Working out at the gym has its advantages. You feel like you have to go once in a while if you bought a membership to make the expense worthwhile. Other people are there, so there are appearances to keep up, and the equipment is varied enough so you don’t get bored.

What about the cost though? Some people can’t afford it and many people simply do not want to workout in front of other people, especially very fit individuals. Then there are those highly motivated fitness fans who are happy to get stronger and healthier at home as long as they have a home fitness program that is working for them.

They regularly update their equipment and resources. Here are some highly effective ways to get or stay fit in your home that will require anything from a small square of living room and a TV to an entire basement.

DVD Programs

Beachbody makes the most effective workout programs like their MAX:30 and P90X series. Shaun T. and Tom Horton have developed fitness plans that keep changing so they are always interesting. Their styles are motivational and enjoyable. These two professional trainers are joined by other professionals and other DVDs at Beachbody and you can’t go wrong with the brand. Beachbody backs up their programs with science and proven results. They also support clients with food supplements to help them lose weight and build muscle.

Numerous excellent fitness instructors released videos that are several years old but still hit the right notes now that they have been transferred to DVD. Violet Zaki is one of them. For yoga, Suzanne Deason comes highly recommended. She has created series for different levels of flexibility and the various purposes for which consumers pursue the discipline. Those include weight loss, injury recovery, and relaxation. Kathy Smith’s videos stand the test of time, but as she ages, Smith releases DVDs for older women too, so you might now be following her into menopause after starting with Smith in your 20s.

“Crunch” home fitness routines are short and motivational and the 10-minute workout series is surprisingly effective. You can mix and match your 10-minute blasts so the 20 or 30 minutes you sweat every other day in your living room takes a while to become stale.

Home Gym Equipment

Consider buying equipment for home and following guidelines laid out by professional instructors as to how you should use it. Bring equipment into the home and purchase reference materials from the book store.

Use the wisdom and training of those who have gone before you to use weights, an elliptical trainer, and a treadmill effectively for weight loss and toning. Machines undergo design alterations every so often and gimmicky devices are released to the public. You can ignore most gimmicks, like the vibration machine, but a few new devices are worthy of consideration.

Stick with equipment like a stationary bike, elliptical, rowing machine, and/or treadmill. Stair climbers have also become popular and really do simulate the movement/intensity of climbing a multi-storey building.

Of these, the elliptical burns the most calories in the shortest space of time but you don’t feel as tired after the workout as you do when you run for 30 minutes. Although the elliptical works your arms, it does not replace weights. Build those into your fitness routine at least three times each week.


Watching DVDs to get inspiration and cues from trainers can be a turn off after several months of listening to the same voice and watching the same workouts. Even if there are routines for Monday through Friday so you don’t do the same one every day, you eventually know what’s coming. Sometimes it is easier just to play your own music and follow a chart.

You can buy exercise books depicting and explaining moves, blow up the images to poster size, and use those for ideas. Plan out a daily routine carefully including the number of reps you plan to do and how long your workout should last. Remember to include a warm-up at the start and a cool-down at the end.

Choosing brands

If you are going to bring home exercise equipment like a home gym, use the internet for insight into top brands. While a variety of review sites place the emphasis on budget, machines for a certain age, or promote the latest and greatest stuff, you can usually pick out one or two brands that pop up repeatedly on these lists.

Select an elliptical, bicycle, treadmill, or weight station that:

• was designed to handle your body weight
• comes with a warranty
• meets national safety standards
• displays features you are looking for

Those features might be:

• a heart monitor (strap or hand grips)
• computerized programs
• an iPod dock
• magnetic gears
• customizable programs

Then again you could be one of those people who are happiest in manual mode, counting your pulse with two fingers, totally uninterested in computerized technology and the machine with a three-speed fan. Schwinn, LifeCore, BodySolid, and Bowflex are a few recommended lines.

Popular Trends

Home fitness programs go through phases like most products. One of the hot trends in home-based workouts is High Intensity Interval Training. When you research a DVD, select one that features this method. HIIT involves short blasts of exercise interspersed with even shorter rests and only takes about 30 to 40 minutes daily.

Step workouts have also been popular and are fun if you enjoy choreographed moves similar to dancing. When you have to follow and build up these routines from two moves to ten of them, you are also working your brain.

Fat-burning yoga and Pilates became big in the 90s. Add these too, but primarily for muscle growth, core development, balance, strengthening, and stretching. They don’t make your heart pump like HIIT or the elliptical trainer will.

The reclining stationary bike is also trendy and for good reason. An upright seat puts strain on your back which is unnecessary to get an excellent workout. If you try the reclining version at a gym, you can see that your legs and your heart will both be pumping hard.