I know I’ve mentioned working out before – I typically try to workout about five (5) days a week. I do have a regular gym membership (Gold’s Gym) but that is mostly a waste of money as I hardly ever go.
Why not? Because I am building a home gym. I despise my local Gold’s Gym. The place is small and extremely crowded. There are exercise machines galore but the free weight section is pathetic. I always feel extra uncomfortable in this gym and I get sick of the fact that the gym employees know less about their options than my dog does.
So I decided to build a gym in my home. No more driving out of my way only to have to drive back home sweaty and tired. No more fighting for equipment. No more being unable to squat because the “bros” are all curling in the fucking squat rack!!!!!*
How I Got Started
Like just about every person in the world, I’ve had some problems with weight – well, to be honest, I’ve had a bigger problem with being lazy. I just didn’t want to workout. I was spoiled. I used to live in the city and I got most of my exercise from day to day living: I biked to work (4 miles per day) and my husband and I walked to events/clubs/parties. When we weren’t in the mood to bike – we could walk to work.
Moving to the ‘burbs changed all of that. Now it’s almost a solid mile just to get out of my neighborhood. And I do NOT live in a walking neighborhood. I have to drive to any and every activity I want to take part in. *sigh* All of that – while true – was just the excuse I gave myself as to why I wasn’t working out.
The lightbulb came on in late 2012. I really needed to stay in shape. I decided to try The Bar Method – I don’t know how I even ran across it, to be honest. IIRC I was aimlessly reading workout DVDs online when I ran across The Bar Method. I decided to give it a try and bought the beginner’s DVD. I also shelled out a couple hundred dollars buying two portable ballet barres: an aluminum one by Vita Vibe (which really IS portable) and a wooden one by ABC Dance Company. Why did I need two? Well, I don’t really have a reason other than maybe a friend would like to join in one day. *shrug* Don’t judge me.
I did The Bar Method religiously for a few months, even took a few of the actual classes. Every morning I would drag myself out of bed, walk the dog and then do the Bar Method DVD. I slowly saw some changes in my body but it was slow. So after a few months, I decided that I wanted to add some resistance training to my program. I’d never done any real resistance training before (besides playing around in the gym with machines) so I had no clue where to start. I LOVE Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred program so I started with her. Jillian has a DVD using Kettlebells. I did a lot of research and discovered that Jillian Michaels was NOT the person I wanted to learn kettlebells from. After much digging I discovered the Iron Core Kettlebell series and I bought my first kettlebell (10lbs). Man! It kicked my ass! and I loved every minute of it.
And that was the start of my fitness obsession.
Since then, the items in my gym have exploded. Exploded to the point that I can officially say I have a home gym.
I’ve been asked a few times just HOW I got started building a gym and WHAT to buy (and in what order). So, here’s my “Gym Starter” list:
Beginner’s Gym Starter List
Yoga Mat(s) – You are going to need at least one. We have four (4) but I’m OCD.
Stability Ball (aka Swiss Ball)
Dumbbells (you pick your weights, I started with 2lbs)
Workout DVDs (I would suggest at least two so that you don’t get bored)
1. Notebook – You should always track your workouts. How else can you know if you’re reaching your goals? There are numerous places online that you can use to track BUT having control of your own data is a MUST. YMMV
2. Yoga Mat – These are great for a large variety of reasons. You can do yoga (of course), plank comfortably, sit ups, push ups, etc. The mat gives you a cushioned place to workout no matter the floor covering. Plus it keeps sweat off of the floor as well.
3. Stability (Swiss) Ball – There is such a wide variety of things to do with stability balls that I won’t even try to list them. But one GREAT use for a stability ball is bench pressing (mostly dumbbells). Using a stability ball for bench pressing is great for both the chest and the core. So, yes…you CAN do basic bench presses WITHOUT a bench.
4. Dumbbells – Should be self explanatory. I would suggest getting two sets (one lightish and one heavy). Make sure you start with a weight that will challenge you.
5. Resistance Bands/Tubes – There are numerous things you can do with resistance bands/tubes. Some brands come with instructional DVDs, some come with exercise sheets. You can also use one of my favorite resources: The TheraBand Academy. The TheraBand Academy is free to use and they have a wealth of different exercises for resistance bands/tubes.
6. Workout DVDs – Also Self explanatory. For some suggestions I can say that I started with:
7. Foam Roller – I can’t stress enough how important foam rolling is. Foam rolling hurts like hell when you hit a knot in your muscles (also known as trigger points). But later – once you’ve worked through that knot, the relief is amazing AND it helps you to heal faster.
Foam Rollers come in different levels of firmness. If you’ve never done it before, I suggest starting with a white roller. Here’s a site that gives some great basic foam rolling instruction: http://greatist.com/fitness/how-foam-roll-pro
If, after reading this you still feel some confusion as to What to do when working out, here are some great sites to check out for great workout routines (that don’t require a lot of equipment):
And just to get you started, here is:
The Arnold Schwarzenegger 1% Challenge Workout
Bodyweight Squat: 8-10 reps
Push Ups: 5-8 reps
Plank: 15 secs
Jumping Jacks: 15 reps
Reverse Lunge: 6 reps (per leg)
Glute Bridge: 10 Reps
Note: rest 30 secs between each exercise. Rest 90 secs after you complete the entire round. Now repeat three (3) times for a total of four (4) rounds.
This workout (and many like it) can be found at Fitocracy. Which I will cover in Part 2.
*If you get nothing else from this post, please get this: Curling is the squat rack should be a crime. Doing curls, chin ups, pull ups, bench pressing or any kind of activity OTHER THAN SQUATTING in a squat rack in a busy gym is a HUGE no-no. Squat racks are for squatting. Or stationary [heavy] barbell lunges if you’re a real pro. NO CURLING IN THE SQUAT RACK. None!!
** There is a huge difference between a squat rack and a Smith Machine. Smith Machines are dangerous and I do not recommend them.