Many are buying their own exercise equipment,
driven partly by affordable prices and the notion -- sometimes unrealistic --
that the sight of a new cross-trainer will get them moving.
Americans spent about $4.3 billion on exercise
equipment in 2002 -- up more than 11 percent from the previous year, which saw
almost $3.9 billion in sales, according to the National Sporting Goods
Home equipment has appealed to all ages, although
older, more affluent people tend to purchase the more elaborate pieces, said
NGSA spokesman Larry Weindruch. Treadmills, the most popular equipment category,
are the biggest hit with 45- to 64-year-olds, who were responsible for 44
percent of that $2.5 billion market in 2002.
The rising popularity of home gyms seems to fit in
well with an increasingly on-the-go culture, said Cedric Bryant, chief exercise
physiologist for the American Council on Exercise.
"There's the ever-growing message for how
important it is for people to find some time to exercise on a regular
basis," he said. "I think the convenience of home offers people a very
Tom Krattenmaker, 43, of
"It's a hassle to do it (work out) at a public
gym," he said. "Sometimes you have to wait to get on the machine you
Bryant added that exercise equipment has also
become more affordable in recent years, making balance balls and free weights
staples of many homes today.
But when it comes to bigger buys, home gyms may not
be for everyone.
The wasteland of exercise equipment is vast, with
the all-too-familiar site of rowing machines collecting dust in the basement and
stair climbers doubling as coat racks.
Health club fans say public gyms give people an
essential ingredient for their workout -- motivation.
"They can have the best gym in the world at
home but if they don't have self-discipline to use it, then it doesn't do any
good," said Leigh Crews, president of Dynalife Inc., a Rome, Georgia-based
fitness education company.
Crews said she's worked with dozens of clients who
started off excited about their shiny new equipment, only to drop off within a
"It would be interesting to see how many
people who purchase home gym equipment now would report if they still use it 18
months from now," she said.
Motivation to stay active has never been a problem
for 41-year-old Sherry Fine and her husband, who've built a 15-station home gym
complete with a bench press, treadmill, step machine and two abdominal
"I like the health benefits, and I like the
way I look when I workout, and I think that motivates me," she said.
The $12,000 investment for her Tulsa, Oklahoma,
home has paid dividends, said Fine, a stay-at-home mom who appreciates being
able to divide her workout throughout her day while caring for a 6-year-old son
and 3-year-old daughter.
The most successful home workouts happen with
people who already have a strong understanding of proper training methods, said
Salim Nadir, a fitness director at an
Less experienced people tend to limit their workout
with an incomplete gym or look for quick fixes on infomercials, said Nadir, who
tells clients to be ready to spend at least $2,500 to $5,000 if they want to
build a well-rounded, quality home gym.
Bryant said the contraptions featured on late-night
infomercials touting dramatic weight loss results or rock-hard abs may sound
tempting, but many tend to be "overpromising and underdelivering."
"Many of the infomercials make claims that
really promise the impossible, and I think people's expectations are so high
that once they get the equipment ... they become very disappointed and
disillusioned," he said.
For the novice interested in building a home gym,
Bryant recommends starting with equipment that simulates "natural,
real-life activities," such as treadmills, stair climbers and exercise
bikes. The simplicity of these pieces make them likely to be safer and used more
often, he said.
As people begin to feel more comfortable with basic
equipment, it may be time to consider making bigger investments.
Fine said building her home gym took research and
advice from personal trainers after years exercising in health clubs.
"I would buy it in baby steps," she said.
"I do think people go out and buy a lot of things they don't use because
they don't know what they want."
Copyright © 2002 EXCUSERCISE ™ Updated 4/21/04 Contact: drbruce@EXCUSERCISE.com