When COVID-19 struck and public gyms had to close, it seemed obvious: Turn a small at-home gym into a bigger one—one equipped for daily workouts. Rochester’s Krista Holtegaard did just that.
“My home gym is located in my lower level family room area,” Holtegaard says. “I took out all the furniture and turned it into my home gym. I had a small home gym before the pandemic hit, but I added more equipment and made it a full offering of the equipment that I would use at a traditional gym.”
As a busy, working mother, finding time for her daily workouts has always been a challenge. By having her gym on-site, she can exercise whenever she has “a free pocket of time.”
Holtegaard canceled her Crossfit membership when she outfitted herself with a full at-home gym. Scores of others followed suit, choosing to forego memberships at traditional brick-and-mortar gyms for at home workouts
Convenience and savings
“A lot of people needed something at home to keep themselves busy during the COVID shutdowns,” says Cole Eastvold, manager of The Fitness Shoppe in Rochester.
“Home gyms have become more popular because people see the convenience,” adds Kara Short, a fitness and nutrition coach and owner of Fit Coaching in Rochester. “You don’t have to leave your home to get your workout in. I used to always want to go to the gym, to have that separate space. But over the year of COVID, I found that working out in the basement, garage or deck will suit me just fine. I think a lot of people realize they can use what they have at their house to work out.”
Short says convenience is the top reason people are outfitting their homes with gyms, but they’re also finding that they save money when dropping a gym membership. “Economically, it’s cheaper to work out at home,” Short says. “It may also be easier for you to work out with family members. They are built-in accountability partners. You can serve as a role model, too, to your family.”
Making it work
According to Eastvold, some athletes saw the value in creating an at-home gym even before the pandemic struck. Parents appreciate having an at-home gym so they can get a workout in between family duties. Time management is key for them, he says.
Garages, basements and spare bedrooms are popular spots for at-home gyms. Once you have your spot selected, you can move on to furnishing it with equipment.
Eastvold recommends equipping your at-home gym with free weights, a rack, bar 44:: july • august 2021 plates, dumbbells, all-in-one systems like cable machines, a bench and power blocks. The workout room you create will depend on how big you want and are able to go and what your exercise goals are. In her home gym, Short has an elliptical machine, spin bike, boxing bag, dumbbells, kettle bells, resistance bands, a barbell and assorted weights.
Holtegaard says that if you want to get creative, you can incorporate household items, such as laundry detergent or milk jugs, into your workouts. Working out on the stairs is another easy way to squeeze in an at-home workout, she says.
“I love the fact that my gym is easily accessible to me at any time of day,” Holtegaard says. “I love that I don’t have to stress about getting out the door to a class time at a traditional gym. I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about being surrounded by a giant gym filled with big burly men. It’s a no-excuse mindset for me. I must use it.”
Programs and training
So you’ve got your home gym constructed. Now what? Experts say there are myriad ways to secure a great workout for you to reference in your at-home gym.
Holtegaard uses the Beachbody On Demand program for her workouts, where there are more than 1,000 workouts available to stream. She posts daily selfies and videos on Instagram and Facebook to motivate others to join her in her fitness journey. She has 750 Instagram followers.
“I hopefully encourage others,” Holtegaard said. “We are stronger together.”
Others simply tap into YouTube for a workout and are off. And still others hire a personal trainer to come into their homes and help them establish a workout routine. Short says there are all sorts of training websites, such as TRX. She also likes the Nike training app. She encourages shoppers to learn from store staff when buying at-home gym equipment, as well.
Eastvold says he’s seen people get creative and incorporate random, various at-home objects into their at home workouts, including ottomans, chairs, buckets and two-by-fours. “I see all sorts of stuff,” he says
A matter of motivation
Eastvold recommends that at-home athletes use fitness apps such as Peloton, iFit or Inspire. “That’s for motivation,” he says. “No one is motivated all the time, so that’s where dedication comes into play. If you have a goal, stick with it. You’ve got to get up and go to work in the morning, and not everyone wants to do that either.”
Short urges athletes to get creative and make it work with their surroundings and schedules. “Just find a way,” she says. “It’s important to take care of yourself. Don’t wait to feel like working out, just do it anyway.”
Holtegaard chimes in, saying the most important thing when working out from home is to have a strong community of others to be accountable to and to encourage you when your motivation is limited.
“We all get the same 24 hours in a day,” she said. “That is 86,400 seconds to fit in some time to make your health a priority. If you don’t make time for your health, you’ll be forced to make time for your sickness.”