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Special Projects: The home gym

Posted on 13 July 2019

Special Projects: The home gym

In today’s society, more than ever in capital cities, staying active can be a hassle. In the online era, much of our leisure time is spent sedentarily. Work doesn’t cut us any further slack, either. From trends of long hours in the office to tiresome commutes, mustering up the energy before or after work can be difficult. For those of us lucky enough to have the room however, a home gym might just solve that issue.

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the equipment needed to build a modern home gym. While home gyms have been around as long as fitness equipment has been sold, finding the balance between one that allows you to train meaningfully while maintaining aesthetic is a little harder than simply picking up a few dumbbells and a weights racks. When it comes to the actual build, there are a lot of variables. These will, ultimately, come down to the space you have and the age of the home. If you were in the midst of building a new house or apartment, ventilation is a big one. If you’re putting something together in an old space, reinforcements are another. Like any good project, the key is both planning and creativity–A well-curated idea will almost execute itself. Creativity, on the other hand, will help you decide whether to reinforce it or reimagine it when an issue arises.

Once you have decided to invest in your own equipment and move forward to building your gym, the first step is to set a budget. Deciding how much you should spend is difficult. In most cases, we think it’s safe to say you won’t be able to build something substantial for the same price you’d pay for a year or even a two-year gym membership. Even with the price of gym memberships varying greatly depending on location, it’d be a stretch at best (don’t mind the pun) to find something similar. The return, however, comes in both a different form and the long term.

While we think it’s never great to overindulge in our spending, we’d like to remind you that keeping active and healthy and looking after our bodies comes with a cost–and for good reason. There’s a cost in joining a gym just as owning your own set of weights or workout equipment has a cost. There’s even a cost in affording the time, energy and even scheduling to keep said lifestyle. While we have skimmed over said costs numerous times now, and in our pieces on self-help, dating and even minimalism, there’s a reason we keep bringing it up. It is perhaps the most important cost of all: The price we (and our bodies) ultimately end up paying when we don’t keep on top of our fitness and health. With that in mind, it’s a cost well justified.

When it comes to picking the equipment, we’ve taken a rather millennial approach. For years four-in-one home machines have existed–and for years four-in-one machines have twisted. So instead of focusing on a machine that has several training methods, we’ve focused on a single piece of equipment we can use to train several ways. Creativity is key, remember?  After all, the last thing you want to do is recreate another hotel gym–there’s a reason they’re so unpopular. We’ve also opted for more permanent fixtures that look great, save space and are easy on the eye.

Without further ado below is our small curation of items – we would hope – pleases Marie Kondo, a personal trainer and maybe even an interior designer.

The heave bar

Bodyweight exercises are some of the most important exercises you can do. While lifting weights is great, being able to lift your own weight allows you to be agile and to move your body with ease. The heave? It’s up there at the top of the list. By simply changing your grip you can work different muscles in the back like the latissimus dorsi muscle (often called lats) as well as the biceps, triceps and shoulders. What you’ll also find is with a lot of bodyweight exercises is that you actually use several muscles at once. A good example is with both the heave and the push-up, both exercises require core engagement.

The rower

One part cardio, one part resistance training, a rowing machine is a great way to burn fat and increase endurance. While rowing you actually train several muscles throughout your body including your back, hamstrings, quadriceps, abdominals, arms and even your pectoralis muscles. When done quickly, It’s also a great way to get your heart pumping. Most rowers, like the one pictured above, don’t require a lot of space, can stand freely or pack away easy against the wall.

Weighted Sandbags or medicine balls

Rather than opt for a dumbbell or squat rack, we’ve gone for something a little friendlier to the home. With a softer outer coating, weighted sandbags are a lot safer to use around children and on polished floors and tiles. These can be used to add weight to body squats or lunges, they can be slung behind your neck for a weighted run, they can be used to add resistance in sit-ups or even as a dumbbell. A flexible outer casing is both easier to store and easier on the eyes as is the case above.

An indoor cycle trainer

Melburnians love to cycle and Melbourne loves to rain. Cycling is both a way to exercise and to commute. On the days with poorer weather, you can still get that fix with an indoor trainer. It’s also a way to turn your old fixie into something of use. Whether you’re setting your trainer on a high level and getting a full workout or taking it easy with a little active recovery, an indoor cycle trainer is a simple, affordable addition to your home gym.

A Mirror

‘Even if I don’t take selfies?’ Yes, even if you don’t take selfies. The most important reason to invest in a mirror is to observe and improve. Not ourselves, but our techniques. Be it yoga, karate or simply shoulder press, you should observe your technique everyone now and again to make sure it’s correct. Doing so is safer and will help your muscles remember the right way to train.

While the list above is by no means an all-inclusive home gym or guide to working out, it does provide a few well-designed products which will help you find the balance between designing a good looking room and getting a whole body workout. For the more extreme gym goers, a full weights rack and platform might be essential while for others, less than above list might be enough. Whichever you might be, we know you’ll appreciate the list above.

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