How To Prepare A Space For The Perfect Home Gym
If you want to maximise your personal fitness, you need to have an accessible workout space. With your own home gym setup, you open up many fitness opportunities. The perfect home gym doesn't need to be large or expensive, and it doesn't have to take over your entire house. In order to be effective, it simply needs to inspire regular physical activity. From free weights and exercise bikes to functional fitness and recovery gear, here’s how to create the perfect domestic fitness space.
If you want to set up the ideal home gym, you need to do your homework first. Not all home gym equipment is created equal, and not all people have the same needs or motivations when it comes to fitness. Before you get started, you need to step back and be honest with yourself about your current fitness status and long-term fitness goals. Buying good-quality equipment is not enough on its own — you need to create a clear plan that works for your budget, your space and your lifestyle.
First and foremost, you need to designate a physical space for the gym. While this can be almost anywhere, you need to have a basic idea of room dimensions and accessibility before you start buying equipment. Some people are lucky enough to have a spare bedroom they can transform into a home gym, but this is not essential. You can also use your garage, patio, hallway or even a small corner of your lounge. The space you have available will largely dictate the size and usability of your gym, so do some decluttering and try to think outside the box.
The following questions are a great place to start:
- How much space do I have available?
- How much money do I want to spend?
- What is my current fitness level?
- Do I want to focus on strength, cardio, or functional fitness?
- Do I need flooring and furniture?
- Do I want to replace my gym membership or build on it?
Fitness types and exercise styles
When it comes to personal fitness, everyone has their own needs and preferences. Perhaps you want to build muscle mass or gain strength. Maybe you want to lose weight or tone your body shape. Perhaps you want to improve your endurance, enhance your flexibility or better your coordination. The world of health and fitness is large and incredibly diverse, and the equipment you buy has a huge effect on the results you achieve. While there's a lot of crossover, most fitness gear can be put into one of the following three categories:
1. Strength training
Strength training is about gaining strength, building muscle, and becoming the best version of yourself. From your quads and abs to your biceps and pecs, strength equipment helps you get bigger, stronger and more powerful. You can build muscle in two main ways, either through free weights lifted on bars and machines or via bodyweight routines where use your own physical mass as a form of resistance.
Simple strength training equipment includes dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells. The functionality of this gear can be extended with benches and racks, and additional exercises can be unlocked with all-in-one trainers and strength machines. While basic resistance training can be performed without any equipment, dedicated resistance machines use cables and inclines to maximise efficiency and control.
2. Cardio training
Also known as endurance training, cardio exercise is about weight loss, body toning and general health. While strength training works your muscles, cardio training works your heart, lungs and internal organs to improve your overall health. Most cardio equipment is designed to imitate basic human activities such as running, cycling, rowing and skiing. While outdoor fitness can be great, a home gym gives you greater control and allows you to exercise in all weather conditions.
Popular cardio fitness gear includes treadmills, exercise bikes, ellipticals and rowing machines. There are many designs available, from compact products to large feature-rich units with deep technology integration. Endurance machines have come a long way over recent years, with fitness enthusiasts able to review timing intervals, set targets and access detailed performance measurements before, during and after they work out.
3. Functional fitness
Along with strength and cardio, the fitness industry has focused on functional fitness over the last few years. Functional activities involve training your body for the demands of everyday life. This form of training has its origins in physical rehabilitation, although it has expanded way beyond this initial scope. From a fitness perspective, functional activities include things like boxing, skipping, stretching and jumping.
There is a crossover between functional training, cross-training, and resistance training, with classic bodyweight exercises like push-ups and pull-ups being a great way to improve physical functionality. Activities like yoga and Pilates also have a functional element, with people who stretch and stay flexible more likely to retain their mobility as they age. Functional fitness equipment is great for home gyms, with this gear often much smaller than dedicated strength and cardio machines.
Putting it all together
When you're designing your space, quality home gym equipment should not be your only consideration. It's also important to think about the ideal ratio between space and equipment. While it's great to have amazing fitness gear, you need to leave enough space to move around and use it all properly. Storage is another important consideration, with free weights, exercise balls and fitness accessories all known to take up lots of space. If you want to work out in safety and comfort, you need somewhere safe to store your gear. Along with space and equipment, it's also important to think about climate control, flooring, mirrors and music devices.
Remember, at the end of the day, the best home gym is not the one with the most equipment — it's the one that keeps you coming back for more, day after day and season after season!
For more home gym inspiration, read our blog interview with Olympian Alex Beck to learn about his home gym set-up: