Exercising at home sounds like the perfect way to get in shape. No driving to a sweaty workout facility filled with Spandex-clad people taking selfies in front of mirrors, gossiping about the new hot Zumba instructor.

Or maybe that’s just my gym. Regardless, home workouts can be ideal. Or not good.

I know because I’ve personally seen it go in both directions. I worked for over 15 years as an in-home personal trainer. People hired me to go to their home and whip them motivate them to get in shape.

Sally’s Story

During the first meeting I’d usually ask if the client ­– let’s call her Sally for the sake of this story – if she had any fitness equipment. It was not necessary to have equipment, but if something was available I’d use it with them.

“Oh, yes,” Sally would say, ushering me over to a blanket-covered piece of machinery. “But I admit, I haven’t used this thing in ages,” she’d add, pulling off the musty-smelling comforter.

Once the dust cleared and we both finished coughing, I could see it was once a functioning treadmill, circa 1970. Sometimes lifting the “veil” revealed an elliptical or other piece of equipment typically sold in garage sales for $100 “or best offer.”

“Does it work?” I’d ask.

“Sometimes, but I really don’t know. It’s been so long,” Sally would laugh.

Getting Motivated is the First Challenge

Here’s the thing. You’d think after spending $2,000 or more for a high-end treadmill or other piece of home gym equipment you’d be motivated to use it, right? Not necessarily. Whether it’s a piece of workout equipment, a gym membership, or some other pricey item you counted on to get you in shape, it takes more than opening your wallet to get you to use it.

Even spending the equivalent of a monthly mortgage payment to hire a trainer was no guarantee you’d stick with it, even if the person (me!) comes to your house.

The truth is, exercising at home is fraught with obstacles you won’t encounter if you leave the house to get in shape. For example, lying on your back doing crunches at the gym does not usually inspire you to look for cobwebs over your head that suddenly require your immediate attention.

You also won’t find baskets of dirty laundry beckoning for your attention from the corner of the room. (And if you do, you may want to quit that gym.) If you leave the house to get in shape, there are simply no distractions.

Although this obviously does not prevent you from creating your own distractions by checking your phone every five minutes and having 30-minute conversations with family and friends between each set of squats. There are ways, however, to increase your chances of sticking with a home workout, whether it’s dancing along to DVDs, training with weights or doing cardio. Or all of the above.

Buy Some Fun Equipment

Visual appeal can play a role in motivation. A colorful yoga mat and bright blue fitness ball makes exercise seem more like fun than work, at least until you start to feel the burn.

Grab a Friend

Ask nearby friends to meet on specific days, even if just one day a week, and alternate the homes you use for the workout. The homeowner gets to call the shots and lead the workout. Make it even more motivating by checking in with each other on non-meeting days. Falling off the wagon means the other person picks up the tab for a coffee or smoothie.

Keep the Treadmill Out of the Bedroom

Keeping the treadmill in the bedroom makes it less likely you’ll use it and risk waking your sleeping partner – or decide the allure of a warm bed somehow seems more appealing than sweating it up. Go figure. Consider buying a home machine that rolls away if you’re short on space.

Monitor Your Heart Rate

A heart rate monitor enables you to track the intensity of your workout, which can motivate you to work out harder and burn more calories.

Create a Pleasant Exercise Environment

I cannot emphasize this enough. I’ve worked out with clients in dingy, stuffy basements without ventilation where I was convinced I’d eventually meet my demise from inhaling long-forgotten asbestos fibers. Keep the exercise space clean, uncluttered and well-ventilated with an overhead or freestanding fan.

Design a Simple, Ready-to-Go Circuit

Instead of trying to figure out an approach with every workout, create a quick circuit that works the major muscle groups. Here is one program – complete with videos – that I created.

Better yet, check out my 7-Day Ageless Body Challenge here, for an at-home workout adaptable for all fitness levels.

Do it First Thing

Avoid finding excuses to ditch your workout as the day progresses by exercising first thing in the morning. Wake up 20 minutes earlier and set your alarm clock before you have a reason to skip it.

Do you work out at home? What activities do you enjoy? Do you have a trick for sticking with your exercise plan? If you have some successful tips, please share them by leaving a comment below.

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