The Basics Of Home Gyms

Photo of a fit woman performing a front squat with a heavy barbell in her home garage gym during covid-19 pandemic. Woman lifting a barbel and performing heavy powerlifting exercises. Power clean exercise. Focusing on core strength improvement.

While we stay at home and help do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19, many of us may find alternative ways to stay happy and healthy. One way to do so is by exercising at home. A big priority might be to keep up the personal fitness gains made over last year.

Working out at home via virtual platforms, either as a part of a class or one-on-one coaching with a personal trainer, is trending upwards. Gyms, trainers and their clients are pivoting to a new world. That’s not surprising, considering the amount of time being spent indoors during the lockdown of the pandemic.

Maureen (Mo) Hagan, chief operating officer at canfitpro, Canada’s largest fitness certification organization. Hagan is an international award-winning fitness professional who has been pioneering fitness training via virtual platforms for eight years. She sees home workouts as a permanent trend, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Online workouts are attracting more people

Woman practicing yoga with trainer via video conference.

Nothing will ever replace live contact with a personal trainer and fellow participants in a class environment, but going virtual has opened up new avenues for personal trainers, Hagan says in an interview.

“Less than 20 per cent of Canadians do enough exercise in the dose that’s required to reach the benefits we need for good health,” she says. “It’s cool to know that while the fitness industry hasn’t been able to reach all Canadians, with virtual, we have seen more people engage in fitness than before.”

Hagan says some of the most popular online training sessions now only take 20 to 30 minutes.

Keep safety in mind

Nurse making a house visit to a senior patient and examining her shoulder - healthcare and medicine concepts

If you’re working out more at home, or planning to, safety needs to be a priority. Always consult with a professional trainer before starting any workout regime to help avoid injuries, and consult with your doctor if you have any underlying conditions that might limit your ability to exercise.

“When we go from zero to hero without training the body to put up with these forces, it’s a formula for disaster,” says Dr. Ali Kheradmand, chiropractor and acupuncturist at Village Rehab Team Clinic in downtown Toronto.

In the past few months, in part because of the impact of the pandemic lockdown, Dr. Kheradmand’s clinic has seen a 30 per cent increase in people with injuries, predominantly in the lower back, neck and knees.

“Basically people have been forced to set up home work stations and, as a result, are not getting up and moving around,” he says. “The muscles that are generally used to moving are de-conditioned over time. A proper buildup of activity and proper work stations are essential to injury prevention.”

In terms of home equipment, then, where do you turn? There are plenty of options out there, such as sophisticated systems that measure your heart rate and track your progress, and which can run for thousands of dollars. But Hagan says getting fit doesn’t have to be costly.

“You don’t need much to have a full gym at home,” she says.

The basics of a home gym

Young man with headphones using laptop for exercising at home

  • The best tool of all is your body weight. “I teach body weight classes and, if you know how to train the body, all planes of movement, that’s the best,” Hagan says.
  • To get added strength training, invest in a set of dumbbells. “Buy a few different sizes, light, medium, and maybe a heavier kettle bell,” Hagan says. If you can lift it at least 10 times, safely, without needing a break, then that’s a good amount of weight.
  • A resistance tube or band of some kind. “They do the magical inside muscle work to help create better strength overall,” Hagan says.
  • A rubber mat, so you are more comfortable.
  • A jump rope. This is a great tool to get the sweat and endorphins going, so you feel happier. You can skip rope out on the porch, or on the balcony.
  • A foam roller. This helps you stretch and helps get the muscles warmed up before an exercise session at home.
  • A heart rate monitor. This is a great tool to tell you that you are working out effectively. It could be a watch or strap, and some include an app built in for reward points.
  • An exercise app. These are a popular way to access trainers or fitness experts. An app can also create the program for you, so you don’t have to figure out what to do. It allows you to track your progress and target your workouts. Most people “don’t know what to do; they just now they want to do something,” Hagan says.
  • Choose an area of your home in which you can workout in comfort and keep weights and other equipment away from young children and pets.

If you do want to invest in expensive equipment, do your research and go to reputable suppliers. Even consult with a fitness pro about what to buy, Hagan adds.

Working out at home is a great way to get more fit. With just a few pieces of equipment, some safety guidelines and a little motivation, you can meet your exercise goals safely and productively.

Previously published March 2021 

Disclaimer: This information is provided solely for informational purposes. Use of the information contained herein is at the sole choice and risk of the reader. Always consult your physician or health care provider before starting any exercise program or physical activity.