Membership of your local gym gives you access to a wide range of equipment and also provides you with advice and encouragement from the gym staff and other members, but also limits you to the opening times of the gym and means that you’re going to have to add the time to travel to the gym and venture out, rain or shine. By contrast, a modern home gym can also give you access to a wide range of equipment but with the ease of being able to exercise whenever you want to without having to venture out of the house. But what should you buy?
If you’re just starting out, or returning to exercise after a lengthy break, you should hold off on buying a home gym for a while and should enroll at your local gym for a short time so that you can check out some of the latest equipment with a knowledgeable instructor. This way you can get a good idea of just what you want to buy and, more importantly, don’t want to buy.
If you’re interested in weight training, then one of the first things you’ll want to buy is a set of weights.
Free weights can be purchased quite cheaply with basic set of weights often coming in at under $50. You’ll need a mix of small weights, 10 lb (4.5 kg) and 20 lb (9 kg) hand-held dumbbells and a bar with larger, exchangeable weights. There’s little to choose these days between different bars but you’ll need to choose between metal or plastic weights. Here it’s largely a question of personal choice between the old-fashioned clink of metal and the marginally safer plastic (often a composite filled with sand) weights.
At some point, you’ll probably want to move up to a weight machine which offers the ability to focus on specific muscle groups, such as the biceps, quadriceps and deltoids, in a much safer way than using free weights. In addition, some muscle groups, like the calves and hamstrings, are harder to work using free weights.
Once you’re ready to move up to a weight machine, be prepared to pay a fair amount of money. Configurations and cost will vary widely from simple resistance machines, at a few hundred dollars, to multi-station, adjustable weight stacks, which will run you somewhere between $2,000 and $5,000 or more.
Another increasingly popular option is stair steppers. A simple model, offering you the ability to get a good cardiovascular workout in a small space at home with low joint impact, while building thighs and calves will cost from about $80 up to $150.
A more elaborate stair stepper which is adjustable (speed, angle, resistance level, pedal distance etc.) and includes such things as a heart rate monitor and digital readouts for things like your speed, distance climbed and calories burnt, will come in at nearer to $1,7000 or $2,000.
Treadmills are also becoming a very common item in most home gyms. Again a very basic treadmill will cost you just a few hundred dollars but, like the stair stepper, a feature-packed treadmill will set you back at least $1,000 and could easily come in at about $2,000 with all of the features you’ll want to have.
By the time you’ve finished your home gym is going to cost you several thousand dollars and so it’s not something you should invest in unless you intend to make exercise a part of your daily routine and dedicate yourself to a regular and consistent program of training.