Unless they have a fully equipped sports center next door, most people have to travel from home to pursue their sport of choice.
But wouldn't it be nice to play a quick game of tennis, enjoy an invigorating swim or pound the basketball court in a game of one-on-one in your own back yard?
What if you also could get a complete body workout at various fitness stations, smash the ball in paddle tennis, ace a serve in volleyball and score the winning goal in hockey without leaving home?
You can, and you should, according to fitness expert Joe Dillon.
"When you can just step out into the back yard to work out, you are much more likely to do it," says Dillon, president and owner of Body Accounting, a fitness consulting corporation in Irvine.
Dillon, who designs individual fitness programs that incorporate exercise, nutrition and stress management, emphasizes that exercise needs to be a part of every day life.
"The most important thing is to do something you enjoy," Dillon says. "And the less hassle it is to work out, the more likely you are to do it. Something that is right in your back yard is a big plus."
OK, you're convinced.
Where do you go from here?
A few specialized sports systems offer a range of activities for back-yard use.
The Sport Court can be used to play 15 sports and games. Its shock-absorbing surface comes in two sizes--one-third or full tennis court size--and one net adjusts for tennis, badminton or volleyball.
By using "low-energy" balls and smaller racquets, experienced tennis players can play with full force on the small practice rebounder without adjusting their swing.
"Every day there's somebody on the court playing tennis, basketball, volleyball or just bouncing around," says Steve Palace, who had a Sport Court installed in his Villa Park home in June.
"We purchased it for the family," says the father of three. "It gives you an outlet for outdoor activities without having to leave your home."
The cost for the convenience of a custom court? $13,000 and up.
In these days of high-density housing, few homeowners have a back yard big enough to accommodate a traditional-size swimming pool.
The 12-foot-long Grecian Endless Swimming Machine can provide an aerobic workout in a small space by having the swimmer exert against adjustable jets.
Les Mazer, 47, of Laguna Hills, uses his combination swimming machine and spa four times a week during the summer, and his 16-year-old son, Richard, swims against the currents to strengthen his legs for pitching.
"We use it more than we would a pool because of the convenience of having a warm-water situation close at hand," says Lee Mazer, who admits that he never used the pool at his gym because the water was too cold. "Swimming against the jets gets tiring pretty quickly. Five minutes is max for me."
The Swim Spa can be installed in the ground or above it. Prices range from $3,374 to $4,975.
Sit-ups, pullups, push-ups and leg lifts are combined with running and walking in Sennergetics' Back Yard Par Course. Twelve exercise stations provide a complete body work out, or you can buy the stations separately to accommodate fitness and space needs.
The sit-up station conditions the abdomen. Chin-up and push-up stations develop the arms and upper body, and the leg lift station conditions the thighs and abdomen. Prices range from $92 for the push-up bar to $1,140 for the ring traverse station.