John Seivert: Home gyms — What’s needed, and how much will it cost?
Creating your home gym can be fun, frustrating and expensive. It can also be exciting because you are thinking of all the cool exercise equipment you can buy. Think of those TV commercials with beautiful men and women on the Peloton bike. Your mind goes all-out — bike, treadmill, weight machine, tractor tires and the list goes on. Then you realize you only have about 100 square feet to make this happen. Who thought this was a good idea anyway? Well, folks, I have good news for you. To create a home gym with the essentials can cost less than $200 and take up the amount of space of a twin bed. Yes, it can be done.
I have written on this topic several times over the years, and it hasn’t changed much. However, this time around, we are amid a global pandemic, and the need to stay safe while exercising is a top priority for everyone. Just last Tuesday, Phil Carville, Fitness columnist, wrote about “Combat losing muscle mass.” The take-home message was to get on a regular exercise program with a combination of aerobic exercise and weight training to stimulate muscle strength and slow the age-related loss of muscle mass. There was a lot more to the article than this statement, but the point is that as we age, we all need to do resistance training, or we will lose muscle mass.
Enjoying a club membership is a fantastic way to stay fit and get in that resistance training. There are so many classes, machines, and groups of people to work out to make working out fun and social. However, there are countless scenarios of people who do not want to go to a club and want to exercise in their own home’s privacy. For example, I have a patient, a retired attorney, and I helped him set up his home gym so that he will use the equipment he purchased instead of using it as a laundry line. Jack (not his real name) had a spare bedroom, and he put in his treadmill, yoga mat, dumbbell weights, gym ball and some TheraBand. For under $500, he had a dedicated gym room in his house. Jack’s key element was this: it had to have a TV in it to watch his morning news. He had it mounted on the wall in front of the treadmill. Jack wakes each morning at 6:30 a.m., has coffee while reading the paper, and at 7 a.m., he is on the treadmill for 30 minutes, walking while catching up with more news. At 7:30 a.m., he does a series of stretches, dumbbell shoulder presses, sit-ups, modified push-ups, and more stretches. This daily 60 minutes of exercise involves aerobic, anaerobic weight training, stretching, meditation and breathing exercises. He and his wife have the routine down, and they must be able to watch that TV.
Jack was in earlier in the year, before the pandemic broke out, for a tune-up of his low back pain and stiffness. He said to me, “John, I still watch TV while exercising every day, and I can’t thank you enough for that suggestion – it works.” I told him that if he drove by my house on any given evening, he would see me on my stationary road bike positioned right in front of the TV with the garage door open while I am sweating away doing my workouts. I don’t watch the news, but I watch bike races saved on my TV’s DVR.
I hope these examples discussed above give you some ideas on how you can keep healthy and strong with just a few tools. I recommend speaking to your personal trainer or physical therapist on what exercises you should be doing to stay healthy. PTs are experts at musculoskeletal problems and can show you specific exercises you may need to do for your problem. Start small, and if you are staying on track, reward yourself with new pieces of equipment as the months go on. Remember, you can pick up all kinds of exercise equipment for sale in online swaps for a fraction of the cost if purchased new.
John Seivert is a doctor of physical therapy and he has been practicing for 34 years. He opened Body Logic Physical Therapy in Grass Valley in 2001. He has been educating physical therapists since 1986. Contact him at bodylogic2011@ yahoo. com.
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