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Last updated: June 14, 2019 • Home Improvement

DIY Home Gym Ideas for New Healthy Habits

It’s no longer true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Even the best nutritionist will tell you that any diet must be coupled with some physical activity, be it swimming in the pool or weightlifting in your DIY home gym.

You probably try to eat as healthy as possible already. You check products’ ingredients, you count your calories, the sugar, the food allergens. You check your apples’ import country or grower. You might even care if your food is organic or kosher. But what’s the point in following a strict diet if you don’t exercise?  

The American Heart Association recommends 2.5 hours (150 min.) of heart-pumping physical activity per week and weight-lifting at least 2 days a week. So what better way to amplify the results you get from your weight loss diet than with these DIY home gym ideas?

Reasons for having a DIY home gym

To lose weight and get fit

dumbbells on the floor

Let me guess. “To lose weight” was among your top ten New Year resolutions! According to Statista, 71% of Americans want to change their diet or eat healthier, 65% want to exercise more, and 54% want to get back in shape and lose a few pounds. If you’re reading this article you probably have a hard time maintaining your weight and achieving your goal. Read on to see how building a DIY home gym can help!

Both women and men are concerned about their body weight. If your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or more, you must do something about it! A report released by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery says almost 40% of American adults are obese, the highest incidence ever recorded. Hispanic and non-Hispanic African Americans seem to be more prone to obesity with rates as high as 47%, while almost 38% of non-Hispanic whites have to deal with obesity. Among the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States has the highest obesity rate. Unfortunately, the United States stays on top for child obesity too. Obesity rates are slightly higher among boys than girls. In 2018, 27% of adults ages 6+ have been inactive, but almost 36% said they engaged in high-calorie activities at least three times per week for 20 minutes.

You will find it strange, but our country, with its 38,477 gyms, has the highest number of health clubs and gyms in the world and the highest obesity rate at the same time.

Building a home gym is a huge step toward improving your overall health. But you won’t get fit by building it. You’ll have to use it! Start with a treadmill or a stationary bicycle, some dumbbells. You don’t have to spend a fortune on it! But you have to start somewhere. When you start your weight-loss plans, you feel so motivated and want to go all the way in. So, you’ll be tempted to buy everything and pay top-dollar for new products. But read till the end! A home gym is something you can build yourself from scratch over time, so no need to hurry!

You’re not comfortable with your body

sad feet on the scale

Commercial gyms were first created for people like you, who feel are not in their best shape ever. In reality, when you go to the gym, you are intimidated by some very fit and strong bodies and they look at you as if you’re ruining their work-out. You’ll work on the exact device they want to use. You’ll feel like someone is breathing down your neck all the time. Soon, you start to feel extra or less motivated, and find yourself paying for a membership that you no longer use!

You are not the only one who doesn’t feel comfortable in your own body or who is ashamed to show off. So do yourself a favor and start building your own deluxe, private and secluded health club! There you will be able to exercise shirtless without being distracted or intimidated by others.

There’s good news for people with disabilities too! With an exercise room at home, they can enjoy more freedom and exercise whenever they want! Living with a disability doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t take care of their bodies or that they’ll never marry so there’s no need to be good-looking! Quite on the contrary! Individuals with special needs need more physical activity to improve strength, muscle endurance and flexibility as well as to boost confidence and the overall sense of well-being.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children and adolescents in order to reduce anxiety and depression and to improve their school performance.

You’re living too far from a gym

too far from the gym

As home prices inside most cities continue to rise, people find ways to buy a house in the surrounding suburbs. Here, they might get more living space for the same money they would have paid for a property closer to the city center. But they also get farther from shopping centers and gyms. If your house has a garage or a basement, you’re really lucky! You can turn those into a gym! You’ll save a lot of time because you no longer drive to and from the gym and you get more fuel to burn for more important problems. Then, you’ll save money because the gym will be used by more people, so no more money wasted on memberships or subscriptions.

Weather is also a problem. On good weather, you have no excuse not to go to the gym. But it’s the bad weather that will lock you inside. Rain, snow, freezing temperatures, tornadoes, hurricanes or other acts of God are an excuse for inactivity. So, with a DIY home gym inside, you’ll feel bad for letting yourself become a couch potato.

You don’t like the atmosphere at commercial gyms

commercial gym

When building a home gym, make sure you purchase a good sound system for your favorite music. The music you play makes that place even more personal than the gym equipment. One day you may want to work out on some cheerful upbeat music, the other day you want to be lazier and listen to some slow love songs. Nobody chooses the music for you! You’ll be fully in charge of the atmosphere. If you’re the kind of person who can’t pretend to be happy or energized or your moods are greatly influenced by the music that comes out of the speakers then a DIY home gym will make you feel more… at home!

In your private health club, you will also be spared of all the shouts and grunts of those who push their limits. This is a tricky one! Not pushing your limits will not get you the results you expect, so refraining from making weird sounds when lifting won’t get you the muscle mass you’ve been craving for. In your own gym, feel free to put a few more pounds on the barbell and scream your head off.

As you will see, you don’t need too many things to get started. A DIY home gym project can be done for as little as the cost of a 1-year membership for two persons. If possible, don’t buy anything new! Search for used gym equipment at flea markets or online, on Craigslist or E-bay. People often get rid of fitness equipment when they move instead of paying top dollars to the moving company to move them, so they might post them online or sell them during a garage sale. Their loss is your gain! Read on to find what to look for!

Home gym equipment for a condo

treadmill in a home gym

Condominiums don’t come to mind when you think of physical activities. Of course, there is also the option of buying a condo in a condominium complex that provides access to a gym. Check if the homeowners association fee includes the gym membership. If it does, then don’t bother to invest in fitness equipment.

If this is not your case and want your own gym anyway, then there are some options that don’t take up too much space. For example, buy a stationary bicycle, an abs bench or other types of fitness benches – most of them are collapsible and can be stored. (Needless to say, make sure you don’t forget where you put them!) A set of spinlock dumbbells will suffice. Make sure you don’t drop your weights, though! Your neighbors will hate that noise and will complain about it sooner or later. Use an exercise mat or foam tiles that come as puzzle pieces which are easy to connect and to remove at the end of your workout.

With so many trainers sharing exercises you can do at home, you’ll save a lot of money! But you can still hire a personal trainer! This idea even makes a lot more sense in this context, because the trainer will focus on you all the time instead of chatting with other colleagues for half of the time you pay him/her. Another idea could be to invite a friend or a neighbor over to exercise together, go out for a jogging session. If you are into hiking and mountaineering, go to a climbing gym nearby.

To save space, you may want to purchase some physiotherapy equipment instead of gym equipment. Look for resistance bands, exercise balls, Bosu Balance Trainer, ankle weights, mini exercise bikes. If you don’t mind losing a wall, look into wall pulleys and shoulder wheels. You can get creative with these, for sure!  

If you have space and can afford it, purchase a piece of compact gym equipment. An all-in-one gym stand with multiple functions would be enough. However, barbells and dumbbells are the best bet. Talk to your landlord or property manager before installing any gym equipment, especially if weights are involved. They might be afraid of floor damage, so explain to them that you will not be dropping the weights from the ceiling and you will use silencer pads anyway. Last but not least, you can install a pull-up bar at a doorway. It is a very versatile piece of equipment.  

Gym equipment in a house

home gym

If you’re living in a single family house or in a bigger property, building a DIY home gym might not be the first home improvement you want to make.  

Are you blessed with boys? Wait till they become teenagers! Then they will find a way to do it! They will take over the garage or the basement to your despair.

Your guys will need more time and money to finish a basement and turn it into a man cave. Help them to save money and complete their project step by step and don’t just hand them your credit card! Turn this DIY home gym project into a life lesson!

A garage gym requires less work but will leave your car in front of the house on a paved driveway or on the street. Check your local parking regulations before turning your garage into a training room. Make sure it doesn’t incur an additional cost.

Here is the main home gym equipment you should buy:

  • Power cage or power rack – make sure it doesn’t take too much space! This is essential for the three pillars of your workout: bench press, barbell squat, and deadlift.
  • Power tower – ideal for small spaces, but provides plenty of flexibility and allows for pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, and many other exercises.
  • Heavy bag – great for indoor cardio. It builds your power and speed.
  • Power reels – a hybrid tool that is both a resistance band and a dumbbell.
  • Smart treadmill – the whole family can use this device.
  • Stationary bike – or its sister, the fan bike – both are great for your leg muscles.
  • Adjustable dumbbells – allow you to increase or decrease the weight depending on your age and force.
  • Olympic barbell and dumbbells – for flat or standing exercises.
  • Adjustable bench – a place for exercise and rest.
  • All-in-one gym – one compact equipment that offers 50 exercises or more – probably the best home gym equipment out there.

Free around-the-house fitness ideas

doing squats outdoors

Before commercial gyms have become popular, men had improvised a lot. Anything could be turned into a dumbbell: buckets, water bottles or milk jugs filled with sand, concrete molds, bricks and the like. You can do the same, too! And did you know it is free to exercise outdoors? Jogging and walking are great physical activities for your heart. There are so many exercises that require only your own bodyweight! Squats, crunches and any kind of aerobic activity is also free. Swimming is also a sport you can practice with relatively low costs. You can even exercise in a different place every day!

Other low-cost tools to get your body moving would be bikes, roller skates or heelys, ropes, Badminton or Ping-Pong sets, and easily move into more extreme sports like skateboarding, surfing, skiing or snowboarding. Sports equipment doesn’t always come cheap. And you don’t have to buy professional equipment if you don’t plan to use it regularly.

The United States has the highest number of fitness centers in the world (YMCA has 2,700 across the country, Anytime Fitness has 1,983 locations in the US) so building a home gym might sound crazy. However, you know your needs best.

I would go so far as to say that a private gym, no matter how big or small, is a marketing investment. It might not turn you into Miss or Mrs. Universe overnight but will definitely change your mood and your self-esteem. And this is so important in our daily lives. Building a home gym will have an impact on your personality, on your personal branding and on your (business) relationships! Moreover, exercising will strengthen your muscles and your marriage! (Expect a lot of loose bolts and squeaking sounds.) And I don’t want to disappoint you but better-looking people tend to be wealthier, too. According to Psychology Today, “more attractive people are generally wealthier than less attractive people.”

And to add more insult to the injury, Daniel Hamermesh, a University of Texas at Austin labor economist found that a handsome man will make 13% more money during his career than an average looking man. This finding must be true for most businesses that require a lot of human interaction, like most careers in real estate, television, sales, and even medicine. Nothing illustrates this better than the following witty play-on-words: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But if the doctor is cute ditch the fruit.”

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