How to Design a Home Gym: Creating a Space at Home for Any Kind of Workout
Exercising at home has benefits beyond going to a gym that many people attend. At home, they do not have to travel in order to get a good workout. They can choose whichever piece of equipment they want and get right to work, without waiting or hoping that the person using it before them cleans up after themselves. Of course, a home gym requires people to designate a specific workout space and purchase some equipment they can use.
The investment that someone may want to make depends mostly on what they can afford, what they want to do, and the space they have available to do it. Fortunately, homeowners have many options in the ways that they can design a workout room to help them achieve their fitness goals. With this information, people will know how to select and design an area, how to choose the right type of equipment, and how to maintain their home gym.
Table of Contents
- Considerations Before Building a Home Gym
- Where to Set Up a Home Gym
- Common Home Gym Equipment and Tools
- Design Features of a Home Gym
- How to Maintain a Home Gym
- Enjoy Your Home Gym
Considerations Before Building a Home Gym
There are a number of factors that people should consider before designing or building a home gym, including:
- Space needed
- Preferred fitness routines
- Equipment needed
- Rooms available for conversion
Those who are relatively new to exercise programs may not initially know how to address these concerns at first. It is often easier for them to start smaller and build up than it is to invest a lot of work and make significant purchases without knowing if they will provide a good investment.
Many homeowners have a better experience if they begin by making a list of their expectations for their future home workout room. For example, someone who wants to focus on cardiovascular exercises will need different equipment and space considerations than a person who prefers to focus on weight training. There are plenty of people who want to be able to do both, and will therefore need the room to accommodate it. Selecting a room in the home to fulfill this purpose and designing it efficiently will ensure that homeowners can get the most out of the space.
Where to Set Up a Home Gym
Before homeowners can decide what equipment and design elements they want to incorporate into the workout room, they must choose the space. Some people have a spare bedroom on the main floor of their home or in their basement that they can devote entirely, which can make choosing the space an easier decision. For those who have fewer options, it is wise to compare them and decide which one will promote the most productivity with the least trouble for other aspects of home life. Any of the following rooms or spaces may be a good choice, depending on a variety of factors.
Many people like to set up a workout space inside their garage. For those with smaller homes, the garage provides an easy opportunity to spread out and also store materials on the walls or ceiling. Additionally, being able to open a full garage door for added light and fresh air can be beneficial for a workout. On the other hand, garages are often minimally insulated and may not have heating or air conditioning.
The way that homeowners style a workout area in their garage depends on what else they usually do in the space. For example, someone who parks two cars inside may not have as much room for large machines or workout gear. However, the garage can be ideal when people can move their cars into the driveway, as doing so provides extra space for movement, even if it is only temporary. As such, the garage is a practical choice for those who want to focus on body weight exercises, as it can usually accommodate one large piece of workout equipment, like a treadmill or a bench with weights. Storing smaller pieces on the wall minimizes tripping hazards after the cars are parked back inside.
People who have very limited space, such as those who live in apartments or condominiums, may want to consider creating a workout nook in their own bedrooms. This space has an added benefit of reminding people to work out often. For example, those with small children may be afraid of exercising in the main living spaces while children are asleep. Doing their workout in their bedroom helps to ensure that it takes up the least amount of space, causes a minimal amount of noise, and makes it more likely to get done.
Unless the bedroom is quite large, people will probably have to minimize their equipment purchases and focus on things that can be folded up or stowed away. A treadmill that can fold in half takes less space when it is not in use. Similarly, a compact cross trainer uses a relatively small footprint. Otherwise, people may want to be selective about the equipment they buy, especially if they are unsure of how often they will use it. Dumbbells and kettlebells in smaller sizes can usually sit on a shelf to keep the floor free. Yoga mats and resistance bands weigh almost nothing and can easily be hung from the wall.
