Jill Whitney takes an exercise class twice weekly at Hammonton Health and Fitness, but she does most of her working out at home.

After finishing her school day, Whitney, a Hammonton High School senior, runs for an hour, turns on her television to sweat along with an exercise show and ends her work-out session by either jumping rope for 15 minutes or working with dumbbells.

"I'm really health conscious with working out and eating right to keep myself healthy," said Whitney, a member of the varsity field hockey team.

For people starting off the new year trying to either lose weight or get into better shape, building a home gym with inexpensive equipment might be the easier than joining a fitness club or buying costly, high-tech equipment.

Whitney joined the field hockey team when she arrived at the high school four years ago and started visiting the weight room at school.

At home, her parents owned a set of dumbbells, but over the years, she convinced her parents to buy more cheap gym equipment. Her home setup now includes new dumbbells, a jump rope and medicine ball.

Whitney's exercise routine - with running, working out to an exercise show and using her home gym equipment - can take her two hours to complete.

"I feel good. I got my exercise in for the day. I'm helping myself later on," the 18-year-old said about her post-exercise attitude. "There are 30 girls on the field hockey team. A lot of them have a (gym) membership. I'm one of the more hardcore members."

Jump ropes are cheap. They provide an explosive workout, which is good for cardio and leg strengthening, according to Richard Owens, an exercise physiologist and the fitness director at the AtlantiCare LifeCenter in Egg Harbor Township. Dumbbells also are an inexpensive piece of home gym equipment that allows the user to exercise their entire body, Owens said.

"With dumbbells, your imagination can take you pretty far. There isn't much you can't do with dumbbells," Owens said.

If someone is starting a new exercise program and using a home gym for the first time, it is recommended they consult with their physician first and either a certified exercise physiologist or a personal trainer before beginning to work out, Owens said.

"The primary function is to talk to someone with a degree in exercise science, who understands the range of motions and the forms for each exercise," Owens said. "A lot of people go into these exercise programs and get hurt because, unfortunately, if they haven't worked out, they don't know the proper form and technique with each exercise."

Daniel Glass, 16, has his father to thank for introducing him to fitness and showing him the proper way to use at-home gym equipment. In his Atlantic City Crew hoodie sweatshirt, knee-length shorts and sneakers, Glass is set to exercise in a home gym that includes dumbbells, jump rope, an exercise ball and mats.

"I will do my entire upper body one day, legs another. I switch off between upper body versus lower body," said Glass, a Ventnor resident.

Glass has been working out for the last three years. He will exercise between 45 minutes and 1 hour. He makes less use of his at-home gym during crew season because he attends crew practice daily. He makes more use of his gym during the summer, when he works out at least three nights a week. The gym is in the basement, so in the summertime, he has to open windows and turn on fans to keep from overheating.

"I get a little stressed during the day. I work out and release a lot of energy. It feels good to end a workout," Glass said. "Working out is the perfect way to relieve stress instead of keeping it in."

Contact Vincent Jackson:

609-272-7202