How to Create Your Ideal Home Gym

You just got home from a long day at work and you know you’ve got a long night of household duties ahead, but you also know you need your workout to keep your life balanced. Or maybe it’s freezing cold, first thing in the morning, and you’re not super excited to leave the comfort of your home to get your heart rate going. Or maybe it’s just Saturday afternoon and your basement is a lot closer than your gym.

Or maybe you have been in all of these situations at some point in your life. You wish you had a home gym, huh? If you read about that time I went to the gym but came home and lifted wine bottles instead, you know I, too, have wished for this.

According to home-gym designer Michael Blauner, this dream may be more realistic than you thought. If you have a rack of dumbbells, a treadmill, and enough room to move around, you’re well on your way.

Blauner says the best thing for anyone to have in their home gym is a rack of dumbbells, or a universal weight rack as he prefers to call it, appropriately weighted for the individual. “Nothing works better than old school.”

The only other essential is a treadmill. “When it comes to cardio equipment, nothing compares to a treadmill,” he says. “If you’re prone to injury, you can walk at a slow pace. It’s a natural motion. It’s the most enjoyable feeling of cardiovascular exercise.” 

If you have a lot of control in your design, Blauner suggests either a hardwood floor covered with a rubber mat or wall-to-wall rubber flooring. He does not recommend tile or carpet.

Changing your flooring may be a bigger commitment or investment than you want, so a simpler undertaking is to incorporate nature and color. Painting is a great start. Blauner suggests using bright colors, such as bright blue, green, orange, or natural tones to complement any kind of nature you can pull in. It’s helpful if you are able to use a space with a lot of windows. If not, try adding artwork.

Another of Blauner’s suggestions is to include a wall of mirrors if possible. These are more to check your form than your hair, he says, and they help to make the room feel larger.

Blauner cautions against including a TV in your home gym if you can avoid it. They’re good if you need a distraction for a long cardio session, but they can provide unwanted distraction at other times. Instead, if you can incorporate music, such as with a sound system, that can help improve your workout flow. He’s had some clients feel in such a zone during a workout with good music that they barely remember what exercises they did when they were done. It may not even be something you consciously notice, but music can have a great effect on your workout.

Above all, the key to creating a home gym is to find what works for you. “Start with the basics,” Blauner suggests, “then develop from there. It doesn’t take much.”

In the possibility that is your own home gym, Blauner says, “the sky is the limit.”

What would you include in your ideal home gym? —Megan

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