About a month ago and approximately 47,638,980 days since quarantine began, I caved and bought an exercise bike. Up until the day it arrived I was burning roughly 6 calories a day–moving from one work station to another and walking my dog was the extent of my daily physical activity. Motivation to work out just wasn’t there and when I would think about the idea of putting on an exercise video or even having to squeeze into leggings, I would get extremely irritated. Put simply, I DID NOT WANT TO DO IT. My lack of motivation resulted in anger towards myself and towards a society that was making me feel like if I wasn’t exercising during quarantine I was doing something wrong. This anger fueled me to rebel and go the opposite direction by eating what I wanted and drinking wine instead of moving my body because I am a rebel girl who doesn’t care about society’s expectations!!! (spoiler alert: I totally do).
Eventually, I started feeling like I wasn’t doing enough (of course) so I bought the bike because it seemed like the best avenue to get me to start moving again. When it arrived, my bike and I spent two glorious weeks together. I would wheel it out into the living room every morning and bike 5 miles while watching TV then I would leave it out to hop on throughout the day when I needed to move around. The best part? I actually wanted to do it!
I was loving my new workout regime until the bike proved to be exactly what I paid for. It was very cheap and pretty soon the pedals completely broke off making it unusable. I sent it back, got a refund (phew), and found myself right where I started (despising exercise). I reverted back to resenting working out and this idea that if I wasn’t trying to lose the extra “quarantine pounds” I was a bad, lazy person.
Then I saw the light once again when I read Orlando’s post about his home gym and exercising journey. I felt so seen, I even cried. He articulated the shame I feel around exercise and how it shapes how I view myself and my body. In short, I always wonder if I am committed to exercise, does that mean I can’t love my body the way it is? That I must want it to be something else? How can I trick my brain to enjoy exercise, view it as a way to be healthier, and not judge myself if I don’t lose weight? It’s a different journey for everyone, sure, but once I began to reframe my intentions around exercising, I felt 10x more motivated. Am I ever going to run 5 miles a day or be able to do more than 10 pushups? Maybe not, but at least now I feel more positive about the ways I chose to move my body and why I do it. More importantly, I learned that having good exercise equipment close by was the key to get me excited about working out, so when I saw all the real home gyms and gym nooks from our readers I was inspired even more.
So wherever you are in your health journey, I want you to know that you are enough and there is no judgment here and certainly no pressure to exercise at all. That said, if you want some gym inspiration and great product recommendations, today we have 8 inspiring home gym ideas sent in by 8 of our lovely readers. Let’s get into it:
Reuse Old Decor To Cozy Up The Space
First up, this basement turned home gym designed by one of our readers, Aimee, is a great example of repurposing unused space and old decor. She happened to have an unfinished portion of her basement which almost always had gym equipment in it but was also a storage room. She decided to officially make it into a gym last year and probably only spent $100 on decor. She repurposed items from other parts of her home that weren’t being used to make the space feel welcoming (plus she added plants which always does the job). They already had most of the gym equipment besides the indoor rower (which is so cool!) that cost around $1,000.
I love how she incorporated things she already owned to make the space more relaxing and enjoyable to be in. A gym is perhaps a really great place to use old decor that you may have grown out of in your more lived-in spaces. For example, if you are sick of a piece of art or decor in one room, try using it to liven up your workout space. We all like pretty things to look at even when sweat is dripping into our eyeballs, right?
Combine Your Home Office/Gym
Home offices/gyms are a 2020 trope that is not going anywhere. Many of us are working from home for the foreseeable future so carving out a designated workspace is key. Nowadays, while we are stuck inside even more than usual, many home offices are also home to workout nooks.
One of our readers, Melody, sent in her office/gym space that she started putting together a few months into quarantine. At the time her hours at work were cut back, so this project and a couple of others helped keep her sane/busy during unexpected days off. Now is an inspiring place she can go to work or work out.
From Melody: “I wanted the area to feel like my home but be a little more fun! I needed the space to bring me joy since everything outside was a little stressful, to say the least. I work in a creative field so it also needed to strike the right balance of inspiring for work and to workout.”
Here’s another home office/gym mashup from Jess’s dear friend Casey. Before quarantine, it was an awkward rectangular space that wasn’t getting any use but when a stay-at-home order comes along, using every inch of an apartment is essential.
