How to Create the Ultimate Home Gym

Physical fitness is an important aspect of health and wellness, no question about it.

Everyone has their own preference in regards to what types of exercise they enjoy — anything from casual walking to high-endurance trainings and everything in between.

It is great to have access to things like a gym, Pilates or Yoga (or even dance) studios, a pool, and the great outdoors.

However, they are not always completely available to us for one reason or another. That’s why creating a space at home for working out is key to maintaining an active lifestyle; it’s always there, whatever hour of the day, and at no cost (ok….after it’s all set up, that is).

Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you begin to piece together your very own “home gym.”

Choose the Right Space

Depending on where you live, you could be working with quite a bit of space, or space could be tight.

Get realistic about the space you do have to designate as your workout space. You can get creative with any size space, as long as you prioritize your workout needs.

For instance: if you have a small corner of a room to transform into your home gym, you could probably at least have a few small props at your disposal.

There may be space for a stationary bike, if that is your biggest interest and you’re willing to sacrifice the floor space.

Remember….the goal here is to create your own space to get your personal workouts in, to create a functional space that you will actually want use.

When creating your home gym, it is useful to have a floor plan of the space you are using.

As time goes on and your workout or fitness regime evolves, you can always update your workout space accordingly.

Whatever space you do choose to transform into your “home gym,” be mindful that you have plenty of room to move safely.

Avoid wall corners, low spaces, furniture, etc. Nothing like interrupting your fitness routine with a bump or bruise.

And of course, make sure the space itself will inspire you to workout; an open area, a window, a private room, anything that may stimulate your mind and body to get you ready to workout is key to creating a functional home gym for yourself.

Consider Your Flooring

A home gym with light colored durable flooring.
Hardwood flooring can work for a home gym, but it is smart to get a thick pad for floor workouts.

Depending on your workout style and resources, you may want to consider the flooring of your home gym. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy — just something that will enhance your workouts.

If you have carpeting in your home, you may find that perfectly suitable; it provides a light padding in itself and won’t be hard on your body for things like floor work or aerobics.

You may even take it a step further and throw down a trendy area rug to designate your workout space and add a little extra padding and flair.

If you have any sort of harder flooring — hardwood, laminate, tile, concrete, etc. — it might be smart to add some sort of padding to the space for protection and comfort purposes.

This could be a thick rug, cork flooring, gym mats, foam padding, or anything else that may strike your fancy.

Keep in mind that the type of workouts you perform and the space you are working with will hugely impact what flooring you ultimately choose. It is smart to consider both; what heavy weightlifters need will differ from that of aerobics and plyometrics, which will differ from Yoga and Pilates, and so on.

As with everything else, remember you are creating your home gym. Make it something you actually want to use frequently, catered to your personal preferences and goals.

Acquire Small Props

Creating a “home gym” will come with some sort of equipment. Shopping is the fun part! (and of course the working out too, most of the time.)

Whether you are newer to working out and still settling into a good routine or have a full-blown fitness regimen, it’s always nice to have a couple smaller props on hand.

Most popular and versatile options include hand weights (or dumbbells), a good mat, an elastic resistance band, large or small fitness ball (or both!), foam roller, jump rope, and stepper.

These prop pieces of equipment are great to add to your home gym because not only are they relatively inexpensive, but you can get a lot of varied use out of them.

Mats, for instance, are good for many types of workouts and stretching; elastic bands and foam rollers are excellent aids for stretch and recovery, but can also really amp up a basic workout when used correctly.

Steppers, balls, weights, and jump ropes are classic pieces of equipment that deliver reliably good workouts.

Start with a couple of these and build your equipment stash as needed or if space allows.

Having a few different items to choose from helps to keep your workout routine more interesting and varied, so that you won’t start slack off from stale workouts!

Invest In Larger Equipment

A home gym in a basement with a squat rack and lots of freeweights and a treadmill.
The more you put into the home gym, the more you will get out of it!

There are a lot of large pieces of equipment and machines on the market, and they are certainly more of an investment. Whether you already own a large piece of fitness equipment or plan to purchase one, it takes a little more space and planning for your home gym.

Some of the more popular pieces of equipment are the coveted Peloton or other similar bike, treadmill or elliptical, rowing machine, punching bag, and Pilates reformer.

While each is nice to have and for many, maybe the ultimate goal, there are a few extra things to consider.

Expense can be a factor here. So you want to get your money’s worth out of a nice piece of equipment. Make sure you really like the equipment, intend to use it regularly, and preferably have experience using it. If you are sure you will use it, the fitness is well worth it.

Physical space in your home gym is another determining factor; these machines can take up considerably more space — mainly because they cannot be neatly rolled up, stacked, or tucked away the same as smaller pieces of equipment.

Make sure you have the real estate for a large piece of equipment in your home gym, and that it will be an effective and worthwhile use of your space.

Finally, overall safety and usage is important to note. With bigger equipment comes more room for injury or misuse. They also require more upkeep to keep them running smoothly.

Whenever possible, it’s best to know how to use the equipment before investing in one for personal use.

Things such as the Pilates Reformer, for instance, exist for very particular usage, with a specific repertoire of exercises — if misused, both injury to you and damage to the equipment could occur (this is true with most equipment).

All that said, many people have a special piece of equipment in their home gyms with no serious issues; it’s just important to remember that they do come with their own set of considerations!

Include Media Sources

You may discover while creating your home gym that you need to consider some sort of media set-up. There’s a good chance you either listen to music during your workouts or stream workout videos on a device.

Depending on the space you have and your personal workout style, this may be a necessity in your home gym.

At the very least, access to a power outlet nearby is essential to keep your devices ready to go.

You’ll likely have your smartphone and headphones at hand on a regular basis; perhaps you prefer your computer or tablet device for videos; if you’re really savvy, there’s a chance you’ll want a stereo, speakers, or a TV included in your home gym.

As technology and workout styles have developed over time, so have the methods in which we exercise. This may or may not mean that you use a lot of media during your workouts — or maybe you prefer a more old-school workout.

Whatever works best for you, make sure to consider a location and power source for your media, should you choose to use it.

Ambiance Features

Setting the right “ambiance” for your home gym may be especially important to you, or it may fall on the back burner.

It’s worth at least considering the lighting, for anything too bright or dim may set the wrong mood for your workout.

Mirrors are particularly common in gyms and studios — if you find that these enhance your workout experience, it could be worth adding to your home gym.

Other minor details, such as paint color or “decoration” (plants, storage units, etc.) would merely boost the ambiance of your home gym but are by no means necessary.

It’s probably best to leave these features for last when you’re developing your home gym; focus first on making a functional workout space with the necessities, and add in the other features later as you go.

Final Thoughts On Creating a Home Gym

The “ultimate home gym” will look different for everyone. Make sure to always consider your specific goals, needs, and preferences for health and fitness purposes.

Identify your most necessary items first and let the space grow with you as you continue to use it over time.

This is the most efficient and effective way to ensure that you will actually use your home gym once you’ve created it. It may very well become one of your favorite spaces in your home!

Cathleen Rodgers