So you want to exercise but the thought of gym memberships or personal training sessions is daunting. Why not set up a DIY gym so you can exercise in the comfort of your own home?

Save on costs, travel and time by investing in your very own home gym.

Setting up

Nevil Hunter, sales manager and fitness consultant at Orbit Fitness, says when setting up a home gym you need to consider your lifestyle and space available.

“Where in the house will you exercise — in the games room, living room or spare room? It needs to be somewhere you feel comfortable and somewhere that you are prepared to invest some valuable space,” he says.

When choosing your fitness equipment, Mr Hunter says your routine needs to include some cardio and strength. So, for example, if you are already walking or riding you might need some strength-training equipment.

“Once you have worked out what is missing from your current lifestyle you can then choose some equipment,” he says. Consider the following popular home gym inclusions.


David Renouf, owner of Renouf Fitness, says dumbbells are a versatile addition to the home gym.

“Start off with one set of dumbbells; they will never be obsolete,” he says. “With 2kg weights you can do shoulder raises, dip sets — they will always be useful for something, even if you progress to using heavier weights.”

Multi-station home gyms

Mr Renouf says depending on the equipment, a multifunctional piece of equipment can offer strength and cardio training, chin-up bars and dipping handles. There are also options available even if you have a small space.

“Modern home fitness equipment is now more house-friendly; many machines now have a footprint of less than a metre wide and only 1.8m long,” Mr Hunter says.


If you want to invest in cardio equipment, do you buy a treadmill, exercise bike, rower or elliptical cross trainer?

“Firstly, you need to observe physical attributes of the varying machines and how they will best match your household,” Mr Hunter says. “What space do you have, where is it going? What time will it be used, can it be noisy (treadmill) or does it have to be quiet (bike or elliptical)?”

The extras

Don’t forget the smaller pieces of exercise equipment. “A basic skipping rope is a great piece of equipment, as is an aerobic step and resistance bands,” Mr Renouf says.

“These are all inexpensive and easy to store or take with you if you are travelling.”

Mr Hunter also recommends investing in a television for your gym space.

“Through my own experiences at home over the years, I have witnessed a treadmill jammed in to the spare room and barely used for several months,” he says.

“I eventually put a small TV with a DVD player in front of the treadmill and bought my wife the box set of Sex in the City and bingo! It was used three to four times a week all of a sudden.”

Refreshing your gym for 2015

The new year is a great time to refresh your existing home gym by giving pieces some maintenance or an upgrade.

Mr Renouf says to check your rubber resistance bands in case they have signs of perishing. He also suggests checking that your dumbbells are adequate, as you might want to refresh your gym with some heavier weights if you want to progress to the next strength level.

For your larger equipment pieces (such as multi-station home gyms), Mr Hunter says most decent fitness equipment will last many years if well maintained, so he recommends keeping the equipment clean and getting a yearly service.

What weight dumbbells should I buy?

“Most ladies are stronger than they realise. I will often meet a mother with a 10 kilo baby under one arm and a three kilo handbag over the other, asking for two kilo dumbbells. I often point this out and find that three to five kilo dumbbells will be a more suitable starting point,” says Nevil Hunter, of Orbit Fitness.

Mr Hunter also recommends adding the following small items to your gym:

  • Exercise mats
  • Push-up bars
  • Power bands
  • Heart  rate monitor
  • Small ab machines

© The West Australian

First published in Mind+Body, January 5, 2015