Gyms are great places for many people, but if you live a long way from a gym or simply find the whole gym experience uncomfortable, home gyms are a great alternative. Often it is thought that a home gym is an expensive option but the cost of a home gym can be reduced greatly by following a few guidelines.
I have always used home gyms and have only ever been a member of a gym once. I used a bench I found on a council cleanup, a $200 set of adjustable dumbells and a wooden beam for over a year when I started to exercise with weights. A home gym does not have to be expensive or an arduous task to setup.
Here are some things to consider when starting a home gym.
Find a spare space
The one thing you will definitely need in order to have a home gym is a little bit of space. You don’t need much, 2 metres by 2 metres can be enough for a small setup. If you have a spare room, garage or a covered outdoor area then you have enough space to start a small gym. If you have even more space then that it is a bonus as it definitely makes it more comfortable working out.
Get some flooring
Flooring can often be overlooked but it is a necessary component of a home gym. Heavy metal objects and home flooring do not mix, I know this after dropping a dumbbell through my timber floor. If you have a concrete slab, proper gym flooring is still a good idea. The cost is $30-$40 per square metre and is simply laid on top of the existing surface, it is heavy enough that you do not need any sort of glue.
Start with the essentials first
This will differ slightly from person to person but the most useful equipment will be:
The equipment listed here will enable you to do almost any free weight exercise. This list of gear can be purchased for around $1500 and will last a lifetime. Second hand gear is even cheaper!
Ditch the machines
If you want to make a home gym cheap then forget about any type of machine. A single machine can cost double what the listed gear above costs and only gives you one function. If you enjoy treadmills, bikes or rowers and have the extra money then go ahead and get one. If you are short on cash, save the running, walking and cycling for the outdoors.
Weight based machines can be a useful addition to a gym but again they are very expensive and should be purchased only if you can afford it, have the space and are focused on a muscle building workout style. You can get very strong, fit and healthy with the minimal equipment listed above, machines are a luxury item and are very expensive for what you get.
Upgrade over time
Once you have your basic setup and have used it for a few months, you can decide if you want anything further. If you are getting very strong you can buy a few more plates. If you want to work out with a partner add in another pair of adjustable dumbbells. Kettlebells, farmers walk handles, sleds, resistance bands, medicine balls the list goes on. They are all useful bits of gear and a bit of fun, they aren't necessary but if you have the money you can add them in over time.
Look for second hand gear
Even a brand new home gym can be cheap but looking around for second hand gear can make things even cheaper. Look on gumtree or similar classified sites for people selling used gym gear. Often you can pick up weight plates and other gym gear for very cheap. Ensure that it is still in reasonable condition and compare it to the brand new cost.
Before you set up the gear, think about whether or not you want to paint the room or add anything to it. A nice rich and bright colour can really help motivate you to exercise and liven up the room. Motivational posters can help you but choose ones that are suitable for you and not just generic posters. An unused sound system from somewhere in the house can be a great addition to your home gym!
Try to keep it clear of clutter
If you have a very small space for a gym, it is a good idea to limit the amount of equipment you put in there. The more equipment you have the more difficult it is to move freely within the gym. Consider shelving to store small bits and pieces and keep the weight plates in one spot, a small gym will become messy very quickly if you do not keep it tidy.
Only get the equipment that you need
Stick to the essentials, leave the cardio for outdoors (unless you truly enjoy treadmills and bikes)
Avoid machines unless you have the money and space
Shop around online and also look at second hand equipment
Upgrade your gym over time if you desire
Keep it clean and tidy
Start enjoying your new home gym!
Thanks for reading everyone, if you have any questions about home gyms please leave a comment below. I am also starting a Q and A next Monday so if you have any questions related to health and fitness please send them through the website or directly to firstname.lastname@example.org