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Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011 05:52 am

Fitness at home

How to make an exercise room work in your space

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So the economy has you rethinking that gym membership, and now you’d like to start working out at home – but you don’t know where to put all that cumbersome exercise equipment. Or perhaps, you already have the equipment, but your Nordic Track has become just another interesting focal point in the family room and your exercise bike serves as a clothes tree in your bedroom. Your home gym needs a plan.

With careful space planning and the addition of few items of comfort and inspiration, you can create a functional exercise area that will support you in your physical fitness, without detracting from your home’s décor.

First, get real
The first step in planning an exercise area in your home is to carefully and honestly examine your physical fitness routine.

Are you really going to use this equipment, or are you just fooling yourself?
If there’s any doubt, save yourself time, money and guilty feelings: Don’t buy any equipment or change your home to accommodate it! If you already own unused equipment, move it out and reclaim the space. Then join a gym!

Working out the space
But assuming you have space and are serious about setting up a dedicated space at home your next step is to map out a floor plan.
Measure the footprint of each piece, plus space needed to maneuver on and off it.

What are your conversion possibilities?
•    If guests are infrequent might you convert part of your guest room into a spa?
•    Is there room for a wall rack for free weights or your exercise bike in the laundry or utility room?
•    Could you park your car on one side of the garage, carpet the other half and arrange your equipment there?
•    Could you cover a porch or set up your equipment on the upstairs landing?

If you are forced to have a room serve double duty you can conceal equipment behind a decorative folding screen, room partition (like those used in offices) or a rolling shade hung from the ceiling. Just don’t hide it so well that you forget to use it.

Maxing out
If you are lucky enough to be able to dedicate an entire room to fitness, set it up to inspire you to spend lots of time using it.
•    Mount a TV from one of the corners or install a high quality stereo.
•    Place a floor fan in the corner or, better yet, install a ceiling fan.
•    Add bookshelves to store CDs, head bands, stacks of towels, water bottles, power bars and a fitness log and for recording your progress.
•    Arrange your exer-cycle or treadmill so that it faces a pleasing view. Add flowers or a bird feeder outside the window, or place an inspirational piece of art or affirmations on the wall in your line of sight.
•    Place hooks on the wall for your robe, jump rope, etc.
•    Bring in a scale and make yourself a fancy chart to graph your weight or measurements.

Close the door and post a ‘do not disturb’ sign.


How to Stay Fit on the Job

No time for an hour of cardio? You don’t have to be a gym rat to get active at work, especially when there’s exercise just waiting to be had around every cubicle. Try these suggestions from the American Heart Association and the American Council on Fitness:
•    After lunch take a brisk walk. Lousy weather? Walk up and down 3-4 flights stairs.
•    Stand while talking on the telephone. Add a few deep knee bends.
•    Skip the intercom or email. Walk down the hall to speak with a coworker.
•    Stretch and move around in your cubicle or office, something that can also help to avoid strain on your back.
•    Launch a recreation or sports league at your company to get active and raise money for charity events.
•    When traveling on business, stay exclusively at hotels that offer fitness centers and swimming pools;
•    If your employer has a gym, get there before or after work to avoid the midday rush, or drop by for a lunchtime workout;
•    Schedule your exercise appointment on your calendar and treat it like a meeting with your boss.
•    Park a few blocks early from the office and walk the rest of the way
to work
Always check with your doctor before beginning any fitness routine.

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