I want to try something for the next Fridays. The idea came from a cool discussion I had with one of my friends about saving money. We were discussing how people are trying to do everything themselves (the Do-It-Yourself or DIY movement) in order to save money. I’m actually a big fan of this technique but only to a certain extent. I sometimes find that it’s worthwhile paying for services sometimes as you need more specific advice or professional skills to achieve a certain task. I’ve tried to DIY many things in my life. Some with great success, others with great mistakes! So for the following Fridays, I’ll share my DIY adventures with you. Today’s DIY Friday is about working out at home.
Is it possible?
Are you just going to buy $1,000 of stuff that will collect dust in your basement?
Can you get “professional” results without a trainer?
It’s definitely not the easiest thing to do but I think you can make it. Here’s my story.
How I lost 35 Pounds and Got in Shape in 12 Months
Back in 2009, I was finishing my MBA. With 2 young kids (they were 2 1/2 and 6 months back then), a full time job and a full time MBA, all I wanted to do is to lay down on my couch or in my bed when I was getting back from work. This is how I got to 210 pounds in early 2009 (I’m 5’ 9’’). While I wasn’t the fattest guy on the block, I knew that I couldn’t continue this lifestyle any longer. In June, my MBA classes were done and was only left with my final paper to write. This is when I decided to take control of my health and weight and joined a gym.
huh?… I thought we were discussing a DIY method to workout at home?… bear with me a second… I’m getting there!
I started a workout program with a tight but feasible schedule: 1 hour per training session, 4 sessions a week. This wasn’t too much for my own schedule and I was going to get results. So in the span of 12 months, I lost 35 pounds and built muscle so I was THREE times stronger than I used to be (meaning I could weight three times what I started with). I didn’t take drugs, or shakes. In fact, I stayed away from extra protein and supplements too. I concentrated all my effort into 4 sessions of 1 hour a week. What’s the secret then? I never missed 1 training session in a year!
Now My Life Has Changed
Since 2010 (after my 1 year intense program), I have continued going to the gym with the same schedule. For 3 years, I’ve been changing my training program every 2-3 months to make sure I saw a constant progression. This was a true life changing moment as I’m not only in better shape physically; I’m also in a better shape psychologically. There is nothing better than running 30 minutes in the morning before going to work!
But now that I have 3 kids, I find it difficult to go to a gym, workout, take a shower, dress-up and go to work. This is a lot of time wasted in my day and it also cost me $60 a month. It was even more complicated for my wife as she can’t really leave the house with a 3 month old toddler to go to the gym (she is breastfeeding). So she asked me if we could buy a treadmill and put it in the basement. If my wife was going to workout at home, why wouldn’t I? This is why I decided to build my own gym at home. With my 3 years of experience in a gym, I knew I could do it.
My DIY Gym
You don’t need the big “pro set” to workout at home. In fact, you can build an awesome gym for less than $1,000. Here’s what I have in mine:
Treadmill: $600. This was our biggest expense for our home gym as I wanted a solid treadmill that could support my weight when I run full speed. This is why we bought a middle range treadmill. We waited until it went on sale and got it for $600 while it usually retails for $2,000. I think you need to aim for a $2,000 value for a good treadmill but you can easily find one for sale during “special events” or on Craig’s List where someone bought it and never used it (it’s incredible to see how much exercise equipment there is for sale on the web!).
Yoga Mat: $20. There is obviously a wide range of yoga mat quality along with a wide range of prices. I think that $20 is more than a fair price. My wife does yoga and I use the Yoga Mat for my abdominal exercises.
Training Ball: $30. The training ball is very useful for sit-ups, leg extensions and exercises for beginners. In fact, if you don’t do much weight, the ball can also be used as your “training bench” as you perform several exercises.
Bench Press, Bars and Weights: $280. Since I’m already in shape, I need to have 300 pounds in weights (50 pounds, 25 pounds, 10 pounds, 5 pounds and 3 pounds). I’ve found a kit on Craig’s List with the weights, a bench press, curl bar and 2 adjustable dumbbell bars. It was the perfect setup for someone who wants to do a lot of weights. If you are not too much in to lifting weights, I’d suggest you get small dumbbells with a curl bar. This is very useful to workout legs and shape nice shoulders ;-).
Total cost of my DIY gym: $940
What I like is that I don’t need anything else; I can perform all my previous gym routines. Since I was paying $60/month for a gym membership, my home gym will be fully paid in 16 months!
But How Can You Build Your Training Program?
Buying stuff on the internet and building your own gym at home is the easy part. Creating an effective training program so you will get results and not hurt yourself is more complicated. This is the main reason why I went to the gym for 3 years and asked my trainer a lot of questions in order to understand why we combine some exercises and not others.
With this experience in mind, I then surfed the net to find “good programs”. It’s quite easy to find training programs, but you need to read a lot to make sure that you do the “right things”. It’s also easy to get hurt if you start training without knowing what you do. My wife really like Jillian Michaels DVD to create her programs.
On my side, I’ve noted my previous routines and improved them with information found on a few websites. In the end, the important thing is not to create the most complicated program on earth and train like a maniac. Keep your routine simple and increase the intensity at your own pace.
The Secret To Actually Working out And Not Buying Stuff for Nothing
Most people that try a DIY gym end-up selling it on Craig’s List. Why do so many people have great intentions but never achieve their goals? The answer is found in a single word: consistency.
I’ve tried workout routines at different times in my life and never succeeded to keep it up until 2009. The main difference is that I had a very specific schedule this time: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 6am to 7am. No excuses were good enough to not go. If I was sick, I was still going but I lowered my intensity instead.
So before you start your own DIY gym, start by establishing a rock solid schedule. If you want results, you need to workout at least 3 times a week at high intensity for 1 hour per session. The best time for me to workout is in the morning. I usually wake up at 5:30 and jump on the treadmill at 6am. At7amI head upstairs to shower and at7:30I’m ready to go to work. The trick is to find the best schedule for you and insert your workout session into your daily routine.
It’s been a month that I now train at home and see a huge difference already. I have more time during my day and didn’t have to cut back on my workout to achieve it. Even better: I don’t have to pay for the gym anymore! Oh… and the best part: I can eat my favorite chocolate cookies without guilt!
Readers, have you tried to workout at home? How do you find it?