Working out at home is a great way to reach your fitness goals, whether you don’t have time to travel to a gym or don’t like the gym environment. Getting started, however, can be daunting, especially if you’re not sure what equipment to buy, how to set up a home gym, or where to find exercises to do at home.
Why exercise at home?
There have always been many good reasons to exercise at home. Exercising at home saves you the cost of a gym membership, eliminates extra travel and allows you to take care of your children instead of sending them to daycare. In addition, you do not depend on the opening hours or the classes of the gym.
Exercising at home is not without its difficulties, that’s for sure, but with the right information under your belt, you can get the most out of any home workout.
Home fitness has been around for a long time — think 80s aerobics and Jazzercise videos — but physical gyms have always held a prominent place. Now fitness professionals and industry experts are making it easier to exercise at home by creating digital offerings. From Instagram TV to streaming apps, the world of digital fitness has exploded.
How is fitness at home different?
If you’re just starting to exercise for the first time, home fitness might be the norm. However, for those who have ever used a gym or fitness studio, exercising at home is definitely different, for better and worse.
First, you probably don’t have access to the equipment you’re used to using in a gym or studio. You also won’t have the luxury of being around a professional trainer (unless you sign up for virtual personal training).
It may take you a while to get up to speed and find the best space in your house to exercise. Storing equipment, if you have it, can be challenging. You will not always be motivated and domestic obligations can take you away from training.
On the other hand, working out at home can be absolutely liberating, satisfying, and fun. You are free to try any type of training you want or go against the status quo by mixing training modalities.
At home, you don’t have to worry about gear hoarders or gym buddies not cleaning up sweaty equipment. You also won’t feel intimidated or judged and you can make your workout as slow or as fast as you want.
What you need to start
To start exercising at home, you only need your body and some space. Here are some key things to keep in mind to get started.
Ideally, you should have a space free of furniture or other objects to do your exercises at home. This doesn’t mean you have to dedicate an entire room to your home gym—the space between the couch and the TV will do the trick, as will a porch, garage, or even a hallway if it’s wide enough.
To determine if your space is big enough to exercise at home, try these exercises:
- Raise your hands above your head. The ideal is to have between 15 and 20 centimeters of space above the tips of the fingers.
- Extend your arms out to the sides like the letter “T”. Make sure you have a few inches of space between your fingertips and any walls or objects.
- Move your arms in big circles. If you don’t hit anything, you can start now.
- Kick the leg in front and behind the body. Your toes should stay several inches from any object.
Some activities require more space. For example, if you want to jump rope, you will need several meters of space in front of and behind you. Plyometric movements, like jump squats, require higher ceilings. Be careful when trying new moves to avoid hitting your hands, feet, knees, or head.
Technically you don’t need any equipment to train at home. Bodyweight workouts can be extremely challenging and just as effective as weight training (especially if you learn advanced calisthenics).
However, a few basic items can really amplify your workouts to build strength, improve fitness skills, and scale your endurance.
The best equipment for exercising at home
- a pair of dumbbells
- a kettlebell
- A jumping rope
- Elastic bands
- Stability ball or Bosu ball
- A yoga mat
People with prior workout experience and those who crave a true gym experience will benefit from setting up a home gym. To get the most bang for your buck, choose versatile free-weight equipment over muscle-isolating machines.
Essential elements of a home gym
- bar and rack
- weight plates
- Russian weights
- mat floor
- Pull up bar or suspension trainer
Lastly, some people prefer a digital experience and enjoy a smart home gym system, like Tonal , Tempo Studio , or Mirror . Technological equipment such as the Ergatta rower, the Echelon or Peloton bike, or the NordicTrack treadmill offer fun and effective workouts.
Beginners should give priority to professional programming. Whether it’s hiring a virtual personal trainer or signing up for a training program through a fitness app, professional scheduling prevents you from blindly choosing exercises and potentially hurting yourself.
Fitness is complex, but investing in a program tailored to your goals eliminates confusion and ensures you get the most out of your time, money, and energy.
Without programming, you may have a hard time reaching your goals or even starting your fitness journey at home because you don’t know exactly what to do.
