When it comes to creating and then maintaining an exercise routine, just getting to the gym can be half the battle. Suddenly, you become susceptible to a medley of excuses—you’re tired, you don’t have enough time, the weather’s insane, you forgot your gym shoes. Not to mention the pitfalls once you actually arrive, like finding an overcrowded cardio section or dealing with the nerve of that one person who’s hogging your favorite machine while posting selfies between sets.
And, sure, a gym can be an incredibly motivating place, but it can also be a little intimidating. Between the mysterious machines and sea of chiseled experts who seem to navigate them seamlessly, it’s easy to succumb to gym-timidation and feel like a fish out of water.
Here’s what the gym doesn’t want you to know: your home can be just as effective as any training floor and, unlike what you’ve seen on MTV Cribs, you don’t need pricey, bulky cardio machines or 50 different sizes of dumbbells to make it work.
How to Setup Your Home Gym
The below tips, with expert advice from Aaptiv Trainer Kenta Seki, will help you to create your no-excuses workout spot right in your house. It just takes four easy steps:
Step 1: Dedicate a space
Think about how much space you’ll need, then scope out the best spot in your home for a workout—it could be a spare bedroom, the basement, the garage, or even your living room. If you’re taking a mellow yoga class or doing Pilates, you may only need enough space to lay down an exercise mat. Even HIIT cardio moves like jumping jacks and burpees can be performed on a mat in a relatively limited amount of space—though, be careful if you’ve got low ceilings. If your workouts require more room for larger movements, like broad jumps or bear crawls, you’ll need an accommodating space and may even want to install firm, slip-free flooring.
No matter how you plan to break a sweat, choose a space that gets plenty of light and circulation. “Being close to free-flowing air or natural light can not only cool you down, but also energize you,” says Seki. So, avoid small spaces that will get stuffy. But, also be sure to choose a place where you’ll be out of the way so you can avoid noise complaints from your friends and family. And, more importantly, they won’t interrupt you when you’re in the zone.
Step 2: Create the right atmosphere
If you don’t want your workouts to feel like punishment, don’t make your workout space feel like a dungeon—or a ramshackle afterthought. Clear your space of clutter, so you can exercise without distractions, and do whatever you need to make it your happy place. That could involve adding candles or an essential oil diffuser, or setting up speakers so you can play motivating music as you work out.
“Putting up pictures, artwork, quotes, or things that inspire you in your workout space can help you stay motivated and remind you of your goals,” says Seki. He also suggests installing a mirror (or leaning one against the wall). “Mirrors allow you to watch your form and see your progress, which can help keep you motivated,” he says. “They can also make a small space seem larger.”
Remember: Unlike the gym, this is your space, so take advantage of it.
Step 3: Stock the basics
No, you don’t need to spring for your own elliptical, treadmill, spin bike, and squat rack. Investing in a few cost-effective items can be just as impactful as a room full of fancy gym equipment. And there are plenty of workouts you can do without any equipment at all, which makes your options even more varied.
“Yoga mats, interchangeable dumbbells, and TRX cables are multifunctional and can be used by many levels of people for various workout activities,” says Seki. From there, easy additions like a jump rope, resistance bands, and a stability ball can take your workouts even further. And, don’t feel like you need to buy everything at once. Figure out what type of workout makes the most sense for you to do at home, and then invest only in what you’ll need.
Step 4: Keep it clean
Now that you’ve got a dedicated workout space, you’ve got to take care of it. Before you hire a professional cleaning service, try a few simple items to help you stay organized. “Get a rack or other piece of furniture to store and organize your equipment,” suggests Seki. “This keeps your space looking inviting and can put you in a better mindset before and after your workout.”
Break in that shiny new workout space by taking your favorite classes on the Aaptiv app. From yoga and cardio to HIIT and strength training, there’s something for everyone.