The basement or the attic can be an excellent source of unused space that homeowners can maximize for their home gym. An unfinished or partially finished basement provides possibly several hundred square feet of room not in use. This means that homeowners can feel free to purchase larger pieces of equipment or invest in more pieces without having to worry that they will need to pack them all away at the end of the workout. Basements tend to stay cooler in the summer, which can help people maintain their stamina throughout the routine. Homeowners should consider adding storage options like hooks or racks to take advantage of concrete walls.
For those who do not have a basement or lack space in it, the attic may be a reasonable alternative. Homeowners who live in areas with hot summers should be wary of choosing this space for their home gym, because the attic tends to be the hottest part of the house. However, it may be an ideal choice for exercises that improve with heat such as yoga. People should confirm that their attic has adequate ventilation before starting. Something as simple as an attic fan could make a huge difference.
Like a basement, building a workout space in the back yard offers a lot of flexibility. People should balance their expectations with their ability to exercise and store equipment. A back yard gym can be as large as anyone might want, but it is good to set limits, as this keeps the equipment from taking over the yard. People may want to start by designating a square or rectangular space for the gym. If they intend to install a shed for the equipment, they should make space for this as well.
Because the back yard is much more open than any room of the house, homeowners will have to think about these factors:
It may be wise to invest in some type of landscaping tile or patio pavers for this purpose, as trying to exercise on uneven lawn can be dangerous. For areas with heavy rain or snow, people may want to invest in shades or awnings so that they are able to continue working out. Lighting is ideal for those who want to exercise before they go to bed. There are many low-voltage lighting options that are relatively easy to install.
Hallway/Small Exercise Corner
For those who like to do body weight exercises that take up space in one direction, even the hallway may be a viable choice. Homeowners who lack the room to dedicate to their workout routine must take care in the equipment they buy and the exercises they choose. This way, they are less likely to accidentally knock something over or cause damage during the course of the workout. The hallway provides an ideal surface for workouts that require wall space for support, like wall planks or squats. Given its length, it makes exercises like lunges, burpees, or push-ups easier to complete.
The trick for anyone working out in a limited space is organization and safety. For example, it would be unwise for someone to set up workout equipment in front of the home’s primary entry or exit. Instead, they should take advantage of nearby wall space for storage and aim for equipment that is lightweight and easy to move quickly. This helps to ensure that tools can be kept organized and off the floor, without having to spend too much time moving it every day.
Common Home Gym Equipment and Tools
When starting to think about building a home gym, people should consider the types of equipment they plan to use. Although the best-known pieces of gym equipment tend to be larger machines, homeowners have a variety of choices. Those who are new to regular exercise may wish to buy a few smaller pieces and work their way up to more complex or expensive items. From free weights to complete systems that allow people to do multiple exercises, it is possible to create a useful home gym on almost any budget.
Many people think of a yoga mat as something with limited use. However, an exercise mat is a vital and affordable piece of equipment for a home gym. For around $10-$15, people can provide themselves with a comfortable and clean surface in which to work on the floor. Someone who is performing core-strengthening exercises using weights may prefer to use an exercise mat. They are usually most appropriate for use on a flat surface and may not work as well with carpet. These tools are also lightweight and easy to roll up for use in other places.
Resistance bands are easy to consider adding to a home gym. For less than $10, resistance bands can increase the efficiency and efficacy of bodyweight exercises. These bands usually have a handle on either side and are very stretchy. In some cases, homeowners may be able to connect them to other permanent pieces of equipment for additional exercises. Because they fold up into a very tight space, they take almost no room at all. This means that people who are working in a very small room or even just part of a room have plenty of space for resistance bands.
Kettlebells may seem like they have only one purpose, but they apply to a variety of exercises. For about $25 to $50 per kettlebell, one can have a durable weight with a strong, wide, supportive handle, which allows them to grip it with both hands or to pass it from one to the other with ease. This often makes the kettlebell a more useful tool than dumbbells for fast-paced exercises that use weights. Some fitness enthusiasts even use these weights as part of bodyweight exercises like push-ups or lunges.
