There’s no space in your home that’s quite as dedicated to wellness as your home workout room. Over the last several years, many people have begun working out from their homes rather than going out to a formal gym, whether it’s for health, safety, or financial reasons (or just personal preference).
I love practicing yoga in my home when I can’t make it to my local studio. It feels very personal and intentional to go into a designated spot in my house, spread out my mat, and begin my practice. Friends who prefer to run, do Pilates, dance, or even weight train, have also reported that they enjoy working out in their home workout space.
So how do we set up the perfect, healthy home workout room? Is it just a matter of grabbing some free weights and setting up a treadmill? How do you create a purposeful space to motivate you toward wellness?
Architect: Brooks & Falotico
1. Prioritize the Space
First of all, no matter what type of floorplan you have, you can create a home workout room. You don't need to have a huge, dedicated spot. Many people like a workout space in the corner of their living space or a pocket in their home office. A small space can work but designate it as your "home gym."
Wherever you set up your home workout space, it's essential that you make the spot intentional. If you want to build a healthy habit, it helps to create an inviting environment. Setting up an area dedicated to health and fitness feels very motivating and inspirational. If you roll up your mat and stash it under the bed or hide your resistance bands in a desk drawer, you'll likely forget that they're even there.
For logistical purposes, you may want to set up a privacy screen or a strategically placed bookshelf to hide your Peloton or camouflage your treadmill, particularly if you're going to be working out in a multi-purpose room. Having some privacy is helpful for everyone in the household, and if you're doing a practice like yoga or Pilates, personal space will help you get in the "zone".
2. Invite in Light
Everyone who reads my blog (or knows me personally) knows that I’m a huge proponent of light, especially natural light, in any interior space. I realize that many people work out in a corner of their homes, in a basement, game room, or laundry room. Unfortunately, it's not always possible to have a home workout space with natural lighting, but if you can set up your home gym near a window, do it!
Our bodies respond to light. An early morning workout will feel much more invigorating when you can see the sun start to stream in through the window. If you prefer outdoor workouts but have to come indoors during the colder, darker winter months, having access to a window can make a huge difference. Suddenly the treadmill won’t feel quite so tedious when you have some natural views to enjoy.
If you don’t have access to natural light in your space, be sure that you select good quality lighting for your workout room. A bright space is energizing and motivating. Unlike the bedroom, where you want to create a sense of calm and respite, a workout space should feel empowering and invigorating.
3. Consider Flooring
There are so many considerations when choosing flooring for any space in your home. Of course, natural is always better if you're working toward less-toxic flooring options. However, with heavy home gym equipment, durability and flexibility are important considerations too.
The most natural option for gym flooring is hardwood. Hardwood floors are excellent for yoga and dance studios and are usually easy surfaces for movement. The flooring option Marmoleum—a linoleum-type material is another mostly-natural option that provides low-VOC off-gassing.
Many people are drawn to rubber mats, which come in recycled options. Cork mats are another choice as well. While both gym flooring selections contain some chemical elements, they are still less toxic than many other flooring choices. You may want to use rubber flooring underneath larger gym equipment and weight areas, where a dropped barbell could mean a dented floor. Then choose more natural flooring in the rest of your home workout space. I happen to personally love Zebra Athletics yoga flooring made from 100% recycled open-cell foam.
4. Suit the Space to Your Style
Many people make the mistake of setting up a space that fits what they think a home workout studio should look like rather than a space that will be functional for their workout preferences and style. In other words, if you don't enjoy spinning, there's no reason to include a spin bike in your space. Ultimately, extra unused exercise equipment can become demotivating and create a cluttered room.
Consider a brainstorming exercise where you ponder the aspects of your favorite workout space, whether it's a gym you used to belong to, your outdoor running route, or your childhood dance studio. What about the area made you feel inspired and motivated? Maybe you really love a full-length mirror on the wall to ensure you're getting the proper form, or perhaps you love the constantly changing sights and sounds during your summer walks.
Think of ways to invoke these same tools in your home workout room. For example, you can easily add a full-length mirror, choose a cushy mat, or invest in some super soft towels to make your space feel personal. In addition, many treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals now come with screens and programming included that let you enjoy all the sights and sounds of the outdoors during your workout. What's even better is that you can often choose from a wide selection of locations—run on a beach in Hawaii, bike through the English countryside, or hike the trails of Costa Rica right in the comfort of your home gym.
5. Improve Airflow
One thing that workout spaces need is plenty of air. A box fan is a typical "old school" fixture in many gyms, but for your home gym, an air purifier can really help eliminate sweaty odors and keep the air circulating in the room. You may have an air filtration system as part of your HVAC (especially if you’re planning or building a new home), but if it doesn't fully cover your workout space, you can get a good quality air purifier for under $1,000.
You may also want to open up windows in your workout space and let the natural breeze come through. Then, include other natural elements like a small water fountain or a few houseplants to create a naturalistic workout space. I'm excited to include a preserved moss wall in my own home yoga studio! Organic elements in the area make us feel more grounded and better connected to our bodies.
Finally, if you’re concerned about musty odors and smells, use natural scents to freshen your gym area. Baking soda is a safe, natural deodorizer. Diffusing essential oils in your workout space can also be very energizing and may even improve your mood. Energizing scents include grapefruit, ginger, rosemary, lemon, and peppermint.
6. Make it Motivating
So once you’ve set up the perfect home gym, how do you keep up your motivation? By having a designated space for working out, you’re already taking steps to keep yourself engaged and committed to your health. There are a few other ways to create a home gym that's motivating too.
Decorate the space with inspirational pieces. Choose wall art for your gym that helps transport you to a healthy headspace. Consider adding a mirror to your gym too. Perhaps you have received an award, medal, or another item that reminds you of a major physical achievement. Find a way to incorporate this trophy in your home gym space. Even photos of you crossing a finish line can boost your motivation.
The other way to keep up your motivation is to engage in a phenomenon known as temptation bundling. If you love celebrity news shows, or can’t get enough of true crime podcasts, only allow yourself to indulge in your workout space. Create a dance hit playlist that you only get to enjoy during your workouts. Then include the audio and visual tools (TV, tablet, great speaker system) in your home gym so you can treat yourself every time you work out.
7. Add Recovery Space
One of the best parts of a workout is recovery! Be sure that your home gym includes the elements you need for a fabulous post-workout experience. If you like to meditate after your workout, add a meditation cushion.
For those who thrive on cardio, be sure to foam roll after your workout. Include a foam roller in your home gym, an inversion table, and stretching bands. A pile of nice towels and a place for chilled water can also help you really enjoy your post-workout time.
Another option is an infrared sauna. Many small home saunas are available for a small investment. The infrared heating can help improve circulation and aid in post-workout recovery and relaxation. Make your bathroom a recovery spot by stocking Epsom salts and muscle-soothing essential oils for a rejuvenating soak.
Working out should feel like a treat for your body and another step toward wellness and self-care. Exercise shouldn’t be punishing or feel harsh and painful. You may need to push yourself and increase your endurance to build muscle and strength. But when you create a welcoming space for workouts, you’ll feel excited and motivated to take care of your body and your health.
So what do you find motivating in a workout space? What are your home gym must-haves? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!