If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that we’re going to be in stay-at-home mode for a long time. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on all of our pre-pandemic routines, especially when it comes to maintaining our fitness schedules. So what if we can’t hit the actual gym? The perfect time to build a home gym is right now, and we’re going all out with absolutely everything you need to know. I’m talking machines, equipment, flooring and mats. Equinox, we’re coming for your brand!
Of course, you can always get a great workout sesh in by simply rolling out a yoga mat in your living room and turning on a YouTube workout. But if you’re really looking to get into shape, and have the extra space at home to utilize, building a home gym that’s 100% dedicated to workout equipment is the way to go. It won’t be cheap, but it doesn’t have to break the bank, either. Ahead, some of our best tips and trick from experts and gym-goers alike to help you built the home gym of your dreams.
Machines & Equipment
One way to save money in the process is to buy used equipment from places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace or at a local garage sale. Although the idea of used gym gear might gross you out, as long as you spray and wipe everything down with an antibacterial cleaner, you’ll be good to go.
Some obvious equipment essentials include a barbell, rack and plates, a bench, different-sized dumbbells, a few kettlebells and perhaps a stationary bike. Of course, you can also buy all of these things new, just be aware that this equipment doesn’t come cheap, which is all the more reason to use it often. Get your money’s worth! Your cost per use will go down the more you use your equipment and your strength and stamina will increase at the same time. It’s a win-win, truly.
Look out for two-fer style pieces of equipment, like a TRX band that serves a ton of of different uses. This way, you’ll be able to save space but have access to different options to help you tone and strengthen multiple muscle groups at once. It’s the best way to get major bang for your buck.
A punching bag is also a great addition to any at-home gym. They don’t take up too much space, and when utilized correctly, they’ll give you a great workout that’ll leave you sweating. Plus, it’s an awesome way to take out any aggression from a long workday. Some of my best workout classes were boxing or kickboxing-inspired and always left me feeling exhausted in the best way.
A rowing machine is also a great investment thanks to the full-body nature of the workout, but it goes without saying that one is quite the splurge, so make sure you’re budgeting appropriately. We’re big fans of the new CITYROW GO Max, a rower that comes with a touchscreen for tracking your workout and virtual classes. “The machine works out 85% of the body’s muscles with every stroke,” says Founder & CEO, Helaine Knapp. and it’ll only take up about four square feet in your home gym.
Bowflex adjustable dumbells are also super versatile and offer 15 different weight settings in just two pieces of equipment. My parents have this piece of equipment in their home, and while I was living there for a few months, I ended up using the weights more often than I would have ever thought. You can set them to 5 pounds and aim for more reps during a barre-style workout or 20 pounds and go for fewer reps for a sculpting-style workout.
When it comes to choosing your gear, Asha Kai, founder and CEO of athleisure brand Ultracor, has a few great tips. “Versatility is the most important. Free weights are going to be the most effective part of building muscle,” she says. “We also suggest using resistance bands; they are great for a whole-body workout and don’t take up much room at all.” When it comes to home gym planning, the key is to save space and gain muscle.
When using a resistance band, place the band below your thighs during squat reps or around your ankles for a round of extra-intense shuffles. You’ll be sore in the best way possible. With free weights, you’ll be able to up the intensity on almost any exercise move from deadlifts to lunges. By adding on that weight, you’ll be working your muscles even harder and therefore getting better results.
Tone It Up trainer Tori Simeone suggests adding ankle weights to your at-home workouts so you can get the best bang for your workout buck. “Let’s be honest, when we’re working out at home, some days we might not push ourselves as much because no one is watching,” she says. “When you add a piece of equipment strapped onto your body, there’s no way to cheat through the workout.” Wise words.
“Make sure the workout is something you enjoy doing, no matter what it may be,” says Kai. “If you invest in the equipment, then you need to ensure it’s a workout you won’t grow tired of.” Even more reason to buy a good set of resistance bands and free weights and make the most of their versatility.
You’ll want to make sure you install the right flooring when building your home gym. At the very least, make sure you’re adding mats underneath your equipment to prevent skidding so your floors aren’t damaged during your workout. You can use a regular yoga mat for a quick fix, but most larger pieces of equipment will come with mats specifically sized to fit underneath the machines.
Alternatively, you can purchase flooring specially made for at-home gyms that can support the weight of the machines and equipment without doing any damage. These rubber puzzle piece-like mats interlock to create an impact-resistant floor. You’ll be able to do all the jump squats you want, without risking injury to your knees or damaging the floor beneath you.
As for getting the most effective workout possible at home? That’s the easy part. “Drink a lot of water, stretch and give yourself time to recover,” says Kai. “It’s also important when targeting specific muscle groups to use compression technology to bring oxygen to the muscles throughout your workout. Ultracor just launched a new technology called Hypersonic(™) which does exactly that,” she explains. “By allowing the muscles to be compressed during your workout, you are able to tone faster, recover easier and see the progress even sooner.” Sounds like a great workout plan to us!
If you’re a class person, I’d recommend installing a small smart TV in your gym so you can stream all your favorite workouts on YouTube and download the best workout apps, like Tone It Up, to use during your sweat sesh.
Finally, when working out in a smaller space like a home gym, sometimes the best exercises are the simplest ones. “Don’t forget about classic moves like a wall sit or incline push-ups,” says Simeone. “There is so much that can be done in the small spaces of our homes, so don’t be afraid to get creative!”
Building a home gym definitely requires a bit of planning and you should be ready to spend some money to get the equipment and gear you need for an effective workout. Still, when it’s all said and done, you’ll have the perfect space to really get into shape, without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. What could be more worth it?