I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m a fitness junkie. Pre-pandemic, I was always the one in my friend group suggesting a Saturday morning brunch that included a workout as our warm-up. Or, if a new fun exercise class came to town, I would be the first to sign up and give it a try. For me, staying active is a form of self-care and maintaining my health and vitality. Which is why I set up a home gym when COVID first started, but my setup has also evolved drastically over the couple of years… In other words, I got really tired of shifting my yoga mat, my ten and 20-pound weights and my resistance bands to different rooms in our house. It became my warm-up to my actual workout. And a pain point.
But the more I complained about not having an area for working out, the more curious I got: what if I transformed my second bedroom into a multi-purpose space? When we moved into our space, we made our second bedroom a guest room, complete with a queen-sized bed and side tables. However, since we’ve had few visitors, the room became a catch-all for random boxes and donations. With a quick trip to Ikea, some Amazon purchases and some creativity, we transformed the space into a workable, livable spot in our home. Here’s how I did it — and how you can, too:
First things first: I know how privileged I am to have a room in my home I wasn’t using effectively. Even if it’s a corner of your kitchen, a fraction of your basement or a tucked-away spot in your bedroom, identify where your ‘gym’ will be so you can start to create a routine of going to work out. For me, this was our second bedroom once we put our guest bed in storage.
What annoyed me most about not having a set place to work out was always moving every item I needed for a workout up and downstairs. However, I also didn’t like the aesthetic of a big ‘ole pile of weights and bands. Instead, I wanted cubbies that would hold the gear in an organized manner. We found this bargain Ikea entertainment center for $150, and my fiancé— originally from Scandinavia — put it together in thirty minutes. I then found inexpensive baskets for $7 each so I could keep various necessities in separate bins. I have one for resistance bands, another for boxing gear, the third one for towels, and so on. Knowing where everything allows me to grab what I need to complete my workout easily.
Though I love anything that gets my heart rate up, I admittedly find myself bored during yoga, Pilates or barre classes. While I’ll take an online course if a friend encourages me, I much prefer to do a high-intensity workout. When I started to invest in a home gym, I knew I had only to make big purchases I would use. After some research, I decided on two sets of weights, a boxing bag, a medicine ball, a step for strength-training and dance classes, and a super-plush fitness mat for my 30-something knees. On any given day, I use one or several of these items.
Though all in, it cost around $500 to set up the home gym and fill it with my gear, it’s still significantly cheaper than what I used to pay for my fitness routine. For reference, before setting up my gym, my boxing membership was $125 a month, and I’d also buy expensive boot camp classes at $25 a pop, usually twice a week. Now, I pay $25 a month for a boxing subscription and $75 a year for an online fitness community. And those workouts with my friends? Since we come up with them ourselves, they’re free!
Since fitness is an investment in your health and longevity, your gym space still needs to be a place where you feel inspired and welcome. I added a plant, and I selected colors that were invigorating and also calming. I now look forward to going to the gym’ every day, so it’s less likely I’ll skip a workout.
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