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How At-Home Gyms Are Good For Mental Health

Quarantine Convinced Me That My Home Gym Dreams Are Valid

home gym for mental health

Home gyms have always puzzled me. For one, the thought of exercise outside of gym class confused me as a child. (My family was more of the earn-your-sweat-hiking or silly-dancing-while-making-dinner type.) Secondly, the thought of having the space in your home to devote specifically to fitness seemed like such a luxury. But as I got older and fitness became a more central part of life — sports in high school, access to a college rec center, and an extensive running history as an adult — I began to long for the space for home exercise gear.

Of course, this dream never seemed possible living in a New York City apartment, as I was lucky to have a separate living room and bedroom, let alone any kind of space leftover for recreational gear. (I was offered a treadmill to review once, and sadly, I laughed upon receiving the generous offer because I knew if I accepted, I would have to give up my bed to make space for the equipment.)

Even earlier this year when I made the move to a slightly larger apartment, I had zero intention on devoting precious real estate to workout gear. (I actually gave away a lot of the bits and bobs I had acquired as an editor over the years.) Not to mention, I liked my routine workout classes and didn't want to give up the social aspect my favorite studios provided.

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But when studios and gyms shut down across the board a few months back, I brought my beloved workouts into my home space. Much to my surprise, I liked this new indoor me. I liked the freedom to workout whenever I wanted without relying on a commute or keeping my fingers crossed for a slot in a certain class. I quite liked tossing on my UA Meridian Crop ($60) for a workout session and then feeling comfortable and cozy all day. What's more, I didn't mind letting my workout gear carve out its own space in my apartment.

I had a bit of an advantage as a fitness editor in that I already had a few workout mats, hand weights, and yoga blocks. But after a few weeks of working with what I had on hand, I found myself wanting to elevate my workouts. This lead to an inner dialogue of, "Am I willing to lose space for equipment? Is this a worthwhile investment or just a here-and-now want? A home gym is for someone else and not for me, right?" Now, it may all sound so trivial, but I was considering something in my life that I always assumed was far-fetched for me.

But I realized investing in a kettlebell, resistance bands, and even an indoor cycling bike was more than a space and monetary commitment. Working out had been my way to handle stress and anxiety for the last six months. Between a new job, a new apartment, family health problems, and my own bout of anxiety, devoting time each day to exercise of some form was my escape. No more did an investment in a home gym seem frivolous or something unattainable, but rather, it was a commitment to myself.

I may have devoted an entire wall in my living room where a normal person would have put a chair or coffee table to an indoor bike, and I may have a whole corner of my kitchen with weights, yoga mats, and fitness gadgets and gizmos stacked next to cutting boards and mixers, but I realize now that adding all these home-gym features into my life has been an investment in my physical and mental well-being.

And that is, and will always be, entirely worth it.

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UA Meridian Crop
UA Meridian Crop
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