If you're tired of swapping sweat with others who share equipment at your local fitness center, utilize your basement as a home gym. This often underutilized area is ideal because it is set apart from distractions existing elsewhere in your home. A basement gym can be simple or fully loaded, so when setting it up, consider your goals, budget and space limitations.
Determine your workout priorities and then make a list of the equipment you need. Ask yourself if you will focus more on cardio fitness, strength training or a combination of the two. For example, if you are a runner who likes to run outdoors, your home gym may include cross-training tools such as an indoor cycle, resistance bands and light dumbbells. A figure competitor, however, may want more heavy free weights and a treadmill to perform high-intensity interval training.
Measure the basement area to make sure you have room for your equipment. The American Council on Exercise notes that a treadmill generally requires 30 square feet, a single-station gym requires 35 square feet, a multi-station machine requires 50 to 200 square feet, free weights require 20 to 50 square feet and rowing machines, stationary bikes and stair climbers require anywhere from 10 to 20 square feet. Amend your wish list according to your space limitations. Don't forget to look at the height of your basement ceilings as well. If they have a height of only 6 to 7 feet, you may run into trouble with treadmills or ellipticals, because they raise you up when you stand on them.
Evaluate your budget and prioritize your wish list accordingly. You may have to be patient and acquire your wish-list equipment over time. Look at more affordable options for big ticket items. You can get an effective cardio workout by using an inexpensive fitness bench with adjustable risers, for example, instead of shelling out thousands for a fancy stair stepping machine. Peruse auction sites, garage sales and local ads for used equipment. Resistance bands, jump ropes, stability balls and gliding disks are other inexpensive additions.
Spruce up your workout space. Paint the walls and change the flooring and lighting to suit your taste. A concrete floor can be cold and hard, so consider rubber tiling that is easily installed. Consider replacing certain kinds of carpeting, which you could trip on or get dirty easily. Determine whether any cardio equipment you place in the basement will require special padding or a particular surface type underneath it. For example, many treadmills need a level surface and thus are sold with accompanying pads. Consult an electrician to see if you need specific wiring for high-voltage cardio equipment, such as treadmills or ellipticals.
Plan where you will store your workout equipment. Loose weights and bands are a tripping hazard and may look messy just lying around. Obtain a rack for free weights or look for durable, plastic bins for storage. Keeping your space neat encourages you to spend time there and makes your workout more efficient because you don't have to waste time looking for the tools you need.
- If your basement has low ceilings, little natural light or a funky smell, consider a different location for your home gym. If it is unpleasant, you may not feel like working out there regularly.
- Be cautious when working out on your own in your basement. Using heavy weights without a spotter is a hazard. Have a phone nearby so you can call for help if you should injure yourself, particularly if your basement is remote.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.