Designing Your Home Gym

In recent years, home gyms have become almost as prevalent as home offices. Even though we can certainly traipse down to our favorite workout facility for a fairly nominal monthly fee, many people would rather have the added convenience of having a well equipped facility right in their own home. Besides being infinitely more convenient, home gyms also offer the added benefit of a reduced chance of illness from the spread of germs at the shared facilities.

Creating a home gym requires thoughtful preparation
Creating a home gym requires thoughtful preparation

So, if you’ve made the decision to include a gym in your new home’s plan or add one to your existing home, how will you design this highly personal space? If you are designing a new home, customizing your space will be a bit easier than retrofitting an older home. But the same ideas apply to all spaces.

Let’s start from the ground (floor) and move on from there. First of all make sure that your architect, engineer, or builder knows which room you intend to use for your workout sanctuary. They need to ensure that the structure of the flooring system is capable of withstanding the weight of the large pieces of equipment that are often incorporated into these spaces. This especially holds true for a second floor gym in an older home.

Enjoy your workout!
Enjoy your workout!

While we’re on the subject of the floor, let’s talk about flooring material. The ideal flooring material for a home gym is half inch rubber flooring. It can be glued right to the concrete slab. If you already have ceramic or porcelain tile down, it can be placed on top of the existing tile using interlocking square rubber tiles. Rubber flooring will absorb the impact of the weights and heavy equipment, provide a cushion between your feet and the hard floor, and provide some acoustical absorption (keeping things a little quieter).

Now let’s consider the lighting plan of the space. Of course, natural lighting is key to any good lighting plan. Always take advantage of any day lighting opportunities that are available. If you don’t want to take up too much wall space with windows, install transom (fixed glass) windows on the top portion of the exterior walls, and you can also use skylights. This is not a living room or bedroom where you will have floor lamps and table lamps placed around the room. Ideally, you will utilize all of your floor space for equipment and places to stretch out or do your floor exercises (those pesky pushups, perhaps). Put your lighting on the ceiling where it belongs. When it comes to artificial lighting, recessed lights in the ceiling, along with a variety of other architectural lighting possibilities are available that will provide proper lighting as well as aesthetic interest to the space.

The next thing to consider in your design will be your electrical needs for the equipment. Some of the equipment that you might purchase for your home gym may require 220 voltage, rather than the 110 volts that is standard for home electrical outlets. The 220 voltage provides a continuous stream of electricity to the machine and is often necessary for some commercial grade equipment. You will also need to make decisions early in the building phase as to where these outlets will be located. Will you require floor outlets in addition to wall outlets?

Another electrical consideration involves the placement of the television. Time spent on the cardio equipment goes by much quicker when you can while away the time watching your favorite show. It’s important to decide where the television will be placed, because it will probably be wall mounted and the outlet needs to be conveniently located high on the wall for that purpose. Remember, it’s easier and cheaper to take care of the electrical needs before the drywall is installed.

Don’t forget the mirrors! Everyone needs at least one oversized mirror in their gym to check on the progress of their muscle building and body toning. Seeing our bodies in motion provides motivation to keep up the good work and ensures that we maintain proper form during our exercises. Be sure to place your mirror at least twenty inches from the floor; this provides a buffer in case bar bells and free weights roll against the wall. We certainly don’t want seven years of bad luck or a dangerous mess on our hands.

A great work out space is definitely motivating!
A great work out space is definitely motivating!

Last, but certainly not least, is the selection of the exercise equipment and its placement in the room. When you meet with a professional who specializes in home gym equipment, such as Gym Source in Sarasota, they will take the time to ask you a whole list of pertinent questions regarding your fitness goals, any injuries, ailments or physical conditions or limitations you may have, and your past experiences and preferences for various exercise routines. And, of course, you will discuss the budget for your home gym.

This important assessment will allow these trained professionals to make specific recommendations for your equipment and your space. They can provide a layout of the room based on the actual space you have and the equipment you will be using. They will also take into consideration the necessary space (clearances) required around each piece of equipment to make your new home gym truly functional, comfortable and user friendly.

All of these design considerations deserve your attention before you go to the expense and trouble of building a home gym. After all, if the space is poorly designed, you won’t want to spend any time in it pumping, toning or even watching your favorite show from the comfort of your elliptical machine. I’m sure you can think of lots of reasons not to exercise, but let’s not let a poorly designed gym be one of them!

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