Expert Tips For Creating a Home Gym

This week’s theme in the Quarantine DIY Home Projects is all about home gyms. What better place to start than with CrossFit L3 Coach Nick Gifford of Gifford Fitness in Minnesota, for some expert tips on creating a home gym and working out at home during the Coronavirus stay at home orders. 

Nick Gifford coaching
Coach Nick in action (Image courtesy of Kate Jensen.)

Tell me a bit about yourself

My name is Nick Gifford, and I opened Gifford Fitness in 2016 with the mission to provide people the love, care and respect that they need to be the healthiest, happiest version of themselves. At Gifford Fitness, we primarily use CrossFit, weightlifting, and nutrition coaching to help adults and teenagers achieve optimal health and wellness.

I hold accreditation and certifications with CrossFitUSA Weightlifting, and Precision Nutrition. I’m a CrossFit Level 3 Coach (CF-L3) and USAW Advanced Sports Performance Coach, and have coached athletes to the national and international podium in the sport of Weightlifting. I also hold other certifications like CrossFit Kids, CrossFit Judge, and a few others. A highlight for me was judging at the annual CrossFit Games. My biggest passion is coaching, I love helping people, and I love seeing people win.

What are some ideal locations for a home gym?

Working out at home can be a fun, but also an overwhelming task that most people put off. To do this successfully you need a space to workout in. A home gym can be anywhere, but it shouldn’t be everywhere. Without structure, you’ll kind of just float around at home. So, you need a dedicated space, or spaces to workout. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Separate yourself from the rest of the house
  • Create ample space to move around in all directions
  • Have the set-up necessary to do the type of exercise that you want
  • Try to have access to natural light

With these considerations in mind, basements, garages, and cement patios are all great options if you’re going to be weightlifting often. If you’re more of the yoga/treadmill type, then a base level room with some natural light and walls between you and the rest of the house will work well.

What’s the ideal layout of a home gym?

For layout, you’ll again want to consider your primary uses for your home gym. Some standard rules that apply to most spaces will be to:

  • Put equipment on the walls wherever possible
  • Leave plenty of free space in the center
  • Leave a wall or two completely free so you can use them for stretches, gymnastics/bodyweight work, etc.

What would you recommend as the some of the best flooring options for a home gym?

Again, it depends on what you’re doing, but a general rule is to have a flat/level ground, ideally concrete, with rubber flooring on top. I recommend horse stall matting, specifically 4’x6′ ¾ inch matting. They’re heavy, durable, and great for weightlifting. If you need something softer to go on top of it for stretching, a yoga mat or Dollamur mat will work great.

How important is storage? And are there any cheap and easy storage tips you’d recommend?

For storage, depending on what you’re storing, you can go a few different ways. Large metal racks are great for storing large and bulky equipment. Bumper plates can either stack up on the floor or go on a weight tree, and dumbbells can stack on the floor. At the end of the day, as long as you have space, you’re good. Storage in a home gym only matters if you have enough equipment worth storing.

If you only wanted to spend $500 or less on a temporary home gym, what are the essential pieces of equipment you’d recommend?

First, I would make a few different sandbags at varying weights of 15-20 lbs, 40 ish lbs, and 60-70 lbs. Below is a great video on how to make sandbags on the cheap. Then, I would get a heavy jump rope, and a few sets of dumbbells ranging from ⅛ – ⅝ of your body weight. Anyone can get an incredible workout with all these different toys, but it’s more about how you use it than anything else.

The last thing I would get is a coach – it’s the most valuable piece of “equipment” that you can get. And if you didn’t have any physical equipment and wanted to get a great workout, a coach can help you to do that. A good coach will also keep you accountable and write workouts for you with all of your limitations and goals in mind. The workouts, combined with the equipment and personal accountability is the best you can do at home if you’re not able to go to a physical gym space.

Looking for a coach to work with you remotely? We can help!

When you first set up your gym, what are some things you wished you’d done differently that we can learn from?

Everyone wants to set up their home gym – it’s fun! But the big thing that I’ve learned is that your workout space has to be somewhere that you enjoy going to. Somewhere where you can separate out everything else that’s going on in your life and just have your personal “you” time. For me, natural lighting, walls separating me from everyone/everything else and a clean space are my top priorities.

How can people find out more about you?

They can find Gifford Fitness on Facebook and Instagram or they can follow me @coach_giffy on Instagram.

Infographic on how to set up a home gym

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and hope that it inspired you to get up off your sofa and start planning your own home gym. Whether it’s a small area with a few weights and a yoga mat, or a more elaborate space with more equipment. Don’t forget to subscribe for more tips this week on setting up your own home gym.

You can read how we set up our home gym, and the grand reveal.

Thanks for reading,

Jo @britflipper

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