Build a Home Gym? Yes, You Should.

home gym, Motion

Before you read this, please know I am a HUGE advocate for moving workouts into the home setting.  

Cutting the cord on a big box gym membership is a little like cutting the cord on cable television.  I’ve done both so I’ve got some experience here.  Change is hard.  Sounds dumb but when I cut cable television for good, I had a few weeks of not knowing what the hell to do with myself at night.  

It was purely conditioning and habit driving these feelings.  

But eventually, I adapted and transitioned my time to more productive activities.  Of course economical streaming subscriptions also helped fill the void (Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, etc). 

Anyways, there’s some initial hesitation, weighing, back and forth, and although it sounds kind of funny… anxiety involved with cancelling a gym membership (or cable television).

“What will I do without my gym membership?”

Step one is to ask yourself if you’re actually using your gym membership.  If you are, how many days a week are you going?  Are you getting results from that money and time investment?  

These are simple questions.  Are you going to the gym enough to make the cost of keeping the membership worth while?

A lot of people go to the gym with intentions of losing weight, building strength, getting healthy, yet have very little if anything to show for it.  

No offense to these folks, but there’s a lot of people that fall into this category.  Gyms love them because not achieving results (aka:  spinning tires in the mud) is great for ensuring a steady revenue stream.  The anxiety is too high to cancel the membership.  So, you pay every month.  

If you do go to the gym and you enjoy it, KEEP YOUR MEMBERSHIP.

The goal of this article isn’t to project a rigid stance on big box gyms and paint them as being a bad place.  

My goal is to shed light on the effectiveness of working out at home and let you know it’s more than doable, it’s becoming the new standard.  Lots of people aren’t aware of this.  #themoreyouknow

A lot of folks use gyms as a social hang out just as people get memberships at the local country club to hang out with their buddies.  

Well built gyms often offer amenities to families (pools, child care, classes, etc).  So for these folks, spending the money might be well worth it.  

Mom and Dad can get some exercise in while the kids play in the pool with licensed gym staff.  

But…

… cancelling your gym membership will free up funds, time and hopefully bring some excitement back to your workouts.  

The biggest benefit (in my opinion) of moving workouts to a home gym set up is the freeing up of TIME.  

When I was younger I had a much harder time understanding the value of my time on this earth.  My perception was that I had all the time in the world.  Wrong.  

Fast forward several birthdays later, I feel much differently.  I have a desire to own as much of my time as possible.  Life’s too short.

Google “Memento Mori Chart” and fill one of those out if you really want the realities on the shortness of life.  

Balancing family, career and finding time for recreation can eat up most of the time in a day.  

Working out at a membership based brick and mortar gym certainly has it’s advantages, but it also has limitations which often go overlooked.

 

#1  Paying for something you don’t use.

A gym membership going unused or not being used on a regular basis is a waste of money.  

#2  Time.  

How much is your time worth?  

Time is our most precious commodity, and we can never get time back.  Drive time to and from, changing clothes time, waiting for equipment time, workout time, shower time, etc.  Big box gyms are a TIME SUCK. 

#3  Safe equipment.  

Most gyms still refuse to offer fitness equipment considered to be “taboo” or “dangerous” because it’s a liability for injury.  

So, the average big box gym is littered with fixed range of motion (aka:  artificial and unnatural range of motion cardio and resistance machines)

There’s a reason most people despise exercise…  because spending hours on these machines is uneventful and completely against human nature.  We were force fed the concept of exercising on fixed machines back in the 1960’s and 1970’s and somehow the concept survived to 2018.  

Those feelings of boredom while “ellipticalling” are real… and more importantly they are NOT WRONG.  Your body craves robust movement, exploration, change of direction, challenge.  

It took 8+ years for most gyms to offer kettlebells to clients for fear of throwing them through mirrors, dropping them on toes, or blowing out backs from poor technique.  All reasonable concerns.

To be blunt, if your gym isn’t offering and promoting alternative modalities of building fitness such as kettlebells, you’re missing out.

#4  Personal training is expensive

God bless personal trainers and their ongoing commitment to educating the public on the benefits of exercise.  

But personal training is expensive.

Personal training is expensive regardless if you’re training 1-on-1, semi private or in a group setting.  At $5, $10 or in some areas $70-$80 per session you could pivot and transition those dollars into one of many online training programs (probably starting with bodyweight based training like yoga or calisthenics) and gradually purchase some home equipment.

Start with a simple pair of dumbbells or kettlebells, maybe a suspension trainer.  These are three of the most versatile pieces of gym equipment on the market.  

Yes, I know barbell training is amazing.  But even in the year 2018, barbells freak a lot of people out.  I don’t know if their is data on this, but it’s anecdotal fact for me in conversations with people.  

