Move / Strength Training

How To Set up a Home Gym That Fits Your Workout Style

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Written by Mona Freund
Reviewed by Holly Rilinger, CPT

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Thinking of ditching the gym membership and creating a home gym within your own four walls? That’s not a bad idea. A home gym can save money (well, if not at first, certainly in the long run), reduces your commute from a car or public transit ride to just a few steps, and makes staying socially distant and physically active much easier.

You can build a home gym in your garage, your basement, or even tucked away in a corner of your tiny apartment—it all depends on the kind of workouts you’re into and how much space you have to work with. 

We’re going deep on everything required for a killer home gym setup—including helpful insight on the kind of equipment and gear you should invest in, depending on your interests.

5 Steps to Set up Your Home Gym

Whether your interests lie in cardio, yoga, or lifting, all home gym setups take some basic steps, Here’s what to consider when you’re transforming part of your home into a workout space.

Step 1: Pick a Space for Your Needs

The Platonic ideal of a gym space is one that makes it easy to be consistent with your fitness. The factors to accomplish this, of course, are different for everyone. But in all cases, it’s vital that your gym has enough room for the exercises you like to do—if you’re mainly planning on doing yoga, a corner in your living room may be all you need for your asanas. But if you’re into circuit training, and all the jumping around it entails, you’ll need more space. Transforming a garage or a spare bedroom into your home gym may be the better call.

Of course, not everyone has the room or the budget for a full setup with Equinox-worthy equipment. (Or a full setup with any equipment, period.) People with smaller areas can work with the lack of space in their home by creating a home gym with dual functionality. Think of turning a corner of your home office or bedroom into a home gym by rearranging some furniture, or hide your yoga gear in your living room TV stand or closet when you aren’t using it.

Step 2: Get That Ventilation and Light Going

Ventilation will help keep air flowing as you’re working out. A room with AC is a great option, but any room with a fan or windows should work—the natural light will keep you motivated if you like to exercise in the morning or during the day. 

That sweet ventilation/natural light combo is why people often set up home gyms in their garages. Open garage doors let in plenty of light and fresh air and give you a refreshing indoor-outdoor feel as you’re sweating. Light is also vital if you’re taking live workout classes or personal training sessions in which the instructor watches you to provide feedback—if they can’t see you, they won’t be able to get you to the right form.

Natural light is best, but if the room you’re using doesn’t have windows (or you just like working out pre-dawn or post-sunset), install light fixtures that mimic sunlight. Avoid fluorescent lights—you’re not here to film your own horror movie interpretation of Rocky. Use LED lighting with a color temperature of 5000k or that’s classified as “daylight.”

Step 3: Create Storage

Proper storage is a must. At best, a messy space is another hoop you’ll have to jump through before working out. At worst, it could cause injury if you stumble over a stray dumbbell on your way to the treadmill. Whether it’s a rack for your weights, hooks to hang up your resistance bands, or a basket for your yoga mat and yoga blocks, having designated storage for all of your workout gear will help you keep the spot neat and—and from becoming an eyesore, especially if your space is limited.

If you have small kids or pets at home, your storage plan should also prevent them from accessing any of your equipment or gear. Keep them in a separate room or closet that you can lock to keep your little ones safe.

Step 4: Think of Your Neighbors

Be courteous of your neighbors, family, or roommates. At the very least, this means avoiding loud workouts at odd hours (your roommates may not appreciate your 2 AM Pilates sessions as much as you do). If you want to make the extra courtesy step, inquire about your neighbors’ day-to-day schedule before you build a weight lifting station above their bedroom. 

In a ’90s sitcom, this would lead to a friendship, one in which you and your new pal would form a little community that works out in your garage or basement. In reality, it may help you graduate from maybe waving at your neighbor when you pass them in the hall to actually having a brief conversation every now and then. Either way, being conscious of the people around you will save you from uncomfortable spats.

Step 5: Personalize!

Now comes the fun part—making the space yours. Invest in equipment you’ll actually use (we’ll get to that part in a bit) and look for pictures or wall art that will motivate you. 

If it’s a yoga area, consider some candles (ideally battery-powered ones to get the flickering light but not the potential fire hazard) and plants to calm you down. If you’re doing a lot of Zumba-like cardio and want to get your Dirty Dancing on, make sure you have a great sound system in place to play your favorite pump-up tunes.

Why Go for a Home Gym vs. a Gym Membership?

Configuring your setup at home takes time and effort. Why not just spring for a gym membership? 

On average, an individual gym membership in America costs $50 per month. Yes, that may include benefits like a pool, complimentary exercise classes, or a steam room, but you’ll also have to commute to workout and share equipment with other people. 

If you’d like to work out at home and ditch the gym membership but you’re worried about how to hold yourself accountable, sign up for live online classes or ask your friends to do a weekly or monthly workout challenge with you. If you’re worried about not having the right or enough equipment, remember that you can grow your home gym gradually. 

Home Gym

Pros
  • No commute
  • No membership cost
  • Never have to wait for equipment
  • Open 24/7
Cons
  • Limited room
  • Limited equipment
  • No one cleans up for you
  • No one holds you accountable

Gym Membership

Pros
  • Plethora of equipment, gear, and classes
  • Possibility to meet with friends in a shared space
Cons
  • Monthly cost
  • Limited access
  • Sharing equipment
  • Commute

The Perfect Home Gym For Every Personality

An ideal fitness routine comprises a range of disciplines, including aerobic activity and strength training icon-trusted-source Mayo Clinic “Fitness Basics” View Source . But if you know what you love—and what you’re most likely to actually do at home—we’ve got you covered on the setup.

Whether you’re a yogi at heart, a busy parent, or just don’t feel all that drawn to exercise (other than that nagging feeling that sometimes pops up that tells you you should be working out)—find the fitness personality starter pack you identify with most below. 

1. The Cardio Lover

If your heart isn’t in its peak zone, you don’t consider what you’re doing as “exercise.” (One might say your heart isn’t even in it.) Running is your jam, you always show up first for spin classes to call dibs on your favorite bike, and will never not try to get a friend excited about a new HIIT workout. Just make sure you have enough sideways and overhead space to make it work—any piece of equipment you go for will list its requirements in its specs.

If you consider yourself a cardio lover, this is some of the best equipment for your home gym:

  • Fan: Even if your home gym is in your garage and you can keep the door open all year, a fan is a must. When the sweat starts dripping, you’ll be thankful for that extra breeze. Plus, it’ll blow the musky scent out of the room—your roommates or partner (and possibly you) will be very thankful for that. Anything that gets air moving will work, but one great option is this Honeywell fan ($44), which has 4.7 stars across nearly 8,000 Amazon reviews.
  • Jump rope: Whether it’s a rainy day or you’re just looking for an alternative to your daily run, a jump rope is the perfect piece of cardio gear. Pick a speed rope, like the highly-rated WOD Nation rope ($17.99) for your warmup or to practice some sweet tricks. You could also go for a weighted rope set, like the Crossrope ($288 for a set of four ropes between .5-2 pounds), to incorporate some strength training into your routine. 
  • Treadmill: If you live in a place with cold winters, a treadmill is a must. Rain or shine, nothing can keep you from running if you can do it inside. For a basic (but not bare-bones) option, consider the Horizon T101 ($649), which has a speed range of up to 10 miles per hour, or a six-minute mile pace, and a 0 to 10% incline range. If you want something fancier, the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 ($1,899) offers a speed range of up to 12 miles per hour (a 5-minute mile pace), incline ranges from -3% to 15%, and interactive fitness classes through NordicTrack’s fitness platform, iFit ($40 a month). We’ve also reviewed the best treadmills apps to add to your running routine.
  • Exercise bike: An exercise bike is a good alternative to a treadmill or can be a way to expand your home gym and add more equipment. The Peloton Bike+ ($2,495) is the obvious choice, with its sleek design and access to live and on-demand classes ($40 a month). Another popular option is the Sunny Health & Fitness exercise bike ($290), which uses friction-powered resistance to help you work up a sweat.

Depending on the quality of equipment you choose, your cardio lover home gym should cost between $350 and $4,500.

You may also want to add in additional strength equipment to make your exercise routine more exciting—and more sustainable. Strength training is necessary to maintain an effective cardio routine, as it helps improve balance and reduce the risk of injury icon-trusted-source UW Medicine “Cardio and Strength: What’s Best for Your Health?” View Source . A weighted jump rope set is a great gateway to strength training—in addition, you may want to consider a kettlebell (swings icon-trusted-source Ace Fitness “Swing” View Source will work the whole body and get your heart rate going) or a set of dumbbells to lift before or after a run. 

2. The Busy Bee

You’re usually out and about—whether that’s for business or pleasure—and barely have time to squeeze in a workout. Your hope is that a designated workout area will motivate you to take better care of your body, but you aren’t quite sure what this place should look like.

No worries, we got you: 

  • Yoga mat and free weights: These two tools are the best essentials to invest in. Whether you want to spend some time on a Pilates session or just do a quick core-burning session—a yoga mat ($88 for our favorite Lululemon mat and $40 for our second-favorite pick from Heathyoga) and some free weights (starting at $14.99) will provide you with the equipment you need to get a quick sweat. If you’re able to get a range of weights, 5, 10, and 15 pounds are good options for beginners.
  • TV or phone stand: You don’t have time to connect your phone to a screen or set up your laptop. Instead, install a TV with internet access in a place that allows you to easily follow a HIIT, yoga, or Zumba workout video. Having your workout displayed on the big screen will prevent you from having to crane your neck to look at your laptop or phone. Alternatively, you can download an app like Aaptiv ($14.99 a month or $99.99 a year), which provides primarily audio-based instructions so you don’t have to look at the screen the whole time.
  • One exercise machine: The biggest benefit of a Peloton ($2,495), Mirror (starting at $1,495), or similar exercise machine is that it’s a home gym in and of itself. Once it’s set up, no moving furniture is required, and when you’re done exercising you can just wipe the machine down, stretch, and hop in the shower. Easy peasy.
  • Mini fridge: Keep a mini fridge in your workout area where you store snacks and post-workout protein shakes so you can grab and go. One top-rated option is this 3.3-cubic foot Frigidaire ($189), which has 4.6 stars across more than 1,000 reviews on Best Buy’s site.

Depending on the exercise machine and extra gadgets you invest in for your busy bee home gym, you should budget between $130 and $2,500.

If you often find yourself postponing or canceling workouts because you’re too busy, ask yourself what you can do to make it easier to stick to a schedule. Maybe all you have to do is create a designated workout space with easily accessible gear or put your running shoes by the office door—that way, you just need to grab them after you shut down your laptop and hit the pavement.

3. The Yogi  

You love a good meditation session, know how to pronounce “Svanasana” (downward-facing dog icon-trusted-source Yoga Journal “Downward-Facing Dog” View Source , to the layperson) and have spent ample time loosening up your hip flexors your wrists to show off your pigeon pose icon-trusted-source Yoga Journal “Pigeon Pose” View Source . From time to time, you like to mix things up with a challenging Pilates workout or a yoga sculpt class that gets your heart pumping and your sweat flowing. 

If you’re a yoga or Pilates fan, this equipment will turn the empty corner in your living room or the mostly unused guest bedroom into the perfect at-home yoga studio:

  • Yoga mat: Yoga mats come in different textures, thicknesses, and materials. You may benefit from two or more types of yoga mats for different kinds of workouts. We love Lululemon’s reversible 5mm mat ($88), which has excellent grip and just enough cushion. Another great option is the Heathyoga mat ($40), which is soft without being so squishy it throws off balance.
  • Yoga gear: Other than a mat, yoga blocks (we like the Manduka cork block, $22) are the most important addition to a yoga setup. Whether you go for a single block or a pair, they help provide extra room to get into poses like Half Moon or deepen stretches. Straps, like this Everyday Yoga option, $6, can also assist with stretches.
  • Weights: You can level up with light dumbbells (like this Amazon Basics pair, $13.64) and wrist or ankle weights (we like CAP’s wrist and ankle barbell weights, $14.99), which are great for yoga sculpt classes. They’ll add new challenges to your workout and keep your sessions from getting too repetitive.
  • Comfort items: Consider some cushioned elevation to assist with your practice, whether you need an extension of the ground for a pose or a surface for your end-of-practice moment of zen. A yoga blanket (Everyday Yoga, $18.95), bolster (Everyday Yoga, $48.98), or meditation pillow (Brentwood Home, $59) will do the trick.

If all you need to make your home gym dreams come true is a yoga mat, $40 or so will do. For a more elaborate yoga room with all the best gear, budget up to $250. Just keep make sure to avoid clutter so you can evoke a sense of calm and happiness whenever you step into your workout area.

4. The Minimalist

You either live in a small space or just don’t like the idea of cluttering your home with gym equipment. For anyone that lives by the mantra “less is more,” a full home gym may be out of the question. 

