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Bring good health home

KAMALA THIAGARAJAN
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FITNESS Inspire yourself to reach your fitness goals this year by setting up a home gym, one of the most sound investments you can make for good health. If you're deliberating about how to go about it, KAMALA THIAGARAJAN offers these tips…

HOME REMEDYTo keep fitPHOTO:R.M.RAJARATHINAM
HOME REMEDYTo keep fitPHOTO:R.M.RAJARATHINAM

For most people, the thought of setting out to gym after a full day at work can be daunting. When you're already exhausted, even the prospect of commuting through congested roads can be enough to prevent you from working out as often as you should. However, a home gym doesn't require a huge budget and if space is a concern, it can be compact as well. What you cannot compromise on is the quality of your workout. "Before setting up a home gym, you must be aware of your current fitness levels and choose equipment that will help you maximize your workout", feels Delhi based Reebok Master Trainer Vinata Shetty, who is also a certified trainer from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, USA. "It's important to be aware of how each piece of equipment should be used, the intensity and duration of exercise and your own limitations to avoid injury."

Tools you can use

One of the biggest mistakes people make while setting up a home gym is to choose the same type of equipment, feels Sophia Yasmin, a Mumbai based fitness instructor, Master Trainer and Pilates expert.

Ideally, your training equipment should help you perform three functions. The first is to exercise your heart. "For the best cardiovascular benefits, you can choose from a range of treadmills, exercise cycles, elliptical and cross trainers" says Vinata Shetty. "The treadmill is the most practical of these, but if space is a problem, opt for an exercise cycle. For people with chronic back pain, there are orthopaedic bikes which offer proper back support." The second function is for strength training and building muscle. "You can choose from free weights or resistance bands that will help you exercise with your own body weight, which is very effective," says Shetty. "If your home gym and budget is larger, opt for a chest press or a strength machine that works all muscles." The third function is flexibility. Even stretching exercises or a yoga routine will help. For this, you don't need any equipment apart from a floor mat," says Shetty.

Today, there are a huge range of treadmills in the market and the premium ones even come equipped with CD players to keep you entertained. The high-tech treadmill comes equipped with an electronic trainer with heart rate monitors and voice support that can keep you motivated and moving. If space is a concern, you can employ a compact manual treadmill or even varieties that can fold into a corner. For someone with a limited time, space and budget, even using one piece of equipment regularly at home can help. "Think about the one area of fitness that you really need to work on (be honest with yourself): cardio, strength, flexibility, core and balance training; and make a decision to purchase equipment based on that," says Sophia Yasmin.

Power plates

Praised by celebrities and recommended by NASA, these are hot favourites on the international fitness circuit and many are discovering that it can be ideal for home use too. The vibration or power plate consists of a small platform on which you stand. When plugged in, the platform vibrates at varying speeds that you can control. Fitness enthusiasts agree that it can be an excellent addition to your workout routine. "NASA has studied vibration plates as a possible antidote to the muscle atrophy and bone loss that astronauts suffer while in space," says Sophia Yasmin. "

A 2009 study by the University of Antwerp in Belgium and Artesis University College seems to show that vibration plates do work. In the study, obese women who followed a healthy diet and exercised using vibration plates lost more weight in the long-term, including more hard-to-lose belly fat, than women who followed a healthy diet and conventional exercise. However, you still need to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly in order to achieve and maintain weight loss. Discuss using vibration plates with your trainer and/or physician so you can make an informed decision."

Don’t go for the gimmicks

Nothing sells better than weight loss. It's important to remember not to clutter your home gym with spurious products that may not work as well as promised. "Test each piece of equipment before you buy it and make your selection based on what you're comfortable using," suggests Yasmin. Don't fall for false claims. "A top offender for fitness gimmicks is a slimming belt that can be used on the abs, which apparently works by sending small electrical impulses to your midsection (in order to 'melt' away the fat). To work your abdominal muscles you necessarily need to burn calories. Also the amount of force that one would need to recruit your core muscles would be similar to the amount of power for an electric chair, so this is definitely one gimmick to stay away from!"

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