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Home Gym on a Budget

Many people think setting up a home gym is too complicated, not to mention too expensive. But it’s easier and cheaper than it seems. With a bit of planning, you can build a home gym that perfectly suits your needs—without paying expensive membership fees!
Home Gym on a Budget

If your idea of getting fit is signing up for a gym, you’re missing out on a lot—and probably spending much more than you should. Let’s face it, gym memberships can be expensive, and for your money, you can be getting a much better workout. If you’re spending $600 a year on your gym membership, you’re much better off building your own.

That’s right—you can build your own home gym for the same amount you spend at your local gym. True, you can’t get same state-of-the-art equipment, but who said you needed it anyway? Add to that the money you save on transportation and trainer’s fees, and you’ve got yourself a great deal! Here’s a quick guide to help you get started.

1. Know your goals. The first thing you should ask yourself is: Do you really need a home gym? If you think you’ll be into it for a long time, then a home gym would be a good investment. But if you’re just trying to drop a few pounds, you may be better off with a temporary membership.

2. Set a budget. When it comes to gym equipment, you get your money’s worth. You can’t expect a cheap treadmill to still be in top form after five years of regular use. Consider how often you plan on using each piece of equipment. Treadmills should be heavy-duty, as they tend to be used every day. Bench presses are used less often, so you can get them refurbished as long as you trust the dealer.

3. Design your program. When you’ve made up your mind, it’s time to choose your fitness activities. That’s the main advantage of building a home gym: you get to design your own program and buy only the equipment you need. Remember that aerobic and strength training should be staples in any program. Keep in mind your intended progress—you should be able to increase resistance on your bike and adjust the incline on a treadmill.

4. Plan out your space. Your home gym should be placed in an accessible, low-traffic area with good ventilation. Determine how much space each machine will take up, and don’t forget to leave room for getting around. Don’t rule out open space—your garage or backyard can be an option—but make sure they’re in a sheltered area for when it rains.

5. Buy wisely. When everything’s down on paper, you can start shopping for equipment. Be sure to do your research beforehand, so you know the going rates for everything. You should also know what to look for in each piece. Here are some things to consider:

Safety features: Safety should always be first on your list. Look for protective features such as stack guards on barbells, emergency switch on treadmills, and motion checkers on strength equipment.

Controls: Does it have controls for factors like speed, tension, and intensity? You can’t stick to one program forever, so you need something that can adapt to your needs.

Comfort: You may think you’re getting a great deal, but you can’t really tell unless you’ve tried it yourself. Take a few minutes to get a feel of the machine and see if it feels right. A good dealer shouldn’t have any problems letting you try their goods.

Noise: The less noise it makes, the smoother it runs and the longer it’s likely to last. A little buzz shouldn’t be much of a problem, but clanking and scratching usually mean trouble.

Warranty: Even secondhand equipment should come with a written warranty. There should be at least six months’ replacement warranty on used or refurbished equipment, and at least a year on brand-new gear.

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