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From the start of my pregnancy, I have been thinking about creating a home gym. Before becoming pregnant, I went to my CrossFit gym at least 4 times a week and to a yoga studio another 2-3 times per week. But the further along I got in my pregnancy, the more I started to wonder if I would be able to maintain a schedule as I had in the past. This is where I had the idea to start creating a home gym, so I could primarily workout at home and be available for our baby and supplement this with the occasional trip to the gym or studio.
COVID-19 now has us all working out from home. And if you’re like me, occasionally you are having to get creative to replace some of the equipment you would typically use at the gym. Or maybe also like me, trying to buy a few additional pieces to complete your home gym. This is also easier said than done, considering a lot of the at-home gym equipment is sold out.
Find an identity for the space
Before purchasing any equipment for your home gym, I find it helpful to ask what do you want to use the space for. If it is CrossFit or other functional fitness workouts, then the space you would design would look much different then if you were interested in a yoga or pilates space. The needs for both are different, which is why it is so important to have a picture in mind before you go forward with setting up the space.
And for me, what it made me realize is that I wanted two different spaces available in my home. One for HIIT and CrossFit workouts, and another space for yoga and stretching. If you are interested in lifting or CrossFit workouts at your home, I’ve found that it is best to have a dedicated area in either your garage or yard. Let’s be honest, it is not a great idea to set up a home gym inside if it’s going to involve dropping weights and potentially damaging a floor.
What I look for in a yoga space would be fairly opposite to what I want in a CrossFit space. I’d want it to be free of clutter and too many distractions to focus on my yoga practice. And I’m sure I’m not unique in this, but as a mom-to-be in a couple of months (seriously, how does time go by this fast), I’d want to have a yoga practice space nearby the nursery. This would allow for a quick practice while the baby naps, but also to be available in an instant if my little one needs something.
To what you actually need to start creating a home gym space for yourself and your family.
To create a functional fitness gym
I have always loved the challenge of CrossFit style WOD workouts. What makes these difficult to recreate at home is the amount of equipment required. You can always adjust some of the exercises in a workout to use the equipment you have. But I’ve found to really reap the benefits of these workouts it is beneficial to have a certain level of equipment.
Functional fitness or HIIT workouts require some space, which is why I’ve found that the set up in a garage works great. Now, if you’re like me, garage space is a premium. We only have a 2 car garage that houses 2 larger vehicles. This is where some companies have done a fantastic job creating space-saving equipment so that when you back your cars out, you can have a home gym, but then when the workout is over, still fit both vehicles back in the garage.
One of the keys to having a home gym in your garage is to place rubber mats on the floor. This will protect the flooring from any damages if you need to bail out of a heavy lift or if you are dropping weights during olympic lifts. They are also easy to clean, which is nice to know when you are dropping down for your hundredth burpee of the day.
To help you save space, a pull-down wall rack allows you to have the squat rack you need without taking up too much space. The best options also have additional parts that allow you to house the barbell and weights alongside the rack on the wall. Just these few pieces are a great start to a home gym since you will be able to complete lifting programs, pull-up work, olympic lifts along with any bodyweight exercises.
A few other great pieces of equipment to add to your home gym would be other cardio equipment. The ones you will see most frequently in WODs are a rower, assault bike and a ski erg. While these are not necessary, especially if space is truly a limited commodity, it is helpful to be able to perform other cardio exercises besides running and jumping rope. And as someone who is entering the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, both the rower and bike have been key pieces of equipment for myself after giving up running at about 24 weeks pregnant. They both allow for great cardio workouts with the added stress that running can put on a pregnant body.
To round out our home gym, we’ve added sets of dumbbells and kettlebells. Both my husband and I share the equipment, so we’ve found that we have a pretty wide range of weights. This is from about 10 lbs. to 50 lbs. on the dumbbells and 25lbs. to 70 lbs. for the kettlebells. We do not have a ton of storage space in our garage, so I currently have these lined against the wall, so they are not in the way when we pull the cars in. In the future, I’d love to have a three-car garage. Not to fit an additional car, but just to have a better home gym spot.
When looking at the equipment to outfit a home gym, it can seem overwhelming and expensive. However, when my husband and I broke it down, we found that a year’s worth of our gym membership costs would cover the entire purchase, and then some. That’s how we decided it was well worth the investment. Plus, it’s hard to give the excuse of “there is no time to get to the gym” when that gym is right in your own garage 🙂
To create a yoga studio space
I’ll speak more to creating a yoga space here because that is what I practice more frequently. But a lot of the same thoughts would be true if you wanted to create a space for pilates or barre workouts.
To me, one of the most important aspects of a home yoga space would be to have it be somewhere that can be free of distractions. This is probably way easier said than done for most of us. But what I’ve found to be most helpful to create the space, is to know that you do not need an entire room but just maybe a small corner where you can create a calming space.
We have a flex room next to our nursery, which is where I love to set up for my yoga practice. I keep the space very simple with a focus on trying to let in natural light. I leave a clearing in the room that only has a plant in the space. It also has a small storage shelf nearby where I like to keep my props handy.
In some of my previous posts, I have shared how helpful props have been for my yoga practice during my pregnancy. But as a yoga teacher, I also find props very useful for everyday practice as they can help the body find proper alignment. What I always tried to stress to the students in my yoga class was that in every pose, you are not trying to mimic a look but rather elicit an alignment within your body.
The props I’ve found to be best for an at-home space include 2 yoga blocks, a strap, a bolster, and a yoga blanket. There are a few additional props that I’ve begun to add to my collection, including a yoga wheel, but these are more specialized and worth looking into more as you are developing specific aspects of your practice.
What are your musts for creating an at-home gym. Let me know in the comment section below 🙂
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