This garage home gym shows how to turn a small space into a functional exercise area. Has a bike, treadmill, strength/weight training area, and TV for Peloton/online workouts.
Affiliate links used in this post. Read more about my link usage here.
Just a few minutes before I started writing this post, I was watching a news report that mentioned how spending had shifted during this 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 into ways to make our home more enjoyable and functional. I'l be showing a few of those projects on the blog throughout the next few months. I thought I'd start with my absolute favorite project today – our 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 get out of bed) has been one of the best things I've ever done for myself.
But – I haven't set foot in my local gym since the morning of March 12th. I miss it dearly, but I'm just not really comfortable with going yet. 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!
Here's kind of a scary view of what our “gym” looked like before. It was a nightmare and was barely functional. We've done a lot of work to organize our garage over the past few months (more on that in a future post), but this area of the garage was probably the one that needed the most attention.
Step 1: Clear it out; replace what you can use.
My first step in basically any organization 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), a few weights, and an air conditioner that has been so useful in our hot garage. Organize everything else in other places in the home.
Step 2: Decide what is needed vs. what you can reuse.
Once we figured out what we already had (a mat, treadmill, yoga blocks, a couple of kettlebells and a small weight set), Noah and I both sat down and thought about what we really wanted out of this space. 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. I'll have lots more about this next week, but we decided that a Peloton-compatible bike was also high on that list. Noah 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.
We also found a few items that we were able to repurpose at no cost. 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 very 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 where we put the gym is right next to a storage area in our garage. We sorted the items on the adjoining pegboard to allow us a little bit of resistance band organization in this area 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.
Step 3: Decide on 2-3 cornerstone pieces of 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…but 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 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.)
Step 4: Add functional accessories
Once we had the basics 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 weights. These are worth absolutely every penny (if you can find them at retail right now – gym equipment has been kind of scarce since the pandemic started). 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 really want a set, keep an eye on Amazon – they will restock every once in awhile.
One of my favorite machines to use at the gym is the pulley cable. I've missed the strength training I got from it during the pandemic, but I didn't want to pay the high costs for an at-home machine…not only do I not have the space in this 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 this set 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.
I also just added a bodyweight suspension strap set to the garage home gym to allow 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 use for your money.
Besides those, 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 bench is the only we've purchased new for the gym. A good chunk of what you see above was either already there or repurposed from the first image.
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 – 7-8am is my time. If you had told me 6 months ago that this 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 so far this year. 😂 I call this making lemons out of lemonade!
Treadmill – Precor C956i
Spin Bike (used with older iPad – more in next week's post)
(Similar) foam floor tiles
You can see more of our home tour posts here!