I can’t tell you how many times I googled, “how to build a home gym” between 2020 and 2022. Being locked out of my beloved neighborhood gym during the height of the pandemic was no fun. Push-ups and endless crunches–ok, some crunches–were only getting me so far. By the time I found myself overhead pressing wine bottles, I knew something had to change. But how to go about it?
The Advantages of a Home Gym:
It may seem obvious. A gym in the home? What’s not to love! But even the best ideas tend to fall flat when met with the stiff resistance of a dollar sign. So, before laying out what your home gym venture might cost, let’s solidify the “why” behind the “how” and “how much.”
You need to work out.
This was especially true during the pandemic, but it’s true in normal times as well. Working out is good for the mind, body, and soul. It improves our health, keeps us sane, and makes us feel accomplished. Not a bad return for ~45-60 minutes a few times a week!
The gym is far.
Your gym may be a short or long drive away. It may be a long walk. Maybe it’s a 15-minute bike ride. In any event, that’s time you’re not getting back. Much like the argument for working from home, the argument for working out at home centers around the undeniable fact that commuting is wasted time. I for one don’t want to waste even 10 minutes of my time. My binge-watching habit needs all the hours I can spare, after all.
The gym is icky.
I’ve been in some beautiful gyms. I’ve also been in gyms that would make the rats say “yuck”. Something about hordes of sweaty, smelly strangers congregating in a space where I too will be sweaty and smelly is… less than pleasant. There’s also the privacy factor. For those of us who don’t care to be ogled when working out, or who don’t want to be distracted by others, the home gym is a no-brainer.
It’s not as expensive as you think… compared to that gym habit.
Gyms are expensive, and getting more so every year–it’s totally normal to pay $30+ for a single class or $100+ a month for a standard gym membership (way more for those boujee circuit training gyms we all love). You know what’s not getting more expensive? Equipment and space you already own. Consider also that “time is money” aspect, and so is gas (this really makes the “no commute” plan even more tantalizing). And, let’s not forget, much like a house, gym equipment can be sold for a profit once you’re ready to move on from it. Sure, you might not get back every dollar you put in, but considering the resale factor can really help balance the math if you’re on the fence about whether to invest in a home gym.
Ideal Locations for Your Home Gym:
Ok, I’ll come clean. I’ve been making a radical assumption this whole time. I’ve been assuming that you already have a home to build your home gym in. If you don’t, we can certainly help change that for you ;). If that’s not on the horizon, never fear–there are viable gym options for even the smallest of condos & apartments.
When choosing a location within your house for your home gym, consider the following options:
1.) Spare Room or Dedicated Space.
If you have a spare room, basement, or garage, these areas can be transformed into an ideal home gym space. Having a separate room allows you to create a dedicated fitness environment, which promotes focus and motivation. Garages and basements/ ground level floors in particular are often good areas for a home gym, as they usually sit directly on a concrete slab, which provides a good and safe base for whatever heavy equipment you may end up throwing around.
2.) Multi-Purpose Areas.
If you lack extra space, consider utilizing multi-purpose areas like your living room, bedroom, or patio. By rearranging furniture and investing in collapsible or portable equipment, you can effectively create a workout space that seamlessly blends with your living area. This is the likeliest option for the small apartment/condo crowd I referenced above; just be sure you’re mindful of downstairs neighbors and invest in sufficient floor padding, if necessary!.
3.) Build Your Own Gym Adventure.
For those with an abundance of land (or even just barely enough) and a shortage of unspoken-for indoor space, you may want to consider going the from-scratch route. Building a separate structure can be expensive, but you can really make it your own: a perfect workout sanctum. Such structures can be fully self-contained within four walls, but they can also be simple gazebo-style spaces, covered only from above (so long as you don’t mind a little proximity to the elements).
Equipment Setups for Different Fitness Levels:
Choosing your equipment is the meat and potatoes of the home gym creation experience. The equipment you choose for your home gym will depend on your fitness goals and budget. The configuration options are nearly endless. Here are three broad levels of equipment setups to consider:
1.) Basic Essentials.
A basic home gym setup may include items such as resistance bands, a stability ball, adjustable dumbbells, and/or a yoga mat. These versatile and affordable pieces of equipment can provide a wide range of workout options for beginners and those with limited space or budget. They are also easily moveable and re-configurable, should you find yourself needing to adjust your workout space in the future. The basic essentials level is also a good place to start for those who want to take advantage of the way-reduced cost of the many, many virtual workout classes more convenient) than going to classes in-person.
2.) Intermediate Upgrades.
As you progress in your fitness journey, you may want to invest in equipment such as a treadmill, stationary bike, or a power rack with a barbell and weight plates. These additions offer more intense cardio and strength training options. This is often a good place to start for those dedicated gym goers whose main purpose for building a home gym is efficiency, rather than trying to save money, etc. Just beware, you get what you pay for when it comes to this intermediate level equipment. I have a friend who powerlifts at home. She cheaped out on the floor covering (you need a hard, somewhat rubbery surface for these workouts) and she’s regretting it now. Get stuff that will last in order to make the most of your intermediate setup.
3.) Advanced Additions.
This is for the, “I literally have a full gym in my house,” fanatics out there, aka “dedicated fitness enthusiasts”. For these individuals, advanced equipment like cable machines, rowing machines, or a multi-station gym tower setup can take home workouts to the next level. These options provide a comprehensive range of exercises and are suitable for those with more specific training goals. You may never need to go to a gym again!
Cost Estimates for Building a Home Gym:
The cost of setting up a home gym can vary depending on your chosen equipment and level of complexity. Here’s a very rough estimate for each setup:
a) Basic Essentials: $100 – $800
b) Intermediate Upgrades: $800 – $3,000
c) Advanced Additions: $3,000 and above
Remember, these are rough estimates, and prices can fluctuate based on brand, quality, and where you purchase your equipment. Try to get equipment that will last you a long time, rather than pieces that are slightly cheaper but will have frustrating flaws or need to be replaced in the near future.
Ideal House Types for Building a Home Gym:
While a home gym can be set up in various types of houses and condos/apartments, looking out for a few key factors can enhance your experience:
1.) Spacious Floor Plan. Look for houses with ample square footage, allowing you to dedicate a room or section of the house solely for your gym. Sometimes extra bedrooms can feel like a waste of space–not anymore if you plan to build a home gym!
2.) Soundproofing. Opt for houses with good sound insulation or rooms that are naturally secluded from living spaces. This ensures that your workouts won’t disturb other family members or neighbors. If you want to go the garage route, try to prioritize homes with “finished” garages; aka, garages with insulation, heat, and substantial electrical service.
3.) Natural Light and Ventilation. Houses with large windows, skylights, or good airflow promote a pleasant workout environment. Natural light can boost mood and energy, while proper ventilation helps maintain air quality during intense exercise sessions. This is why many individuals love the home-gym garage, as you can easily open the door for added light and airflow in the warmer months.
In general, mid-century and larger modern homes will be easier to build gyms in than turn-of-the-century craftsmen and smaller homes. Also, the further you get from the city, the more likely you’ll be able to afford space to spare for a home gym. Feel free to reach out to us if you want more specific insight on what King County neighborhoods get you the most square footage for your dollar!
Setting up a home gym is a rewarding investment that grants you the freedom and convenience to pursue your fitness goals on your terms. Whether you choose a basic setup or opt for a more comprehensive array of equipment, the benefits of having a home gym are undeniable. Consider your available space, budget, and fitness objectives to tailor your home gym experience to suit your needs. Embrace the idea of transforming your house into a sanctuary of fitness, and enjoy the convenience and comfort it brings.