Tips for Building a Small Gym at Home


People are spending more time in their homes than ever before. Many gyms remain closed or open at a limited capacity. Others are open but struggling to bring in the same numbers as they did before the pandemic. The fact of the matter is that people would rather stay home, or they just do not feel comfortable working out in a crowded fitness center or gym.

Even so, the benefits of regular exercise are undeniable. In fact, “Any amount of exercise, even if it falls below the suggested amount, is likely to produce benefits,” Medical News Today (MNT) reports. Small bursts of exercise help regulate sleep, improve brain function, reduce chronic pain, boost moods, and promote cardiovascular health. Should you want to step up your workouts, you have even more to gain. A new study by the University of Oxford reveals that, as you add more cardio into your routine, your cardiovascular health continues to improve as you increase your activity level.

Building a small gym at home is the perfect compromise for those who wish to stay home and reap all the benefits of regular exercise. The gym can be as simple or complex as you like. It can be cheap or expensive. Whether you choose to pinch pennies by using nylon pantyhose as resistance bands or fill your home gym with new smart fitness equipment, like the interactive and responsive MIRROR, building a small gym at home gives you flexibility and options. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Choose a Spacious Room in Your Home

The first step to building a small gym at home is to find an appropriate space for it. What constitutes an appropriate area or spacious room for one homeowner may look very different for another. Consider:

  • Refitting the garage — or a corner of the garage — to create your ideal home gym. According to Family Handyman, “An effective home workout space only requires around 10 by six feet, and that space is often easy to find if you are willing to clean up.” You can set up a proper home gym using the entire garage, half of the available garage space, or — if you are especially resourceful — a cubby or space tucked into the corner. A garage is one of the most popular spaces to convert into a home gym because most garages require just a few quick adjustments. By simply placing gym mats on the floor and applying a fresh layer of paint, your garage may be just about ready to serve as your perfect workout space. If you are using a corner or tucked away space, maximize the potential of that space with vertical storage. Store weights, medicine balls, cables, bands, and mats on vertical shelves if at all possible.

    A word of caution about transforming your garage into a gym: do not forget to make it comfortable! Some garages have poor insulation. Insulate your walls and garage door or consider replacing an old, worn door with a new, more energy-efficient model. Contact professional contractors about new garage door installation.

  • Building a small gym in the basement. The basement is one of the most popular spaces to makeover into an at-home gym. Basements are cool, and their concrete floors are perfectly suited for an at-home gym. Just add exercise mats, and you’re ready to go.
  • Use whatever space is available. Make the most of what you have. If that means converting your attic into a gym or setting aside some space in your bedroom or dining room for some gym equipment, so be it. Adapt your expectations to fit your reality.
  • Take your gym outdoors. Transform your pool house, shed, or covered carport into a space to work up a sweat, or keep it simple. If you have enough space to hang some yoga mats and stow some equipment right next to your house and that is a sufficient workout space for you, run with it.

Building a small gym at home is largely dependent on the space you are working with as well as your wants and needs. Kickoff the process by determining where your gym will be.

2. Invest in an Inspection and in Necessary Repairs

Before buying a house, buyers invest in a home inspection to make certain their new house is in passable condition. If major repairs are necessary, most prospective homeowners will ask the seller to take care of these repairs before they commit to the sale. It is wise to approach building a small gym at home in the same way.

For example, if you are converting your basement, attic, or garage into a home gym, that space may or may not be fit without extensive changes. Relevant inspections conducted by an electrician, plumber, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technician can go an incredibly long way and give you a realistic idea of what it will take to make your dream of an at-home gym a reality.

For example, if an inspection reveals the need for a major electrical repair or the installation of new ductwork for heating and cooling, it is best to take care of these major renovations first. It is much simpler to remove drywall to access wiring before remodeling and otherwise putting a room together.

3. Hire Professionals to Deep Clean

One thing is certain: your new gym space needs to be clean. Whether you work out at home or in a public fitness center, you wear gym clothes. You sweat. You may get on the floor or a mat to do bodyweight exercises, like sit-ups and push-ups. No matter what the circumstances are, it is best to work out in a space that is hygienic and sanitary.

If you are building a small gym at home, an essential part of doing that is creating a cleanly atmosphere first. What does that look like?

