Whether you have a gym membership or not, having a workout space in your home is important. It doesn’t have to be solely dedicated to working out all of the time. However, if you have a lot of equipment like free weights sets or a home gym, this may be necessary.
Whether you have a room of your home dedicated to working out, or a corner of the room where you do yoga, this article will talk about how to optimize that space for the best workout.
We’ll go into greater detail, but your workout space should:
- Be at least 8 ft. x 4 ft
- Have a soft floor or covering
- Have a full mirror
- Temperature control measures
The size of your workout space
Of course, the more space you have, the better. However, you don’t need a sprawling mansion to have a dedicated workout space.
If you don’t have a whole room, start with your body measurements. Your minimum workout space should be two feet longer than you are tall, and as wide as half of your height. So, if you’re six feet tall, your workout space should be at least 8 ft. x 4 ft.
This isn’t a lot of space – it could be the area around your bed if you live in a dorm or studio apartment. However, it’s enough space for basic stretches, most yoga poses, and basic body resistance exercises. That’s pushups, sit-ups, etc.
Again, the more workout hardware you have – home gym, weight set, etc. – the more workout space you’ll need.
Safe and comfortable flooring
Now, let’s talk flooring. You want your flooring to be soft but firm – or, at least have something soft but firm that you can lay down on your floor at least temporarily.
Working out on hardwood flooring or tile can be hard on your body. Your workout should burn but it shouldn’t bruise. These surfaces can also be difficult to maintain traction on, which can make activities like yoga and some stretching more difficult.
A carpet or area rug is better than nothing, but these surfaces can be just as uncomfortable – particularly if you’re doing dynamic motions like mountain climbers.
If you do have a dedicated workout room, it doesn’t mean that you have to pull out all of your floors. The internet, as well as sporting goods stores and home improvement stores carry rubber gym flooring that comes in mats with interlocking edges. You put this together like a giant puzzle and it sits on top of the flooring that’s already in the area. Bigger space? Buy more mats.
The micro version of this is, of course, the humble yoga mat. Once again, these are available online and from most sporting goods stores. Yoga mats are made of thinner material than gym flooring, so don’t go dropping weights on your yoga mat. They do provide better cushion than carpet and better traction than wood or tile but you can also put a rug or blanket underneath.
Mirrors aren’t just for vanity
If you’ve ever been to a gym, you probably noticed that they usually have mirrors along at least some of the walls, usually by the free weights. It’s also a fairly common feature in dance and yoga studios. That’s not so that you can admire yourself, it’s so you can monitor your form.
Maintaining proper form during a workout doesn’t just maximize your workout, it also minimizes your chances of hurting yourself.
That’s particularly true when you use large weights to target more specific muscle groups, as is common with your money muscles like the biceps. However, it’s also true in the case of body resistance exercises, and even yoga. Using improper form for too long might cause short term balance issues but it can also cause chronic chiropractic problems.
If you have a home gym machine, you probably don’t need to worry about this as much. Resistance exercises are harder to do incorrectly and you don’t need to worry about having off-balance weights, or dropping the dumbbell.
Making mirrors work in your workout space
If you’re fitting out a full room to be a permanent workout space, you can special order kits for floor-to-ceiling mirrors, just like at the gym. However, they’re not cheap.
If you’re working with more limitations, getting one or two full length mirrors is more affordable. They’re also easier to find and install. You don’t have to special order them either – the local bargain store or thrift shop is likely to have some.
The optimum set up for full length mirrors in a smaller space to have that workout space in the corner of the room and position one mirror on each wall. That way, when you’re doing an exercise, you can see your front and one side.
If you go with full length mirrors, you can also get creative based on what kind of exercises you do. If you do more yoga, hang the mirrors in portrait like you normally would. If you mainly do body resistance exercises like pushups and situps, you might want to experiment with hanging the mirrors in a landscape orientation closer to the floor.
Most experts agree that the best temperature for working out is between about 68 degrees to about 72 degrees. Ideally, you’ll be able to more or less maintain this temperature in your workout space.
Hopefully, no matter what your living arrangement or budget for a workout space might be you don’t have trouble heating your environment. If you do, turning up the thermostat in advance of a workout and turning it back down when you’re done is an effective budgeting model. Having a space heater for just your workout area can be effective as well.
As far as cooling goes, the usual environmental controls are in effect. Having an air conditioner can keep you comfortable but if you live in an extreme climate it can also prevent things like heat stroke. This is also true of humidity, which can prevent your body from cooling itself in warm weather.
If this solution is out of the question, having a window that you can open and a fan that you can place in the window or somewhere else in the room can be a solution. Working out in the morning or the evening when it is coolest is also recommended.
Do you have room for a ceiling fan?
Depending on the size of the workout space and the kind of workout that you do, having a ceiling fan can be an effective way to generate refreshing air current instead of or in addition to other heating and cooling methods. Obviously, be sure that you won’t risk damaging yourself or your fan by putting a body part or piece of workout equipment into the blades.
A final note on ceiling fans: some modern ceiling fans have angled blades and a switch to change the direction of the fan based on the season. We usually think of fans as cooling. However, hot air rises and having an angled fan spinning in the right direction can push it back down into the room to aid in heating. Just something to consider.
Personalize your space
The elements in this article are some of the most practical to consider when planning your workout space. Obviously, we didn’t get into matters of personal preference. Things like the color of the room, the presence of decorations like posters, and the use of music for motivation etc. are all matters of personal choice.
We hope that you’ll use this article as a jumping off point in optimizing and personalizing your workout space.