Most people are familiar with dumbbells. For a price that ranges between $10 and $30 per set, dumbbells provide a single-grip weight that is usually intended for upper-body exercises. Dumbbells usually come as a single weight, often meant to be purchased as a set. Other dumbbells have adjustable weights that can be added with the push of a button, which allows people to vary the weight they are using without necessarily having to buy multiple sets of dumbbells. Those working on a limited budget or space may want to be selective about the weight amounts they choose at first.
Anyone who is seriously invested in their own fitness knows that form is key. When people are not sure if they are doing an exercise correctly, they often rely on mirrors to check their position and posture. This is an important part of the exercise itself, as it helps to improve output and avoid injury. As such, even though a mirror is not a specific piece of home gym equipment, it is a vital part of the gym space. Those who plan to work with weights or do complicated exercise routines should consider installing a mirror as part of their home gym.
The cost of a mirror for a home gym depends on the type and size. Those who want to buy a portable, full-length mirror should expect to pay between $50 and $100. For the full effect, some homeowners prefer to install mirrors running the entire height of one wall. This costs about $10 per square foot, which means it can be a more expensive endeavor. Unless people plan to use small mirrors for this project, it is often better to hire a professional installer. Mirrors can be extremely heavy and difficult to place for one person.
Exercise balls are another type of home gym equipment that is extremely affordable and easy for beginners to learn to use. Also referred to as a stability ball, these inflatable tools come in a variety of sizes. People can use them as part of their exercise routine or balance on them as a way to make other activities more difficult or productive. They run about $20 to $30 and usually need to be inflated at home. Most people prefer to use them with bodyweight exercises, because they can strengthen the abdominal muscles. They are also a good option for those doing occupational therapy after surgery.
Most people are familiar with the concept of the treadmill, as it is one of the most common exercise machines. The typical treadmill allows them to set the speed as well as the incline of the machine. Some models will have programs that people can choose to vary their workouts. Higher-end systems also include other features, like heart-rate monitoring and record-keeping. The biggest concerns that people should have about a treadmill is the size and the cost. Treadmills range from $200 to $3,000 or more. They can be well worth the investment for those who plan to use them frequently. However, they take up a lot of space, so in a smaller room, they may be the only larger piece of equipment.
Weight machines are a way for people to engage in various weighted exercises within a specific format. They tend to be most appropriate for beginners compared to free weights. This is because a weight machine can typically only be used in a couple of different ways. As such, those who are new to the exercise are less likely to injure themselves with improper form. However, weight machines can be significantly more expensive than free weights. They range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on what they do. As such, people may have to choose between investing in free weights and buying one or two weight machines.
Home Gym Machines
Homeowners who are looking for less customization of their workouts and more accessibility from a single point of purchase may prefer to buy a home gym machine. This type of machine offers several different exercises in one piece of equipment. As a general rule, they tend to be one of the most expensive home gym products. In exchange, homeowners may be able to incorporate bodyweight, weighted, and aerobic exercises into one piece of equipment. This is an ideal option for people who do not need to do dozens of exercises or have limited space to work with.
One of the best tools to add to a system of weights is a padded bench, which allows people to sit or lay down to perform exercises without necessarily having to do the exercises on the floor. A bench provides additional support and can ensure that people hold the correct form while they are working with heavier weights of 50 pounds or more. Although many benches are intended to serve as a permanent piece of equipment in the gym, others are portable. Some benches will open to provide safe support and then easily fold down for storage.
Design Features of a Home Gym
Homeowners may choose almost any room in the home to set up a workout area. However, although any space can work, it takes certain adjustments to increase the safety and practicality of the activities. The last thing anyone wants is to build a workout room and then realize that they must tear out the flooring or change the lighting because the space is not functional. Instead, people should start by analyzing each piece as it relates to their workout goals. That way, they can begin with a fresh space that is more likely to help them achieve their ambitions.
Although the flooring of the home gym may seem like an afterthought, it is one of the most important considerations for the space. People should ensure that they can maintain the proper traction for the activity they are doing, as well as provide a slip-resistant surface. This is the best way to exercise without risking injury. Additionally, people may want to consider their overall comfort and protection in the event of a fall. Hard or slippery surfaces, such as hardwood, porcelain tile, or natural stone, are less practical flooring materials. They can be difficult to grip and more painful during floor exercises. The following options tend to be the most appropriate:
Vinyl flooring is one of the most affordable options today, and it comes in a variety of designs and styles. This material is durable and easy to clean. For those looking for added support or noise reduction, cork may be a worthwhile investment. With regular maintenance, it will block sound without absorbing spills or odors. Carpet may even be a good choice, although people should look for options with a tight loop or a short pile. Rubber flooring is a less common option, but it provides the most cushion for high-impact exercises. Foam flooring is also a good choice and can be added to the floor as a permanent or temporary feature.
For a good workout, natural lighting is usually going to be the best option. If people have access to a window in the workout room, it may be worth investing in sheer curtains or a light-filtering shade that provides privacy without blocking the light. For those who want to exercise outside daylight hours or who have limited window access, artificial lighting choices are important. Many fitness enthusiasts will benefit from a combination of lighting sources, including:
- Broad overhead lighting
- Dimmable lights on the walls
- Spotlighting for difficult routines, where proper form is vital
LED light bulbs are energy efficient, using a fraction of the wattage that an incandescent bulb does. Homeowners who do not have an outlet nearby can easily run LED lighting using a variety of battery-powered options. Although LED bulbs were much more expensive when they were first introduced, they have dropped significantly in price.
Many people find that certain types of artificial light can give them headaches or make them feel more tired than they are. Some people may be familiar with the fact that flickering from fluorescent bulbs can trigger these problems, but some LED bulbs can as well. Where precision is key, homeowners may want to consider light sources that are flicker-free or in a different color temperature. There are many products available that feature these benefits, and they can help promote a better exercise experience.
In many cases, people do not realize how low their indoor air quality is. Most of the time, it is noticeably worse than the air outside. For those who want to exercise inside their home, creating the right ventilation routine can be the difference between sickness and health. The problem is that most homeowners lack sufficient ventilation equipment, and even fewer know how to use the existing systems properly. For example, people often think that running a fan while cooking or taking a shower is more about eliminating odors. In fact, it improves moisture control throughout the home. This helps to prevent mold and mildew from accumulating, which can cause health problems like headaches.
For the workout space, ventilation might be as simple as opening a window while someone is working out. However, this presumes that the outdoor air has minimal contaminants and that the window has a screen to keep insects or pests out. A ceiling fan or box fan can help people manage the temperature and how they feel, but it may not be as effective at removing humidity in certain regions. Adding a dehumidifier may be a necessary step to keeping it under control. Otherwise, cleaning the space regularly makes it easier to avoid buildup of dust or allergens. Those with respiratory conditions like allergies or asthma may want to add houseplants or even an extra filtration system to their homes. This can prevent contaminants from entering the indoor air, where it is more difficult to remove them.
Storage & Organization
With the other elements of the workout space under control, equipment storage and organization is one of the best ways that homeowners can ensure their tools will remain in good condition. It is also important to keep the space functional, so that people can exercise when they have the motivation to do so. Many pieces of workout equipment are too heavy to store anywhere but the floor. People with limited space may need to restrict the number of heavy items that they buy, as these will occupy room needed for exercising and walking around. Otherwise, it is a wise choice to invest in wall-mounted storage tools such as:
- Hooks installed into wall studs
- Racks for bulky items
- Shelves for small pieces or sets
A well-organized wall could hold multiple sets of weights without collapsing or taking up floor space.
