Build a Home Gym You’ll Love To Use
When a great “local gym” is in your home, life is pretty sweet! Below are tips to help you build a home gym that you’ll love to use. Read on for suggestions about space-saving fitness equipment, home gym flooring, wall mirrors, TV setups and more.
Choosing the Best Home Gym Location
Most homes, even small apartments, have more than one potential gym space. Here are thoughts about choosing the best spot.
The Best Home Gyms Give Mini-Vacations
The best home gyms aren’t merely exercise spaces for your body — they’re escapes for your mind. Therefore a door can be valuable “gym equipment.” A door can literally and symbolically shut out distractions to help you maximize your workout time. The peaceful seclusion could encourage you to exercise more frequently too.
Another benefit of a door is soundproofing. When your home gym room is soundproofed, you can play music and videos at higher volumes. You can attack a punching bag, pound the treadmill track, and generally make a racket without disturbing the household peace.
Parents can’t always shut out the world, of course. For safety’s sake you might want to add a baby monitor to your workout space, or build your home gym with a view of your children’s play area.
But as much as parental responsibilities allow, embrace the power of privacy to help maximize your fitness goals. It’s easier to “dance like nobody’s watching” when seriously, nobody’s watching…
If exercising behind a closed door isn’t possible, consider using a freestanding privacy screen to separate your workout area from the rest of your home. Although it won’t add soundproofing, a screen can add a sense of seclusion and block out visual distractions.
A Great Gym Might Be Small
Less room than you think might suffice for a great home gym. The area should obviously be big enough for comfortable ventilation and movement, but your fitness equipment itself might have modest space requirements. Some activities, like yoga, involve minimal gear… and home gym machines have become sleeker in recent years. With a mirrored wall and a window, a small exercise room could feel like an airy in-home escape.
Some top spots for building home gyms are living rooms and basements, kids’ old bedrooms, and “guest rooms” that are rarely used. Here in southern California and other warm climates, it’s also practical to transform a two-car garage into a home gym… but again, a small space may suffice, especially if it’s secluded.
Space-saving equipment ranges from foldable treadmills to narrow multi-purpose workout stations. Here are examples of dimensions for modern home gym equipment:
- Weightlifting equipment typically takes lots of space. A new alternative is the Fusion CST cross training gym from NordicTrack, which has a footprint of just 3.5 feet x 5 feet. This cutting-edge trainer supports more than 100 variations of strength exercises and it integrates cardio. Whether your workout area is big or small, the Fusion is an appealing all-in-one home gym solution.
- Upright exercise bikes are particularly space-saving cardio trainers. Most are about two feet wide and under four feet long. Home exercise bikes often have transport wheels too, so they can easily be moved after a ride.
- Home treadmills tend to measure about 3.5 feet wide and more than 6 feet long. Many popular models like the Nordictrack Commercial 1750 have folding frames and attached transport wheels.
- Rowing machines compared with treadmills tend to be narrower but longer. Like many residential treadmills, rowing machines are often designed for upright storage against your home gym wall.
- Elliptical trainers are built with three basic frame designs: rear drive, front drive and center drive. Rear drive ellipticals are the longest (about 7’), although some are foldable. Center drive elliptical frames are the most compact; they have square-ish footprints about 3 feet wide.
When building a home gym you’ll also need to plan for space around your gym equipment for movement and safety. Guidelines can usually be found on manufacturer’s websites.
Fitness Room Flooring
When designing a home gym, start from the ground up. Favorite flooring options are foam or rubber tiles that interlock like puzzle pieces. This sort of gym flooring has the following advantages:
- Easy to install and remove
- Cushions your body
- Soundproofs the workout room
- Provides a non-slip surface for fitness equipment
- Protects permanent flooring from gym activity
A bonus is that rubber or foam floor tiles can add style to your home gym. Besides classic black they’re made in various colors, and some with woodgrain appearances.
Mirrored Gym Walls
Exercise in a room with a view… of yourself. A gym wall mirror lets you observe your form, which can help you exercise properly and lower your chance of injury. Wall mirrors also add style and depth, making your home gym appear almost double its actual size.
