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When it comes to gyms and health clubs, South Florida has something for everyone. You may lean toward an extravagantly equipped facility with pools, racquetball courts, juice bar and spa. Or you may prefer a basic, scaled down gym with plenty of clanking iron and lots of serious muscle.  Yet recent studies seem to indicate that more people are opting to go solo by training at home.

One reason why people choose to train at home is economics. Many modern centers resemble country clubs more than gyms. Amenities and perks are marvelous, but they often come at an extremely high price, especially if all you want is to burn some calories and get a good pump. Many guys find that a few pieces of sturdy, inexpensive equipment set up at home can help them get into shape nicely.

A second reason many opt to set up a home gym is the time factor. They’re simply too busy to get to a crowded commercial gym 3-4 times a week and wait in line for equipment. By having a home gym you’re not shackled by time. You can workout at any hour of the day or night.

A third reason why a great many people prefer to train at home is they feel more comfortable in that setting. You can try new exercises you’ve seen in magazines without feeling self conscious.  Alone you can listen to your own music, workout at your own pace, and wear grubby sweats or nothing at all!

There are disadvantages to working out solo. At the top of the list is motivation. There’s a lot to be said for the inspiring scenery and hub-bub of activity at commercial gyms. When you’re alone, motivation must come from you. My suggestion is to set goals, write them down, chart your progress…it’s almost like being your own personal trainer!

Safety is a concern for anyone who trains alone. Since there are no spotters around, some exercises should be avoided or done with moderate weights. The bench press and squat come to mind. Don’t even try to max out on these by yourself unless you have a power rack (a simple metal structure with grooves for you to rest the barbell between sets).

Now some words about equipment. A power rack is great but, if you can’t swing that, a staircase squat rack is the next best thing. You’ll need an adjustable bench on which you can do flat and incline benches, a bar, plates, and a couple of sets of dumbbells. Crunches can be done on the floor with your legs elevated over a bench or stability ball.

It’s not a good idea to order a piece of equipment out of a catalogue without seeing it and trying it out first in a showroom or gym. Avoid machines that have cables or chain links. Eventually they will break and it’s tough finding replacement parts.