Many people wanting to get or stay fit join a gym. For some it’s inexpensive, handy to home, comes with professional advice and has all the equipment you can imagine. But going to the gym is not for everyone. The reasons are numerous and for many the alternative is simple – have your own gym at home.

Apart from the initial cost, and this can be negligible as seen by the systems listed below, there are no membership fees, no travel time, no waiting time and you have 24/7 access. Of course you want to be sure you have the right equipment and that you are using it correctly. Here are four of the popular exercise systems currently available that seem to boast of helping people become fitter and lose weight from the convenience of the home.

And remember that the more convenient your exercise program is to use, the more likely you are to use it. But anyone planning on starting any form of exercise, at home or in a gym, should first discuss their plans with their doctor.

P90X or Power 90 Extreme

This is an American created program which uses everyday equipment such as yoga mats and blocks, dumbbells and a pull-up bar. The key is the overall approach as set out in the range of activities. Nutrition is as important as the workouts. Being designed by a professional trainer means you have expert guidance as you take your exercise. The program includes DVDs which demonstrate the various moves but one of the criticisms of the P90X is that someone working alone may push their body too hard.

The program consists of a 13 week cycle in which there are three levels. For those who want a basic good health and fitness regime, the lower of the three levels is recommended. The two higher levels are for those who want a stronger workout and a higher level of fitness.

P90X was mainly created by American Tony Horton who worked for many years as a personal trainer. The program combines structured exercises, nutrition and dietary supplements. By the end of 2010, more than 3 million copies of P90X have been sold. It is certainly popular.

Goodbye Couch Fitness

In the 1980s, a series of exercises once given to members of the Canadian Air Force was published under the title of 5BX. About 24 million copies of the 5BX exercise program were sold. Today some of the exercises are considered unsafe and have been replaced in a new program created by Australians James Christie and Chris Gurney. Both men come from a fitness/personal trainer background and understand the wishes of people who are interested in weight loss, resistance training, fun runs and the importance of safe exercise routines.

There are basically five exercises in the program, it is loosely based on the original 5BX program, which are designed to give an all-round body workout. The five safe exercises are performed in a set pattern with the session ending using a specific set of stretching exercises if you like, the warm-down.

The program comes in a series of illustrated booklets and in a series of handy to carry cards ideal to store in your wallet or purse.

The good points are that the course is based on the hugely popular 5BX program, is suitable for males and females including children. Pregnant women are advised not to tackle this program and participants are advised to start at safe levels and only proceed through the various levels once they have mastered their current activities.

Many people in their 70s and 80s speak highly of the program. That’s one of the attractions of Goodbye Couch Fitness, that you enter at the level designated by your age. And in terms of equipment, you only need a mat.

Firmetrics – leg, thigh, tummy, butt and stomach exercises for women

This program consists of a series of downloadable books and a DVD created by Joey Atlas in Florida, USA. He has a degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in exercise physiology. He’s the author of the popular book Fatness to Fitness and a background as a personal trainer and as a coach to other trainers. His media profile is huge. He runs a blog covering topics such as emotional eating, comfort foods, cooking at home and reducing stress. His exercise program is aimed at women of all ages, well, 14 to 84.

The exercise program caters for three levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced. No weights or machines are required – just a mat, some steps [your stairs] and an exercise ball. The vast majority of women who use the program do so to remove fat and flab and the appearance of cellulite.

The series of exercises are so designed that they don’t have to be completed in one session. This makes it appealing to busy women who may be only able to spare say 20 minutes at a time. The program also offers variations at the advanced level so that those who wish to aim for higher goals can adjust their routines accordingly.

This is online marketing in full swing. The program is not available in stores but can be bought and viewed instantly online. Hard copies of the material are also available together with the DVD.

Turbo Jam

This is for those who like action and fun in their fitness program. An American system designed by Chalene Johnson which involves kick-boxing, dance moves and body-sculpting. The main piece of equipment required is a CD player as music is an essential part of the course.

While walking, jogging, step aerobics and Pilates are all capable of burning calories, Turbo Jam claims to allow participants to burn significantly large amounts of calories – up to 1000 in an hour.
Chalene is an American fitness entrepreneur, choreographer and successful candidate in the Fitness Instructor of the Year competition. She is also the creator of Turbo Kick and her programs have sold in their millions around the world.

The exercises are designed to work both the upper and lower body at the same time. The program comes with a series of flash cards which illustrate the various moves plus a guidebook with tips on planning meals, keeping weight records, recipes, a workout calendar and more. On their web site there is a 24/7 helpline where participants can communicate with others using the program and Chalene herself, the creator. Six of the major workouts come on 2 DVDs.

A unique feature is the wearing of what are known as turbo sculpting gloves which the manufacturers claim rapidly increase muscle activity thus speeding the weight loss and muscle building processes even faster.


Which is the best? To answer that the obvious questions are

  • What your fitness needs are
  • Which of these programs, if any, best suit those needs?

The salient point about all programs discussed above is that little if anything in the way of weights and machines are required, at least not in the early stages. All the programs are ideal for home or office. Costs are relatively inexpensive as you are buying the routines or programs rather than setting up a home gymnasium and they can all achieve the goal of losing weight, which seems to be the starting point for many of the people joining these programs.

In the case of Goodbye Couch Fitness you need only the printed documents. With Turbo Jam you are developing your dance and kick-boxing skills at the same time. Firmetrics is aimed at women and at the lower body area in particular. P90X does require some basic equipment but has been around for many years.

One thing to consider is that, while these programs may promise of attaining certain goals within a specific time period if strictly adhered to, it would be wise to remember that, in order to maintain fitness,  a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise will need to be performed beyond this period, even if not the same level of rigour.

Despite the success of some of these systems with some people, some others find they lose motivation after a few days or weeks of exercising at home. Some people may find going to a gym and working out with friends serves a dual purpose in getting a workout and socializing at the same time thus avoiding boredom. While others that are not too concerned about strengthening their body as part of their exercise program may find simply going out for a jog several times a week is a better a way to achieve their fitness goals.

You can peruse all of the programs in depth by searching online. They are all popular programs and come with solid sales records and testimonials from independent sources. Consider all and choose wisely.

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