Some of us prefer our workouts at home. Some of us prefer the gym but like a back-up plan for the days it’s hard to get there. Either way, setting up a home gym doesn’t have to be expensive or require a whole lot of space.
Much of the decision of what to buy and how to set up your home gym will be determined by the types of workouts you want to do. If you’re new to working out, that may take a bit of experimenting to see what works best for you.
Two tips when setting up your home gym:
- START SMALL; EXPAND GRADUALLY.
Figure out the minimum you need and start there. You don’t need an entire room or hundreds of dollars worth of equipment. As you begin to actually USE the space, you’ll figure out what else would make the space work better for you.
- MAKE IT INVITING.
Maybe this means buying a pretty exercise mat, or hanging an inspirational poster in your workout corner. It can also mean buying a fan and/or space heater if it’s in an unfinished basement, garage, or porch. Music makes it more inviting, too: get yourself a little bluetooth speaker or a set of wireless headphones.
the extreme minimalist home gym:
My own home gym set-up has changed over the years. When I first started working out at home, my “fitness room” was a 4×6 rug at the end of my bed, and I stashed a couple pairs of small dumbbells next to my dresser so they were out of the way. That served my purpose for a while, and it may be all you need.
Suggested equipment for the extreme minimalist:
- exercise mat: buy thicker if your floors are not cushioned, but avoid the super-squishy kind because it will make you more unstable
- dumbbells: 2 – 3 pairs in different weights
- also consider a set of mini-bands because they take practically NO space and are very versatile
the closet or corner home gym:
Later, we moved to a smaller home but I had expanded to larger dumbbells, several kettlebells, a large stability ball, and several other small items like mini-bands. For my workout area, I slid over the coffee table and exercised in the living room. All my equipment fit in a corner of the coat closet in our foyer.
I used a plastic milk crate to hold small items, a toy hammock (like this one) to keep my stability ball from rolling around, and nestled my kettlebells and dumbbells together on the floor. Because we have tile floors, I used grippy material like you might use to line kitchen cabinets.
You could also do something like this peg board in the corner of a room:
Suggested equipment for a corner or closet gym:
- equipment listed above, plus…
- a stability ball (or large exercise ball)
- a larger set of dumbbells and/or a couple of kettlebells
- an over-the-door pull-up bar that you can stash away if needed
A quick note on purchasing kettlebells: don’t buy the plastic kind you may see in the fitness aisle at your local store. They might look friendlier than the cast iron variety but the plastic has seams that rub and you’ll quickly outgrow them. The cheap metal ones from Walmart will do; I have a few I still occasionally use but powder-coated kettlebells have a more durable finish and are more comfortable to hold.
Expanded home gym set-up:
Eventually, I moved to the front porch and my home gym has continued to expand. You may never want something this extensive but it has everything I need, and I even train clients here. I’ve added to my kettlebell collection and I have a fantastic rack to store them. I have this huge mat to lay out on the tile. I even made room for a power rack, while still keeping the cozy comfortable part of the porch for early morning tea, reading, and relaxing.
WANT TO GO BIGGER? If you’re looking to set up a large home gym with barbell equipment and such, check out some of these ideas. Better storage for what you already have is always a wise investment, so you can easily find what you need without digging around.
BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIP: If you’d make good use of a treadmill or indoor bike, look for lightly used ones online, in Facebook marketplace or on Craigslist; often they’ve only served as clothes hangers and will work just as well as a brand new version for a much lower price.
Do you have a home gym or workout area? Big or small, I’d love to see it! Share it on instagram and tag me in it your post @jamie.shinestrong!
Got questions? Ask in the comments!
Owner/Coach. Powered by tea, books, & sunshine. I help people build stronger, more resilient bodies — because fitness isn’t as much about what we do in the gym as what it helps us do beyond the gym.