I’d always dreamed about having my own gym. Well, more like my own dojo. I was a big fan of Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies growing up and I’ve trained in martial arts for some time. You know those training montages where the hero is prepping for the big battle? I wanted to have a space to do just that, available 24/7. Never mind that I didn’t actually have some heroic duel to train for.
Last year, I got my chance when my parents invested in an apartment complex across the street from our house. There was one room that was sort of an annex to one of the units, so I asked if I could use it as a personal gym. I wanted to create a hybrid of an open matted space/functional training area coupled with a conventional bench and dumbbells. Over a few weeks, I planned how I was going to lay the place out and what kind of work I would have to do to get it exactly how I wanted it.
Since I’ve set up ‘The Tulshed’ (get it?), I’ve been able to work out at whatever time fits my schedule. I’ve also been able to invite friends and training partners over to come work out or spar. If you want to set up your own home gym, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned that might help you achieve that dream:
Make sure your space is well-ventilated
Unless you want to bottle your workout stench and sell it to fellow gym rats, you’ll want to make sure that your chosen space has ample ventilation. Aside from adding some wall fans, I also installed a small exhaust fan so that my home gym becomes quite breezy.
Have shelves to store your things
My initial plan was to just lay mats down in the room and just store my gear wherever was convenient. Then I realized I’d be better off having a shelf where I could place everything. That way, I’d have more space to exercise since my clutter wouldn’t get in the way. Plus, it would make my workouts less of a hassle. The last thing you want to do before you exercise is tidy up.
Get your workout gear from wholesalers
When stocking up your home gym, your first instinct might be to hit the mall to look at sports stores. If you plan on buying stuff like rubber mats, dumbbells, and so on, your best bet is to look for wholesalers who supply the mall shops. Their prices are cheaper and they might even give you some sort of discount if you buy in bulk.
Invest in cleaning products
Aside from investing in your workout gear, you should also buy a set of mops and brooms that you’ll use solely for your gym and nowhere else. You’ll be sweating (and possibly lying down) all over the place when you work out, so you want to make sure your space is clean and free of harmful bacteria. Need motivation? Look up staph infection on Google. I dare you.
Add equipment as you progress, not all at once
At first, I was so excited about my project that I wanted to fill it with every exercise machine and gizmo I could think of. Due to my limited budget, I ended up settling for a few key things plus the equipment my brother and I already had at home. I found that I didn’t need that much equipment for my workouts. As I progress in my fitness (and financial) journey, I’ll add more equipment later on. Think of your home gym as an evolving creature, rather than a finished product.
Consult a professional if you need to
While planning, I decided I was going to hang up a punching bag/pull-up bar set up. I sought out a nearby metal shop to get it cut and fitted. Thankfully I did; it turned out that the original place where I wanted to install it isn’t solid or stable enough to support the weight. If you’re not sure about setting something up in your home gym, consult a professional first. It could save you money and injury later on.
Make the space YOURS
Your home gym can be more than just a space to work out. It’s a chance to create your own personal temple—a place where you can be alone and away from the rest of the world. Kind of like a man cave but with dumbbells instead of gaming consoles. Decorate your home gym with whatever ornaments and colors make you happy. After all, exercising is more than just about looking good—it’s about feeling good, too.