Those using a multipurpose room or part of the major living space for workouts might want to invest in cabinetry instead of open shelving. This helps to keep the equipment both out of reach of children and out of sight of guests. Similarly, those using less equipment and focusing more on body weight exercises may want to consider functional furniture that helps them achieve this purpose. For example, a bench in the dining room can double as an exercise tool that increases resistance during weight exercises or tricep dips. A heavy stool becomes a perfect item for step exercises. This helps people to vary the types of exercises they do without having to purchase additional equipment.
The equipment that someone chooses depends heavily on their workout preferences, budget, and space. However, even people with an unlimited budget may want to invest in a few extras that cost little, take a small amount of space, and work for a variety of exercise approaches. These include:
- Workout mats
- Resistance bands
- Pull-up bars rated to support enough weight
- Jump rope
- TV system for following workout programs
These tools have the added benefit that they are easy to stowaway, and they are portable. This means that they can be used at home, taken on the road for an outdoor workout, or used for exercise while traveling.
How to Maintain a Home Gym
Once people have a home gym, they should plan to maintain it regularly. Upkeep after each workout, and additional cleaning on a weekly or monthly basis, can make the workouts easier to do, keep the equipment in better condition, and minimize the risk of injury. Without good care and maintenance, equipment is more likely to break down quicker or even malfunction. By taking the right approach, everyone can get the most out of their investment.
Invest in Quality Equipment
The reason that larger pieces of exercise equipment have such a broad price range is variations in quality. The cheapest products may not support enough weight, and they may not sustain heavy use. This means that they will break down or require replacement more often. On the other hand, quality equipment is durable and safe to use for longer periods of time. It may use metal instead of plastic components. Those who are trying to stick to a tight budget should limit the number of pieces that they buy, rather than buying cheaper products. This is an ideal approach to maximizing the use they get from their investment.
Refer to Manuals for Proper Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
Those who are used to going to a public or private gym may not know how to maintain their exercise equipment. This step is easy to ignore, especially while the equipment is new. Over time, people may lose the manuals or forget this important task. Therefore, they should designate a place to keep the manuals and review them at least once a year to ensure that they remember what they are supposed to do with each machine, and avoid using products that will damage the machine or shorten its lifespan.
Keep It Clean
Hardly anyone enjoys wiping down a piece of workout equipment at the gym before someone else can use it. However, if they consider how this can affect their health or the long-term condition of the machine, it may be easier to ensure that this task gets completed on a regular basis. Like many pieces of equipment in the home, workout equipment must be maintained in a specific way. People cannot use any cleaning products they like and expect it to work effectively. Some products can damage the surface or even break the machine. Therefore, it is practical to research the best cleaning options for any given piece of equipment.
As a general rule, every piece of workout equipment should be wiped down after use. No one enjoys picking up a sweaty dumbbell, especially if it causes them to drop it. Wiping after use achieves more than just sweat management for the next user, however, as it also minimizes the accumulation of moisture in seat pads or foam handles and helps to control odors. Wiping with a dry cloth or paper towel is necessary but insufficient. People should also regularly spray down high-touch surfaces of the equipment with:
- Gym cleaning products
- Wipes designed for fitness equipment
- A mild solution of white vinegar and water
It is important to avoid spraying electrical components, as it can cause them to short out. Otherwise, people should plan to sweep and mop the floor at least once a week, and dust shelves before they sweep or vacuum. This helps to keep dust or dirt from accumulating, which can settle on the equipment and make it harder to use.
Enjoy Your Home Gym
A home gym is a gift that people give to themselves and their long-term fitness and health. It takes some time to choose a room and equipment that will suit the kinds of activities they want to do. In many cases, it may take a significant investment to convert the space for the right flooring and lighting, as well as the tools needed for each task. However, creating a workout space that is functional and safe is possible for almost any kind of home and virtually any kind of exercise. From body weight exercises and yoga to extensive weight-training systems, the right design makes all the difference. By investing in quality equipment and providing proper maintenance for it, everyone can enjoy a home gym for a decade or more.