In today’s day and age, leisure time feels like a distant memory or at least a luxury. It’s as if 24 hours don’t seem to last as long as they used to. Besides spending our scarce free time on taking a break from our professional lives, we try to squeeze in different ways to improve ourselves, both mentally and physically. Exercising covers both of these categories and also serves as an effective way to eliminate stress. Typically people associate the gym as a place for their physical activities, but how can we afford to spend our free time on going to the gym when a commute can last as long as an entire training session? This is exactly the reason why many are resorting to building their own personal gym at their domicile.
Phase 1: Prepping the Space For Your Thunderdome
So you’ve decided to take matters into your own hands and transform your garage into a gym most fitness freaks would be proud of. First and foremost, it’s time to get rid of all the junk you pilled up for the past decade. Any object that doesn’t have anything to do with your future gym doesn’t have a place in your garage. Call your friends over to help you out, or hire someone, as long as you end up with a beautiful, spacious area to work with. While you’re finishing with sweeping up the floor, take the time to plan out the layout and visualize where you want to place your equipment. This is also a good time to think about your budget.
Keeping it simple will save you a lot of time and money, but if you plan to use your personal gym all year round – you’re going to need to install insulation and a heating system. If you already have your walls insulated and your garage shares the heating system of your house, good for you, but if that’s not the case you might want to hire a contractor to help you out.
Phase 2: Giving It Character
The floor in your garage is probably concrete which can definitely be a “look,” but is not very practical. Covering your floor will help keep your feet warm and will also be much kinder on your knees and joints. Jumping from a plyometric box and landing on solid concrete is a very bad idea and can result in an injury.
So what are your options?
There is actually a lot of options here. Depending on your budget, you could even go ahead and install an insulated wooden floor, but realistically some carpet tiles or rubber will do the trick. My personal favorite is laying down 3/4 inch thick stall mats and cutting them with a box knife to fit your floor layout. Another DIY project is giving your walls some character and covering them with a fresh coat of paint. The wall painting techniques you’ll use will depend on the type of walls you are dealing with, but 90 % of the time it’s going to be a cinder block wall, so you want to use exterior acrylic house paint.
Phase 3: There Is Never Enough Storage
In order to have as much space as possible for a regular workout, you’re going to need smart storage solutions. Utilizing your walls and ceiling is key in providing you with an uncluttered floor area for the more expensive machines if you decide on acquiring them. Modular wall panels are your best option when it comes to keeping your equipment safe. They are highly adjustable and can handle heavier objects. You can find them at your local Home Depot along with baskets, bins, and hooks that can be attached to them. Clever use and positioning of overhead shelving can help with storing items that are less frequently used. Remember not to overdo it because you’ll end up with a very low ceiling, limiting your equipment options.
Phase 4: How to Buy Equipment
Remember when you were holding that broom and sweeping the floor? You were planning and visualizing what kind of equipment you want to buy and where to place it. This is the part where your ideas become a reality… well at least some of them. To keep things in line with your budget – figure out what kind of training regime you want to start out with. If your main focus is going to be getting into shape and gaining stamina consider making your first few purchases more cardio oriented. There is this misconception that weight lifting will make you only bulky. Keep in mind that resistance training is important for building lean muscle mass and burning a ton of calories even when you’re resting so if you’re really want to be the fittest version of you, you’re going to have to do both cardio and lift weights.
Start small and get only the basic stuff. Before deciding on which machine to purchase consider how much actual space you have in your garage. Instead of getting a big machine that is specialized, look for those that are multi-purpose and offer a variety of exercises. If I had to choose only one, it would be a rower because it offers great cardio, but also works your back muscles. Basically, it destroys your body in a good way.
Also, a great way to save money is to explore the used equipment market. You’ll find tons of gems for a fraction of the price.
Phase 5: Start With the Basics
Finally, it’s time to get some actual equipment. While you could bring in the big guns right away, making the best out of what you can easily obtain is the way to go. Acquiring some basic items like a jump rope, a medicine ball or the previously mentioned plyometric box will give you a decent starting point. From there move on to kettlebells, especially if you’re into CrossFit, or dumbbells of different weight. These will be essential for resistance training and will help you obtain that perfectly sculpted body, Any space you want to legitimately call a gym needs to have a squat rack, preferably with a pull-up bar attached to it. Add an Olympic lifting bar with a couple of bumper plates, and suddenly you can do most of the basic strength exercises. These would include squats, deadlifts, lunges, overhead press and so on.
Phase 6: Rocking Your New Gym
So what’s next you might ask? The only thing left to do is getting into your favorite gym outfit and firing up those glutes. Grab your laptop or if you have any money left, install a giant screen TV so you can watch instructional videos and get some additional motivation. Remember, there are no excuses now!