Create Your Own Home Workout Space

Written by  //  May 20, 2013  //  Home Construction, Home Entertainment  //  Comments Off on Create Your Own Home Workout Space

Wouldn’t it be great to have a room in your house with bamboo floors, a floor-to-ceiling waterfall, surround-sound stereo, and eco-friendly, artisanal yoga mats artfully stored behind a tatami screen? Or maybe you’d prefer rubberized floors, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and state-of-the-art circuit training equipment? Keep dreaming. Meanwhile, you don’t need any of that stuff to create a terrific home workout space. Instead, consider these three simple ideas. Some of them may surprise you.

1. Think Before You Buy.

If you live in a climate where you can’t get outside enough to walk, run, or cycle, most people would agree that a stationary bike or a treadmill is a sensible purchase. A good set of free weights is a smart, timeless investment. Beyond that, think carefully about your fitness needs and wants. The great thing about setting up your own home gym is that it’s uniquely yours. Unlike a gym membership, your home fitness studio only needs to include the gear that’s right for you. One person’s ideal home gym might include a rowing machine, a set of hand weights, a pull-up bar, and a set of yoga props. Another’s may be stocked with a stationary bike, a comprehensive set of weights with bar and bench, a punching bag, and a medicine ball. Everybody is different, so every home gym should be unique. Add good quality pieces only after you’ve considered whether you’ll really use them. Otherwise you’re just wasting money.

2. Space is more important than stuff.

Good-quality gym equipment takes up a lot of space. You can purchase thousands of dollars’ worth of weights, rowing machines, gadgets, and gizmos. However, you’ve got a problem if your kitted-out home gym isn’t roomy enough for you to drop down for a set of push-ups. Depending on the size and layout of your house, a better option may be to create a flexible, wide-open space for fitness multi-tasking. Or several.

For example, you could create enough open space in front of the television to work out with fitness DVDs, keep your weights in the basement rec room, and park a stationary bike in the spare bedroom. No rule says that everything fitness-related must be kept in the same place. The critical thing is to find the square footage in your home where you have the necessary elbow room for each component of your workout. If you’re cramped and uncomfortable, you’re less likely to stick to your routine and you may injure yourself — or knock a hole in the drywall.

My “home gym” is my living room, which has enough empty floor and wall space for a simple but thorough workout. A closet stores yoga mats, props, and a collection of hand weights. I’ve got my eye on a nearby doorframe for a climbing hangboard. Next to the stereo is an assortment of my favorite workout music.

We do have a spare bedroom that I could convert to a home fitness studio. But I don’t want to shut myself in a small room to work out when I can enjoy a better sound system, more thorough air circulation and spaciousness in the main room of the house. When I’m not working out, you’d never guess that open space was my “gym.”

Equally important to my fitness setup: my bicycle, stored in the garage for easy access; and the nearby tot lot, which has monkey bars that are great for upper body work and inversions. Think of the world as your home gym.

3. The Lowdown on the Floor.

Consider the floor coverings in your home and stake out a workout area on a hard surface rather than carpeting. Hardwood, floating wood or bamboo flooring is ideal because it is smooth and hard but still has a little bit of “give” to it, unlike a concrete floor. However, if you’re thinking of creating a workout space on a concrete floor, say in your basement or garage, you could do a lot worse. Concrete is the perfect base for a variety of easily installed flooring options.

If you want the space to look nice and you’re looking for a durable, long-term flooring material, you could go for a floating wood or bamboo floor. Or, for a truly cheap and cheerful alternative, head to Toys’R’Us and pick up a simple set of snap-together foam floor squares. These soft, grippy, inexpensive “tiles” — often embossed with numbers, alphabet letters, even barnyard animals — are typically used to cushion children’s play areas. They’re also useful as flooring for weightlifting and other exercises where you need a firm, lightly cushioned surface underfoot. Plus, they lighten the mood. How can you be cranky about doing one more set of reps when there are cows jumping over the moon and ducklings underfoot?

Carpeted floor is the least desirable choice for a workout space. A very thin, tight pile with no padding is okay. However, a highly padded and/or shaggy carpet is an invitation to a turned ankle when you’re doing aerobics. It’s also not a stable surface for floor work. It’s not ideal to set up a home fitness area in a heavily carpeted room, but if you have no other option, invest in a heavy rubber workout mat to tamp down the shag and create a stable (albeit small) surface.

Having your own workout space can be a great motivator and a real convenience. The home gym of your dreams may be out of reach right now because of space or money considerations. But keeping these suggestions in mind, you can create a home fitness space that’s every bit as effective, using the space and the budget you already have.

Kim Kash has been a writer and editor for over 20 years, many of those with Daedalus Books. The author of the bestselling Ocean City: A Guide to Maryland’s Seaside Resort (Channel Lake, 2009), Kim is a founder of the Greenbelt Farmers Market near Washington, D.C. She often writes for which provides home fitness video programs and recently launched the Body Beast workout program, a muscle building dvd. At age 40, Kim and her husband sold everything and moved to the Middle East. Since then, she has traveled to twelve new countries and has taken up sailing, diving, and rock climbing.

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