How to create a home gym as exercise in the house grows in popularity

With home exercise having boomed because of Covid restrictions this year, fitness experts tell Lisa Salmon what you can do to make a useful gym area in your house.
There are many options for exercising at home including creating dedicated space for gym equipment. Picture: PA Photo/WeMakeGymsThere are many options for exercising at home including creating dedicated space for gym equipment. Picture: PA Photo/WeMakeGyms
There are many options for exercising at home including creating dedicated space for gym equipment. Picture: PA Photo/WeMakeGyms

Home gyms were once the preserve of the wealthy, but since the closure of gyms and leisure centres during the coronavirus pandemic, the popularity of home exercise and the resulting desire for home workout spaces, has really gathered pace.

Many people, of course, can’t afford to create a bespoke gym in their home and simply use an exercise mat – or a rug – in a corner.

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The home exercise space you use can be as small and simple or as large and luxurious as you like or can afford – but ultimately, all you really need is a couple of metres of space and a big dollop of motivation to be able to exercise at home.

Personal trainer Henry Myers, who runs HM Fitness in Leeds, stresses that even if you’ve only got a small space available in your house or garden, there’s nothing you can’t do.

“You can do a good workout in a couple of square metres, and you don’t have to spend any money to benefit from the flexibility of working out at home,” he says.

“But if you’ve got the space, and some extra money, having a dedicated exercise area or room can be really motivational.

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“It’s similar to having an office at home instead of having to work with your laptop on your knee – you’ve got everything you need to hand, and it can help you to focus on what you’re doing.

“Plus, there’s the added incentive that if you’ve spent a lot setting up your own home gym, you’re more likely to use it to make sure you’re getting value for money.”

Mark Reynolds, founder of WeMakeGyms, says since the pandemic struck, the home gym market has boomed.

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“Until the last few years, the home gym was perceived to be something only the rich and famous could afford, but that’s all very much changed since Covid-19 reared its ugly head,” he says.

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“A home gym can be as elaborate or simple as you like, from jumping up and down in your bedroom in front of your favourite Instagram personal trainer, cornering off a section of your living room with some cardio equipment and weights, to a fully-functioning separate room that’s air-conditioned and adorned with the latest fitness technology.”

Reynolds says people thinking of creating a home gym should remember what they’ll be saving on family gym memberships or fitness classes over subsequent years.

“It can all quickly add up,” he points out, “so the appeal of an at-home gym becomes ever more prevalent.”

The corner of a room can be the foundation of a workout space, where you can stretch and do core exercises.

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If you have the space to dedicate to a workout area within a larger room, you could separate it with a sliding door, portable screen or even curtains.

Wall workouts are popular, especially for tight spaces, because they don’t require bulky equipment.

Fitness walls combine tools for strength training, such as resistance bands, body straps, pull-up bars and even foldable squat racks with an integrated adjustable bench. Keep your form in check by making a mirror part of your design scheme – it can brighten up the space, and make it feel much larger, says Reynolds.

To keep workout gear organised, hang some shelves or get a small storage unit.

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For those with the space, garages, basements and attics can be ideal for converting into a custom-designed permanent home gym, with the benefit of adding value to your property, Reynolds adds.

“At home, you determine when you work out, and that can take place at any time of the day or night,” Reynolds says.

“A new normal is being created, and what people are starting to see is the pure flexibility and long-term cost-effectiveness of an at-home gym.”

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