Hi friends! I have a different type of blog post lined up today, that I thought would be handy given our current social distancing / shelter-at-home situation. This post is actually part interior and part mental health & wellness- something I think we could all use a little of in our lives right now. Did you know we have a small home gym in our house? We recently (as in, a couple months ago) converted one of the bedrooms in the basement to an exercise room, and although it’s a work in progress- it’s proving to be pretty functional… especially now. One of my 2020 goals was to work on finding better balance in my life, and having an exercise routine is a huge part of that, which I’m still working toward. Getting into the habit of including physical activity in my day has become a big part of self-care for me lately, and I hope by sharing some of my favorite resources- it can help you too. Click through for a glimpse into our home gym (in its early stages), our plans for the space, and a roundup of some free resources for working out and getting active at home!
Our Home Gym
Converting a basement guest room to a home gym was actually Emmett’s idea. He pitched this to me back in December and I agreed it was a cool idea! Wayyy back in college, we were both very into fitness and working out. For him, weight lifting used to be a big part of his routine. For me, I prefer studio classes like yoga, barre, and spinning. Here we are years later, without a major renovation project underway for the first time in a long while, thinking we should stick to our initial goal of getting healthier and finding better balance in our life.
Our home gym, as I mentioned, is a work in progress as of now. It’s not exactly inspiring and is pretty basic, but I feel super fortunate to have the additional space in our home to dedicate to a gym that houses our exercise equipment. The space measures about 12 feet by 11 feet, so it’s not huge, but we have a decent amount of room for our needs. Since it is in the basement, the ceiling is on the lower side, plus a portion of the ceiling actually drops into the space (a large bulkhead that covers ductwork).
I’ve been collecting home gym inspiration on this Pinterest board, if you’re interested in seeing ideas I’ve saved! To start, I’d love to rip up the carpet and install a more suitable floor. I’d also love to transform the closet into some sort of built-in storage rack for equipment (kind of like this). The space could also use some inspiring art and a better paint color. Despite the basement location, luckily we do have a window well in this room for natural light, but I’ll definitely be updating the window treatment at some point. Who knows when we’ll end up tackling this project, but it’s certainly on our radar! In the meantime, it has been very nice to have a designated space to workout and be active.
We’ve been trying to stick to a tight budget for this room. Emmett found the bench press and free weights for a ridiculously low price on Facebook marketplace. The stepper machine has been with us since our previous home. It used to be tucked in a closet. I actually bought it because it was the smallest, space saving cardio machine I could find. I still use and love it! For Christmas, I splurged and bought myself a Peloton- which I use often and have grown to LOVE. The other miscellaneous items, like the resistance bands, dumbbells, the exercise ball, and yoga equipment are all things we’ve accumulated over time. I’m honestly pretty excited to make this space our own and insert more function and design into it.
If you’re looking for some free at-home workouts to stay active during this time, I’m going to list some of my favorites below…
Some Favorite Resources for FREE At-Home Workouts:
Peloton: Right now, you can download the Peloton app and use it free for 90 days! Even if you don’t own their equipment, you can access their classes that include yoga, dance, strength training, and you can even use it when you run outside (at a safe distance from others, of course)!
Nike Training Club: The Nike Training Club app is completely free and has tons of incredible workouts! There’s a variety of options to choose from, and they are all led by professional trainers. If you have an Apple watch, the workouts automatically pair with your watch, so you can follow along with their cues.
Fitness Blender: This YouTube channel is a great resource for free at-home workouts. They are led by a husband & wife, and there are hundreds of free videos available that include cardio, weights, yoga, and stretching. I will say… they don’t have any music, so I recommend using your playlist to help get you going!
The Fitness Marshall: Caleb Marshall (check him out on IG) is one of my favorites for FUN dance workouts! He has been posting a lot of free content lately. If you like dancing and pop music, you have to check him out. I always finish his workouts smiling and in a much better mood! For cardio, they’re really fun and don’t feel like a traditional workout- that’s the best way to describe it.
Lauren Gleisberg: Lauren is a mom of two who posts great at-home workouts (she just posted an entire workout using your stairs at home!) right on Instagram. She focuses mainly on weights and high intensity cardio, but I like her quick Insta workouts that are easy to follow and really just use bodyweight or free weights you have on hand.
CorePower Yoga: CorePower is offering free yoga and meditation classes for the foreseeable future! These are a great way to find balance with your body and mind, while alleviating some stress. I would highly recommend!
Paleomg: Juli Bauer Roth is another fun follow on Instagram. Her account has everything from clothing to easy recipes, and great at-home workouts. She is a dog lover and is pretty hilarious… plus she does a great job of posting home workouts to her account that are simple and easy to follow.
