How should I set up a home gym?
When Justin Dill elected to do a full remodel and expansion of his basement, he hired highly rated Bruce Jennings Builders of Belmont, Mich., to do the work at a cost of $17,000. The Grandville member, a fitness lover, dedicated one room to his workout equipment. “I already had all the equipment, so I wanted a space where nothing felt cramped or out of place,” he says.
Whether you create a home gym with existing equipment or embark on a remodeling project costing thousands, fitness experts say that personal workout spaces offer convenience and an ideal escape from fitness center fees, wait times to use your favorite equipment and other people’s sticky sweat.
“People are getting busier and busier and commuting farther than ever,” says Barrett Hodgdon, manager for the Burnsville, Minn., location of highly rated Push Pedal Pull, an exercise equipment supplier. “So their time is precious, and as they have kids, they want to get out of that club environment.”
Here are some tips from highly rated fitness equipment suppliers about making the move:
Whether your home gym consists of a single corner for barbells or a fully tricked-out basement room, placement matters. “If you put your workout equipment in the dark corner of a furnace room with cobwebs, you’re not going to use it,” Hodgdon says. “You need to carefully consider where you’re going to put that equipment. Create an environment that you want to be in.”
Think about the surface
Your floor is one of the most important elements of your workout room, even if you rarely think about it. “Your machines will appreciate it if you place a mat under each of them,” says Dan Thompson, owner of highly rated Huff-N-Puff Fitness Repair in Warrenville, Ill. “In a carpeted room, treadmill motors will ‘inhale’ carpet fibers into their compartment and cause problems.”
Hodgdon recommends getting rubberized floors if possible, and mats at the very least.
Be aware of your space limitations
“Space and height are the first things you should think about,” Hodgdon says. “You really want an minimum of an eight-foot ceiling for a workout room. In some cases you can get away with seven feet, but that’s less than ideal.”
Thompson adds that you should pay close attention to the electrical needs of your equipment and plan your space accordingly. “Treadmills are appliances and require a healthy amount of electrical power,” he says. “According to manufacturer’s specifications, most treadmills require a dedicated 20-amp circuit.”
He advises providing flood protection for any basement gym. “Flooded machines are rarely worth repairing,” he says.
Be willing to go light
A home gym need not be expensive or even take up much space. “Jump ropes, medicine balls and dumbbells are all basics, and they’re basics for a reason,” says Scott Jennings, owner of highly rated FitTech & Assembly in Hillsborough, N.C. “These pieces of equipment cost around $30, and you can set up a wonderful home gym for less than $100. Your own body weight is still the best weight to use.”
Try before you buy
“Fitness equipment is like shoes — you want the piece the fits you best,” Hodgdon says. “It’s very important to actually try the equipment before you buy it. Also, look at who’s backing up the equipment.” A good equipment store will allow you to try out equipment and give advice on what will work best for you, he says. He recommends buying equipment that comes with a one-year warranty, and says his company sells machines that range from a few hundred dollars to $4,800. “You’re making an investment in your future health, so spend on equipment that is going to last,” he adds.
Jennings also suggests buying extended warranties to give two or three more years of coverage, and to follow the manual’s maintenance schedule “You wouldn’t drive your car without putting oil in it, and you shouldn’t run your treadmill without lubricating the belt regularly,” he says.
Build comfort and convenience into your space
Among the advantages of a home gym: You get to pick the music, TV and conditions you prefer, so think about amenities to make your space more inviting. “A TV or radio will go a long way during those grueling workouts,” Thompson says. “A fan or a refrigerator stocked with cool water will help keep you refreshed.”
Make the commitment!
Most importantly, no matter what you buy or how well your gym is designed, your equipment just becomes expensive sculpture if you don’t use it. “The first thing I tell my clients to do is work out for 30 days straight, even if it’s just five minutes a day, so it becomes habit,” Hodgdon says. “Eventually you’ll go longer and eat better. But the first and most important thing is always the commitment.”