So, do your homework on dumbbells, kettlebells or a suspension trainer.  

For the cost of one month of gym membership, you can buy one or possibly two pieces of equipment.  A kettlebell is a one-time purchase.  That kettlebell will outlast your life. 

The gym membership model succeeds and relies on signing up customers who don’t set foot in the door.  

I didn’t make this up.  

Listen, if I owned a gym I wouldn’t want all of my members to workout daily and tear up my expensive equipment.  

It would be a hassle and lost dollars for me to constantly fix broken down cardio machines, reface beat up barbells and weight plates, patch holes in benches, etc.  

No, no… if I owned a gym, give me your money and stay at home.  

Here are some great articles regarding gym memberships:

A snippet from the last NPR article:

“Joining a gym is an interesting form of what behavioral economists call pre-commitment,” says Kevin Volpp, director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Wharton School. Volpp says we actually like the idea of being locked into a gym contract … at first, anyway. “They’re picturing the ‘new me’ who’s actually going to go to the gym three times a week and become a physical fitness machine.” We convince ourselves that since we have committed to putting down money for a year, we will make ourselves go to the gym. And then, of course, we don’t.

Working out at home is not for everyone. 

“Wait, I thought you just told me that…”

I did.

Before you cancel your gym membership, it’s important to understand your habits and personality.  

Cancelling a gym membership with intentions of working out at home, but never actually getting the home workout habit to stick is not good.  It’s a step in the wrong direction.

If you were exercising twice a week at a gym, but now exercising ZERO times per week after making the transition, this is not a good scenario.

While taking workouts into the home setting is loaded with advantages, a lot of people may find it difficult to stick to a workout regimen at home.

I’ve found that inability to make the home workout habit stick are pretty similar to the reasons a lot of people shouldn’t have a home-based career.  

The comfortable environment of the home setting can kill off motivation for physical exertion and breed complacency.  

The temptation to do anything but be productive and get work done is too great.

Before cancelling a gym membership, test the waters by bringing 1 or 2 workouts into the home.  Keep it simple.  Work some bodyweight sessions, play around with the space you’ve got and get acclimated.   

No equipment means no workout!

Survey says:  Wrong.  

A common perception is that quality exercise cannot happen without the presence of fancy fitness machines.  

Heavenly Father… what are you supposed to do without any fitness equipment?!

I can see how a person would have this opinion, I really can. But the reality is you DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW.  

If you have these feelings, you’ve got to explore your options.   

Here are some ideas for you… 

Yoga, Animal Flow, KinStretch, gymnastics and calisthenics and resistance training are all INCREDIBLE forms of movement that can provide far more benefit for your body (looks, feel and performance) than any machine ever will.  

Listen, exercise machines have their place, but moving your body in a natural environment should be a primary goal.  Your body and the ground.  Start there.

What about walking?  

Walking, time and time again has proven to be potent form of daily activity.  Start with 10 minutes per day, every single day.  See what happens.  

The Economics of Building a Home Gym

Before buying home gym equipment there are two important points to consider:

  1. Quality gym equipment often isn’t cheap at time of purchase.  The upfront cost of purchasing the equipment will likely exceed what you were paying per month at your gym.  However, shift your attention to the long-term value instead of the short-term.  Most quality gym equipment should last you lifetime versus paying for monthly gym memberships.
  2. What’s the cost of not exercising across the long-term?  This question can be hard to wrap one’s head around, but seriously, in 10, 20, 30 years, what will be the cost you pay for not taking care of yourself physically when you had the chance.  

A badass home gym could be built by shifting spending habits for 6-8 months.  

Many people won’t buy gym equipment for the home because they don’t know how to use it.  In 1996, this was a valid concern, but not in 2017.  This little thing called the internet has created massive opportunities to learn basic technique of physical conditioning, all the way to movement mastery.  

Fitness is now digital.  The information is distributed through video, audio and the written word, there is education that appeals to all forms of learning.  A lot of it is given away for free.

Everything a person could want to know about fitness is on the internet.  

If you’re one of those anti-internet people… please stop.  Yes, the internet has some crap floating around but so does society.  

Take ownership, research, experiment, explore, refine, get curious, learn.  

I want this article to open your eyes to a different perspective on working out, where you do it, how you do it and a alternative view to transitioning your health regimen back to home base.  

Even if you don’t make the switch, it’s important to have the information.

Please let me comments or questions.

Check out some of these other topics of I’ve explored on the blog…  

All center around workout programs, workouts, exercises or equipment fully compatible with the home gym setting.

 

For now… cheers to you and building a home gym.

