How to design and equip your home gym

Ever since the pandemic hit, we’ve seen an explosion of interest in home gyms. If you can’t go to the gym, why not bring the gym to you instead? Even though thankfully commercial gyms have reopened, many people have realised the benefits of having a home gym. With a gym right on your doorstep (literally!), it’s much easier to fit exercise into your daily routine. Your home gym can be tailored to precisely the equipment you need, as well as being a dual-purpose space for either working or relaxing at home.

We spoke to local personal fitness coach James Bovett, The Mudeford Coach, about how to design and equip your home gym.

“If you’re considering investing in a home gym, it pays to think upfront about what you want to use it for. This will determine everything – from the size and shape of the space to its location in your home or garden. What sort of exercise do you really enjoy? There’s no point in buying a rowing machine just because it doesn’t take up much space if you’ve actually never used one. If you love running, go with a treadmill. If you love cycling, build your home gym around your bike. Do what you love, and you will use the space so much more.

Location is essential when it comes to home gyms

Yes, you can try and hang a boxing bag in your garage. But if it’s freezing cold, you’ll never actually use it. Having a dedicated space specifically designed to meet your exercise needs is really important. Creating a separate garden building means you can tailor the area to what you need and equip it properly for use all year round. Think about:

  • Insulation to keep the building warm enough all year round. If your home gym is too cold, not only are you less likely to use it, you’ll also be more prone to injury, particularly if you are strength training as your body will cool down quickly in between steps/reps.
  • Ventilation, especially for the summer, to invite cooling air in as you raise your heart rate.
  • Inside and outside space – I love the idea of having bi-fold boors across the front and then a decked area outside. That way, with the doors open in the summer, you can use the equipment inside the gym whilst making the most of the fresh air and use the deck for your warm-up and stretching.

Power is a key consideration

Not only will you want electricity for lighting so you can use your home gym during darker winter mornings and evenings, but you may also want additional heating or air conditioning, to manage temperature extremes. Your equipment may also need power. Less critical if you’re thinking about weights, but if you want to use your Peloton interactive screen, apps like Zwift or have a TV on the wall for your Joe Wicks workout, then power is essential. A mini-fridge to keep cold water in the gym is also a nice touch or a sound system to blast your favourite play list.

Alongside power, think about wifi! Especially if you want to tap into online training or motivation. There are various options, such as wifi boosters or laying cables. They can all help you get your home wifi signal out to a garden building. But where you position your home gym in your garden can also make a big difference.

Do I need planning permission for a home gym?

This depends on the type of exercise you’re thinking of doing in your home gym. For example, if you’re planning on weightlifting or boxing-based training, this will require quite a different design. Do you want a flat roof or apex roof? You’ll need a higher ceiling than standard, should you wish to perform any overhead bar presses. You’ll also need to think about groundworks, like a reinforced concrete base and rubber matting inside to absorb any weights you drop down.

Punchbags will need to be hung from reinforced ceiling joists, not just standard ones. You can get freestanding bags, but they’re not as good/heavy-duty, and will take up even more floor space. Pullup bars can be wall or ceiling-hung but will also need to be attached to proper joists and allow you the height to pull yourself up without bumping into the ceiling. But generally, if you’re going for an exercise bike, rower, running machine or bench press, a standard garden building will be just fine. If your building is under 2.5m high, you are unlikely to need planning permission. Though it’s always best to check with your local authority.

Personalise the interior of your home gym to make it yours

There are some practicalities here, like using flooring that’s easy to clean. Porcelain tiles are highly durable and come in a vast array of shades and effects. Along with laminate flooring, they are both popular options. Just add an exercise mat for comfort. You’ll also want wall paint that is ok to be wiped down, like Farrow & Ball paint. Maybe you’d like to add a mirror to check your form or to take some progress pictures? Depending on the type of building you choose, be careful with how you attach items like this to the interior walls. Check with your building supplier/installer.

You may want to add some motivating quotes on the walls to keep you going when training gets tough. Or pictures of your fitness inspirations at their best, like Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Steve or Sir Mo Farah? You could even put up pictures of your family if that’s what inspires you to be more active.”

Add value to your home with a garden gym

Our director Martin Penny adds, “It’s a good idea to future-proof any garden building you invest in. A home gym can add real value to your property if you think about the long term. Can the building be utilised if you don’t want a home gym anymore? Things like positioning in the garden are important. You might think you want your home gym in a more shaded area of your garden. But would any future property owners prefer a garden room that’s bathed in sunshine?

Your garden gym can also be dual-purpose if you design it correctly. If you’re working from home, it can be a home office as well as a home gym. Either by zoning areas or going for a slightly bigger space, you can create a building that helps you not just exercise at home but also work, relax or entertain, by creating your own slice of outdoor living.

If you’re mulling over the idea, you can easily design your own building using an online configurator. Create your own garden building to suit your specific requirements. Get an itemised cost too, without even having to leave your home.”

Looking for home gym ideas?

Why not call us at Coastal Garden Buildings now on 01425 274000 to book an appointment to discuss your home gym? Or pop in to see our range of garden buildings in Christchurch, Dorset. We are conveniently located just opposite Stewarts Garden Centre, with plenty of free parking and a range of buildings for you to look around. Our expert team are on hand to give you planning and design advice. Or use our online configurator to design your garden building.

You can follow James on Instagram and Facebook to benefit from his fitness tips or get in touch with him to book a session. James works as a Personal Fitness Coach at Complete Active – Mudeford Quay Crossfit, Calibre Fitness, The Village Gym and can also coach you at his home or yours. He runs 2 circuits classes a week at Mudeford Wood Community Centre, Wednesdays at 7pm and Thursdays at 6pm. These are ideal classes for anyone looking to improve their fitness or get moving a little more – from complete beginners to seasoned athletes.