How to Create a Home Gym You’ll Actually Use

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Year after year, getting more exercise tops New Year’s resolution lists. And while the number of people committed to this popular goal often plummets by February, experts say having a dedicated space right at home that will inspire you to stay active can help. What are the design elements that will keep you honest and your home gym enticing throughout this year and beyond?

Resolve to Embrace the Home Gym

Between the rising popularity of more flexible free-weight workouts and the slew of apps and smart devices designed to bring the boutique gym experience home, more people seem to be finding it easier (and more enjoyable) to burn calories without leaving the house or blowing their budget.

I’m seeing a lot more space with less equipment.

Experts say homeowners are smartly opting for dedicated home fitness spaces that balance style and function. By prioritizing the look and feel of a home gym and choosing only those features that make sense for them, homeowners may be more likely to want to fit in a workout.

A room full of bulky equipment is no longer a must. A select few anchor pieces and room for stretching, yoga or functional training may be a better use of space, the pros say. Some buzzy new fitness gadgets, like the interactive Mirror home training system, even double as home decor. (The device acts as a sleek full-length mirror when it’s not live-streaming fitness classes.)

Choose the Right Spot

Before you decide which machines or activity you want to emphasize, focus on choosing the right place in your home to set up your gym, which can affect how regularly you use it. Basements are often a logical choice as they’re usually tucked away and quieter. If they have concrete floors, they can also handle the weight of heavy equipment and weights better than other rooms. Garages offer similar advantages.

But if the idea of heading down to a dark basement might make you less inclined to get up and get moving, a spare bedroom or designated gym space on a house’s main or upper floors (or anywhere where there’s more natural light) can be a good alternative, designating a space for just working out can make a big mental difference. Choosing a location that’s a little more isolated might also help you focus. 

If it’s off of the living room or kitchen, you’re just asking to be interrupted.

Consider the Setup

Setting realistic goals for your workout space and designing it around those goals starts with asking yourself a few key questions. 

Think about:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with the gym?

  • How much space will you need?

  • What equipment do you like?

  • How many people will be using the space?

  • What type of training will you be doing?

  • What’s your budget?

The answers to these questions can help drive the direction of your design, provided you’re honest with yourself and any professional you’re working with. 

Oftentimes people buy equipment that they’ve heard about but never used. They often will buy solely off of the health benefits as well — ‘I want a rower because I heard you burn more calories than on other machines.’ These are big mistakes. If the equipment doesn’t leave enough room to move around easily you won’t use it. If you don’t like the exercise or movement, it doesn’t matter how beneficial it is because you won’t use it.”

Pro tip: Never put a treadmill where it will throw you into a wall if you fall while running. A few minutes on YouTube looking at ‘treadmill fails’ will tell you why.