08/11/2011 08:12 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2011

At-Home Workouts: Get The Best Bang For Your Buck

One question that I get asked a lot is "what is the best treadmill to buy for my home?" The answer is delightfully obnoxious: the treadmill that you are actually going to use. If I had a dime for every treadmill I've seen double up as a coat rack...well, I'd be up to my ears in dimes.

If you love treadmills and are eager to make the investment, go for it! But if you are just getting into the swing of a fitness routine, think twice -- or even three times -- before you make the purchase. It's not that people buy these big pieces of equipment thinking that are they are going to sit in a corner collecting dust. No no no no. People have the very best of intentions. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And, on a treadmill, the road is endless.

But for many of us, working out at home is the best opportunity to get in shape. We are far too busy and already drawn out from all our responsibilities. And, oh, don't get me started on the economics of belonging to a gym. Many are the eager newbies who buy annual memberships to gyms, only to find the payments continue long after the enthusiasm has worn slim.

So what should you do?

Working out at home is fantastic, but you want to avoid the perils of over-investment right out of the gate. The best course of action is start simply and affordably and build out as need dictates. The following are some very simple and economical ideas for firing up the at-home workout:

• Go online: the Internet is filled with great ideas for getting into shape, from ideas here at Huffington Post, to a wide variety of videos on YouTube and other video sites. Search around for a bit and find some ideas and instructs that excite you and start with those workouts.
• Cardio: keep your investment simple. I have a jumprope and an aerobic slide (look it up!) at home and both slip very nicely under my bed so that when I'm done, they are out of the way. If you need a little added motivation, check out the wide variety of games on Wii and Playstation that are designed to get you moving in a game format. I once had a client who lost 30 pounds by going home after work and dancing for half an hour every night in the comfort of his own living room. Once he felt he had some fitness momentum, joining a gym was the next logical step.
• Weights: if you're just starting out, you can buy a few pairs of small weights to help you with your workout. Or take a look at the PowerBlock system. These weights are one simple pair of dumbbells that are adjustable from five pounds all the way up to 90 pounds. Also, you can skip traditional weights and use elastic bands instead. The resistance will give you great tone, and when you're done, they roll up and go in the sock drawer. For something a little different, the TRX system, designed by Navy Seals, is a wonderful and different strength training system where you use your own body weight as resistance.
• You want a nice pair of comfortable sneakers. Try to find a store that will be able to find the right shoe for your foot. Flashier isn't always better and you want to find something that is going to support you and your frame, not hinder or hurt you in the long run.
• A heart monitor: this is probably the biggest investment on the list. Heart monitors can cost you anywhere from $75 to $300, depending on how many bells and whistles come with it. If you are just starting out, keep it simple. You want something that will keep track of your heart rate throughout the workout. By keeping track of how you're working, you will have a much better sense of what is working for you and what isn't. I'll have more on heart monitor strategies in a future post.

When you have finished your first shopping trip, you will probably have spent anywhere from $50 to $300, depending on the shopping list. The important thing to keep in mind is that you can decide how you are going to shop, and you can create a wish list for future shopping based on how you improve and develop.

Start slow, start smart, and you'll find that you'll have increased staying power, enthusiasm, and most importantly, results.

Rock on!