The best gym wall mirrors are at least 48” tall. Some stretch from the floor to the ceiling… but if a 4-foot mirror is set 18” from the floor, it can reflect your whole body.
Where To Buy New Gym Mirrors
For online mirror shopping the best choice seems to be TheMirrorCompany.com. They beat Amazon and other competitors in our search by selling 6’ x 8’ wall-mountable glass gym mirrors for $349 including delivery and installation.
Pricier products from other companies include rolling gym mirrors and wall mountable glassless gym mirrors.
Where To Get Cheap Gym Mirrors
At $349 and up, new gym wall mirrors aren’t cheap… and old mirrors can reflect just as well. Save money and make Mother Earth smile by reusing instead of buying new. Here are some ways to build a home gym with inexpensive wall mirrors.
- Shop at thrift stores and yard sales, or search Craigslist. You might find cheap or free vanity mirrors or mirrored closet doors for your gym wall.
- Look at property renovation sites. For example, a pharmacy near our office is being redesigned. The parking lot is filled with items destined for the recycling plant and the junkyard: Greeting card displays, makeup displays, shelving… and large wall mirrors.
- Ask a home improvement store if they have a slightly damaged mirror that you could buy at a discount. The store would probably prefer to make a deal than treat their dinged product as a complete loss.
Another cost-saving solution, though maybe not as good-looking, is to hang a few small cheap mirrors in a row. Just be sure that the mirrors aren’t so thin that they’re flimsy; a home gym isn’t a good place for carnival funhouse effects.
Wall Paint and Posters
Taking the time to “brand” your personal gym can pay off; you’ll make more use of a room you love. After mirroring a wall or two, you can decorate the others to add personality. You can also add practical features like a whiteboard and exercise charts.
Best Home Gym Wall Paint
Gym walls are ideally low maintenance because they’re potentially “high traffic.” As people use your gym room walls to support exercise, or bump into them with equipment, smudges and scratches could accumulate quickly. Wallpaper wouldn’t be practical. Paint is the most common low-maintenance solution. Semi-gloss paint won’t bring too much glare, and you can clean it with soap and water.
We recommend lighter paint colors to help make the room feel spacious and inviting. A few observations:
- Light blue could be psychologically cooling, helping you to exercise longer.
- Muted organic colors like “sage” and “eggplant” are popular for yoga studios, as they promote a sense of calm.
- Bold, bright colors are sometimes preferred in gyms built for intense workouts… or intense people!
Check out more gym paint color suggestions at TheSpruce.com.
Special gym paint options are chalkboard paint and whiteboard paint. These convert walls to erasable surfaces for writing your exercise plans and brilliant ideas that pop into mind as you train. Chalkboard paint is sold in countless colors, plus it’s simple to make your own by mixing latex paint with grout.
Home Gym Wall Art Ideas
Gym art can be energizing, calming, amusing… Whatever your style, here are ways to decorate your home gym walls with a fitness theme.
Vinyl decals are low-maintenance wall decorations. You can choose custom-made or mass-produced decals in all different sizes. Many have fitness-related objects and quotations. Vinyl wall decals are easy to find online at Amazon or Etsy, and in department stores like Target.
A special option is virtual scenery for an entire gym room wall. With the cling wall art shown here, you can virtually run toward another dimension.
Homemade Gym Wall Art
With a bit of creativity you can create excellent gym wall art from personal photos. Make a poster showing an action shot of your dog with a Frisbee. Capture your toddler as a speed demon on a tricycle. Or cover the wall with pictures of yourself surfing, skydiving, running, etc.
Store-Bought Gym Posters
Ready-made gym art for any budget and style is easy to find. Here are several examples of posters available at Art.com. Arrange images with captions
- 1925 Tour de France poster reprint http://www.art.com/products/p5991579572-sa-i5090885/tour-de-france-c-1925.htm
- Whimsical cat balancing on a unicycle http://www.art.com/products/p46027725375-sa-i10506996/jazzberry-blue-balancing-cat.htm
- Inspirational bike poster http://www.art.com/products/p41150685592-sa-i9978489/shanni-welch-road-bike.htm
- Pop art poster of three bicycles http://www.art.com/products/p18310671357-sa-i7117933/pop-ink-csa-images-three-bicycles.htm
Another poster site to check with a nice fitness selection is GreatBigCanvas.com.
