If one can’t go to the gym, the gym can come to those who want some exercise – in the comfort of home.
A home gym does not occupy as much space as one might think, and it doesn’t have to contain complex equipment. They are easy to customise, based on individual tastes and a reflection of one’s own needs.
When setting up a home gym, one should think about space, ventilation, comfortable flooring, music systems, mirrors and washrooms.
Some of the most common equipment used in home gyms includes treadmills, a multipurpose bench, squat track, Swiss balls, jump ropes, yoga mats, plus weightlifting equipment such as dumbbells or free weights.
Or in the case of Shelly Chan, who is the director of retail operations at a major international hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, a treadmill will do nicely.
Despite her busy work and social life, Chan wants a balanced life, spreading her time between work, family and leisure. Unfortunately, this means other things in life, such as exercise, are often discarded.
Chan is determined not to let this state of affairs continue. With no time to go to a gym and even less time to go out and exercise, she has set up her own home workout routine which, thanks to a treadmill and advice from a Life Fitness coach, allows her to keep everything in check.
“A home gym has many advantages,” Chan says. “I have two girls in local schools and they have quite a lot of homework. After I come home in the evenings, I need to take care of them and check their homework, so time is quite tight.
“Making use of a home gym helps with this, as it not only allows me to have a workout in the evenings, after helping the girls, it also enables me to talk to them at the same time – or even talk on the phone and do other stuff.”
Chan’s first foray into the fitness world was in the United States several years ago, when she joined a local gym that was a few minutes’ drive from her home. In Hong Kong, gyms are quite different as she found out after joining one for a short while when she moved back here.
“If you average it out, a home gym is cheaper than joining a gym and there are other benefits, too,” she says. “Gyms in Hong Kong are too pushy, especially for women. Staff tend to push hard not only for gym memberships, but also for facials, massage and skincare products as well.
“A home gym is also very handy because I can take a shower whenever I want without having to wait, and there are fewer distractions at home. At a gym, you might run into somebody you know, but at home I have the option to focus on something else while I am working out, or give it my full concentration,” Chan says.
“I just don’t have the time to go to a gym and work out. Visiting a gym at lunch is too rushed as I have to get some food at the same time and, after work, I don’t have the time as I finish quite late and have to come home to the girls and my mind is not relaxed either. Not to mention, traffic in Hong Kong is crazy.”
The onus in a home gym should be on ensuring quality equipment, not quantity.
“The great thing about a home gym is that it is very easy to add to the equipment as you see fit,” Chan says. “I just need to focus on a few areas, so I just have a piece of equipment for my back and a treadmill from Life Fitness.”
She says home gyms are becoming a more popular exercise option among her colleagues and friends.
Chan adds that staying healthy is becoming more important the older she gets. “I’ve seen a lot of colleagues who have become sick and I’d like to keep an eye on my health as much as possible,” she says.
Ash Wayburne, director of T8 Fitness in Hong Kong, says home gyms are flexible. “There are many options when it comes to working out at home. In Hong Kong, flexibility is key, as everybody has busy schedules.
“Being able to do a full body workout at home is a massive benefit. It also means that exercise is always available, and can easily become part of your daily routine.
“We know everybody is busy. We have products that can be used at home, on the road, or even at the office – there are no excuses. We try our best to combine quality and affordability, while taking into account the fact that most people do not have much space in Hong Kong.”
Wayburne has seen the fitness equipment sector in Hong Kong go from strength to strength. “People are looking for alternative options to conventional workouts – whether it be something like Pilates, boot-camp style workouts, or working out at home. Space is still a barrier in Hong Kong, but people are becoming much more aware of their health and, more importantly, are prepared to do something about it.”
Originally published in LuxeHomes South China Morning Post, November 2012