But that shouldn’t keep you from creating a—non-cluttered—workout area in your home:

  • Yoga mat: If you haven’t noticed it yet, we love a good yoga mat for almost every workout discipline. And it’s the perfect piece of equipment for a minimalist. It’s easy to roll up and tuck away or, in the right vessel, can function as a minimalist piece of decor in your meditation corner. 
  • Adjustable kettlebells: Kettlebells are some of the most versatile weights you can find—especially the adjustable versions (like the Bowflex Selecttech 840, $119) that allow you to swap between different poundage levels with a click. They come with a learning curve, so do some research on how to use them properly or sign up for a workout app that features kettlebells in its workouts. (Obé, $27 a month, and Aaptiv both have options.) Once you’ve gotten the hang of them, kettlebells are a worthy way to incorporate strength training into your routine.
  • Pull-up bar: You can easily install and store a portable doorway pull-up bar, like this Flybird option for $59.99. (Just make sure it’s secure—it’s worth springing for professional installation if needed.) Use it for pull-ups or core-strengthening knee-ups.
  • Resistance bands: Resistance bands (we like this set of Arena Strength Bands, $19.99) can make pull-ups easier. They can also serve as a substitute for barbells or free weights.
  • Smart storage solutions: Whatever equipment or gear you get for your home workouts, make sure everything has a designated spot when it’s not in use. Whether that’s a designated tube (Mache, $108) for your yoga mat or a pretty basket (Yamazaki Home, $38) for your resistance bands, it’s all about keeping tidy when you’re living that minimalist lifestyle.

Similar to the yoga-inspired home gym, you can put your minimalist space together for as little as $25. If you plan to invest in a few weights, resistance bands, and other gadgets, calculate up to $500.

A minimalist approach to creating a home gym will by no means impact how well you can work out at home. It’s all about finding out what kind of exercise is your jam and how you can incorporate the gear you need into your design.

5. The Weight Lifter  

You’re obsessed with getting stronger, your goal is to add new plates to your barbell every week, and your Instagram stories are mostly progress pictures and videos showcasing your #gains.

As a true weight lifting enthusiast, you’re most likely to think that a home gym is just not for you. But if you’re sick of paying a monthly membership fee or just don’t feel like sharing equipment with people who don’t clean it properly, know that you can make the same progress with less stress at home. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Gym flooring: Whether you’re setting your home gym up in the garage or in the home office of your third-floor apartment, a gym floor made of rubber, cork, or foam will not only soften the fall of your barbell and protect your floor but also significantly reduce the noise you make (your neighbors will thank you). Consider these TrafficMaster interlocking tiles ($3.40 per square foot), which are made of shock absorbing foam that supports all kinds of workouts. If you don’t feel like dealing with tiles, a large workout mat, like this one from Gorilla Mats ($119), may provide the support you need.
  • Mirror: Poor form when weight lifting wreaks havoc on your joints and muscles. Invest in a full-length mirror to check your form during workouts and prevent injuries. Plus, how else will you take progress pics? A mounted activity mirror, like this one from Hans and Alice ($159.99 for one 31.5 by 47.2-inch panel and $319.99 for two) is the way to go—it won’t create a tripping hazard, and its reflective surface is big enough for you to see what you’re doing.
  • Basic weights: Now, hear us out: You don’t need all the weights in the world. A barbell (Titan Fitness, $64.99), some weight plates that suit your ability (starting at $11.50 at Rogue Fitness), squat rack (Titan Fitness, $299.99), and weight bench (Bowflex, $299) are technically all you need to get started, according to Strong Home Gym. These four pieces of equipment allow you to work out every muscle in your body with a bit of creativity.

If you opt for the most basic setup, $250 is a great start. However, high-quality weight lifting equipment can get expensive—don’t be surprised if your total adds up to $5,000 or more. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to fill your gym with more equipment than you’ll actually use.

6. The Fickle Fitness Friend 

Zumba? Tried it. Yoga? Done it. Rock climbing? Sure. You’ve tried pretty much all types of exercise and each time it feels like you’ve found your calling—only to discover a couple weeks down the line that it’s not exciting anymore.

But this doesn’t keep you from moving your body—you’re constantly on the hunt for new types of exercise and engaging workouts. To protect you from spending all of your money on expensive equipment that will eventually collect dust, diversify your home gym equipment: 

  • The not-as-expensive basics: Start with items that tend to come up in almost every kind of workout, such as a yoga mat (we recommend our budget pick, the $40 Heathyoga mat), booty bands (such as Arena Strength‘s band set, $42) and a pair of 5-to-10-pound dumbbells (this Portzon set starts at $14.99). This starter pack provides you with the essentials for a cardio workout, basic strength exercises, and stretches. After that, you can gradually fill your home gym inventory with a variety of affordable, fun gadgets and equipment.
  • Fun, affordable gadgets and equipment: Gamify your exercise with a weighted hula hoop (Dumoyi, $64.99) to work your core or mini trampoline/rebounder (BCAN, $139.99) to get a unique cardio workout.
  • TV or screen: While it may not make sense for you to commit to an app, there are plenty of free exercise videos online. A screen that you can connect to your laptop or a TV with internet access will make it easy for you to follow instructions while working out.

