Home gym: Bad day at the office? Take it out on this guy or, better still, your online trainer, say Michael Oliveira-Salac and Martin Skegg. Photographs by Phil Ward
If you are struggling with that New Year's resolution to keep fit, but finding it difficult to make it to the gym, a work-out from home could be the answer. But how do you maintain that initial enthusiasm? On a rainy evening after a hard day, it is difficult to find the motivation to do 20 minutes on the exercise bike.

The home exercise market is worth pounds 90 million a year, but it is questionable whether people get value on their investment, with equipment left to collect dust. Manufacturers have recognised this problem and are developing ways to make home exercise more involving and enjoyable.

Instead of an aerobics routine, you could take the SlamMan to task. Made of tough polyethylene plastic, the SlamMan is a punch bag with programmed LED target lights and a built- in computer that gives you a work-out and acts as a good stress-buster. The lights illuminate in a variety of sequences to which you respond with punches. The computer offers 15 different routines and keeps timings and scores. The SlamMan can be customised to suit your height and weight of punch. It comes complete with boxing gloves, training video and eating plan, though you will need 240lb of sand to fill it.

If you want more of a tailored training programme, Tunturi has a range of computerised personal trainers for use with its home exercise bikes and treadmills. The Alpha 300 allows you to input your basic personal data and how much weight you want to lose. After a special three-step fitness test, the computer calculates a tailor-made training programme, telling you how often to exercise and how much effort is required. It will even work out how many calories your diet should contain. Eight different users can enter information, and the trainer has seven language options. The user is given realistic goals, which can help sustain motivation more effectively than blindly pounding away every night.

Adding a competitive edge to training can make it more appealing. Concept II makes indoor rowing machines and a device called the PM2+ that allows you to connect via a computer to the Internet and race other people in real time around the world. The PM2+ has a range of work-out features, including data on stroke rate, race information, duration and distance. Up to 128 rowers can be connected at once and configured as doubles, fours and eights as well as singles. Participants are connected via a special Internet service, the Oxygen Club, which allows them to book in for events or discuss performance and progress in chat rooms. For an additional fee, you can also receive advice and support from an online trainer. After an initial face-to-face session to check your health and fitness, your trainer e-mails a weekly report and sets the exercise programme for the next week, checking your progress on the Oxygen Club training database. The online trainer is an good solution for those who need personal advice or a bit of checking up on to make sure they work out regularly

Left SlamMan, pounds 299. For stockists and information, call Bolton Stirland on 0115 982 4606

Far left Tunturi T4 exerciser with Alpha 300 interface, pounds 1,299. For stockists and information, call Bolton Stirland on 0115 982 4606

Below Concept II Indoor Rowing Machine with PM2+, pounds 846. For further information and stockists, call Concept II on 0115 945 5522 (needs connection to PC)

The Oxygen Club. For further information, contact Tim Kyndt on 0181-287 5794 or visit the Oxygen website at www.oxygenclub.com