We’ve all been there: cozy in bed, hitting snooze on the alarm for the third time. Getting done with work late, with little energy left over to go anywhere but the sofa. Busy with chores on a weekend day. Dinnertime arrives before we realize it. It all adds up to the same result: No time or motivation to work out. That’s where some home gym ideas would really come in handy, to squeeze some exercise into your busy days.
A study by Finder.com found that more than 6 million Americans neglect to use their gym memberships, squandering around $400 million annually. Combine that with the revolution of remote work for many Americans, and the idea of having your own gym in your home has seldom been more attractive.
Though the upfront cost to make your own gym might be pricier than a membership, it’s much more affordable in the long run. Not to mention, working out around throngs of strangers can leave you vulnerable to getting sick, from airborne illness to germs that find a home on shared exercise equipment. Besides, just think how great it will be not having to wait endlessly while someone hogs your favorite machine. You’ll also save time and stress driving to and from the gym.
Intimidated by the prospect of designing a home gym? Don’t be. We’ll walk through all your crucial questions about how to get it done, including:
- How much space does a home gym need?
- Where should I put my home gym?
- What are the home gym essentials?
- How can I set up a quick or temporary home gym?
1. What’s a Good Size for a Home Gym?
Ultimately, a good size for your home health club depends on what your living situation is and how much space you have to set aside. But to determine what best accommodates your situation, the American Council on Exercise offers some useful square footage estimates for various pieces of exercise equipment:
Exercise Equipment and Required Square Footage*
- Treadmill: 30 square feet
- Elliptical: 25 square feet
- Free weights: 20-50 square feet
- Stationary bicycle: 10 square feet
- Rowing machine: 20 square feet
- Stair climber: 10-20 square feet
- Single-station gym: 35 square feet
- Multi-station gym: 50-200 square feet
*Source: American Council on Exercise
2. Ideas For Where To Put Your Home Gym
You can’t start until you know where to start. The good news is that there are several places in your own home that you can convert into a workout haven, each with its own perks. Now that you’ve calculated how much room your workout zone needs to occupy, consider setting up shop in one of these spaces. Here are some home gym ideas to get you started:
Located on the lowest level, not only is there plenty of room to spread out your exercise gear, but the subterranean location helps limit sound travel and keep the temperature cool. (If you’re considering a full home gym remodel, check out these basement renovation ideas.)
An attic is another perfect opportunity to take advantage of an underutilized floor. However, if you plan to use it for more than yoga or meditation, you’ll want to have it inspected first to make sure it’s structurally sound enough to support heavy equipment. And since top floors have a reputation for getting hot and stuffy, fans and possibly a portable AC unit are crucial for ventilation.
Guest Room or Spare Room
An unused office, old playroom, or any other kind of spare room is an ideal opportunity for a home gym makeover.
Don’t have a spare room? No sweat. If you have a spacious closet, set up a yoga mat and stationary bike for a compact and well-located workout. Your sneakers and leggings are already right there, and there are bonus points for being close to the shower.
Transform a freestanding shed by reinforcing the floors, having an electrician add some outlets, and hauling in some free weights and exercise machines, and voilà — you have your own fitness studio.
|Q: How can I make a gym space at home?
A: Take advantage of space that isn’t used regularly. For example, you can make a home gym in your attic or basement, or make a small home gym in your walk-in closet or guest room. You can even set up a cheap DIY outdoor gym in your backyard or in a garden shed.
(Source: @christengschwartz via Instagram )
Garage or Workshop
Already equipped with durability, electricity, and an industrial aesthetic, a workshop is a great option to turn into an at-home gym, and there are so many home garage gym ideas out there. Thanks to a garage’s sturdy frame and concrete floors, you can easily install a punching bag or some battle ropes, and if your old stereo is still out there, you can crank up the music and kick it old school.
|Pro Tip: If you’re like most of us, there isn’t one space in your home that’s not filled to the brim with stuff. Don’t let that stop you! Here’s a quick guide to decluttering. And to avoid getting stuck on this step forever (no, this is not the perfect excuse not to work out!), look into having convenient on-site storage delivered to your driveway. With PODS, you can even have the container whisked away to a secure storage center for safekeeping.
3. Figuring Out What’s Important to You in a Home Gym
You don’t need to buy the trendiest equipment or a lap pool to build a home gym. In reality, the type of exercise equipment and embellishments the room requires will vary based on how you like to work out and what kind of space you’re using. Personalizing the zone to your own preferences is part of what makes a homemade gym superior to a traditional health club. Read on for some home gym ideas and inspiration for designing your own.
|Q: What should I put in my home gym?
A: What to put in your home gym depends on what kind of workout you prefer, but a few small home gym ideas include: rubber flooring or a yoga mat, a sound system or speaker, mirrors, a mini fridge, a chalkboard or whiteboard, free weights, and a jump rope.
(Source: @nordictrack via Instagram)
4. Choosing the Right Exercise Equipment for Your Home Gym
For full-body conditioning, it’s smart to choose a few machines that focus on distinct areas of the body. Here are some options and the areas they target:
- Indoor rowing machine: Upper body, shoulders, back
- Treadmill: Legs, overall cardio
- Elliptical: Upper and lower body (including biceps, shoulders, calves, and quads), overall cardio
- Free weights and weight benches: Entire upper body (including pectorals, triceps, biceps, and deltoids)
- Stationary bike: Legs, lower body (especially hamstrings and quads)
- Stair climber: Legs, lower body (especially glutes, calves, and quads)
5. Making Your Home Gym Fun, Functional, and Safe
Whatever type of equipment you choose, here are four more home gym setup ideas that will boost both workout safety and success:
Laying down interlocking rubber tiles is an easy way to amp up the durability of your home gym, while also creating a surface that will absorb some of the shock when you’re jumping around, reducing strain on your ankles, knees, and back.
