Home gym

I recently retired and no longer have access to the gym at work. I don’t particularly want to join a gym so am looking at installing one in my garage. The garage is quite large and will easily accommodate a 5mx4m gym, which I hope is a decent size for what I would like to install. I would like a rowing machine, treadmill, cycle trainer, heavy bag (and use the bag mounting for TRX etc), some free weights and space for body weight exercises and stretching. A multi gym might be an option but it’s not a must have.

Does the size sound about right for what I want to accommodate? I would like to use 2 solid (reinforced concrete) walls of the garage (side and back), build a side wall (which will have storage behind it) and have lots of glass in the front 5m width.

Other than decently thick gym matting on the floor, decent lighting and some ventilation, Im not sure what else I need to consider. Any tips, suggestions and especially lessons learned would be gratefully received.

@Adam1 is our specialist here. His system is installed into a full gym room :grin:

Lucky you that you have a garage to use! I have set up a small gym in a spare bedroom so space was at much more of a premium. I opted for a cross trainer and a cycle trainer. In addition I have a small bench and free weights. For me the cross trainer is a good “all in one” fitness item. The cycle trainer keeps me fit when I can’t get out on my mountain bike. Free weights are (IMHO) better than weight machines taking up less room and ensuring you “balance” when lifting.
Anyway, enjoy your gym. I am sure my set up has kept me breathing and I hope to hit 70 early next year. :sweat_smile:

1 Like

We have a double garage and as we only use one half, I converted the other side into a gym, with a wall dividing the two halfs. It is mainly a cardio gym, focusing on cycling, as I’m a keen cyclist. Equipment is a spinning bike, a cross trainer, a treadmill and a road

bike on a Tacx turbo trainer, which is by far the most used item.

I would recommend getting some sound/vibration deadening rubber flooring. A sound system (I use a NAIM Muso Qb) and/or a wall mounted TV, is a good idea.

I had a radiator installed and also have a Dyson fan for those sweaty Zwift sessions! I use the gym mainly in the winter, and with all the cycling memorabilia on the wall, it is a happy place to be.


Is that one of Valverde’s or Quintana’s red jerseys?

Neither really Neil. It’s just a replica jersey with a Movistar logo.

I do have signed Contador and Thomas yellow jerseys as well as signed prints by Cavendish, Pogacar, Bernal, Froome and Wiggins. I love cycling, and it’s rich history.


Me too. Nice room.

1 Like

Hey @Elfer, I have a gym in my cabin, I still have the original free weights I started with at about 13 years old. That’s four decades ago now ….

These have been joined by a squat rack at the beginning of lock down as my wife would have gone mad not getting to the gym.

I’ve always preferred to have my own gear and never joined a gym. Got a press deck, multiple bars, loads of free weights. Original motivation was football, plus used to do a fair bit of swimming so it helped there.

Have an original Watt Bike Pro which I bought ex demo and saved a fortune, it will see me out, built like a tank, awesome bit of kit and their newer stuff looks pretty awesome, if it was good enough for Team GB cycling team then won’t touch the sides.

Have a rower but it’s crap, well the computer is, it’s a Tenturi but should have gone Concept 2. Computer on this is so badly calibrated.

Being a cabin the floor is suspended and wooden but have reinforced it with large sheets of ply/mdf that sit over a laminate floor and then have Halfords rubber tiles, which help with the weights and footing.

Other than that it’s about heating and making sure the temp doesn’t ever drop too low, have a wall heater which was IOT to control but that bit died, so just set the low temp.

Other than that it’s all about having the right music :slight_smile: , enjoy !

Oh, ventilation, don’t forget an open window or door :wink:

@frenchrooster thanks for the nod, I can be found out there most days and having the hifi and tunes makes it all the more enjoyable, like most things in life.


Good evening Elfer,

That’a really nice post-retirement project! You have a decent space to create a worthwhile gym, but I think that you might be approaching it from the wrong direction.

I am 70 years of age and have spent a lifetime in physical activity, fitness and sport, professionally and personally and the first question to be asked is “What do you want to achieve?”. If you have just retired, I am assuming that you are not trying to achieve elite status in fitness or an individual sport, but rather to maintain or improve overall fitness, physique, health and longevity.

The “Holy Trinity” is:
– cardio-vascular (CV) fitness,
– muscular strength and endurance (MSE) and
– flexibility.

You can figure out what balance you want to strike between these three elements and work from there.

To achieve a really good level of CV fitness, you could easily use any one of the three exercise machines you mention and/or, you could use the great outdoors - always a good option! For MSE, free weights are almost always the best option, provided you know what you are doing and, for flexibility, a yoga mat is all that you really need - all of this along with an iron will to enter The Pain Cave on a regular basis!

