How to Set Up an At Home Workout Space

In this "age of COVID", we're all stuck at home a lot more than usual.  In many states, our favorite gyms are closed and we're struggling to maintain some normal routine related to our fitness.  Here at the Good Stuff Unlimited, we get it and hope this guide may help inspire you to get back in shape despite less than ideal circumstances. 

Like many we talk to, you may simply be looking to fill the void before you can get back to your gym or intense workout studio (like Orangetheory which is an incredible workout and has a truly unique offering and culture).  Others may want to add a routine to the mix to supplement their gym / studio workouts until we get back to normal (and we will get back to normal).  Regardless, you will want to factor this in as it will impact the style and length of the workouts you choose to do, when you do them, and the equipment you'll need.

Your Workout Area

For some lucky readers (I’m one of them), you may have a dedicated room or area of your basement that is already been identified as the workout space. Others may not be so blessed and may have to re-purpose some square footage or use a portion of your den, living room, bedroom or basement with assurances to your “house management” that you won’t destroy it or turn it in to a smelly sweat room.  Regardless, the space should be at least big enough for a yoga mat or other workout mat and some excess room in case you’ll opt for an intense high-impact-internal-training workout (“HIIT”) regiment.  A space at least 8’ x 8’ should do nicely.  From there, if you plan on having a lot of equipment (free weights, a Peloton, etc.), you’ll need additional square footage. 

As far as location in the home, we’re partial to the lowest floor in your home, if you can.  This way, if you are doing an insane HIIT workout and jumping all over the place, you won’t disturb others on the floor below.  This may prove difficult if you live in an apartment or condo so keep that in mind. 

Establishing a Routine

Like any gym or studio routine, you are going to have a higher probability of sticking to your at home regiment if you schedule it as part of your daily calendar.  While this doesn’t have to be at the same time each day (we prefer early AMs most days to get the day off to a good start) you should plan on blocking this time on your schedule.  If you don’t, you are certain to fill it with a last minute Zoom call you could easily fill in at a later time. Make it a priority! 

What You’ll Need – The Good Stuff Unlimited Guide

1. Equipment & Gear

  • A good yoga mat – you’ll want one of these to protect your floor from sweat and for stretching and core work. We suggest Gaiam mats but other popular brands include Jade Yoga and Manduka.  Another option to consider is getting a set of interlocking exercise foam mat squares that allow you to put together a customized “floor” in an area that may be more a permanent spot for your workouts. 
  • Weights – honestly, you don’t need heavy weights build muscle so we’re not fans of “old school” weight benches for the average at home gym. Nothing against them but with limited space they can be an unnecessary space hog.  That being said, if you are looking to build out a full gym and have plenty of space (like a garage) this site has some great suggestions for any budget.  So, we recommend having several sets (maybe three or four) up dumbbells in varying weights that can provide you optimal versatility and resistance for any workouts.  For the ladies, you may consider a range from as low as 3 lbs up to 25 lbs and for the guys maybe 15 lbs to 45 lbs.  We would also recommend you buy hexagonal vs. circular shaped weights so they don’t roll when you set them down and you can use them as push up handles.  Lastly, while it’s personal preference, I prefer the rubber coated weights since they produce less noise when the weights clash or when they are dropped.  Brands we like include York, Power Systems, and CAP.

