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5 pro tips for setting up a 1980s home gym

There was a lot to consider when getting ready to put together a home gym in the 1980s.

You needed the right equipment to get fit to the max, which is why Midday was there to help

In November of 1985, Kathryn O'Hara told Midday viewers what they needed to know when shopping for home fitness equipment. (Midday/CBC Archives)

Dude! Even in the 1980s, a righteous workout was about more than spandex unitards, awesome headbands and Sweatin' to the Oldies.

Because it was also, most definitely, about the gear.

Thirty-four years ago, Kathryn O'Hara offered viewers of CBC's Midday some tips on what they could do to set up a truly legit home gym.

Try before you buy

In 1985, Midday's Kathryn O'Hara explains why it's worth trying out machines at a gym before you buy your own home equipment. 0:32

The first tip O'Hara had for Midday's soon-to-be ex-couch potatoes was to ensure they were familiar with the equipment they were buying.

Not all machines were made equal and not all machines were made to work out the same parts of the body. (Duh!)

"Try out these machines before you consider buying a version for home use," O'Hara said. "Know their strengths and your weaknesses."

Get informed, not hurt

Midday's Kathryn O'Hara speaks to a fitness consultant about why it's important to know how to use gym equipment properly. 0:24

O'Hara also let viewers know that fitness machines were meant to be used in a particular way. And when they weren't, people could end up suffering a gnarly injury.

To make matters worse, Jeff Potts, a fitness consultant who spoke to Midday, said many fitness equipment manufacturers did not provide "adequate information or instructions" on how to use their products.

That's why it was important to get informed on how they should be operated. (Again, duh!)

"Not surprisingly, a full one-fifth of the sports injuries treated at one Montreal hospital were caused by people misusing exercise equipment at home," O'Hara said.

Do your homework, dude

In 1985, Kathryn O'Hara explains what features consumers should be looking for when buying fitness equipment. 1:44

O'Hara visited an unnamed Ottawa department store to see what was available in a typical fitness section.

Rowing machines, parts of which were literally tubular, were one such product, which ranged from $150 to $300 at that time.

O'Hara also tried out a range of stationary bicycles, though she advised Midday viewers not to go with cheaper models that lacked the quality of their slightly higher-priced competition.

Her advice was to try out a high-end model just to see "how the mechanism should work," before settling on a mid-range option.

You're not at the gym

Kathryn O'Hara looks at the pros and cons of buying weights for home use. 0:25

When it came to pumping iron, O'Hara said the kind of weight machines sold for home use weren't as sturdy as the ones set up in typical gymnasiums. (For the third time, like, duh!)

"Don't expect the same calibre you'd find at a fitness centre — not for under $500," she said.

O'Hara also warned Midday viewers to be careful when assembling such machines. 

"Try and find someone to put it all together, safely," said O'Hara.

Consider the jump rope

On Midday, Kathryn O'Hara talks about a key question mark in buying home exercise equipment. 0:35

Finishing her report, O'Hara said it could be hard for consumers to gauge just how reliable or beneficial a piece of fitness equipment could be.

It was not like an old-school jump rope, for example — a piece of sports equipment O'Hara said "might get you used to the concept of exercising at home."

With that last comment, it appeared she was speaking to Midday viewers at home who were still trying to get stoked about getting fit.