More and more people are seeing the benefits of creating a workout space at home. However, as the demand for home office space has also increased it can be difficult to justify using the spare room as a gym. Which is why converting your garage into a gym is such a great idea. Garages can all too often become a bit of a dumping ground. But that cluttered floor space has the potential to become your new workout room, so that then you can have a home office as well as a home gym!
Most articles you read about creating home gyms, focus solely on the equipment you need. Yet there is so much more to think about than that. First and foremost, it’s important to get the actual structure of your room right and in this article we’re going to look at 8 things you need to think about when converting your garage into a gym.
Ensuring you have the right garage flooring for your gym will not only help to protect your gym equipment, but it will also protect the subfloor of the garage itself. Gym equipment is heavy enough when it’s not in use, but when you factor in the extra weight that’s placed on it when in use as well as the shock absorbency factor of weights potentially being dropped on it, the flooring you choose needs to be able to cope with these things.
Plus, you want flooring that’s comfortable, easy to clean, looks good, is durable, and that’s also slip proof. As you can see, there are lots of different things to consider, which is why it’s essential you spend time doing a bit of research and choosing a suitable material for your new gym. Most flooring companies will send out samples, in some cases for free or you may just have to pay a small fee or cover the postage costs. This is well worth doing as you can then feel the quality of the flooring and assess whether it’s up for the job.
So, we talked about clutter, right? The last thing you want to happen after you’ve gone to the bother of having a good old clear out and tidy up before converting your garage into a gym, is for it to then get all messy again. And the only way you’re going to get on top of this and instil good habits moving forwards is by getting yourself organised from the get-go.
To make your gym safe you need to make sure the floor space stays clear. You don’t want to be tripping over equipment halfway through a workout! Shelving is the way to go in a garage gym, because you can really maximise the storage space without impacting on the usable footprint of the room. Garage storage shelves are a great option as they’re sturdy enough to take the weight of heavier gym equipment such as kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls etc. And from a practical point of view, they are easy to clean, and the open shelving means your equipment is easily visible and accessible.
If you intend to use your new gym for weight bearing exercises that involve equipment such as pull up bars, TRX ropes, or other wall or ceiling mounted apparatus, you will firstly need to make sure that the walls and ceilings of your garage are strong enough. If you are unsure yourself, it would be advisable to get professional help from someone like a builder. Whilst you won’t necessarily need planning permission to convert your garage into a gym, there may be certain building regulations you have to adhere to when changing the purpose of the room – in this case converting your garage into a gym. You must comply with any regulations in order to make the gym safe for use and to also ensure that you remain covered by your home insurance, should anything happen to you or somebody else when using your gym.
Aside from anything else, you want to be confident that when you’re using equipment of this nature that it’s not going to fall off the walls. Converting your garage into a gym takes time and money, so the last thing you want is for it to be ruined after a few workouts. Do it right now, and you’ll be thankful in the future.
Although you’re likely to get hot and sweaty very quickly when you start working out in your new gym, you’re still going to want to think about heating. Most garages aren’t as well insulated as houses, which means when you head out first thing to do your morning workout routine, especially during the winter months, it is going to be freezing out there. And let’s face it, if you have the choice of staying in your warm bed, or going outside to a freezing gym, which one are you most likely to choose!?!
To make the most of your garage gym it’s a good idea to install heating. What you choose will depend somewhat on your budget. If money is no object, then underfloor heating is a luxurious and relatively energy efficient way to heat a room. If you already have gas central heating you have the option of hydronic underfloor heating (pipes filled with warm water). This will involve digging up the floor of your garage, which is a big upheaval and way more expensive. A cheaper option is to go for electric underfloor heating mats, which sit underneath the main flooring. Cheaper to install, but your bills will be higher in the long term.
Given that you are only likely to be using your gym a maximum of once a day, it’s unnecessary to keep it heated all the time. So, you may just want a portable heater with an automatic timer that you can set to come on before you use the gym and that switches off after a set amount of time. You can also go for one with an automatic thermostat, this way it will switch itself off when the room reaches the desired temperature.
Gyms are notoriously sweaty and unless you ventilate your garage gym well you will get condensation, which could lead to issues with damp, odours, and mould. To avoid these potential problems, make sure to include some form of ventilation when you’re planning your gym. If your garage already has an opening window, great, that makes life a lot easier. If it doesn’t, think about replacing the window with one that has a fan light or side opener. Or if it doesn’t have any windows at all, check whether there is a wall that could potentially have a new window built into it. Just be aware, that this may involve planning permission, and if the new window would be overlooking any of your neighbours, you are unlikely to get permission granted. If there is nothing above your garage there is also the option to add a sky light, but again check what planning permission you may need for this.
In some instances, where garages are built in as part of the house or are connected to neighbouring houses or garages it may not be possible to add a window. If this is the case, consider adding an extractor fan or invest in a portable dehumidifier to help remove excess moisture from the room.
6. Electric Points
A room can never have too many plug sockets, and your garage gym is no different. When you’re planning your garage conversion you can go about planning how many electric sockets you need in 2 ways:
- Sit down and work out exactly what gadgets you have that need electric.
- Put in more than you think you need.
Personally, we’d always go with the second option, because it is surprising how many sockets you’ll need. Some of the bigger gym machines like treadmills, rowing machines, cross trainers etc., all rely on electricity to work, and then of course there are things like a stereo, kettle, dehumidifier, heater, somewhere to charge your phone… it soon adds up. We’d also recommend choosing plug sockets that have in built USB adaptors, which will give you even more options to choose from when charging your gadgets.
Lighting is an important factor to get right in a garage gym. You want to be able to see what you’re doing, but you also don’t want to be blinded. This can be an even trickier problem to solve if you’ve got lots of mirrors everywhere. Natural light is always your best option, as it causes less strain on the eyes and also makes you feel better too, plus it is way more flattering when you inevitably check yourself out in those mirrors. Oh come on now, we all do it!
If natural light isn’t an option, ceiling lights are a good substitute, and ideally something like embedded spotlights so that there isn’t anything hanging down that could potentially get in the way of your workout. There are lots of different lightbulbs out there, including LED ones that mimic natural daylight. And if you intend to also use your gym space for more relaxing activities like yoga, meditation etc., it’s worth choosing lighting that has different brightness settings so that you can adjust the lighting to suit your mood.
This last point is something to consider only if your budget allows. It’s not entirely necessary, but it is an added luxury that could also potentially add value to your home should you sell it in future. Fitting your garage out with running water, a toilet, sink, shower etc., will make the entire space a lot more convenient. Whenever you’re thirsty, need the loo, want to shower after a workout, wash your hands, clean the room or any of the equipment, you can easily do so without having to go back to the main house.
It may seem a little excessive, however if this is something that could potentially become part of a new business venture, for example if you train as a personal trainer, then it is well worth considering as a future investment.
As you can see, there are lots of different factors that need to be taken into consideration when converting your garage into a gym. Taking the time to plan things properly will result in a gym that is safe, practical, long lasting, efficient, looks good and that will hopefully remain in budget. And once you have all that sorted, then you can enjoy shopping for all of the gym equipment you’re going to fill it with!