Committing to a regular fitness routine is a wonderful habit, according to the Mayo Clinic. But life gets in the way and sometimes going to the gym to log 45 minutes on a treadmill is not a luxury time permits. If you only have 45 spare minutes, and 30 of those minutes are spent driving to the local fitness center, you’re not squeezing in much exercise in the measly leftover 15 minutes. That is why so many busy people turn to a home gym to meet their fitness goals.
Even homes with limited square footage can still accommodate a fully functional exercise space. Here is a guide for creating an at-home exercise room that you’ll actually love using.
Benefits of a Home Gym
There are so many benefits to having a designated at-home fitness space—easy access to exercise equipment at all hours of the day and night being just one. Home gyms save time and money. Plus, there is no line for the elliptical!
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The organization also recommends strength training all major muscle groups at least twice a week. Not having to travel to the local gym, wait in line for equipment and wash down each machine as you use it allows you to tally up these Department of Health and Human Services guidelines without wasting time. Some other added benefits to a home gym:
- Privacy: Not everyone feels comfortable sweating it out in front of others. Home gyms provide the luxury of privacy to try new moves and listen to your favorite 80s jams on full blast without judgment.
- No Inclement Weather: As Elite Daily explains, bad weather is one of the most common excuses for blowing off the gym. But, like the Postman, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night can prevent you from working [out], if you have a home gym.
- More Motivation: According to the New York Times, you’re more likely to work out if you have the equipment and space in the comfort of your own home.
Cost: Home Gym vs. Gym Membership
Cost is a major factor in the decision to transform a room into a home gym. It is also a major factor when considering purchasing a gym membership. The average cost of a monthly gym membership is $58, according to the Static Brain Research Institute. But since nearly 70 percent of gym members say they rarely see the inside of the facility, plus the hefty annual membership fees, for the majority, signing up is money wasted.
The start-up cost for a home gym might be more than a membership, but is more likely to pay off in the long run. Because, according to the experts at Healthline, paying for a gym membership won’t motivate you. Depending on the type of home gym you’re looking to create, it doesn’t have to cost much once you designate a proper space (more on that later). Craigslist, LetGo and Facebook Marketplace are flooded with gently used home workout gear that can get you started at a low price point. Or ask a friend if you can take that treadmill that she’s been using as a coat rack off her hands.
In addition to cost, another major factor that will influence the type of equipment you should purchase for your home gym is your fitness goals.
Finding an exercise routine you enjoy and are likely to stick to should help you select the items you need from the millions of pieces of fitness gear and gadgets on the market. Not into running? Skip the treadmill. Not looking to compete in the next World’s Strongest Man contest? A free-standing squat rack may not be worth the investment, either.
Most people can get by with a yoga mat, a few sets of dumbbells at varying weights, kettlebells and a balance ball (which could double as a desk chair, if you’re so inclined). There is an endless amount of free online fitness videos that allow you to get a great workout at home with little to no equipment.
Creating the Space
(Photo Credit: M/I Homes of Charlotte)
Now that you have an idea of what you need (and why you need it), the next step is preparing a designated space to work out. There is a myth that you need a ton of extra space to create a home gym, or at least an empty garage, but even conservative spaces can accommodate your needs. Here are a few ideas to execute your design.
Install a Murphy Bed
Murphy beds are designed to make rooms multifunctional. A rarely occupied guest room, for example, can easily transform into an open space for a home gym when not in use by overnight guests.
Some models, like the Lori Bed, offer shelf-storage when the bed is in the upright position, which can house a TV or iPad for streaming workouts, or just a water bottle if you already have a routine down pat.
(Curious if Lori beds require mounting? Visit this post to find out)
Consider the Flooring
Trying to do crunches and sit-ups on hardwood or tile can be extremely uncomfortable, and you owe it to yourself to make exercise as enjoyable as possible. If carpet is not an option, interlocking foam floor pads, area rugs or a yoga mat can make all the difference. Plus, placing a barrier—like a rug or a foam pad—between the floor and heavy pieces of equipment, such as a treadmill, will help prevent damage.
(Keeping your home gym floor clutter-free is important. Learn about the power of a clutter-free space for boosting your mental health here)
Form is everything and a mirror will help you see your moves for all they are worth. According to Fitness Republic, a gym mirror is among the most significant pieces of equipment because it helps you observe yourself from different angles when lifting heavy weights or running on a treadmill. Having a workout mirror is a great way to keep a check on your fitness progress. There are many over-the-door mirrors on the market if you don’t want to hang one on the wall. Another idea is to replace standard sliding closet doors with mirrored, sliding closet doors.
To wrap it up, designing the ultimate home gym doesn’t require a lot of space, money or time — in fact, installing one may save you time and money in the long-run. Maximizing an underused space by installing a Murphy bed, investing in inexpensive equipment to start and never having to stand idly waiting for the gym machine, will have you well on your way to achieving your fitness goals from the comfort of your own home.
Did you learn a lot about creating a home gym in this post?
Take a look at one of these posts next:
- The Best Examples of Murphy Beds in Tiny Homes
- How To Create The Ultimate Playroom
- 9 Creative Ways to Improve Your Work-From-Home Space
This post was first published in 2020 but we updated it in 2022 just for you.