What’s more motivational than your favorite song? Investing in some quality speakers will improve your gym time tenfold.
Shelving, bins, and baskets are the name of the game for keeping your workout space safe and tidy. You can use a shoe shelf for sneakers and weights, hooks for towels and ropes, and woven baskets or laundry bins for gym mats and yoga balls.
Watching your reflection in a large wall-mounted mirror (or several smaller ones) is helpful for checking your form and seeing progress in your workouts.
(Source: @myfitnesspal via Instagram)
6. Motivational Ideas for Your Home Gym
Okay, so you’ve got the equipment, music, storage, and mirrors. Now it’s time for the extras that will help you kick those workouts into high gear:
Say sayonara to too-long infomercials, Law and Order reruns, or whatever else always seems to be playing on the television at your gym. Having a big monitor in a home gym is ideal for watching workout videos or catching up on the shows you're watching — while strengthening your muscles and giving your immune system a boost, too.
Posters and Pictures
Whether it’s stenciling a quote that resonates on the wall, hanging up beautiful photos from a favorite vacation, or an accent wall painted in a color that energizes you, adorn the space with visuals you’ll love to look at each day. If you’re short on inspo, try searching “home gym decor ideas” on Pinterest and making a board of the kinds of images that pump you up.
Chalkboard or Whiteboard
Writing a weekly schedule on a large surface is a great way to keep track of your routine. You can buy chalkboard paint or whiteboard contact paper to quickly transform a wall into a giant inspiration board or calendar.
Stocking a small fridge with a favorite cool-down snack or beverage — from kombucha to a protein bar that actually tastes good — is a fun incentive for slipping on your sneakers and going into your studio (and one a typical gym can’t afford to do).
(Source: @shophalfmoon via Instagram)
7. Quick and Affordable DIY Home Gym Ideas
Okay, this is all great, but how can you start working out right now? The good news is there are myriad creative ways to get your blood pumping straight away. These tips may be useful to those looking for short-term workout solutions while saving up for the home gym of their dreams, and they’re also good hacks for those living in rented apartments to create a small home gym of their own.
Yoga Mats Instead of Expensive Flooring
This may be one of the more intuitive small home gym ideas, but that’s because it’s impactful. Instead of installing rubber flooring, lay down a yoga mat or two to provide some cushion and traction. Grab one from Target or Amazon for about $15.
Floor Mirrors Instead of a Mirror Wall
Sure, those giant wall-mounted mirrors are wonderful, but floor or over-the-door mirrors are a cheap and temporary alternative for keeping an eye on your form.
Jump Rope Instead of a TreadmillGet that cardio in by skipping with a jump rope, a small step stool that you can jump up and down from, or even a piece of masking tape on the floor that you can hop over side to side.
Canned Goods Instead of Free Weights
Though a rack of free weights or a medicine ball doesn’t take up a ton of space, chances are, you have items in your home already that you can use for some bicep curls, such as a couple cans of beans or other shelf-stable pantry items you’ve stocked up on.
Yoga Ball Instead of a Rowing MachineFrom cardio to core-strengthening exercises, a yoga ball is a cost-effective, multipurpose item to have on hand for a DIY home gym.
8. Setting Up a Backyard Gym
It’s no secret that vitamin D is good for you, providing essential nutrients for maintaining healthy bones, regulating cellular function, and supporting your immune system, muscles, and even brain cells. Plus, research has found that working out al fresco can make the exercise feel easier and improve your concentration and cognitive function — particularly great if you’re getting some work done after working out. So why not soak up some sun and get some fresh air while working out by setting up an outdoor home gym?
If you have an outdoor area, consider these backyard gym ideas. Depending on the kind of climate you live in and your home gym preferences, you can either make it temporary or permanent. If you go for something more temporary, you can toss up a sun sail, lay down some rubber gym tiles, and buy some waterproof dumbbells. Or, if you want to invest in a long-lasting space, you can use that old garden shed or build a backyard structure to house the gym of your dreams — rock climbing wall, pilates reformer machine, the sky’s the limit when it comes to outdoor gym ideas.
9. Your Laptop and WiFi: Possibly Your Most Important Equipment
This may be one of the simplest yet best home gym ideas of all: YouTube has hundreds of workout videos, many of which use just a yoga mat and your own body weight. Cue one up and set it to full screen to follow along with the moves. And connecting the computer to a Bluetooth speaker is a quick way to amp up the volume for a little extra motivation.
Ready to get started? Find out how portable storage can be a fast and easy way to make room for your at-home gym by visiting our PODS Remodeling page or by calling PODS at (877) 350-7637. You can have a PODS storage container delivered to your driveway, where you have 24/7 access to your stuff, or have it taken to a secure PODS Storage Center for safekeeping. The entire process involves no contact, as there’s no need for you to be on hand for your container delivery or pickup.
Looking for other healthy at-home ideas? Check out the PODS Blog to learn about how to feng shui your home, how to live more sustainably, and why you'll love having a vegetable garden.
Sofia Rivera is a Brooklyn-based lifestyle editor and frequent contributor to the PODS Blog. Her work has appeared in Boston magazine, Apartment Therapy, and more. You can most often find her redecorating her apartment, trying out a new recipe, or trekking all over the city.