From Casey: “Shortly after the city went into lockdown my roommate Kaia and I knew we wanted to create a space at home to be able to work out in. Pre pandemic, both of us would take classes at boutique fitness studios but we knew the “equipment” we had would not suffice what we were used to in our workout routines. We had an old pair of 2-pound weights, a foam roller, and a yoga mat. That’s it! So we kept adding”
For Casey and her roommate, it started with weights, then a mirror, and slowly but surely they created this totally functional (and cute) home office and gym nook. I think this is one of the few positives coming from the pandemic–we are all looking for ways to make the most out of our spaces and beginning to stop taking things for granted.
Keep It Simple And Light
Not a big gym person? Me either! This is why I really appreciate the simplicity of this home yoga studio by Trini From Nayley Home. It’s calm, bright, and airy making it an ideal space to meditate, do yoga, or even get some cardio exercises in if you are into that.
From Trini: “We like to call it our “studio” to alleviate the pressure of “GYM”. I still feel accomplished if I just go in there to do some morning stretching or meditation and not necessarily a sweaty workout. 🙂”
I, of course, love this sentiment and hope to one day carve out a space in my home as relaxing as this looks.
Use Up Vertical Wall Space
Here we have another basement turned home gym designed by Holly of Sunderland House. She started the project a week after gyms closed and pulled it all together within a few days–so impressive! At the time, of course, we were all told places would only be closed for three weeks so needless to say, creating this space definitely paid off over the last year.
What I love most is how she really utilized wall space for storage so no floor space was wasted (so much room for activities!). This is a really great hack if you have a small awkward room or nook that you want to make into a gym or workout area.
Split A Room Into A Workout Zone
One of our readers, Julie, turned this upstairs room into a makeshift gym and says it gets a ton of use as it is much easier to workout at home with two kids than it is to go to a gym. This is definitely what my gym nook would look like if I had exercise equipment and I love how relaxed it is. Honestly, I am not opposed to a sofa or comfy chair close by after a workout and I appreciate how Julie separated the space into two zones by adding a rug and facing the chairs towards the windows instead of toward her exercise equipment.
Add Lots Of Color
No one wants to work out in a boring box with blank walls, so decor and color can go a long way which is exactly what Jenny was going for when designing this space.
From Jenny: “This room was my former art studio, but got a makeover because it is a magical room with a door, which is prime real estate when you are remote schooling and trying to work from home. After a lot of paint, rearranging, and Ikea curtain tracks all over the place to divide the zones, it is now a home office to two people (complete with a zoom background), a pilates studio with a reformer, a place to weight train and do some yoga (when the reformer is stood up on the wall), oh and an art studio. It is the hardest working space in our home and I love how happy it looks. The curtains help to divide all the zones and help reduce the echo for zoom calls and podcast interviews.”
In another part of Jenny’s home, she shows a prime example of making it work wherever you have the extra space. If your closet can also house an exercise bike, then a closet/exercise bike station it shall be!
From Jenny: “We left the space at the end free and tucked in our wannabe peloton under the window. I love that we do not have exercise equipment in our bedroom, but you can slither from bed to the bike in a couple of steps (which is helpful when you don’t want to get out of bed). It is also nice to have it by the window to get some fresh air while you are riding.”
Transform That Extra Bedroom
Oh yes. I would definitely feel motivated to move my body around in here. This home gym designed by Erin Wheeler of Sunny Circle Studio was once an office space that wasn’t being used anymore, so she set out to make it a gorgeous and functional home gym.
From Erin: “The room was formerly my office/lounge area and it currently wasn’t in use all that much as I had moved my home office to a different room in the house. I did think it a bit odd/unusual to transform the first room you see when you enter our home to a home gym but I have zero regrets as it feels very much connected to the style of the house.“
I love a room that is both functional and beautiful and this right here is IT, folks. She clearly took the time to envision how she could make the most use out of this room and completely nailed it. I am not even a huge fan of working out but I want to spend A LOT of time here.
By now, you all know I love a good storage angle right? Well, I can’t end this post without mentioning that storage for your gym is key. Even Orlando says so, so you know it’s true, and a great option for a gym is using a bookshelf like Erin did here. You can use baskets and hooks and also pepper in decor to make the space more beautiful.
Alright my friends, that is all for now. How are you feeling about gyms and working out in general? Do you find having a home gym makes working out easier? Tell me everything. xx
Opener Image Credit: Design by and photo by Erin Wheeler of Sunny Circle Studio