Commissioning a luxury home is a bit outside your means, you say? Sorry, that doesn't earn you a pass straight to the Barcalounger. Designing fitness into your nest isn't an idea limited to the rich, say exercise experts. With a bit of ingenuity -- perversity or pigheadedness may do even better -- you can make your home a fitness site on practically a pauper's budget. Here are some ideas:
* Challenge yourself vertically. Integrating fitness into your house or apartment means, first, taking advantage of features that already exist, according to Jeffrey Potteiger, professor of physical education, health and sport studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a fellow at the American College of Sports Medicine. "Remember that a StairMaster is just going up and down stairs," he said. The challenge: finding incentives to make you use those steps more often -- whether it's leaving your jogging shoes on an upper floor or vowing to answer every other phone call on the upstairs line.
It won't work for everyone. "Truthfully, I find it boring," Potteiger said of stair climbing as exercise. His solution: Listen to music while you do it. Or move the TV to the top of the stairs. Cost: Nothing.
* Stretch your notion of equipment. With the help of resistance bands, a sturdy door can become a strength-training center, said Neal Pire, chair of the personal training certification committee for the American College of Sports Medicine. Over-the-door gyms sold by Altus and Everlast use a mounted pulley system of bungee bands that vary in resistance, enabling seated rows, triceps pull-downs, and even Pilates.
Cost: $30 and up, online (www.muscleking.com and www.amazon.com) and at area sporting goods stores.
* Start stepping. Pedometers that count your every step have been shown effective in spurring exercise among those trying to walk their way to fitness. Gregory Florez, spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, suggests wearing a pedometer in the house. "Five thousand steps is a good goal" for the portion of the day spent indoors, he said. Playing with kids and pets will get you moving with a purpose. So, of course -- lucky you -- will sweeping, mopping and vacuuming. "Do your laundry in steps," said Florez. "Wash and dry, but fold in a different room, upstairs if possible."
Cost: Pedometers cost about $10 to $35 online and in sporting goods stores.
* Reach beyond your grasp. If you have a basement or garage with exposed beams, said James Anastasion, director of the Rockville Sport Rock indoor climbing gym, you've got the essentials of a climbing wall. To learn how to install a wall and climbing holds, check out "Home Climbing Gyms: How to Build and Use," a book by Randy Leavitt and John McMullen, or Web sites such as www.edgewalls.com/homewall.htm and www.tradgirl.com/climbing_faq/home_walls.htm#homewall.
Cost: Anastasion says you can expect to spend around $250.
-- Laurie Burkitt