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How to Build the Perfect Home Gym

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How to Build the Perfect Home Gym
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Do you dream of having your own home gym but don't think you have room—in your home or your bank account? Think again! Here, your step-by-step guide to building the perfect home gym for any space on any budget.

Step 1: Find a space in your home that you can dedicate to your workouts.
First, you need to decide where you want to set up your home gym. The spare bedroom, office, or even a back porch or patio, are all great spaces for exercise. And if you don't have a spare room, a small area in your home (like the living room) that can double as your workout space will do.

Step 2: Give it good fitness feng shui.
To help boost your energy level during your workouts, make your space as light and airy as possible. An ideal fitness space has lots of natural light coming in from windows or doors, says fitness expert Ellen Barrett, star of the Ellen Barrett Live: Grace & Gusto DVD. And while adding in windows may be impossible, you can add in more light sources to your room: mimic recessed lighting with tap lights ($6.77, Amazon.com) or add a few lamps that use soft white bulbs. Bringing in plants can also help boost oxygen levels in the room. Ferns, bamboo palms, and spider plants top the list for their indoor air purification powers.

Clear your exercise space of clutter and distractions—try to remove all gadgets, gizmos, papers, or other items that might call your attention away from your workout. If you're an exercise DVD fan, you'll want to make sure you've set up your TV or computer at a level that is best for following along with the routine.

Also; you may want to consider adding a mirror to your workout space, says Barrett . “Mirrors are great for meditating on movement--the mirror lets you be your own instructor.” Not only can mirrors be a helpful tool for feedback on your form during exercises, they can also help to open up a space, making it appear larger than it actually is, which may help you feel less cramped in a smaller workout area.

Step 3: Stock your home gym.
You don't need a ton of equipment or bulky machines to make your home gym an effective place to exercise. In fact, some of the best home workout equipment is actually quite small and inexpensive.

Barrett loves foam rollers because they're so versatile--you can use them for ‘kneading' out muscles, core strengthening, or as a prop for yoga poses ($7.99, Amazon.com). And you can skip buying a bulky treadmill for cardio, easily stored jump ropes are perfect for quick cardio, Barrett says. And no need for a bunch of weights or cable machines for strength training, invest instead in one set of dumbbells that you can adjust in weight ($69.77, Amazon.com) and/or a set of resistance bands (5 band set for $27.50, Amazon.com).

While stability balls and BOSUs can be fun for workouts, they can be tough to store. That's why we love using balance discs at home instead ($14.05, Amazon.com)

You don't have to buy everything all at once. Start with a few key pieces and then gradually build up from there. Save even more money by putting some items on your wish list for upcoming holidays or your birthday, shop at used sports stores or garage sales, or swap out with friends to rotate your equipment for free.

Step 4: Organize your home gym.
Once you've got all your equipment, you'll need to store it in between workouts, especially if you're using a shared space (such as the living room). If possible, dedicate a few shelves or bins to organizing everything you need for your workouts. Get creative with ways you can store your fitness equipment to keep it neat, dust free, and out of sight when not in use. This corner shelf unit from IKEA is perfect for an iPod dock, speakers, and a plant or two ($4,99, Ikea.com). And we just love this storage ottoman from Target ($36.99, Target.com) for storing resistance bands, dumbbells, and other fitness gear.

Step 5: Use your home gym!
Now that you're all set up, be sure to put your home gym to good use! Invite a workout buddy over to train with you, or ask your partner to sweat it out by your side. Just like a real gym, it won't do you any good if you don't regularly visit it.

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