If you don’t have any fitness equipment and would like to build a home gym or exercise area in your home, here are some basic items to get you started:
- Super Bands or Mini Bands
- Free Weights
- Yoga Mat
- Yoga Blocks
- Water Bottle
- Exercise Ball
- Stepper (for an inexpensive exercise machine option)
My friend Kyla also shared her favorite gear, that is more clothing focused and less equipment based… if you’re in need of new, cute workout gear to get you motivated!
I figured now that the majority of gyms and fitness centers are closed, this might come in handy for a lot of you. Do you have a dedicated space in your home for working out? I love that at-home workouts can be done anywhere, using just your bodyweight. Every digital resource listed in this post is totally FREE. I hope having these resources and making time in your day for exercise helps you clear your mind and focus on your well being- I know it has really helped me to maintain a sense of normalcy lately! Getting more active has also helped alleviate some stress and anxiety in my life. Am I perfect at working out every day? Absolutely not! My goal is to workout 3-4 times each week. I’m sure my form is pretty laughable, and I don’t claim to be an expert or even someone who is super passionate about fitness, BUT- I do know we all have to start somewhere! Do you have any favorite resources to add to the list?
LaurenMarch 26, 2020 at 7:16 am
Good morning Sarah! I actually resonate so much with what you’ve said here. In college my husband and I were extremely focused on fitness…not so much during married life! I’m terrible about making time to be active, even though I know it’s essential. We actually have quite a bit of workout equipment that I’ve purchased over the years, we just lack a space to designate for working out at home. I can’t wait to see what the two of you do with your space eventually! The board of inspo you created is pretty awesome, and that closet built in is so cool! One day I hope we can have a dedicated space, but for now I’ll try some of the tips and resources you’ve included here! Have a great Thursday!
SarahMarch 26, 2020 at 8:56 am
Good morning, Lauren! We are the EXACT same… we used to be super in shape and very fitness focused, but after entering “the real world” and getting full-time jobs (haha!) things certainly started to taper. It’s tough to find time after hours when you don’t have much energy, especially while juggling a renovation (in our case), to make health a priority. BUT- we’re trying to do better. Now that we put together that little room a couple months ago, we’re definitely doing a better job than before. Baby steps! I think it’s just too convenient to make excuses now. Hah! Here’s to hoping we can stick with it :) Hope you have a great Thursday too! xo
PeggiMarch 26, 2020 at 8:01 am
Good morning! A well-timed post, for sure. As we’ve both had plenty of time on our hands, we’ve reinstituted our long daily walks. The fresh air and (occasional) sunshine has probably kept me from completely losing it. We have space in the basement for a home gym, but I really thrive on the interaction of classes. I confess that the stress of this year, even before the pandemic, has seriously interrupted my workout routine. I might check out a few of your recommendations to get motivated. Regardless of my desire for a home gym, I’ll enjoy seeing what you dream up! 💖
SarahMarch 26, 2020 at 8:50 am
Good morning, Peggi! I am reallllly longing for those walks under the sun- as that’s usually the best way I can count on getting exercise (especially during spring)… taking the dogs for a spin, but we have had snow here the past two days. Ugh! We’re currently sitting at 8 inches and it has really squashed my mood. I’m hoping for spring-like weather soon! I totally get where you’re coming from though- I’ll admit I’m not usually great at keeping up my fitness routine, but now that we have our small home gym, I’m trying to not make excuses and push myself to slot out some time. Fingers crossed! Have a great day! xo
DannaMarch 26, 2020 at 8:58 am
Like Peggi said, well timed post! I have been in some form of fitness for as long as I can remember until about 8 months ago. Played tennis for 15 years; barre; ran; weights; etc. Don’t know why, just burned out. So instead I have done nothing until recently. Taking long walks in our neighborhood and stretching is about all. Staying at home has me motivated again. I just searched some workout options on our tv upstairs. While I love Brook Burk, her body is so dang gorgeous, it just doesn’t motivate me…its distracting! HA! I am excited to try the Fitness Marshall on YouTube. Love dancing! Thanks for the suggestion.
Wow, the workout closet is very cool! Wouldn’t it be awesome to have large doors to open to the outside in a home gym? Saw that on your Pin! No matter what you design it will look and function great!
Have a good Thursday! Off to do a dance workout!
