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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Step by Step Guide To Plan a Home Gym

I’ve definitely learned from my Interior Design diploma, that a good design starts with thorough planning. Our home gym makeover was no exception. In this blog I’ll give you a step by step guide to plan your own home gym.

Step 1: Take Measurements

First start by taking all the measurements of the room. This is so you can accurately map out a 2D and 3D plan of your finished room.

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Before

Step 2: Evaluate Likes and Dislikes

Next I took note of what I liked about the room currently and what I disliked. The room felt cold and stark because of the white walls and off-white sheet vinyl floor. The spotlights made the low ceiling feel lower. However I did like the huge mirror wall on the back wall, this was perfect for a gym.

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Step 3: Think About How You’ll Use the Room

Next think about how you would use the room. We wanted two treadmills with a TV, because we both like to workout at the same time (and a TV keeps our minds off the workout!) We wanted a frame for pull-ups and banded work, and I really wanted a quiet comfortable space to do yoga. We also needed some form of storage to store all our equipment.

Step 4: Map Out the New Space

Once you know how you want to use the space, and what gym equipment you want to include, map it out as a 2D sketch, and ideally 3D to visualize how it’ll look. I like to use either Floorplanner or Planner 5D to do my designs. They’re both reasonably priced, have plenty of stock furniture choices, and with Planner 5D you can even change the color of the furniture. However, mapping out the room on a piece of paper is also fine.5f77a2ca498ad8ef0d332d4a4bdd19e3503ca285

Luckily everything we wanted to use the room for fitted perfectly. With the frame nicely tucked away in the corner, and a mini yoga studio in front of the mirror wall. I zoned the space for the yoga studio, so it didn’t feel like part of the bigger room, by painting a blue accent stripe, and following that color through with the rug and the storage unit on the opposite side. This created the illusion of a separate zoned area which was different to the rest of the gym.

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Step 5: Choose Colors

I decided to add accents of red to the room to really make it ‘pop’. It’s a contrasting color to the blues, and something that we had dotted around the room anyway through the equipment we have.

TIP: Always try to repeat a color throughout the room to tie it together better.

Our home gym is in a basement and only has one small window for natural light, so I kept the flooring light to keep the room bright. However I made the walls slightly darker than what they were using a soft cream to make the room feel cozier and warmer but still bright.

Step 6: Think About Lighting

After tackling the natural light issue with floor and wall colors, we then thought about artificial light. Think about how you will use the space and how that translates to the lighting you’ll need in the room. We wanted to use the space for cardio and weights workouts, but also as a yoga studio. We replaced the strip lights for new recessed can spotlights on a dimmer. This made the ceilings feel taller and added controllable lighting for added functionality as both a workout space, and relaxing yoga studio.

I hope you enjoyed reading this step by step guide on how to plan a home gym. To see the full before and after photos read my blog on the grand reveal.

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After – I added a picture ledge at the bottom of the wall to rest my tablet on to follow my yoga videos.

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If you enjoyed this, please subscribe to never miss another tip.

Thanks for reading!

Jo @britflipper

Home Gym Makeover: The Grand Reveal

So remodeling the gym wasn’t in our plans for a long time, but as these things go sometimes, we found ourselves with armfuls of flooring and before you know it we were doing a home gym makeover!

The room before was OK, white walls that were non-offensive, flooring that was neutral but so busy it made your eyes hurt! And the ceiling spotlights made the ceiling feel lower than it already was. The room felt cold and uninviting, and quite honestly I didn’t like spending any time down there – and no, not just because it’s a gym!

Home Gym Before and After

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Before

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After

Now the room is much warmer and more inviting, and has a bit of personality to it.

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Before

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After

Home Gym Paint Colors

We used a warm tone of neutral paint to really add some warmth to the room, as before the white made it feel cold and stark. I used Spanish Sand by Behr. For the accent walls we used Oarsman Blue by Behr. A slightly different blue than the storage unit, as I didn’t want the design to look 2 dimensional with just 2 colors.

Home Gym Flooring

We used Alpine Elm Luxury vinyl plank flooring by TrafficMASTER from the Home Depot. Vinyl plank is a good choice for a home gym due to the fact that it is hard-wearing and will sustain heavy weights that may drop on it. It’s also easy to lay and very affordable, this one was just $1.99 per square foot.

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Gym Equipment Storage

The gym needed some storage so we bought this Kallax storage unit from IKEA in turquoise-grey. The color of this unit actually inspired the whole design for this room. Unfortunately this particular color isn’t available any longer at IKEA, but they do offer Kallax in Black Brown, White, High Gloss White and Walnut Effect Light Grey, I particularly love the Walnut color.

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Yoga Mat

Instead of just a yoga mat, I bought this Stillebak rug from IKEA at $39.99, which gave the gym a cozy feel and a perfect designated space to do yoga. The colors also tied together the turquoise-grey of the storage unit and the blue of the accent walls.

Inspirational Gym Quotes and Wall Art

The wall decal is designed to give us that bit of inspiration as we’re flagging during a hard workout. I bought this one off Etsy, there are a lot of options, so take a look and find the quote that most inspires you.

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To tie the design together that bit more, I painted a custom canvas using the same blue as the accent walls, and a turquoise-grey which I color-matched with the storage unit. The lighter blue I made by mixing a bit of the Oarsman Blue with white paint. I used a similar design to the IKEA rug, again to tie it all together. It’s super easy to make your own custom canvas, just use some painters tape to create a pattern and the colors from your room and you can’t go wrong. But it it does go wrong, just paint over it and start again!

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The end result

I’m really pleased with how it turned out, in fact it looked exactly as I had intended. Maybe all this planning is paying off after all? To read about how I planned it before ever lifting a paint brush check out my blog ‘How I Planned Our Home Gym Makeover‘. This will help you to plan your own home gym, to make sure it turns out the way you wanted it to.

As always, I hoped you enjoyed the blog. If you liked what you read, please subscribe and share it with your friends. I’d also love to hear how your home gym make-overs have gone. Let me know!

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Until next time,

Jo @britflipper