Creating Home Gym Takes Proper Planning

Home Gyms, by Jeffrey Reed

Bill and Melanie Hill of Belmont value their time and their well-being. Both busy with banking careers, the Hills deftly juggle work and play on a daily basis. And despite the fact they both have a Goodlife Fitness Club membership, the Hills find equal value in their home gym.

The Hills had a basement room in their new home built specifically for recently-purchased exercise equipment, including a treadmill, elliptical, free weights and floor mat. Easy-to-clean gym floor tiles, and a television for entertainment while exercising rounds out a complete home gym for the busy working couple.

“When we moved here from Oakville, a home gym was a priority. Fitness is very important to us,” said Melanie. “Exercising at home is convenient. I’ve been a Goodlife Fitness member since 1996. We’re both active – we like biking, we both run.

“But a home gym provides convenience,” Melanie added. “It’s the time factor. And I think we are more apt to use it on a snowy day instead of getting dressed, putting on our boots and heading out into a snow storm.”

The Hills purchased their exercise gear from London’s Sanders Recreation & Fitness, where sales manager Nicole Fulford said like any other purchase, you get what you pay for in gym equipment. Two of the most popular items at Sanders – Life Fitness treadmills starting at $2,800, and Life Fitness elliptical cross trainers starting at $2,400 – both boast high-tech features which Fulford said are a necessity in today’s fitness industry.

gymFor example, the Life Fitness T5 treadmill allows exercisers to train their way through adjustable running terrains and personalized workout programs. “It features different terrains to simulate pavement running, cross country and a standard treadmill,” said Fulford.

A Track+ Console option lets you connect to Android and Apple devices and to personalized workouts, real-time workout tracking, and third-party fitness apps.

The benefits of adding high-tech features to fitness equipment is three-fold: workouts are customized, thus offering more effective exercise; a myriad of exercise routines are offered, thus beating boredom; and by connecting online with people using the same simulated workout venues, the isolation factor of a home gym is combatted with a social element.

Today, a treadmill user can run a virtual Boston Marathon, and a stationary bicyclist can participate in an online class, thanks to a new generation of high-tech home gym features.

Fulford points to a recent Nielsen consumer report that indicates nearly one-third of U.S. smartphone owners – about 46 million unique users – accessed apps in the fitness and health category in January 2014.

“People are tracking their fitness, nutrition, calories and heart rate,” said Fulford. “They’re monitoring themselves all day long and can plug that information into a fitness machine, where your workout is tracked.”

Despite the fact today’s home gym offerings have more muscle, Fulford said it’s important to remember you’re making an investment in your health – not in equipment. All too often, treadmills and stationary bikes end up nothing more than clothes racks, or fodder for garage sales.

According to Wes Mousseau, a partner with Fitness Depot in London, it’s important that a salesperson provide a thorough consultation for customers. “We’re selling tools to benefit their lifestyle and workout regiments,” Mousseau said.

Mousseau sees big benefits to being plugged in while working out, since “visualization and stimulation” is important to maintaining regular exercise. “Cardio equipment now have apps that offer virtual reality scenarios. Some treadmills allow you to connect your tablet to allow you to run through a park, for example.”

The treadmill remains a big seller at Fitness Depot. “We’ve run and walked our entire lives,” explained Mousseau. “It’s easy to get into – it’s not a learned exercise. There’s a comfort level.”

Fitness Depot treadmills range from an OMA folding unit costing about $700, up to the Precor 946 unit at $6,000. The latter offers Integrated Footplant Technology which matches natural changes in foot speed, and reduces the jarring impact that can stress joints and cause injuries.

Before running the Boston Marathon or cross-country skiing adjacent to the Rocky Mountains – all from the comfort of your own home – it’s important to seek your doctor’s advice. And according to Tara Robins, owner and trainer at Just Sweat Fitness Studio in London, you must ask yourself some tough questions before investing in home gym equipment.

“The most important thing to ask yourself is, do you have the commitment level, and basic knowledge? We have had clients come to us after spending lots of money on a home gym and never using it,” said Robbins.

“The biggest pitfall is the lack of supervision in terms of proper form and technique,” added Robbins. “Some of our clients have a few pieces of equipment at home, and we encourage it. I think if we are doing our job right as trainers, then we teach our clients to include fitness in as many aspects of their lives as possible.”

Londoner Marty Menard, aka Marty the Health Guy, a healthy living and bicycling advocate, agrees with Fulford’s investing-in-health thinking, and said the key to keeping active at home is “staying motivated and having fun.”

Menard proves that even a bare-bones home gym can be effective. His setup includes a spin bike, skipping rope, medicine ball, kettlebells and Yoga mat. And when it comes to fighting the isolation of a home gym, Menard said exercising with family and friends provides a one-two punch.

“Put a TV in front of your favourite piece of equipment – mine is the exercise bike – and throw on the hockey game or your favourite TV show for you and your buddy. The key to staying motivated is enjoying yourself.”


• An effective home gym incorporates adequate ceiling height and elbow room for exercises and heavy equipment. Comfort is king: a window, TV, music, smartphone, bright lighting and full-length mirror add atmosphere, motivation and functionality.
• Dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, Yoga mat, skipping rope, step, medicine ball, stability ball, foam roller, suspension kit, chinup bar and heavy bag are the least-expensive gear and help provide a well-rounded workout.
• Treadmills, ellipticals, spin bicycles, recumbent bikes, rowers, steps/climbers and complete weight systems cost from the hundreds to thousands of dollars: invest wisely.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and

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