SarahMarch 26, 2020 at 11:00 am
Woohoo!! I love hearing that, Danna. That’s exactly how I was… I was very athletic my entire life, working out every day, apart of many teams, and eventually I just felt burnt out, bored, and didn’t love exercising anymore. I decided for my well being (and work / life balance), I need to get back into it this year- even if my mind doesn’t love the idea, I know my body will. I think you’ll love Fitness Marshall- he is SO so fun. It feels more like a dance party and less like a workout. I feel like I would actually work out everyday if our workout room had those giant french doors that opened to a beautiful view. Haha! A girl can dream :) Happy Thursday! xo
ArdithMarch 26, 2020 at 9:23 am
Great post, Ms Sarah, and very worth objective. I’m looking forward to updates on your and Emmett’s progress with your exercise pursuits, and whatever changes you get to make to your gym room. Meanwhile, thank you for all the helpful links.
For me, stretching for flexibility has been the primary activity for a loooonnng time. I figure if I am not flexible, then I’ll just end up injuring myself. Also, using the right equipment is a good idea. Years ago I hurt a shoulder trying to use one of those “universal” machines (specifically the pull down bar) that clearly is really only meant for 6 foot+ man humans. It took a year to fully heal (only by letting it be, PT actually made it worse).
Yup, I used to love going to the gym as well (my favorite machine was the Gravitron), up to five times a week. Ha. Nowadays, we just have a fold-up manual treadmill in our office/art studio that works beautifully for cardio. We have some free weights as well. Thank you for the reminder it’s time to unfold that treadmill baby.
Hello to everyone here. I hope you are all finding inventive ways to take good care of yourselves. Cheers, Ardith
SarahMarch 26, 2020 at 10:57 am
Thank you, Ardith! Stretching, yoga, and meditating are also some of my favorite ways to exercise my body & mind. I feel best when I feel flexible. Sorry to hear about your gym injury… it’s true- a lot of the “universal” equipment is not made with women in mind. Have a happy time doing some cardio on your treadmill :) Hope you’re staying well and positive out there! xox
LauraMarch 26, 2020 at 10:05 am
Great post, Sarah! I just shared it with my boyfriend. All non-essential businesses are closed in my state, and my boyfriend really misses going to the gym every day. He loves the idea of a home gym!
SarahMarch 26, 2020 at 10:42 am
Thanks, Laura! It has definitely helped me to get active everyday and focus on exercising. Hope this helps him too :) Hang in there! xo
Jessica MorganMarch 26, 2020 at 10:35 am
Have you seen Michelle Adams’ home gym? It’s my dream home gym and am planning to turn an ugly detached office space on our property into something like this. Our space have sliding doors, a huge window and a smaller window, so lots of natural light. I can’t wait!!
SarahMarch 26, 2020 at 10:41 am
Not until now, but WOW- it’s beautiful! Thank you for sharing, Jessica. Your future home gym sounds like it will be equally as incredible. Ours has a long way to go. xo
Cara WilliamsMarch 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Perfect timing for a mental health wellness post. Love it! Not sure what I would do without exercise. Running is my favorite calming technique. I keep researching the Peloton. After seeing this post, I really want to try it out! Sometimes the treadmill gets a little boring. Thanks for sharing. Hope you guys are doing well!!
Kerri HansenMarch 26, 2020 at 6:49 pm
Hey Sarah, not to sound like a broken record…but well-timed post! We are currently on a strict quarantine after travelling home from our vacation last week. I have been struggling to make exercise a part of my routine for the past few years and I just started going to Orange Theory before this pandemic shut down our lives. I have been searching all week for some fun workouts I can do at home and I am still struggling to find something that resonates with me. I love dancing and take weekly tap and jazz classes (which have been put on hold indefinitely) so I have been looking for a dance cardio style workout. While there seems to be endless options on youtube, I have a common complaint about everything I have found so far…the bad music! I call it elevator electronica….the bad endless “beats”…I hate that “music” so much! Is it so hard to choreograph a good dance workout to some recognizable pop music? That is what really motivates me! I have seen the fitness marshall before, and stumbled across him again this week in my search…he is really fun and entertaining! I just need him to lead a 20-30 minute cardio class and I would be a happy camper…maybe he does that, I need to dig deeper. If anyone knows of some streaming workouts that are fun and dance based, please share! Thanks for this post Sarah, stay safe and warm!
MiloMarch 29, 2020 at 10:04 am
I am so excited for this! We are almost done turning a room in our basement into a gym and it was so hard to find inspiration for it. This is the one gym that I found that really was anywhere near approachable:
So many lovely studios have huge windows that my basement doesn’t have for some reason 😂 or the gyms on Pinterest are just a room with stuff in it that isn’t really designed at all. Can’t wait to see what you end up with!
SarahMarch 30, 2020 at 1:56 pm
Thanks, Milo! Me too :) I love the gym you linked on Apartment Therapy… it really is difficult to find inspiration that is both beautiful and functional!