    Another option to traditional free weights that is becoming popular, is a set of adjustable weights.  We've not used them here at The Good Stuff Unlimited but know a lot of folks do especially when space is a constraint.  These weights provide a significant amount of versatility by giving you multiple weight options (i.e., 15 lbs to 25 lbs in one piece of equipment) and allow multiple people with differing resistance needs or capabilities a "one stop" option.  Several adjustable weight sets that are highly recommended include Bowflex SelectTech setWolfyok Fitness Dumbbells setPOWERBLOCK Elite EXP Adjustable Dumbbell and Tespon Adjustable Dumbbells.
  • Kettlebells – This is a versatile piece of equipment that is a must to a lot of different core exercises that can also give the ole ticker a good go. We recommend you add a few to your collection and you can find a good selection from the brands above. 
  • Resistance bands – these can be great addition to your set up. They provide “joint friendly” resistance, can be easily stored and allow for a freedom of movement in your exercises that can improve your range of motion.  Amazon has a great selection of bands here.
  • TRX Suspension Trainer. We can’t say enough about this brand and its products.  If you aren’t familiar, TRX offers a Navy Seal inspired workout system based off of super-tough and durable canvas bands that you can attached to everything from your door to a tree (no kidding).  They are super easy to set up and use and you can also take them with you when you go on vacation or travel for businesses.  The bands use your own body weight and gravity to give you an efficient way to work every muscle in your body.  They are great for toning, building muscle, HIIT workouts, stretching, core strengthening and just about any other aspect of fitness.  Well built and affordable too – we are fans! 

While our “home gym” is fairly streamlined and low budget to set up, you may want to opt for higher-ticket, tech-enabled fitness equipment that includes virtual workout experiences. The price tag for the equipment can range from $1,500 to $2,500 and require subscriptions of between $30 to $40.  Popular options include a Peloton bike, a Mirror training system or a Hydrow rowing machine.

2. Motivating Workout Online Resources

Now that you’ve set up your workout area / gym / "dojo" (as my family calls my area), it’s time to get motivated and guided through some virtual workout and exercise classes. The internet is chock full of both subscription and free content for any and every type of workout you can imagine.  You just need to carve out the time and stay committed.  Below are some of our favorite online resources;

  • BeachBody On Demand – This is one of the original workout content providers out there and home to several famous at home fitness legends to include Shawn T and Tony Horton. I’ve been doing Tony’s famous P90X and Shawn’s Insanity workouts for years on an old DVD player and last year became a subscriber and can’t believe it took me so long.  As a member, you have access to all online classes when you want and other resources such as virtual fitness coaching and nutrition assistance.  I would highly recommend you check them out as they have programs for men and women alike, beginners and intermediates and the most psychopathic HIIT nuts! 
  • The Body Coach TV – UK fitness coach Joe Wicks takes you through a bevy of free workouts on YouTube that are pretty intense for the most part (so be warned). He also emphasizes working out either at home, in small areas or on the go while vacationing.  He uses very little equipment so this is a great channel to follow. 
  • Fitness Blender – I ran across this fitness site and YouTube channel that was started by husband and wife team of Daniel and Keli Segars. I’ve been doing several of their HIIT workouts for about a year now and really enjoy their program - simple but effective movements and variations for all levels.  They seem very genuine, enjoy what they provide and seem to be passionate about bringing good quality fitness programming and resources to any and all.  Most of the content is free but they also have a subscriber model that provides additional workouts, diet and fitness content.  
  • OrangetheoryAtHome - Whether you are a member, have been to a class or have read about Orangetheory's workout classes, you will love their AtHome offering dozens of free HIIT workouts with OT's professional Coaches.  The science behind their insane workouts is to push you to spend 12 to 20 minutes in what is termed the "Orange Zone" ~ when you are working out at 84% to 91% of your max heart rate.  Your coach will guide you through our 5 different heart rate zones: resting, easy, challenging, uncomfortable and All Out, telling you when to push harder and when to pull back for recovery.  The online classes not only provide a great workout but also a good way to become more engaged with what they call "Orange Nation".  

So, we’ve helped you set up your dojo (i.e., gym, fitness area, etc) and given you a lot of workout content so I’m afraid you’ve run out of excuses on why you aren’t working out at home.  There is always 30 – 60 minutes in your schedule and we realize that may mean sacrificing sleep or that extra screen time (which we can all stand to reduce).  But, as with anything in the Good Stuff Unlimited community, you get out what you put in – in the case of getting fit, that’s time and sweat!  Go work out and enjoy the benefits!

You can also learn more about each of the products above by clicking here.

If you have additional ideas on what we should add to this guide, please let us know.  Until next time, here's to finding time for your Good Stuff!

Dave @ TGSU

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