Recognizing and Avoiding Home Gym Pitfalls

It sounds perfect, doesn't it? If you have gym equipment at home, you can work out in privacy on your own schedule. What could be better? Well, before you assume home is where the exercise is, consider a few built-in pitfalls. Perhaps the most important one concerns safety—an issue we'll return to again and again throughout this text. If you're working out at home, you're almost always also working out alone, and that can be dangerous.

For instance, one day many moons ago, Joe came home and found his father stuck upside down like a bat hanging helplessly in a pair of inversion boots (an odd but once-popular piece of home gym equipment). One can only imagine what his poor look.

old man would have done had no one come along to extricate him from his perilous predicament. Another time, Mr. Glickman was benching a modest amount of weight and was unable to press the bar from his chest. Stuck like a mouse in a trap, he slowly, painfully, rolled the weight toward his knees until he was able to squeeze out from below. Atlhough these examples are humorous, each year 5 to 12 deaths are reported from weight training. Usually the cause of death is suffocation from dropping the bar across the neck during the bench press. These kinds of stories are virtually nonexistent in a gym, where patrons and trainers typically rush to your assistance.

Needless to say, since you are alone you need to take extra care to read the instructions that come with your home unit. If there's anything that you don't understand, don't hesitate to call the manufacturer. Many units come with a video. Take the time to watch it—it could spare you an injury.

Assuming you're like us and plan on working out until you're put out to pasture, setting up a home gym is more economical over the long term. (Actually, working out in a pasture is rather appealing as well!) Of course, if your shiny high-tech piece of equipment becomes the featured item in a garage sale, you've been penny-wise and weight-foolish.

First of all, if you decide on the home gym route, expect to pay from about a couple of hundred dollars a year for a special at the YMCA to thousands at a "see-and-be-seen establishment," like the Vertical Club on Manhattan's trendy East Side. You might find less expensive deals where you're from, and always be on the lookout for two-for-one deals or other specials.

What You'll Need, and What It'll Cost

Bar Talk

Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that elevates your heart rate over a sustained period of time. Your body's cardiovascular system includes your heart and lungs.

Now, let's compare that to the cost of a complete home gym. We'll start with the equipment, which should include these three components:

> Cardiovascular equipment. You'll need some type of machine—stationary bike, rowing machine, or treadmill—that gets your ticker ticking.

Bar Talk

> Resistive equipment. This apparatus will help you build muscle.

Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that elevates your heart rate over a sustained period of time. Your body's cardiovascular system includes your heart and lungs.

> An exercise mat. We'll discuss stretching at length in Chapter 12, "Revving the Engine," but for right now know that working on your flexibility should be an integral part of any fitness regimen. Without a mat, you're even less likely to follow our advice.

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