See how you can turn half of a garage into home gym. Setup a small space as a functional exercise area with ideas for equipment, mat flooring, inexpensive mirrors, and more!
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Just a few minutes before I started writing this post, I was watching a news report that mentioned how spending had shifted during the pandemic. Instead of spending money on entertainment and travel outside of the home, people are spending money on their home instead.
Lawn, home improvement, and home decor sales are through the roof. And I totally believe it - we're one of the families that have shifted our spending significantly!
Once it became clear that travel wasn't going to be a viable option for 2020, we decided to shift the money we would have been spending on vacations into ways to make our home more enjoyable and functional. Today's post is all about my absolute favorite project - our half garage home gym!
If you've ever followed along on Instagram, you might have seen that I am a bit of a gym rat. I love it. It's my "me time." I've found it to be an excellent way to keep my body strong and healthy, manage anxiety issues I've battled for years, and spend an hour or so easy day solely focusing on bettering myself. Adding exercise into my day (even on days when I don't necessarily want to do it) has been one of the best things I've ever done for myself.
But - just like everything else, Covid changed everything. At first, I was able to make do with some of the smaller weights and a treadmill we had at home, but that got old quickly. Once we realized that we might be in this for the long haul, I decided I needed a dedicated space in our home for my daily workouts - and our home gym was born.
We had about 100 square feet of space to work with in half of our garage. But I'll warn you - the before picture isn't pretty.
(Kind of Scary) Before
Here's what our "half garage gym" looked like before. It was a nightmare and was barely functional. Over the course of 2020, we did a lot to organize our garage. This half of the garage was probably the one that needed the most attention.
It only took a few really intentional mini projects to go from this scary space to an organized, useful space! Let's take a look at 5 of my favorite garage gym ideas.
Idea 1: Clear out half of the garage; replace what you can use in your gym.
My first step in basically any home project is to clear the area out. Starting with a blank canvas really lets you design a space that is functional for you.
Organize the things that were cluttering the area in similar groups, putting the items that can be used for your project to the side. When I cleaned out this corner of the garage, I found these foam mats (from when my kids were babies) that were perfect for lining our concrete floor space. Horse stall mats work great for this, too. We also had a few weights and an air conditioner that has been so useful in our hot garage.
Once you've picked out what you can upcycle, organize everything else in other places in the home.
Garage Gym Idea 2: Now that you know what you have, decide on what new items you'll need.
Once we figured out what we already had (rubber flooring, treadmill, yoga blocks, a couple of kettlebells and a small set of dumbbells), my husband and I both sat down and thought about what our essentials for this space had to be.
I missed weight training, so some kind of weights/bands were a priority. I had also been using the Peloton app with the spinning bikes at my gym and had really fallen in love with it. There's lots more about this in this post, but we decided that a Peloton-compatible bike was also high on that list.
My husband likes watching TV while he walks/runs, and I thought it would be really useful to add a TV for my streaming workouts; that went on the list too.
Idea 3: Repurpose where you can.
We found a few items that we were able to repurpose at no cost.
Besides the rubber tiles, the barre you see in the picture above was actually a rail that had to be installed by our garage steps to meet building code. We never used it (it was pretty far away from the door), so we unscrewed it and relocated to the gym. It works perfectly for barre workouts!
The three larger mirrors in the gym are new (can be found pretty inexpensively at Lowe's here), but our in-laws just happened to have a smaller plate mirror (that fit perfectly above the barre) from an old remodel.
The area of our garage where we put the gym is right next to a wall storage area. We sorted the items on the adjoining pegboard to allow us a little bit of resistance band organization in this board as well. And this pegboard is actually a repurpose of a repurpose - this was left over from our craft room pegboard project, so we've gotten way more use out of it than expected!
A gym is an area that's really versatile - lots of things can be used for gym equipment! Look around your home before rushing out to buy lots of new things.
Small Gym Idea 4: Stick to 2-3 cornerstone pieces of home gym equipment.