Assuming you already have a TV in your home, you can get a yoga mat and a few weights for about $50. If you plan to add a trampoline or other fun equipment to your home gym, increase your budget to about $200–$400.

If you’re struggling to find a workout routine that keeps you excited long-term, maybe you just haven’t focused enough on finding something that’s fun for you. So keep looking, and move your body as you do it—that’s what’s important!

7. The WFH Lounger

When did you last leave your house during the day? Hard to say. You spend most of your week sitting in your home office chair and could really use a designated area to make up for the steps you’re not taking during the day. 

Here’s how you can incorporate a little more movement into your day:

  • Exercise machine or punching bag: It’s much easier to motivate yourself to work out after a long day of working at home when it’s fun. An engaging exercise machine like a Peloton or a Tonal makes it easier to hold yourself accountable and offers a variety of engaging workouts. If you don’t want to invest in smart technology, get a punching bag (Everlast 40 lb., $64.99)! Boxing is a full-body workout and an amazing way to clear your mind.
  • Wearable: A wearable like the Apple Watch (starting at $399) or Fitbit (starting at $100) can be a great motivator. You can set reminders to get you moving during the day or simply track your steps throughout the day.
  • Accountability tracker: Hang a whiteboard or calendar in your workout area, pencil in the routine you’d like to stick with, that you can check off every time you stick to your routine. Even if all you did today was a 5-minute yoga flow, you moved your body and that’s what counts! 

A punching bag and glove setup cost as little as $120. If you’re more the type for an exercise machine though, plan to spend up to $2,800 plus whatever the membership costs.

8. The Creative Type

You rarely use the gym because you spend most of your time in nature or with your friends trying out the newest workout trend. You’ve hiked almost every trail in your city, would never say no to something like goat yoga or aerial silks, and love moving your body in any way, shape, or form.

Here are a few ideas for a home gym that will keep the creative type active:

  • Rock-climbing wall: Who says you need to go to a gym for bouldering? If your space allows it, create a rock-climbing wall in your backyard or home gym—or a smaller rock climbing simulator, like CLMBR, starting at $2,495. Besides, how fun is it to invite friends over and boulder in your personal home gym?
  • Jump rope: A jump rope is much more than a warm-up tool. You can challenge your mind and body by trying out some advanced moves and tricks. Crossrope‘s weighted jump rope set ($288) will help you get a strength and cardio workout.
  • Dance floor, pole, or barre: A dance floor or dance room is the perfect place to let your creative energy flow. You can take online dance classes from a platform like Obé or install a dance pole (Vivohome Dance Pole, starting at $139.99) to develop strength, coordination, and flexibility.

Dance poles start at about $80—although, if you’re going all out for your creative home gym, budget up to $2,500 or more.

For a creative type like you, it’s vital to find a way to move your body that keeps you entertained and activates your mind. Clearing your mind during a workout will positively impact the way you think and help you work creatively outside of the gym, too.

9. The Parent

You haven’t been to the gym in years because you’re not quite sure what to do with your kids or fur babies while you’re gone. Figuring out a workout routine as a parent (or paw-rent) can be challenging. 

With the right set-up, you won’t just keep your little ones safe icon-trusted-source American Academy of Pediatrics “Childproofing Home Exercise Equipment” View Source , but you’ll also create an area that allows you to focus on yourself:

  • Enclosed space or locked storage: To keep little fingers or paws safe from dangerous equipment, a separate room is ideal. If that’s not available to you, make sure to store your workout gear in a locked closet or high up on a shelf in a box. An enclosed area or room is also great for keeping your kids or furry friends from distracting you while you work out. 
  • Pet- or kid-inclusive workout routine: If you live in tight quarters and have to do your home gym setup in your living room or bedroom, get creative with a solution that incorporates your family. Perhaps you can start your workout with a little dance routine that includes your kids before they watch a show while you pedal your heart out on your exercise bike. Or maybe you can let your pet hang out in a crate next to you while you’re lifting weights.

If the cost is what scares you the most, know that $100 can buy you a few weights and a yoga mat for simple at-home workouts. For extra storage or more unconventional equipment, you can budget up to $2,500.

Find out what works for you and your family and personalize your workout space accordingly.

Earn rewards with your home gym

Investing in home gym equipment isn’t just good for your physical health. It’s also an opportunity to earn points with your health and wellness spend. After assembling your home gym, you’ll have plenty of rewards to spend on more health-related items and services.

Join our waitlist and be one of the first to experience Ness. 

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