Home gym dos and don'ts

Once upon a time, the term "home gym" meant a treadmill taking up valuable space in your bedroom. But times have changed, and more and more homes now boast state-of-the-art home gyms that include a variety of equipment you might expect to find at your local fitness center.

And while people are investing in the latest exercise machines, such as elliptical trainers and weight lifting systems, they're also devoting more thought to the design and decorating of their gym space. After all, it's easier to motivate yourself to head to the home gym if it's nicely decorated, well-lit and attractive.

Here are some tips for putting together a home gym that will give you a good workout and that you'll actually use:

Choose an appropriate spot in your house for the workout room. Do you have a spare bedroom, or a guest room that doesn't get much use? If that's not an option, how about claiming a section of the family room, den or office? And, there's always the basement. If that's your only choice, there are ways to make it more inviting.

Buy the best equipment you can afford. If the equipment malfunctions frequently or just doesn't give you a good workout, you'll get frustrated and stop using it. Buy quality equipment as you can afford it. It's better to build up your home gym slowly than to buy a bunch of cheap equipment all at once.

Make your workout room inviting. Paint it using colors you love, display trophies, and add photos and other artwork. Wall murals are a great way to decorate a home gym. Murals Your Way, a Minnesota-based company, offers a wide range of wall murals that are easy to install and that add a whole new dimension to a room.

For some people, their exercise time is a bit like meditation -- they prefer to do it in peace and quiet. For others, working out to music helps them get pumped up and crank out that final repetition with the weights, while still others like to catch up on the news or celebrity gossip by watching television while working out. Whether it's an iPod, a television or a DVD player, make sure you have access to technology that will help motivate you.

Consider adding a mini refrigerator to store drinks that will help keep you hydrated during and after your workout.

A home gym can make it easier to fit a daily workout into your busy schedule. By making your workout area attractive, you'll be much more likely to actually use it.

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