Since we had our treadmill already and really wanted to add in a bike, this was a no-brainer for us. Our treadmill was a Facebook marketplace find - we scored a commercial-quality treadmill at about 1/10 the normal price when a gym went out of business.
(The model is a Precor C956i. For what you'd pay for this one new, I'd definitely go with something like the Peloton Tread if I was choosing. We do love it for the price we paid though!)
I did a lot of research on what bike I wanted for this space. Of course, a Peloton would have been the obvious choice. But I just couldn't bring myself to spend over $2000 on a bike (plus another $40+ per month for the membership).
After reading a lot about features of other stationary bikes, I decided on a Schwinn IC4 ...and I couldn't be happier with the decision. It gives me almost everything I can get from a Peloton at a fraction of the price.
(You can see the full post on that here.)
Idea 5: Add essential (and space-saving) pieces of equipment.
Once we had the foundation down, it was time to make this area really functional.
Besides our bike, one big splurge I made for this small gym was my set of adjustable dumbbells. These are worth absolutely every penny.
These weights adjust from 5 - 52.5lbs by simply turning the knobs on the sides of the dumbbells to pick up the added weight. I use them with every strength training session. They are so easy to adjust and perfect if you don't have a lot of space to store a full weight set! If you're making a garage home gym, I'd really recommend these for the space saving alone.
If you're not looking to spend quite this much, there are small free weights available. You won't get as wide of a weight selection and the rack takes up a little more space, but you will save about half the cost of the adjustable set of dumbbells.
One of my favorite machines to use at the gym is the pulley cable. I've missed the strength training I got from it, but I didn't want to pay the high costs for an at-home machine. Not only do I not have the space in a half garage home gym, but I just didn't feel it was worth the hundreds/thousands of dollars I'd have to pay.
An easy, compact, and inexpensive solution to this has been resistance bands. I bought a band set similar to this one from Amazon and installed three of these wall brackets (one high, one waist-height, and one low) to use as makeshift pulley system.
It has worked so well! I can do most of the exercises I was doing at the gym through this system by stringing the resistance bands through the brackets.
This bodyweight suspension strap set in the garage home gym allows for some further bodyweight training, using the wall brackets I mentioned above to anchor them. This is actually something I didn't use a ton when I was at the gym, but I've really enjoyed adding it in.
This is another inexpensive accessory for a home gym that is super versatile. If you're on a strict budget, the resistance bands and TRX/bodyweight strap set would be the first two things I'd add...they give you the most bang for your buck.
A little ab roller (which is by far the best thing I've ever used for ab training - it will make you sore every time!) and an inexpensive weight bench are two other things we purchased new for the gym. A good chunk of what you see in the after picture was either already there or repurposed from that scary before picture.
We live in south Mississippi, so it was important to keep our garage gym cool. Like most garages, it doesn't have HVAC - so we had to do a little bit of improvising. I mentioned earlier we had an old portable AC unit we use. Later, we also added a wall fan that keeps some air circulating too. Between those two accessories, we stay comfortable even in the summer!
Things I don't have (but would love)
There are lots of great options for a garage home gym! You also might want to check out...
- Folding Squat Rack
- Pilates Squat Barbell
- Rowing Machine
- Jump Ropes
- Shelves for additional storage space
How much you add totally depends on the amount of space you have for equipment storage and how much you want to spend on the gym. The possibilities are endless.
After a little bit of organization, we have my absolute favorite spot in the whole house! I use this garage home gym almost every morning.
If you had told me 3 years ago that half of my garage would be my favorite area in the house, I would have laughed at you - but then again, I would have laughed at you if you had told me about anything that's happened over the past few years. 😂 I call this making lemons out of lemonade!
- Treadmill - Precor C956i
- Spin Bike (used with older iPad - more in this post)
- TV/Mount (similar)
- Workout bench
- Foam floor tiles (similar)
- Adjustable weights
- Ab roller
- Yoga blocks
- Resistance bands (similar)
- Bodyweight suspension bands (similar)
- Wall brackets for bands (similar)
- Running Shoes (updated version of mine)
- Cycling Shoes
- Wall Fan