Home Gym

Want to create a home gym?

Perhaps you're not so keen on going to a commercial gym, or simply can't fit in a gym visit several times a week. In that case,  I recommend you buy some exercise equipment so you can work out in the convenience and privacy of your own home. As a personal trainer in London, I've seen some great home gyms. One client created a gym in his attic, complete with eliptical machine, dumbbells, and yoga mat. Another turned a spare bedroom into a home gym, complete with weights bench and dumbbells, but his cat thinks this room is the 'cat gym'. This shows real dedication to getting fit (by the client, not the cat).

Many people, particularly if you're obese or simply not confident about your body, cringe at the idea of working out in the company of strangers. They feel self-conscious, or don't like the idea of picking up verucas in the changing rooms and showers. Another challenge is the time and hassle involved in travelling to and from the gym, in an already busy day.

Even if you're an existing gym member in London, there will always be days when you don't have time or simply can't be bothered travelling to and from the gym after work. And in the winter, there might be snowy days when you literally can't get to the gym. And some gyms are so busy at peak times, it's too frustrating to wait for your favourite machine to become available. I went to one gym at lunchtime during the week, and there was a long queue for the free-weights area, and an even longer queue for the showers at the end. If you have some basic equipment at home, you can train any time you like, and you'll have no excuse not to exercise.

Think you've got no time to exercise at home?

"No time" is the most common reason for not exercising. OK, so how many hours a week do you sit watching television? Be honest! This time can now be put to good use if you work out in front of the TV, rather than slouching on the sofa. Now you can have the best of both worlds: watch your favourite TV shows and get fit at the same time.

To get you started, here's some basic fitness equipment I recommend you buy, so you can workout in the convenience and privacy of your living room (if you want personal training in your home gym, check my personal training page.) Most of my personal training clients in London buy their own dumbbells so they can exercise between our weekly sessions, and a yoga mat too for all the core and thighs exercises.

Yoga Mat (What's the best exercise mat to buy? Get one with plenty of padding to cushion your joints, and make sure it's not slippery. You need stability for exercises like the plank.)

Swissball (Also known as stability balls, Swissballs come in different sizes, so get the right size for you. And don't exercise near sharp table-edges, or you'll risk an injury if you fall off your swissball)

Heart Rate Monitor (I recommend you buy the simplest one possible, they're less confusing and less can go wrong with them)

Medicine Ball (Get the medicine ball with handles, also known as the double grip medicine ball. It enables you to grip better and perform more exercises)

Weights Bench (The best weights bench to buy is one that has the option of flat/incline at different angles, as this gives more exercise options)

Dumbbells (Get yourself a range of weights: a pair of 3kg, pair of 5kg, pair of 7.5kg or 8kg, pair of 10kg. For men, also get pair of 12.5kg, and pair of 15kg. Get fixed chrome or rubberised weights, don't get weights you screw bits to add more weight, they're too fiddly, less friendly to handle, and they interrupt the flow of your workout.)

Pedometers (to measure your total number of walking steps per day - 10,000 steps a day is a good number to aim for)

Massage Balls (enable you to get rid of muscle knots, and boost circulation)

Reaction Balls (oddly shaped balls to bounce and speed reaction time when you catch them)

Wobble Boards (traditional wooden wobble boards, or synthetic variations, great for improving proprioception and balance) - also Slant Boards, Rocker Boards, and Balance Pads.

Exercise Bands and Exercise Tubing (for resistance exercise, a transportable alternative to dumbbells, easy to pack in your suitcase for a hotel bedroom workout or beach workout)

Boxing Gloves and Boxing Pads (great for cardio boxing and kickboxing)

Elliptical Trainers (also known as Nordic Ski, or Crosstrainer, the large cardio machines found in all gyms, now available for home gyms. The best cross-trainers have 20 levels of resistance, and various workout options such as manual, hill etc)

Exercise Bikes (What's the best exercise bike to buy? I'd say get one with different levels of resistance, so you can perform different levels of workout as you progress.)

Treadmills (also known as running machines. What's the best treadmill or running machine to buy? Ideally get one with an incline option)

Vibration Platforms

Abs Wheel (people ask if the abs wheel is safe, and I'd suggest that you need to have a strong core before you attempt the abs wheel, as there is risk of injury if you've got a weak core. It's quite an advanced exercise, but the abs wheel does work if performed correctly.)

Body Fat Monitor (Omron Body Fat Monitors are good - you can get a handheld one - and they use bioelectrical impedence to measure how much body fat you have. A small electric current passes round your body, and the leaner you are, the faster the current passes, as muscle conducts electricity faster than fat. What's the most accurate method to measure body fat? A six or eight point body fat monitor in a lab or hospital would give a more accurate reading than a hand-held device, but that is expensive/impractical for most people.)

BOSU Ball - like a swissball sliced in half, with a flat base. BOSU stands for 'both sides up' as you can use it either way up for different exercises. Great for improving your core strength and balance.