Even people with a fitness background can benefit from professional programming. Sometimes motivation is lacking and having a workout written for you increases the likelihood that you will actually do a workout. Plus, it’s nice to know you’re on track to reach a measurable goal.
The advantages of exercising at home
The benefits of exercising at home are many. Here are some of the great things to look forward to when starting your home workout plan.
You save time
Without having to go to the gym, you will save a lot of time throughout the week. Even if your old trip to the gym was only 10 minutes each way, that’s 20 minutes saved each day, and if you work out three times a week, an hour saved each week!
You can practice whatever you want (without feeling intimidated)
One big advantage of exercising at home is that your home is a judgment-free zone. You don’t have to worry about looking silly or trying a new exercise that makes you nervous, because no one is watching!
Feel free to do that kind of cardio you’ve always been embarrassed to try or practice hip squats without fear of looking at someone passing by.
You can take care of the children
In addition to saving the cost of a gym membership, parents can also save the cost of childcare. If you can take care of your children while exercising at home, you could save a lot of money each month on childcare.
You can even include your kids in your workouts for family fun. However, it is also important to keep children safe from home gym equipment such as treadmills.
The challenges of exercising at home
Before you start exercising at home, think about how you can prevent or overcome these common challenges.
no professional supervision
In gyms, fitness professionals often walk the floor and supervise. In the studios, instructors lead classes. At home, there is no one to watch your technique and correct your form.
Unless you sign up for a virtual workout, exercising at home always poses a risk of injury. Exercising is an inherently dangerous activity. It is important to keep this in mind when exercising at home. If in doubt, watch demo videos or hire a professional.
Placing a mirror in your home training space can help you prevent injury or improper form by allowing you to keep an eye on your technique and practice self-correction.
Housework can be distracting
Exercising at home can be difficult because there are distractions. The sink is full of dirty dishes, the dryer is full of clean clothes, the lawn needs to be mowed… you get the idea. There are many things that can distract you from your home workout, so you need to start each session with a plan.
Avoid distractions with these tips:
- Stick to a homework schedule so you don’t have anything to do at home when you start training.
- Complete your workout in an area that is free of clutter, such as outside or in the garage.
- Commit to a weekly training routine and remind yourself that you have time to complete tasks after your workout.
space is limited
Small spaces are often an obstacle when exercising. This is especially true for those who live in apartments and do not want to disturb their neighbors. If you live in a small house without a lot of space to exercise, keep these tips in mind:
- Opt for body-weight exercises so you don’t have to store equipment.
- If you want gadgets, go for small, quiet ones like resistance bands.
- Keep your house tidy to make it appear bigger.
- Use the furniture: Use the sofa for triceps exercises or the plush rug as a mat.
- Use headphones so you don’t disturb the neighbors with music.
How to stay motivated
Perhaps the biggest challenge of exercising at home is staying motivated. Without the energetic atmosphere of a gym or lively group fitness classes, working out at home can seem boring.
listen to happy music
Studies show that music can positively influence motivation to exercise, as well as actual performance.
The right playlist puts you in the right frame of mind for a good workout and keeps you motivated until you’re done.
Create a dedicated space
If you used to go to the gym, your biggest problem may be that your home fitness space is not the same. Creating a space dedicated to training can alleviate some of that dissonance. When you are in that space, you train and that’s it: no phone, no television, no laptop. No distractions.
Commit to a specific time
Consistency is key when it comes to getting in shape. People tend to thrive on routine and order, so choose a training schedule that you’re sure you can commit to. It could be before work, after work, at lunchtime, or after dinner. Any time is good, as long as it suits you.
Get an Accountable Partner
Sometimes it’s easy to let yourself down, but it’s always hard to let down a friend. Ask a good friend to work out with you over Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype. Knowing that you are sticking up for someone else will help you fulfill your plan.
Exercising at home is an exciting, albeit challenging, journey. When you start out, remember to practice self-compassion and take it easy.
Something is always better than nothing when it comes to getting in shape. Give yourself time to get into a rhythm, experiment with different types of exercise to discover the routines you like best, and treat yourself every time you complete a workout.