  • Take care of any pests. If you will be converting your garage, basement, or attic into a home gym, it is critical to take care of any pests. Keep an eye out for any telltale signs that pests are an issue. These may include droppings, nests, chewed wires, damaged fabric, scratched drywall, or gnawed wood. If you see obvious signs of an infestation, call an¬†exterminator. Rodents, like mice, carry and have the potential to transmit more than 35 diseases. You are more likely to catch these diseases from high contact surfaces, like the floor and equipment in your gym.
  • Treat mold and mildew, and protect the room from excess moisture. Just like it is essential to rid rooms of pests before transforming a space into your home gym, you also need to treat any mold or mildew right away. If left unchecked, mold causes unpleasant odors, it can make you and your family sick, and it can even cause structural damage to your home. After eliminating mold and mildew in your home, consider renovations to seal basements, garages, and any other rooms with excess moisture. Do this by investing in moisture or vapor barriers and increasing ventilation. Moisture barriers come in many forms, including polyethylene plastic, thick foam insulation, and special primers and paints that resist moisture. Apply these barriers to walls or floors.
  • Scrub until the room is squeaky clean. If you will be on the floor doing push-ups, that floor needs to be clean. In the garage, that may mean rinsing the floor with mild soap and water or power washing it to remove stubborn oil stains.

Building a small gym at home requires an absolutely sanitary environment. Team up with exterminators and professional cleaners to set the stage for a safe and hygienic home gym.

4. Install Proper Flooring

When building a small gym at home, it is important to carefully consider your flooring options. Install proper flooring to encourage good form, protect your joints, and see your orthopedic doctor only when truly necessary.

Rubber and foam flooring are two of the best options for an at-home gym. “Rubber is the ultimate home gym flooring option because it’s great for covering any surface, including hard concrete floors, and can support even the heaviest exercise equipment,” Family Handyman writes. You can purchase large mats, interlocking rubber mats, or rolls of rubber flooring to cover any surface.

Foam flooring comes in mats, interlocking tiles, and in tiles that mimic the appearance of other materials, like wood. Foam flooring is often best for yoga, Pilates, and bodyweight exercises. If you plan to purchase heavyweight gym equipment, opt for slightly more expensive rubber flooring or purchase foam tiles reinforced with rubber.

5. Purchase Gym Equipment

After working with a basement remodeling company to tweak electrical wiring and plumbing as necessary, after sealing rooms against excess moisture and purchasing appropriate flooring, it is time to buy some gym equipment.

The equipment you purchase will depend on your needs. What does building a small gym at home mean for you? For some that might mean having a space to do yoga, Pilates, or online workouts using resistance bands and lightweights. For others, it may mean investing in a weight bench, a punching bag, and a pull-up bar.

Whatever that means for you, make a list of things you need and a list of things you would like. Remember to include appropriate storage on the list of things you need. For example, if you have a collection of heavyweights, do not forget to buy a weight rack to store them.

6. Make it Comfortable

Don’t make finding the motivation to work out more difficult. If your home gym is sweltering, stuffy, or freezing, you may not want to venture inside and stay there for the duration of your workout. Do what you can to make the space comfortable. That means combating very humid or very cold environments.

Make sure the room of your choosing, like a garage, basement, or attic, is properly insulated, and that it has the appropriate foundation to install a heating and cooling system. For some rooms, that may mean talking to contractors about adding new ductwork or undertaking air conditioning installation for that particular space.

7. Think About Future Add-Ons

Dream big. For now, your goal may be building a small gym at home. That does not mean that you cannot adjust your goals in the future. If at all possible, leave your gym or entire home open to future possibilities.

Future add-ons may include something as straightforward as installing new countertops in your at-home gym with a fridge right there to help you hydrate and snack.

If your gym is set up outside in a shed, pool house, or in a corner on the patio, consider saving up for a swimming pool solar heating system and adding laps in a heated pool into your routine someday.

8. Hang Motivational Decor

Finally, set the scene. Building a small gym at home isn’t all about the practicalities. Yes, you need the room to be at an appropriate temperature and to have appropriate flooring. However, your workout space can easily benefit from a little something extra, too!

Hang up motivational decor and commit to your goals. Motivational decor may include anything from posters with motivational sayings, wall decals, pictures of athletes you admire, and floor-length mirrors to help improve your form. If it inspires you, it belongs there. Some homeowners may want to put up a chalkboard or whiteboard keeping track of their goals and progress for the week or for the month.

Building a small gym at home is the perfect opportunity to set new exercise goals and to meet them. Remember, even short bursts of high-intensity exercise or low to moderate intensity exercise can make a tremendous difference. “There is value to both interval and long-distance, slower days,” Jamie Burr, exercise science researcher, tells Runner’s World. Designate a spot for your home gym, make any necessary changes and renovations, and start meeting your fitness goals today.

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