If you’ve ever had to cancel a gym trip thanks to bad traffic, wait in line to use an elliptical, towel someone else’s sweat off the rower, show up solo for a fitness class you can’t pronounce, or tune out distracting gym-mates, the idea of setting up a home gym has probably crossed your mind. There’s no commute, no hours of operation, no monthly fee and you don’t have to share it with anyone (except maybe family members—if they ask nicely).
So, if a home gym is so great, why don’t you have one already? Here are three common obstacles to setting up a home gym, and how you can overcome them:
1. I don’t have the space.
Maybe you don’t have the space for the home gym of your dreams—a long row of gleaming exercise equipment, a weight bench, a yoga meditation space, a climbing wall and, of course, a steam room—but that shouldn’t keep you from making the most of the space you do have. If you can’t commit an entire bonus room, study, spare bedroom, basement or attic for your home gym, consider dedicating a part of a room for your daily workout. Even an exercise corner or nook may help inspire you to stick to your fitness goals.
As you choose your space, consider:
- Accessibility: If it’s hard to use your gym, you’ll be less likely to use it. Don’t choose a space you’ll have to de-clutter often or equipment that requires a lot of set up each time you want to work out.
- Comfort: Try to create an inviting space that you enjoy. Little touches like a TV or stereo, an energizing paint scheme or uplifting artwork may help you stay upbeat and motivated. Wall mirrors can help you check your form as you work out—and have the added benefit of making your space feel bigger. Avoid rooms that are too dark, poorly ventilated, the wrong temperature or too busy/distracting.
- Safety: Make sure you have enough space to operate whatever equipment you plan to use. According to the American Council on Exercise, you need just 20 to 30 square feet to properly use large equipment like a treadmill, elliptical trainer, rowing machine or ski machine. Machines with a smaller footprint, like a stationary bike or stair climber may need as little as 10 square feet. Pay particular attention to your flooring; a surface that’s too slick may cause falls, especially if it’s covered in sweat!
Just because you don’t have a lot of extra space now doesn’t mean you’ll always be limited. If you establish healthy fitness habits now, you may decide space for a home gym is a priority in your next home.
2. I don’t have the budget.
If you don’t have the money for big-ticket exercise equipment—or you’re just reluctant to invest in gadgets you may or may not use—consider starting with lower-tech, lower-priced workout aids.
- Dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands/tubes, doorway pull-up bars, aerobic steps, jump ropes, medicine and stability balls, yoga mats, foam rollers and other equipment can usually be found for well under $100.
- Workout videos are abundantly available on cable or satellite (set your DVR!) or streaming via sites like Hulu and YouTube.
- Do you (or your child) have a video game system? If so, you may want to look into fitness games like Zumba World Party, Just Dance 2014, Wii Fit U, or Nike+ Kinect Training (a few of Fitness Magazine’s picks for best fitness games of 2014).
- Some exercises don’t require any equipment at all—just a willingness to learn a routine and practice it.
Remember, you can always add on to your home gym a piece at a time as you find the activities that work for you. Consider creating a Pinterest board to help you plan and prioritize future improvements. The more excited you are about your home gym, the more motivated you’ll be to use it!
3. I don’t know how.
Can you really say that with a straight face in the Google Age? Thanks to the internet, there are scores of great resources you can use to set up a home gym that’s just right for you. Here’s a roundup of our favorites:
- LifeFitness’ room planner tool, which lets you arrange not just the exercise equipment they offer, but also items like yoga mats, stability balls, mirrors, water coolers, TV screens and more!
- Shape Magazine’s How to Build the Perfect Home Gym
- Forbes’ Must-Haves for Your Home Gym
- Men’s Fitness’ How to Build a Home Gym Anywhere
- Lifehacker’s Get Buff, Not Broke: How to build a budget-friendly home gym
- Bob Vila’s Design a Home Gym: Create a workout space that’s safe and structurally sound
Will you be house hunting this year? See what we’re building in your area! Many of our floor plans feature bonus rooms, finished basements, home offices and other rooms that may be perfect for your next home gym.