In addition to the hardware, if you no longer have the work/gym routine, you might think about a system for monitoring programme adherence and progress. Perhaps you had one or two “buddies” with whom you worked-out and who are not now available. Here, the internet and technology might be your friend. You can pay out lots of money for an on-line trainer (however, not to hi-fi spending levels!), but that’s not really necessary, as the weights are just as heavy whether or not you paid for a programme. To keep track of what you have (or haven’t!) been doing, a simple wall chart will suffice, but as you are, by definition, pre-disposed to “kit” (through your membership of this forum), then one of the many “wearables” and their associated apps might be good. I use Strava and Garmin, along with a my Tacx turbo-trainer and they synchronise very well, indoors and outdoors. I also use a Fitbit Versa 3 which does everything, including sleep monitoring, although the other devices are probably rather more “serious”.

I have attached a photograph of my space which works really well for me. Obviously, the various elements can be adjusted - heavier weights, for example and some form of pull-up bar which is missing from my set-up.

In any event, well done for avoiding the “slippers and a nice cup of tea” option!

Best wishes,

Brian D.


Thank you all for the input.

I see a couple of recommendations for a Tacx trainer so will look into that to set up my road bike.

Sound system goes without saying! I have a couple of good options with “spare” equipment I already have.

I hadn’t considered heating as the garage never seems to fall much below 10C in winter. A portable blower would probably do if it turns out to be necessary, even if just to take the chill off before starting.

@Adam1 I already have a few free weights, kettle bells etc but don’t want to go OTT with weights, preferring body weight and proprioceptive exercises these days.

The concept 2 rower is exactly what I have in mind.

@BrianD I have been involved with sports and fitness all of my life, never professionally (unless you count the army) but I have competed at various levels in many sports. I no longer compete but am active and still like to train quite hard. Mostly summer training to be ready for the winter when I am snowboarding or split boarding most days. Nice to get into the gym on winter down days too.

It’s not so much about getting fit as staying fit and the trinity is exactly what I’m aiming for. I wouldn’t prioritise one over the other really, though flexibility is something I need to increase focus on. The mix of CV machines was really to provide variety and also to give my wife options - no chance of getting her on a bike but a treadmill would see some use.

I like the idea of progress monitoring, which I have never done outside of training for competition (so a long time ago). Setting personal goals rather than winging it could add a fun element and keep up the motivation. Might have to treat myself to an updated Garmin too…

1 Like

Cheapest thing of all, a skipping rope, can’t use it in cabin but in the garden, quickest burn of anything and humbling too. Bought a modern “beast” one, way too fast to start with. Went old school with a standard rope and much better.

1 Like

should also add that it provided much hilarity for my wife as I struggled to “relearn” how to skip, an action that looks effortless when well executed and when it isn’t, well. Of course my wife just picked up the rope and did it.

I have a couple of ropes, heavy leather, weighted handles, fast rope etc. It’s been a while since I have used them but I agree, a great workout. The advantage of a garage gym is being out of sight during embarrassing moments :joy: Getting a wire fast rope wrong hurts!

I have a l few other small pieces kit gathered over the years, push up handles, ab roller, agility ladder, resistance bands, TRX (fantastic bit of kit), bosu, Swiss ball etc. Mostly stuff that can be easily stored and pulled out when needed.

Perfect press ups and pull ups are another two great bits of small equipment. Could not believe how much harder a press up was with those spinning plates.

1 Like

Following on from my earlier post…just done my daily session and I forgot about the little extras I have - mini hifi - a mat for stretching and floor exercises, a Polar HRM with the app, and a large mirror on the wall. The latter is of course very useful when using free weights…and to check how young I still look! (NOT). :rofl:

1 Like

Yup the mirrors in our cabin were put in because our youngest used to belong to a dance group and practice out in the cabin, legacy now but certainly give an impression of larger space and light.

I had forgotten about a mirror but very useful for keeping an eye on form…and of course monitoring the paunch :joy:

1 Like

I started training with mace bells and steel clubs during covid. It’s a nice way of training shoulders, arms and core. Have a look at Adam.theshouldercoach on instagram.

The maces and clubs work surprisingly well in keeping everything healthy and are fun to swing around

1 Like

That is a great idea. Both of my shoulders have been damaged and operated on and I think bells and/or clubs would help a lot with mobility.

You may want to contact Adam directly; he’s a great guy, very enthusiastic. I was about to join one of his programs but as I got ACL surgery in October that didn’t work out. When I contacted him in January he sent me a taster of his programme with links to private youtube video’s with instructions how to perform the swings correctly. Been doing that on and off since then and feeling great.

1 Like