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7 Tips When Creating a Home Gym
A dedicated space for exercise equipment brings the gym home

By Joyce Rosencrans - The Cincinnati Post Home Editor

The obesity epidemic has people running on public roads at first light and twilight - not a good idea if longevity is part of your life plan.

Bad weather, ever-shorter days and slippery conditions will begin to curtail the exercise outings for even the most dedicated among us. No wonder that health-club and "Y" memberships soar as bargain-enrollment periods are offered during the holidays to tempt couch potatoes into making and sticking to New Year resolutions. Gym dropouts increase in number with the approach of springtime.

But some people with excess pounds and/or health imperatives wish to remain consistent in their exercise habits, so they're busy getting their houses into "shape" by creating a fitness room or by dedicating a portion of some room as a space for exercise equipment, mats, benches, balls and weights.

It's easier for some to work out in the privacy of their own homes. They don't have to get in the car and go to a crowded health club. They don't have to wear stylish work-out clothing, or worry about wiping someone else's sweat off the various machinery and benches. A private shower's just a few steps away, too. No waiting. No modesty issues. No going back out to a cold car in a chill wind.

According to Nautilus Inc., headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., more people are bringing the gym home. More than half of the 500 respondents of a recent Nautilus Institute survey said they believe a dedicated fitness area in their home would cause them to exercise more, and about 21 percent said they are planning to set one up. Two-thirds of the 500 adults surveyed online said they intend to step up their exercise pattern this year to live a long, healthy life, manage their weight and feel good about themselves.

Another fitness goal is that exercise can often help dispel depression, or the "blues," at least.

An estimated 30 million American households are considering purchasing fitness equipment in the next 12 months, although half haven't determined what to buy.

Sporting goods retailers nationwide are expanding their offerings of home fitness equipment - many are showcasing home fitness "suites." Three Greater Cincinnati retailers said no suites are on view in their stores; all floor space is given over to lineups of equipment.

The two biggest sellers in this area: ellipticals and treadmills. (Cincinnati sources online: and

A big reason for former walkers, runners or joggers to consider buying home-exercise equipment is that they want to pursue a balanced approach - combining strength, cardio and balance/flexibility training. This is why various weights for resistance, ellipticals and "home gym" contraptions are being added to the lone treadmill or old-style exercycle off in one corner of the bedroom.

The Nautilus online survey found that three in 10 respondents had already established some kind of space for fitness in their homes. Most common: a bedroom conversion or finished-basement area. Only 7 percent have created a dedicated "fitness room."

Interior designer Mindy Miles Greenberg, frequent guest on HGTV's "Decorating Cents" and owner of Encore Décor in New York City, works with many clients who want to incorporate a workout area in their homes. A fitness enthusiast herself, here are her opinions on how to create a great space in which to get fit:

Resist mirrors. For those new to the exercise arena, mirrors may do more to distract and depress than motivate. Your décor for exercise equipment should be inviting, not intimidating.

Face a window. Position cardio equipment, such as a treadmill, in front of a pleasant outdoor view. If that's not possible, face a television. It's the same rule that applies to office space. To avoid feeling isolated, the place where you're spending a great deal of time (computer desk or stationary bike) should include a view.

If a cable hookup is impractical for your exercise area, then consider radio plus mural wallpaper. Delightful wide-screen scenes sold through wallpaper dealers can be pasted upon an entire wall. Picture a garden path, a vineyard scene with grapevines covering rolling hills. Or maybe a sailing scene upon the ocean blue, puffy clouds overhead, would take you away from the treadmill and rowing machine. A homemade mural can be created with a digital camera that captures a series of forest scenes or a panorama of the Ohio River Valley.

Declutter. If you can clear out an 8x10-foot area, that's a comfortable space for cardio, strength and flexibility equipment. If you don't want a complete setup, space-saving gear options will help you work out in a tiny area. Start with a spare room or living area where personal possessions have accumulated. Store items you can't live without, but be brutal and give away or sell most of the stuff.

Create a vacation getaway place. Contrast the décor of your workout space with that in the rest of your house. If you live in the city, try a country or Tuscan style. If you're land-locked, go with an ocean or beach mural and tropical-beach colors. Note to moms: No phone or kids' stuff.

Color your workout world. Golden yellows transform a cold, dark room, especially if you'll be exercising pre-dawn or after dark. Relaxing sage greens bring in the outdoors. Serene blues inspire a beach environment. Black and white with the punch of any other bright accent color creates an urban feel.

Add creature comforts. A small fridge can hold bottled water and protein shakes. Have music, a fan, plush towels and a TV plus DVD.

Be realistic. A workout space doesn't have to be Shangri-La or involve construction. Simply carve out a small space, make it pleasant and enjoy it in good health.

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