5 Considerations for Creating a Home Gym

March 24, 2013

This is a guest post by Joe Pawlikowski.

If you’ve committed to a life change and plan to pursue fitness for the rest of your life, you’re looking at expensive times ahead. You might have gotten over your fear of the gym, but you’ll never get over the impact it has on your wallet. The reality is that good gyms cost good money. If you’re in it for life, that means paying out every month from now until you drop.

home gym

(To be clear, while a gym like Planet Fitness can work for casual gym-goers, serious folks will find little utility in it. They just don’t have the array of equipment necessary.)

How much will you spend?

Gym membership rates vary by location, so it’s tough to peg down a narrow range of costs. In the Northeast I’ve paid between $50 and $60 per month for a high-end gym. In the middle of the country that might be $40. For the sake of calculation, let’s set the cost at $550 per year, or about $45 per month.

For something as important as fitness, $550 might not seem like much. And really, it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best you can do. Just think: five years into your new life you’ll be out $2,750. Ten years in you’ll be out more than $5,000. And you won’t be getting anything more for that outlay. You’ll get the same thing over and over.

Owning over renting

If you planned to live in a particular area for a decade or more, you probably wouldn’t rent a house or apartment. In that scenario you would pay a monthly fee to use the space, but would build up no equity. Pay $1,000 per month for rent, and you’re out $10,000 in ten years with nothing to show for it. Instead, you’d buy a place, building up equity. That way when you’re ready to move out you have something to sell.

In the same way, if you plan to use a gym for the next 10 years, buying equipment will provide you with something to show for your dollars. Instead of spending that $5,000 and having nothing tangible, you can put that $5,000 towards your own equipment. That way you will have equipment you can use for decades.

Best of all, the equipment can move with you. Every time you join a new gym you are subject to sign-up costs. That can account for up to $200 at some gyms, adding to your overall costs. Yes, there will be extra costs to move the equipment, but at least you know what you’re getting for that. When you pay a sign-up fee, you’re essentially gifting the gym extra money.

Multi-purpose equipment

The key to building a home gym is selecting equipment that you can use to perform multiple exercises. Such equipment might look expensive, but it works out when you factor in what equipment you won’t need to buy. Consider the following options.

Power rack. These are big, expensive piece equipment. They don’t function on their own, either. You need barbells and weight plates to make them work. But once you get a rack, a bench, a barbell, and a few plates, think of all the exercises you can do:

  • Deadlift
  • Squat
  • Military press
  • Bench press
  • Barbell lunge
  • Good morning
  • Pull-ups
  • Power cleans

And that’s just a sampling. Notice, too, that those are all multi-joint movements that provide you with the greatest benefit for effort expended.

PowerBlock. Dumbbells provide an alternative to barbells, but usually work best when used alongside them. The problem with dumbbells, of course, is that you need to buy a lot of them. The PowerBlock solves that issue by providing you with one dumbbell with adjustable weights. You can get them at high weights and there are expansion packs, so you’re covered for almost any exercise.

Kettlestack. One recent trend in gyms is kettlebell usage. Various types of kettlebell swings can rock your core like no other exercise. But they face the same problem as dumbbells: different exercises require different weights, so you need a lot of them. Adjustable kettlebells, such as Kettlestack, solve that problem.

Get creative

The best part about creating a home gym is that you don’t have to work with traditional limitations. You can turn anything into gym equipment. It doesn’t even have to be in your garage or basement, either. It can be anywhere on your property.

Want a quick way to get ripped? You can buy a sledgehammer and try the shovelglove workout.

Want to install equipment both you and the kids can use? Climbing bars and monkey bars can do the trick. That way they get to play, and you get to use the bars for more serious workouts.

It doesn’t end there, though. You can think up any piece of equipment that can help you along with your workouts. And it’s all on the table. After all, it’s your equipment.

Going to the gym can be a healthy choice for people who have committed to lifelong fitness. But gym memberships don’t provide cost effectiveness. It is essentially renting equipment. If you’re in it for life, wouldn’t your rather invest and buy? It will work out in your favor in the long run, saving you time and providing flexibility that a gym just can’t.

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