Organize A Home Gym

It’s 5:30 am and I’m freezing. I know I need to work out today or I’ll regret it…but I reeeeealllllyyyyy don’t want to. I took the time to lay my clothes out last night, and they’re staring at me from the kitchen counter. “Get going!” they shout. This is a little trick I learned a few years back to help cue me to get my butt moving in the morning. I still have to play a million little games with myself to get this job done most mornings. I look out the window again and I have to make a decision. Do I go outside to scrape the snow and ice off of my car? Or do I go to the basement and just use my home gym?


Fave Fitness Gear

I think for a lot of us, working out is something we know we need to do to feel our best, but it may not necessarily be the NUMBER ONE THING we want to do with our time. When we aren’t driven to workout simply for the love of sweat… sometimes it takes a little creative strategizing to make fitness fun and motivating enough to keep us going.

Some things come easily to me, but keeping a handle on my fitness and nutrition quite frankly do not.

I vividly remember sitting on top of a tall stack of hay bales (former farm girl) and contemplating whether I should jump off and try to break my leg to avoid the mile run in sixth grade PE. Dramatic, but true. I’ve always been more of an “exercise your mind” type person.

Then… I had babies. And I want to be around for them. I know I need to work out to feel good and be healthy and set a good example for them. Also, I need to button my jeans.

So I try to exercise.

Sometimes, I’m on fire! Orange Theory Fitness 4x a week! Half Marathon training! Other times, I struggle. I somehow manage to justify spending my dedicated workout hour scrolling through my social media feed.

Out of necessity, I have a lot of tools in my arsenal for keeping me going when I’m really not feeling it.

One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself is create a back-up plan, aka home gym. If I sleep in late, or the kids are sick, or my car windshield is frozen and I can’t deal, I have a little corner where I organized a home gym in the basement. It’s not much, but it has everything I need to get the job done.

I tend to find excuses…and having a home gym eliminates a lot of them.

Redefining Home Gym

When I used to think “home gym” I pictured a full setup with a weight rack, lots of home gym equipment, and a large space dedicated solely to working out.

I was lucky enough to have that in our last house, and it was awesome!

Then we downsized. Unfortunately, we didn’t have room in our new home for a gym . At least I didn’t think we did.

Still…I knew that finding a nook that could at least serve as a space to store the treadmill would be worth the effort.

After considering a few different areas of our floor plan, I found a spare corner in the basement that I thought might work.

I started with just a treadmill. But then, in typical fashion, the project spiraled. I’m always on the hunt for ways to repurpose items, so I gathered up the odds and ends that hadn’t found a home and got to work. I’m talking cast offs from the upstairs bathroom remodel, lonely planters in the garage, and a random etagere that wouldn’t fit elsewhere.

Today I’m going to share the 5 steps I used to organize a home gym in the corner of our basement. With a little creativity, it doesn’t have to be an expensive project. Perhaps it will spark some ideas if it’s something you’ve been considering too!

Organizing A Home Gym Nook: 5 Steps

Step 1: {Determine Your Home Gym Needs}

What home gym equipment do you already have that you will need to store and organize? Which gym equipment do you hope to purchase in the future? Planning is the most important step. If you mostly like to do yoga at home, you will need much less space than someone who has a lot of cardio equipment to house.

Make a list of all the things you will need to incorporate into your home gym space. I’ve included a free checklist of some of my favorite gym equipment to get you started!

Mark off what you think you would like to have (even if you don’t have everything yet).

It’s a lot easier to plan for the maximum amount of space you might need now than to set up your gym and have to move it later.

Start small and build your way up. If budget is a concern, start scouring Craigslist and FaceBook Marketplace for “treadmill” or “gym equipment”. You’d be surprised at how often people give away or steeply discount exercise equipment because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving it. You can find great deals if you are willing to find some friends to help you go pick it up!

Step 2: {Scout Your Perfect Gym Location}

Walk through your home and look carefully at the spaces you have to work with. Where can you find a pocket of room for the items you listed in Step 1?

Look for a place that is:

  • Out of the way if possible
    • This doesn’t mean you need a separate room, it just means that you don’t want your gym equipment blocking the flow of traffic.
  • A suitable environment for your preferred form of exercise
    • If you do a lot of jumping during your 5am workouts, maybe don’t choose a room directly above anyone who will be sleeping. If you’re hoping for a place to develop your Zen yoga practice… steer clear of distraction zones.
  • Some spaces to consider
    • Guest Room {Lots of potential storage possibilities in closet and/or under the bed.}
    • Basement {Finished and unfinished both work great. Just put down an old rug, carpet remnant, or interlocking mats if needed.}
    • Living Room {Is there spare space in your tv console for a mat, weights, etc.? The living room is great if you like to stream workout videos- the TV is already there!}
    • The Garage {Depending on how well insulated your garage is, this can be a great place to set up a home gym.}
    • Home Office {If you have a home office, it is probably already a place that is set up the way you like it. Why not add a station for your exercise equipment too?}
    • Master Bedroom {If you aren’t trying to workout while someone is sleeping, this can be a great option. It’s already an “out of the way space” and there is often space under a bed or in a closet that can store and conceal small home workout equipment items.)

