Depending on where you live—and what season it is—it may be too hot or too cold to go for a leisurely jog. Some people may be a bit too self-conscious (and don’t want to be tempted by the awesome burger place next door) to go to the gym 10 minutes away. Or they prefer to work out within the comfortable confines of their own home.
Luckily, you can do just that. All you need to do is create your own home gym.
So what does a home gym look like?
A home gym can be as large or as small as you need it to be, depending on your space, budget and your training regimen. You might not have the budget for a home gym like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s.
But Haylie Duff’s old setup may be more up your alley.
There’s a variety of items to think about when building a home gym, such as space, budget and equipment.
Key Workout Equipment to Purchase
It can be a little daunting to figure out what you need for your home gym, so I recommend starting with some basics:
1. Yoga Mat: Other than a towel for wiping sweat off your brow, a yoga mat is going to be one of the cheapest, but most important, items in your home gym. Ranging from $5 up to $50 for a high-end one, these mats are highly versatile. In addition to its original purpose—gotta work on those poses, you can also use it to catch all your sweat from hitting the floor during a tough body pump workout or as a soft surface for pre- and post-workout stretching.
2. Kettlebell: You can use this small yet versatile piece of equipment for squats, thrusters, deadlifts, swings and a variety of other exercises. Kettlebells can run from about $20 to more than $100, depending on weight. It’s best to keep a variety of them in your home gym.
3. Light/Heavy Dumbbell Combination: Ideally, you need at least two pairs of light and two pairs of heavy dumbbells to mix up your workout routine. Light dumbbells are great for building muscular endurance or performing exercises in some of your weaker areas, while heavy dumbbells help you to build strength.
4. Barbell/Squat Rack: This equipment combo is essential for classic workouts like squats, presses, curls and Olympic lifts to help in building strength and muscle. If you lack the space, though, dumbbells can do the trick.
5. Treadmill/Cardio Bike (Optional): Not everyone has room for one of these, but especially if you live in areas prone to snow during the winter or scorching heat in the summer, a treadmill or a stationary bike is an excellent way to get some easy cardio in (chasing after your kids helps as well, if you have some). They can be a little loud at times, but these machines can help you rack up those miles when the weather isn’t cooperating.
Use Space Wisely
Space is one of the most important factors to figure out when building a home gym. Size is important: you want enough room to move around and do multiple types of workouts. On the other hand, you know there’s only so much space in a room for a gym.
One factor that can guide you when thinking about how much space you need is the dimensions for the workout equipment you want to include. A treadmill requires 30 square feet, while a free weights station needs 20-50 square feet. If you want a rowing machine, that’s another 20 square feet. A rowing machine might run 20 square feet.
You should also consider the height of the space and the air inside of it. Your space should be at least 8 feet high and should contain some kind of air conditioning, including a ceiling or box fan. Fans promote good circulation in the room—and no one wants to work out in a smelly, sweltering room in their home, do they?
Do you want natural sunlight to start a workday workout off right? Or is a windowless room where you can totally focus on your workout more important to you?
One important aspect of the home gym space you need to think about is flooring. While some opt to go with wooden floors (believe us, carpet and sweat don’t go well together) for the nicer look, rubber tiles are much better for protecting against that inadvertent barbell drop.
A 16-pack of these tiles might run you $600 but they are a good investment for helping you maintain balance in a workout, plus they are easy to maintain and protect your floor a lot better than the alternatives.
Consider Your Budget
If you’ve got Shaquille O’Neal kind of money, you can do anything you want to your gym. You can even add a basketball court to the inside of your new home.
For the rest of us mortals, you shouldn’t need to spend more than $3,000 on home gym equipment even if you’re getting all the bells and whistles. Sure, you may want a punching bag or a rowing machine, but even the top-of-the-line workout equipment won’t run you over $2,000.
Whatever the case, make sure your gym fits your needs. Study up on your lifting technique as well. You will most likely be going at it alone, and you don’t want a freak injury to occur due to improper form while lifting.
Adam Rosenfield is a writer living in Austin, Texas. He enjoys playing and watching all sports, especially matchups involving his Dallas sports teams.