 

Kyle 

 

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Hybrid Suspension Training: Body Row + Anti-Extension Ab Roll Out

Quick Tips

Suspension training is probably the best training option for the home, travel or outdoors.

I used to feel a little guilty about promoting suspension training because I felt like I was turning into a guru.  Then I just came to the conclusion that I value the tool so much that it’s completely worth the time taken to talk about it.

As I have mention, I am an avid Lifeline Fitness product user.  I love the innovation coming from this company.  It’s innovation within reason, meaning that they are bringing products to consumers that solve problems and serve a purpose.  Best of all, they are made with quality and are affordable for just about anyone.  The portability of all of the products is a major benefit to people who love to workout at home without sacrifice.

Quality workouts in the comfort of your own home will change you life, literally.  

I will commonly work hybrid style suspension training exercises into my warm ups and the meat of my workouts.  The versatility of products like the Lifeline Jungle Gym suspension trainer make these hybrid movements safe and natural.  Nothing feels forced or out of control.

Jungle Gym Suspension Trainer

A strap with two handles and foot loops

In the video below, you’ll see me performing a sub maximal body row that flows into a standing anti-extension abdominal rollout.  The body row is best performed on a suspension trainer.  The hands are free to rotate, which adds a rotational component to the rotator cuff and shoulder muscles.  The standing anti-extension ab rollout (besides being a mouthful) is a tremendous movement for reinforce core stability and preventing extension in the mid-section.

Both exercises provide tremendous functional carry over to the demands of a physical lifestyle and sport.

I like the explosiveness of the body row.  You’ve got to put some force into the full in order to get yourself to the standing position, transitioning into the forward fall of the ab rollout.

With this movement, the upper body does the bulk of the work.  The feet should not move and the rest of the body should remain rigid.  After the aggressive pull on the body row, you’ll transition from the heel of your foot, to the mid-foot, then on the balls of your feet.  Pulling out of the ab rollout you will go in reverse order (ball, mid-foot, heel).

heel, midfoot, forefoot

Heel (hindfoot)— Midfoot— Ball (Forefoot)

***Wear non-skid soled shoes or perform on a non-slip surface to avoid any unnecessary slippage on the ground surface.  One slip and you’ll understand what I am talking about.  I am wearing my trusty Vibram Five Fingers in the video demo.

 

 

Cheers to pulling and resisting extension…

KG

How to Warm Up Before a Home Workout (Video)

Quick Tips

Below is a sample of what a warm up looks like for me prior to a training session.

The only awkward moment comes when I attempt to stay on the rubber matting while performing forward, backward and side to side gorilla hops.  Hey, I’m human, shit happens.  This isn’t Hollywood produced, it’s real world home training.  Film it like it happens, right?

The important thing to remember is that you should always maximize the equipment, time and space that you have available to you.  You can always get way more accomplished with what you have than you originally thought.

I have really come to enjoy integrating animal style movements in the warm up, as it demands rhythm, stability and mobility to accomplish the moves.  Plus it isn’t boring, which is important for keeping your movement endeavors interesting and sustainable.

 

 

After you watched some of the video, it’s important to understand a couple of things:

1)  I only foam roll problem areas (trigger points, stiff muscles, overactive muscles)

2)  I only address mobility in areas that I lack it.

3)  The dynamic movement prep is mostly total body.

4)  Jumping rope serves to increase blood flow, core temperature and gets me sweating.

The point is that there is no time wasted and everything has a purpose.  My body is prepped for the transition into the physical demands of the workout.

My workout for this day was highly metabolic, which is how I have been training for quite some time now.  All workouts are designed mindfully and not intended to destroy my body, but rather build and condition it intelligently.  I completed all of the exercises below without rest between movements in a 15 minute timeframe (I was tight on time):

Metabolic Strength Training

 

 

I have used workouts like this successfully for over 5 years now.  The loads and exercises are appropriate for my skill and fitness level.  To be completely honest, the less complicated you make a session like this, the more fun you will have.  I rarely stray from the basic movement patterns: push ups, vertical pulling, squats, kb swings, etc.

I am after the training effect, not a circus-like performance.  The risk doesn’t always match the reward with complex movements.  It usually looks great on paper and sucks in practice.

For the time invested, I haven’t found any other style of training that keeps me lean and functional for the time invested.  The trade-off for time reduction is an increase in intensity.  This isn’t for beginner or the weak of heart.  You’ll be tired at the end.

It’s a great blend of work capacity and strength movements that demand full range of motion and attention to technique.  Of course, you can increase the difficulty of a workout like this or make it slightly easier if need be.  Progression is always the answer.

 

Cheers to making less excuses and  taking more action…

 

 

KG