A home gym can be extremely rewarding – from planning and building it, to the long-term use and savings you’ll experience. This site is about how I planned, built and use mine, with some other fitness-related aspects including my workouts and how you can build and maintain your own home gym.
I’m Travis. I built my garage gym at my home in Northern California for a couple reasons, not least of all because sometimes it can be hard to get out the door and to the gym every day. The easier it is to get into my workouts, I figured, the more likely I would be to stay consistent with my fitness.
As I gradually add to it, it becomes more and more the complete solution to my own personal fitness that I need. Is it fancy, like a commercial gym? Certainly not – I don’t have the cables or elaborate machines available for a monthly membership. But I can get in the work I want to do, and with some benefits I just can’t get from a commercial gym. Maybe you’ve been thinking about doing something similar yourself, and that’s how you landed here. Everybody is different, but maybe you’ll be able to find some similar motivations to mine that will make you put some serious thought into building your own home or garage gym.
- Is it easier to stay consistent? For me, yes, but not in a motivational way. It’s simply logistics: When I know I only have to walk 15 feet out my back door to the gym instead of drive 15 minutes each way, that’s one more excuse I can cut out. Even on days that I’m not feeling a workout, it’s usually pretty easy to pop out to the garage and get something in, at least, to get the blood flowing.
- So, is this cheaper than a gym membership? Long term, that’s the bet. If you figure on about a $40/mo. gym membership, and you plan (as I do) to stay active at least til you’re retired, you could spend upward of $15,000 on membership fees alone. Let’s not forget to factor in time spent driving and fuel – they add up. Elsewhere on this site, I’ll break down what I’ve spent on everything it’s taken to convert my two-car garage into a gym. Spoiler alert: It’s a lot less than $15,000.
- Is it harder/easier to get distracted? If you are the kind of person whose gym doubles as a social club, it’s obvious: A garage gym won’t be for you. I personally used to jam my headphones in before I got out of the parking lot when I was going to the gym, so I could avoid interaction and focus on my work, so now, a solitary solution like a garage gym is perfect for me. I don’t have to wait for equipment or disrupt my workouts for small talk when I run into someone I know. Typically, I can get through most of my workouts in 35-45 minutes. Are there distractions? Sure, sometimes. Knowing nobody is watching means you have to be accountable to yourself alone – that can be a challenge when it comes to keeping an eye on your rest periods or staying focused. But it’s not exactly like I’ve got the TV on out in my garage. Crossing the threshold into my gym is a good way to reset my mental state and focus.
- How do you deal with not having machines/cables/specialty equipment? One trade-off I knew I’d have to make early on was giving up a lot of fancy movements made possible by expensive equipment: Almost anything with a cable, or isolated single-joint movement machines, were out of the question because I need to maximize space and my budget. A $2,500 commercial weight stack cable machine, while super useful, isn’t feasible for my garage. My workout plans are all built around classic, basic lifts that can be executed with free weights: Barbell or dumbbell movements, mostly. I also invested in a set of bands that, in a pinch, make a fine replacement for cable movements. And the squat rack I purchased has a low and high pulley that gets good use. All in all, a more bare-bones approach to my workouts means I can maximize the equipment I have without needing or missing specialty equipment. I always substitute free-weight or body-weight movements for machine movements any time I see them in a workout.
- Do you use any of your space for “garage” storage? I do, though the plan long-term is to build a small storage shed behind the garage for the lawnmower, tools and those bins of Christmas lights and stuff. More than two-thirds of the floor space is covered in mats and thus dedicated to gym space, though!