Step 3 {Put It Together}

Once you have a plan in place, get to work!

1.) Bring all of the equipment you have/want to use and place them in the area.

2.) Clean the area; sweep + mop the floors and wipe down the equipment. Might as well have a fresh start!

4.) Lay down a rug, carpet or mats to define the space. This isn’t necessary, but it sure feels nice. You can always add one in later.

5.) Decide where the best place will be to store each item. If it’s a dedicated “gym” space, it can be great to use an inexpensive bookcase or shelving unit to display and organize your weights, bottled water, exercise plans, mats, and small pieces of equipment. Industrial wire shelving makes great gym storage!

Check you garage/storage room for old hooks, baskets, shelves, and containers that you can repurpose. In my gym, for example, I mounted old deck planters to the studs (gardening isn’t my strong suit). Surprisingly, they make perfect vertical storage units for my yoga mats and foam rollers!

Consider mounting a mirror or two to up the gym factor. Again, I reused one from a bathroom we remodeled upstairs. Check your local Habitat ReStore or salvage yard for inexpensive used mirrors, or mount multiple inexpensive door mirrors like in the example below.

Photo Source | In My Own Style

Hooks can be great for hanging resistance bands, jump ropes, and other lightweight items. They keep them visible, organized, and tangle free. I used these heavy duty S-Hooks from Walmart (I’m using them everywhere lately, TBH. More on that in another post). Ikea also has a lot of inexpensive wall mounted hooks that I really love using.

Finally, make a place for inspiration. I opted to hang an orphaned black felt bulletin board, which turned out to be the perfect space for me to post workouts and motivating photos/quotes. In my last gym, I painted the wall with chalkboard paint and used the space to record my progress. Another great option would be to mount your vision board prominently in this corner. Is there a place where we need motivation more?

Above all, make this a space you love. A place that “sparks joy” and makes you feel a little lift when you’re in it. Make it fun, make it pretty, make it perfect for YOU!

Step 4 {Use It}

This sounds common sense, but it bears repeating. What’s the point in going to all this effort if the space is just going to collect dust.

The point of creating a home gym is to USE IT. Whether it’s every day or as a backup… make sure you have a plan in place to make it happen.

As is true of any gym “I’ll just do whatever I feel like” isn’t going to do you well. You need to have a solid plan for home gym days. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • YouTube: There are gazillions of free workouts available on YouTube. Do a little research about what is trending in the discipline you enjoy. I like Yoga With Adriene for yoga practices, and have followed many a ToneIt up video on days at home. For more inspiration, this article from Women’s Health magazine has a list of some of the Best YouTube Workouts to try.
  • Join a Subscription Service: One of the newest trends in home fitness is the paid subscription workout services, where you can stream workouts to do in the comfort of your own home. Some are completely on demand, like BeachBody OnDemand. Others have the added accountability of requiring you to schedule the streaming classes you’ll take. If that sounds interesting, check out Studio ToneItUp which has a lot of class offerings and a fun vibe.
  • Print a Plan: The beauty of a printed plan is that you can reuse it over and over. I find that repetition and knowing what to expect helps me keep going! I am currently following Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (and have had great results with it in the past). It’s a great 30 minute HIIT circuit that requires minimal equipment and gets great results if you stick to the 3x/week workouts. I love it because it is based on a timer, and I know EXACTLY how long it will take me. No matter how busy I am, I can almost always spare 30 minutes. Also, I keep the ebook as a document on my phone, and I always have it with me for easy reference whether I am at home or at the gym. Another variation of this idea is to print a training plan if you have an upcoming race. Mark your workouts as you go and keep yourself accountable!

Want Another Option? Try the Body Boss Workout Plan | Body Boss

Step 5 {Mix It Up}

Your needs will change. What you think will work well… might not. If you’re not using the space and loving it, it could be put to better use.

When you find that you aren’t using your gym (it WILL happen), ask yourself what changes do you need to implement to make it a space you want to use.

As you go, continue adding new gym equipment, inspiration, and methods to mix things up and keep it interesting.

When all else fails, a fresh playlist can do wonders for your home workouts! I try to make a new workout playlist every spring as well as a new running playlist. Here is one of my running mixes; I have quite a few others on my Spotify account if you want to follow me! I created my account when I was going through a huge ToneItUp phase, so I’m TIUSuzette!

Whew! That was long, but I wanted to make sure I covered everything.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with. If you set up your own home gym, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@suzettegebhardt). I want to see what you’ve accomplished!

I’m so proud of you for taking the time to make this investment in yourself.

You’re worth it!

About the author: Suzette is a Northern Colorado professional organizer providing organizing services to Loveland, Fort Collins, Greeley, Windsor, Timnath and surrounding areas. She subscribes wholeheartedly to the idea that smart systems and some up front organizing work make more time for busy women to enjoy doing what they love. She has been married for over 10 years and is a mother of 2 school age children.

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