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Once upon a world, I lost 75 pounds in one year by doing basically two things: cycling to work and working out while watching TV. That’s right, no gym membership for most of that year, just $100 of gear and a cable subscription.

Although I now have more living room space in my new home, I haven’t been working out or stretching while watching TV, despite the fact that I’ve loved doing exactly that in the past.

Between the lack of exercising at home and switching to a work-from-home life, I’ve gained some weight back. Unacceptable! New Year, new ass! Rawr!

So, naturally, I recently decided to tackle my living room and make it more geared toward a fitness-filled life. Where to start? Well, I decided the TV had to be a big part of it.

Let’s face it, watching TV while working out is great. It distracts you from the grief of working out. Hardy-har-har.

Sure, a gym pass makes you feel like a pro, but the reality is you can do a lot based on free weights and your own body weight’s resistance at home.

With a 6×6-foot space in your living room and a PVR full of great programming, a fit life can be yours, so long as you lay things out well.

Define what the “living” part  in “living room” is

I recently started to think about why my new home wasn’t working for working out, and what I could better do to maximize my space. Yesterday, the final piece was put in place, and now I’m quite excited about my fitness future. Stretching today was a positively delightful, and entertaining, experience.

So, how’d I get there?

Well, first, a while back, I put casters (wheels) on my coffee table. Don’t cheap out, get wheely-good wheels. The idea here is to make your coffee table movable. Sure, it loses a bit of its sleek design, but there’s a world of usefulness in wheeling your effortlessly table out of the way to do your Pilates floor routine. Do you want a pretty table or a stronger body?

I’ve got one-inch industrial-type casters on my table, and it’s  holding up well after a few months. But just having a movable table didn’t get ME moving, despite weeks of trying to motivate myself.

Adjust your settings – and your furniture if you have to

When the New Year rolled around, I really got to wracking my brain. I was on the floor, exercising, thinking about things. What was so different now? Why wouldn’t I work out regularly?

“And now…” said the TV announcer, prompting me to prop myself up on the elbow and start watching. Suddenly it clicked. I’m just way too ADD to not be able to SEE the TV while working out.

Damn that big shiny TV and a fancy low, sleek TV bench!

Fact is, the result of this high-tech low-lines pairing has been that any time I got on the floor to work out, I couldn’t see the bottom ⅔ of the screen. I kept stopping to watch anything that sounded exciting. And when I stood to work out? I was looking far down and my bad neck posture resulted in frequent headaches.

Either way, totally losing.

I lamented my sleek-but-low 14.5”-tall IKEA TV bench. I looked at it for a while, and then thought, “What if?”

What if I bought a second of the same unit, and plonked it square on top of this one, and gave myself a 29”-high starting point for my TV? What then?

I don’t live in Ikea land, so it took me a while to make the TV bench happen, but it arrived yesterday. I put that bad boy together, grabbed double-sided tape to tuck under each leg, and put it squarely atop my original unit.

Suddenly, boom. 15 inches of new height on the TV. Looks snazzy too.

Now, when I’m on the floor, no matter how I’m stretching or working out, the TV is at the perfect height. It’s also better when I’m standing, and when I’m watching from the couch, because my neck’s in a more neutral position.

Making adjustments in the living room leads to more possibilities

The perk, too, is that I suddenly have way more shelving in my living room. It gives me a place to stick rental DVDs and other things I’d like to be more visible but less cluttered. And what’s on the bottom shelf? All my free weights, my Theraband, and my strap-on weights.  More importantly? They’re all there, visible, a constant reminder of all that it takes to make myself fitter.

The free weights, a balance ball, a yoga mat, all for under about $100, and a a movable table with $10 of casters, a PVR packed with viewing goodness, and you’re on your way to a better you.

Losing 75 pounds in a year wouldn’t have been possible without all those hours every week of stretching in front of the TV for loosening up, or working out while doing the same.

Transforming a space and transforming yourself

Being active outdoors is fantastic, and I live in one of the best places on the planet for that, but the control and precision that comes from working out in a routine way, in a routine place, like doing plyometrics on the floor in front of the TV, is something that’s indispensable to an active person.

If it’s a goal but you’re not working out at home, it might not be all your fault. It could be that you just haven’t optimized your space.

What, $100 for gear, $10 for casters? Not a bad project cost for changing your life.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.