Life & Design

How to build a home gym – everything you need to start exercising in the comfort of your own space

You don’t need a gym membership to get in shape, simply turn your spare room into your very own home gym

How to build a home gym
(Image credit: Amy Bartlam / Stephen Kenn Loft Gym)

One of the best ways to incorporate wellness and vitality into your home is through designing your own home gym.   

A beautifully-designed home gym, which is both visually appealing and fully-functional, makes the prospect of a workout far more enticing. 

'People often assume an at-home gym is all about the equipment; it’s not, just as an actual gym isn’t just about the equipment,' says interior designer Katharine Pooley. 'It’s about the changing rooms, the music, the lighting, the atmosphere; the same is said for your at home workout space. Make sure you’re creating an experience for when you exercise; much like they do in boutique gyms.'

Use our guide to build a home gym that's stylish – and most importantly, is a space that you want to work out in.

See: Best exercise bikes – the top indoor cycling machines to get you moving

What is a good size for a home gym?

How to build a home gym

(Image credit: Katharine Pooley)

'This completely depends on your needs; if you want your own personal yoga studio, you only need a small room, the size of a small bedroom – and mirror panelling can be added to give a feeling of spaciousness,' says designer Katharine Pooley. 

'However, if you’re planning a fully equipped gym and you have a treadmill, weights etc, you will definitely need more space. Consider height too – if you have low ceilings, high intensity exercise with jumping will prove more challenging.'

As a rough guide, the American Council on Exercise advises that you will need from 20 to 50 sq ft of space for exercising with free weights; add a treadmill, and you will need an extra 30 sq ft; a multi-gym will require between 50 to 200 sq ft.

  • See: Best treadmills – the top machines to get you running and walking in the comfort of your home

What do you need for a home gym?

How to build a home gym

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

The interior design of your home gym – the lighting, colors, décor and acoustics – are as fundamental as the equipment you choose.   

‘People often assume an at home gym is all about the equipment; it’s not, just as an actual gym isn’t just about the equipment,’ says interior designer Katharine Pooley. 

‘It’s about the music, the lighting, the atmosphere; the same is said for your at home workout space. Make sure you’re creating an experience for when you exercise; much like they do in boutique gyms.’  

These elements help you create a space that matches your specific needs: just as you would design a tranquil bedroom, or a functional kitchen, you should also take care when planning a home gym that is energising, calming and motivating in equal measures. 

How do I set up a home gym?

How to build a home gym

(Image credit: Future / Jake Curtis)

In order to design a gym that is perfect for you, first be honest about what you will actually do there and the equipment you need to reach your fitness goals. 

‘When drawing up the floor plan, be practical about the size of the room you have and what will fit in comfortably,’ says interior designer Kelly Hoppen. ‘You won’t enjoy exercising if everything is too close together and you are left with very little space for stretching.’   

It is also worth adding a few individual touches, something to make the space personal to you, such as beautiful artwork, motivational messages or captivating photography.

What makes a good home gym?

How to build a home gym

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

'Functionality is key, spaces should be zoned to ensure all exercises can be undertaken with adequate space,' advises designer Katharine Pooley

'Size is very important – you need to have enough space to achieve your goals for the space. If you’re a regular gym goer, you’ll be in there a lot so it needs to be space you enjoy spending time in, and have enough space to feel relaxed and not cramped. I find, especially in the current climate, that the equipment itself isn’t what’s vital; it’s having a space you like being in, and that works for your needs. 

'It’s a good idea to clearly define the different spaces within your home gym; for example a yoga area, a weights section, a cardio corner. Each exercise comes with a different mentality, and that should be reflected in the space itself.'

Factor in lighting

'Exercises like yoga or Pilates fit better with soft, low lighting, whereas with high intensity cardio safety comes first, so proper lighting is a must,' advises designer Katharine Pooley. 

'The best idea would be to plan a combination of lighting. Diffused LED strip lighting hidden in ceiling coffers and joinery will give a soft uplifting wash of light. Overhead down lights will allow for bright task lighting. 

'I also like to add some aesthetic accent lighting like sculptural contemporary crystal and bronze wall lights – a gym can still be an elegant and considered space – function and beauty is my mantra.'

Are home gyms worth it?

How to build a home gym

(Image credit: Warren Smith)

If you can create the space for it you really should consider it – a home gym is such an asset, it actively encourages fitness and positivity in your life. There are so many areas in our homes that are underused; spare bedrooms, basements and attics full of clutter, out buildings and garages sitting empty. By comparison a home gym is something you and your family will use and enjoy every day and will be an uplifting and empowering addition to your home.

How much does a home gym cost?

How to build a home gym

(Image credit: motive8)

The cost of building and setting up a home gym greatly varies in price depending on the amount of equipment, quality of finishes and level of acoustics you go for. If you're after a professional-looking set-up, then we recommend calling in the experts.

Motive8’s home gym solutions start from around £10,000. They also charge just £300 for an onsite home consultation (100% fully refundable if order is placed). For that money, they will produce 2D/3D/CAD drawings, provide you with equipment recommendations and a full design proposal.

What is the best at home workout equipment?

How to build a home gym

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

‘Every client is unique, so the most important thing to take into consideration is what they will use their home gym for,’ advises Kelly Hoppen. ‘Most people like to have a cross trainer, a running machine, and a floor mat, but they may also want space for a Swiss-ball work, a barre for ballet, a set of weights, a rowing machine and so on.’ 

What are the benefits of a home gym?

How to build a home gym

(Image credit: Future / Dan Duchars)

If you’re body conscious and don’t have the confidence to step into the gym, then a home gym is the answer. You can get the results you are after without leaving the house.  

‘Many people get much better results training at home, says Julia Buckley, fitness trainer and author of The Fat Burn Revolution and Heal Me. ‘In the time it would take to pack your bag, travel to the gym, get past the turnstiles, find a locker and get to the equipment you want, you could do an entire workout at home.’   

See: 10 best exercises to do at home – easy workouts you can do without the need for the gym

You don’t need any equipment to get started, but as you get into it you could invest in dumbbells, and a gym ball. The key is to get moving. 

‘It’s all about variety,’ says Julia. ‘Variations on exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, burpees, press-ups, pull-ups and jumping moves are great ways to burn fat.’ 

Work at your own fitness level and always check with your doctor before you start. 

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. 

Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.