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Pete Swatkins

Pete Swatkins

The easy way to create a gym at home

We’ve all had to make some significant changes to our daily life and to what we think is “normal”. We’ve set up work space in the dining room, we’ve been home-schooling, and staying in is the new going out. Our workouts have had to change too. Although we’re now able to get outdoors and train together at a distance, there is no news yet on gyms opening up. Even when they do, we don’t know what this will look like and what will be different.

After several weeks of “winging-it”, lots of people are now investing in their kit, ready to get the most out of home fitness. If your set up needs a step up, we’re here to help! Read on as we answer some of the most common questions.

Can I fit a home gym in a small space?

We’re squeezing in offices, classrooms, movie rooms and makeshift bars. Our homes are working harder than ever, and we’re stretching them to the max! Fortunately, you don’t need to start moving the sofa to get active (but maybe shift the glassware!). It’s still possible to exercise in a small space – 2m x 2m is enough to get you in a heap on the floor if the workout is tough enough. Your garden or patio will give you plenty of room, or clear a corner of the garage for a sheltered spot.
 
If you work out on a carpeted floor or a rug then comfort-wise, you’ll be fine to go without. That said, it’s always a good idea to put something down to protect your flooring. A yoga mat, or a couple of interlocking foam mats will do the trick and be all the speciality flooring you’ll need.
A full body workout usually involves crunches, planks and press-ups, so if you’re on a hard surface you’ll want to add some padding. These interlocking mats would work perfectly if you’ve cleared space in your garage. They’re durable, they add cushioning and grip, and they’re easy to wipe clean. They’re also very easy to lay down and take up, so you could use them temporarily on a patio.

What gym equipment should I get?

When it comes to home gym equipment, think carefully before investing. It can be easy to get excited and order loads of stuff (and spend lots of money in the process!) that ends up sitting in a corner, gathering dust. You can achieve plenty with bodyweight exercises – and if you’re a beginner, we suggest you start here. Master the basics, then get into the more advanced stuff.
If you’re ready to introduce some equipment, there are a few key pieces we recommend:
  • Escape GRIPR – we’ve raved about these before, and with good reason! They’re multifunctional, sand-filled weight bags in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can use them to slam, swing and lift in any direction, and (best of all) you won’t damage anything if you drop them! They’re really durable pieces of kit that (trust us!) can withstand even the most heavy-handed fitness fans.
  • TRX-style suspension trainers – A hugely flexible piece of kit. Connect these straps to doors, garage beams or an exterior wall. The branded options can be pricey so it’s best to shop around, but do be careful of cheap alternatives. Suspension trainers help you utilise your body-weight, whilst using gravity as your resistance. You adjust the difficulty level simply by moving your hands and feet. They’re adaptable as you get stronger, meaning you won’t outgrow this equipment. A sound investment in our book.
  • Resistance bands – Pick up a mix of 4 bands ranging from easy to difficult. You’ll be able to add resistance to any push and pull movement, without overloading your body. They’re quick to pack away and carry with you, and easy to tie around a gate post or door handle. A simple yet flexible accessory; these bands challenge your muscles without the need for an ever-growing weight rack.
  • Weighted Vests – See results more quickly by adding a little more weight to even simple movements. Plus, you get to look like you’re ready for combat, which definitely helps with mindset!
  • A Fitness Tracker – Although not 100% accurate, they are a great way for you to track your progress. They’ll also give you a nudge to get active if you’ve not moved for a while! Perfect for accountability. Our lead trainer uses this watch, but you could also try a heart rate band.

What home workouts should I try?

So you’ve got the space, you’ve got the gear… now what? If you’re lacking inspiration, some personal trainers will come to your home and deliver your session. Our Fitness Trucks cover South Yorkshire, and turn up with loads of ideas and everything you need. For those of you further afield, we share a daily workout on our Instagram page to get you started.
If you’re going it alone, focus on key movements first. A combination of squats, lunges, crunches and press ups. Keep an eye out for our up-coming series, Form in Focus. Our Strength and Conditioning Trainer will be going through correct positioning. Correct form is key to working out safely and avoiding injury.
 
Remember that variety is the spice of life; there are a plethora of workouts available online. Try a bit of everything, pick what you like, and create a bank of favourites. After all, anything is better than nothing to start with. Once you start to make progress, you’ll be able to chose your workouts more carefully and focus on key areas.
 
You’ll be surprised at just how competitive you become (against yourself!). For an extra push, why not video call a friend to workout together and compete against you too?

Comment and let us know what your home-gym set-up looks like, or if you’ve got any kit recommendations we should try!

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