Work Out, Stay In

We all admit that getting to the gym is a schlep. But what if it were right down the hall? A recent study found that at-home exercisers lost more weight than other groups — mainly because having a piece of exercise equipment made working out convenient.

On the other hand, home exercising means there’s no pro to give you props for mastering that Tae Bo high kick — or to push you harder when the couch and fridge beckon. It's so tempting to pile your laundry onto the treadmill and call it a day.

The best way to avoid home workout boredom? Follow these rules:

  • Schedule your workouts. Don't just slip in a few chest presses while you're microwaving spaghetti. Treat your workouts like a regular appointment: Write them down in your daily planner or stick a note on the refrigerator. Otherwise, you'll always find something better to do.
  • Dress the part. You wouldn't wear jeans or bunny slippers to your gym; don't do it at your home gym, either. If you put on a comfortable "professional" exercise outfit, you'll feel a lot more like working out. Set out your workout clothes the night before, just as you would if you were going to the gym. 
  • Tell your family to get lost. Okay, say it politely, but do let them know that workout time is your time and that they need to respect it. This is not the time you can help your kids write a book report or settle a dispute over what to watch on TV. Make a rule: Other family members are allowed in your workout space only if they are going to work out with you. 
  • Don't answer the phone. That's what answering machines and kids are for. Whatever it is can usually wait until the end of your workout. 
  • Bring the entertainment to you. If you can't put your equipment near a TV or stereo, at least wear headphones or read a magazine. Entertainment makes the time fly by. For stationary bikes and stair climbers, buy a plastic rack that fits onto the console and holds reading material and a water bottle. Some provide space for a tape player and magazine as well. (Plastic racks are sold at fitness equipment stores. Some of them are designed for specific brands of machinery.) 
  • Install a mirror. A mirror will give your home gym that health-club feel and enable you to keep an eye on your form. (Plus, you can flex your muscles and no one will think you're a jerk.) Over time, you'll watch your body slim down and firm up. 
  • Wear a heart rate monitor. For about $60, you can know instantly – and accurately – how fast your heart is beating. Anyone can benefit from one of these gizmos, but they are especially valuable for the home exerciser. You don't have the roar of the crowd to keep you going, or the wide assortment of equipment to occupy you; your heart rate gives you something tangible to focus on. 
  • Keep a workout log. Nothing is more motivating than success, and an exercise diary gives you documentation of your accomplishments. Keep your log next to your equipment and record every workout. Your exercise diary can be as simple as a store-bought notebook and as high-tech as a store-bought computerized log program.
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