats you find at a gym because they roll up for easy storage.

Originally published in BC Home magazine. For updates, subscribe to the free Home e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the bi-monthly magazine.