Gym decor can be practical too. Keep personal training support handy with instructional exercise posters like these from ProductiveFitness.com:
The above posters are laminated for durability.
Electronic Extras: Music, Video and Web
Electronics can make your home gym especially fun and useful. Music is motivating and helps you keep pace or cool down… Video can show exercise guidance or pure entertainment… and a web browser can connect you with the world or aid your mental getaway. Your two main choices for building a home gym with electronics are 1) buying a tech-rich fitness machine and 2) buying technology separately.
Tech-Rich Fitness Machines
Many home gym machines (especially treadmills, ellipticals and bikes) are equipped with iPod-compatible speakers. Some fitness machines arrive with interactive video technology; these actually adjust the resistance and slope of your trainer to match the displayed landscapes. Additionally you can buy home fitness machines with touchscreens and web browsers.
A new choice in this area is the swivel touchscreen on select ProForm bikes. The screen is attached to a bike or other trainer, but it can be turned 180 degrees and also tilted up/down. This lets it serve as a viewing screen for your whole home gym. The standard NordicTrack swivel screen is 10” wide. The deluxe screen is 22” wide, making scenic exercise videos especially immersive.
TVs for Home Gyms
If you buy a gym room TV, where exactly can it go? Here are common setups.
- Regular entertainment stand or desk: This might be the easiest setup to accomplish. A possible downside is that your TV won’t have adjustable height.
- Adjustable-height TV stand: Adjustable-height TV stands look similar to tripods used for photography. Some are advertised specifically as treadmill TV stands. An adjustable stand can help you get a perfect view whether you’re stretching on a floor mat or sprinting on your treadmill. Be sure that the stand you choose can support your TV’s weight; some are much stronger than others.
- Brackets for the wall or ceiling: Swing-out TV brackets (or articulating TV brackets) give you the flexibility to watch video from anywhere in your fitness room.
- Affixing the TV to your gym wall mirror: This home gym setup can look gorgeous, but it’s the most time-consuming to accomplish. In the picture above from Houzz.com, wood trim was custom cut with a waterjet, then glued to the mirror.
A final note about gym TVs: Remember the juice! Ideally a TV cord won’t interfere with your exercise or your room’s aesthetics. If you’re building a home gym room from scratch, consider adding hidden electrical outlets to the floor for your TV and fitness machines.
Lighting for Home Gyms
Lighting is the last layer of design we’ll consider today. It’s often an afterthought in home gym planning, but lighting is powerful! Beautiful light can lift your mood and encourage endurance. Lousy light can dull your spirit and dampen performance. Here are some factors to consider.
A freebie! Natural light is ideal for home gyms: It’s no-cost and good for your health. Studies show that sunlight triggers your serotonin production, which can elevate your mood and the motivation to exercise… plus it helps you sleep soundly. If your home gym room has windows or skylights, take advantage by setting up your exercise equipment in the spread of light.
Natural Light Bulbs
Following sunlight, bulbs that simulate sunlight are the next best choice for illumination that energizes your body. Often these are called “full spectrum” bulbs. Compared with standard bulbs they highlight or intensify a wider set of colors. Generally light bulbs with “color temperatures” of 5000 Kelvin and higher produce light similar to natural daylight. Among these, CFL and LED bulbs are best in terms of climate control; they emit high quality light but produce little heat.
Brightness and Distribution
The brightness and placement of gym lighting are obviously important too. The best home gym lighting fills the room evenly; it doesn’t cast shadows or create glare. For this reason overhead lights are generally preferable to lamps — plus overhead lights won’t claim valuable floor space. Sconces can help fill in any dark corners that ceiling lights can’t reach.
Finally, a dimmer switch can be helpful for creating the ideal atmosphere. Use bright light during intense exercise, then dim the room for a cool-down. When the light is right, it’s the finishing glow on a home gym you’ll love.
Home Gym Planning Recap
Here we covered lots of territory: choosing the best home gym location, flooring, mirrors, wall decorations, entertainment and lighting. Which tips do you like? What would you modify or add? Share your home gym ideas in the comments section or contact FitRated.com via Twitter or Facebook.