Why join the gym when you can workout at home

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Having to make time for the gym could be a thing of the past if you set up your own fitness centre at home. Here's how to do it...

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Imagine being able to get your workout in without having to leave the house. No babysitting worries, no parking hassles and you can even watch TV at the same time. If you'd like to spend a bit more time chilling at home - or maybe you have children and leaving the house is a major operation - investing in a home gym makes sense.

It means:
You can exercise whenever you want

The whole family benefits from your investment

You can kit yourself out for the cost of a year's gym membership - or less

What should you buy?

Small budget
If you've got a limited amount of cash low cost items include:

A set of hand weights (under £10)

Tummy trimmer (under £20)

A gym ball (around £10)

These items generally come with instructions and suggested exercises. Add a skipping rope for some aerobic exercise and you've got an all around plan.

Larger budget
Now it gets exciting. Top of the list would have to be an exercise bike for a good low-impact workout. Prices start at around £50, but the more you spend the more you'll get for your money.

You could get a model with a computer you can pace yourself against, or different courses that will make your workout a lot more fun. And that means you're more likely to do it on a regular basis.

If you've got a bit more cash to spend, you can supplement bike-work with a rowing machine - great for both the legs and upper body strength. Again, these start at around £50.

Money no object?
Treadmills provide a range of workouts from power walking to an energetic sprint, but you'll probably end up paying at least £400 for a good one. Multi gyms, starting at £200, can help you cross train and concentrate on muscle build up, but they take up a lot of space and can be particularly dangerous if you've got young children around.

How to get the best out of your equipment:
Try before you buy. Make sure the bike is comfortable enough and that the treadmill isn't going to fall apart if you go any faster than a gentle jog. Check these things out in the shop before you get out your cards

Keep it somewhere where you won't be knocking into it, but will be able to use it whenever you wish - no delving in cupboards or dragging things down from the loft

You can exercise without even thinking if you watch TV or listen to music at the same time. Making your regular soap into exercise time will become a habit

It's important to still schedule in time for your sessions. Just because you can do it anytime doesn't mean you will!

Always wear the right footwear - it may be tempting to just do a quick session in your bare feet or flip flops but don't

You may be happy wearing your comfortable about-the-house clothes but sometimes dressing up in your gym uniform will put you into that 'work-it' state of mind

And finally, do remind children that exercise equipment is not a toy and shouldn't be played with.

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