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With the emphasis on slimness and physique as high as ever, many people turn to gym memberships and exercise classes in hope of fitter, happier, healthier selves. However, the inconvenience of leaving home and dealing with crowded recrecreation facilities and noise has led some to design their own home workout systems.

According to, the first priority for the home-bound exercise enthusiast is to find an appropriate place to work out. The website encourages setting up equipment in an open, bright area, preferably with a window that opens for fresh air.

Once the location is set, it's time to consider the proper equipment. Joshua Dobbs, who serves as Ball State's Director of Undergraduate Exercise Science Laboratory, notes that people can do a significant amount of training without buying a single weight.

"I'd say in 90 percent of cases, an effective home exercise program can be created with regular things around the house," said Dobbs. He noted that exercises such as pushups and crunches can be done on any floor surface, and dips can be performed utilizing any chair with armrests.

However, for those who require more specialized equipment, Dobbs recommended starting with an exercise mat and a set of dumbbells.

"Handheld dumbbells are very versatile," he said. Common dumbbell exercises include curls, reverse curls and presses.

Fitness author Steve Holman, writing on, suggests buying either a metal or a rubber-coated set of free weights, because those varieties tend to last longer than cheaper, plastic ones filled with cement. Also high on the priority list is a sturdy, adjustable exercise bench, Holman said.

Once past the basics, it is up to the individual to consider what setup to purchase, according to Dobbs.

"It's really just a personal preference. Bicycles, treadmills, stair-stepper machines; this is where the individuality comes in," he said.

Holman recommended constructing a calf block, for performing heel raises, by nailing together an 18-inch four-by-four 4x4 and an 18-inch one-by-eight 1x8. Another option would be a chinning bar, which can be found at most sporting goods stores.

Cable TV infomercials offer a host of different products for all-in-one home setups, but Dobbs cautioned against buying any equipment without first trying it out.

"It may look great, but if it's not something that you enjoy doing it's just going to sit there," said Dobbs.

Those who begin exercising to lose weight shouldn't fixate on what their scale reads, Dobbs warned.

"I think a huge misconception with resistance training or aerobic training is that you're going to see drastic weight loss initially," he said.

"It's not uncommon to see a plateau or even a rise in weight initially, because you're going to gain muscle mass, and muscle mass has more density than fat mass."

Though putting together a home workout system involves effort and some money, for many it is a worthy alternative to frequent trips to the gym and exercising in front of complete strangers.

"You can just do your own thing and not have to worry about other people," freshman Kristin Stout said.