When you want to get in or stay in shape, nothing beats regular exercise. Heading outdoors to jog or pedal your way to better health and a more attractive physique works, and a membership at a nearby gym can shame you into getting your money's worth with regular workouts, too.
If you like to sweat in private, though, a more intimate workout scenario may be for you. Turning a bedroom, basement or attic into a home gym can help make your daily weight training or cardio routine easier -- and that might mean sticking with your exercise regimen long enough to get the results you're after. If your exercise equipment is jammed up against a wall where you can't just hop onboard and start moving, stepping or pedaling, having a room dedicated to your daily workout may make sense.
Wanting a private space to work out isn't the only reason to convert a bedroom or other space into an exercise room, either. Having easy access to your weights or a comfy place to practice yoga or Pilates can be a time-saver. You won't have to waste valuable seconds on a jaunt to the gym or wait for access to your favorite equipment once you get there. There'll probably be fewer culinary temptations, too, like sugar-laden post-workout smoothies or that definitely-bad-for-you taco you pick up on your way home.
Let's take a look at a few ways to transform a bedroom into a workout room you'll actually want to spend time in. Bedrooms definitely have workout room potential, but there are some things you'll want to avoid.
Exercise Room Design
Bedrooms can be small while a lot of exercise equipment is massive or bulky. Because space is usually at a premium, it pays to plan your layout carefully. Your best bet is to measure the room to make sure you have enough space for everything. Pay attention to the door swing at the entry and any closets with swing-out doors. Make a note of where electrical outlets are located if some of your equipment has monitoring capability and will need to be plugged in.
If you don't have enough room for everything, make some tough choices now about what equipment you'll use daily, like an elliptical trainer or treadmill, and which pieces you won't mind taking out of a closet for occasional use. You can make a good start by leaving an area in the center of the room for floor work like Pilates and yoga, and positioning large equipment pieces around the perimeter away from doors and heat registers. If you do occasionally set up additional equipment, it'll be easier to move it into the central space temporarily. Give yourself at least 28 inches between the outermost projection of a piece of equipment (including you using it) and the nearest solid object, like a wall. More space is definitely better.
Unless the bedroom you have in mind is the size of an auditorium, you'll probably have to lose some of your wish-list items, like the comfy, overstuffed chair, but don't lose all the amenities. Exercising can be a tough, boring slog without some incentive, and including sound and video equipment in your design -- and maybe a mini-fridge for water and the occasional juice beverage, could mean the difference between doing the requisite number of crunches and heading to the kitchen for a leftover slice of pizza, instead.
To conserve space but still provide room for little stuff like exercise videos and games, install shallow wall shelving and other wall mounted options. We like the idea of a swing arm mounted flat screen because it can be positioned for viewing from anywhere in the room. Exercise is about getting the movements right and being consistent, but the more comfortable and convenient you make your workout, the more likely you are to stick with it long term.
Exercise Room Flooring
If you haven't given much thought to flooring since you were a toddler, expect to get up close and personal with your exercise room floor. Whether you have wall-to-wall carpeting or natural hardwood, working out can really bring your floor into sharp focus -- like from a distance of a couple of inches. Installing an exercise room in a bedroom can present even greater flooring challenges because the limited space may make it necessary to carry (not drag) equipment around. You'll also want flooring that's stable but offers some cushioning power for your aching back -- and backside.
- Standard carpet - If you're on a budget, go for standard residential carpet with low-cut pile and a thick, rubbery pad. You want a carpet that's either professionally installed or that you can peel and stick to your flooring with a sturdy adhesive. The idea is to create a cushioned surface that won't shift when you're using it.
- Workout tiles - You can also install permanent cushioned exercise tiles over your existing floor. These shock absorbing tiles can create a workout surface in a few hours. They're available in textured, smooth or rubber surface treatments and can even mimic the look of hardwood.
- Rubber floors - Rubber flooring in an exercise room offers good traction, cushioning power, and sound dampening properties. Some rubber flooring options on the market are also made from recycled rubber, making them a green choice, too. Rubber floors are available in rolls or as interlocking mats (or smaller tiles) designed to fit together like puzzle pieces. Some varieties can be moved from room to room as needed, too. Mats are available in a number of thicknesses and colors, including heavy duty bully mat flooring designed to protect floors from heavy weight lifting equipment.
- Custom mats - Another option is to purchase a specialty rubber or foam mat designed for the specific workout you have in mind. If you don't want to change your current flooring, a specialty mat offers the comfort and protection you need just where you need it. Some options are:
Painting and Decorating an Exercise Room
Life in a workout room can be all work and no play if you aren't careful, and that means dragging your feet every time you head down the hall. All those knobs, pedals and handles make exercise equipment look more like torture equipment than fitness aids. One way to minimize the industrial look and anguish-inducing ambiance of workout equipment and make working out more fun is to pay special attention to your exercise room décor. And no, we aren't talking about frou-frou girlie stuff, either.
Let's start with color. The color on your exercise room walls will have an impact on your mood, so if you don't want to feel drained and stressed before you ever break a sweat, watch your color scheme. There's a reason some jails paint their walls pink. Pink is an anger zapper. It leaches the bad vibes from a room. You may not want bubble gum pink walls in your workout room, but performing your yoga routine in a blue room will help you relax and meditate, while orange will get you excited and enthusiastic about spending a half hour on the treadmill. Another good choice is green; it's relaxing but can also enhance your concentration.
If you have a number of heavy equipment pieces in the room, you might want to make the space look less crowded. Light colored walls are great for this, and mirrors can be a big help, too. Not only will mirrors make the space look larger (and make the most of the light in the room) they'll help make sure you're keeping your posture straight.
While you're decorating the space, don't forget to provide a little encouragement -- and distraction. Some folks prefer motivational posters with sentiments like "believe," "commitment" or "goals." If that doesn't appeal to you, how about framing a picture of the little black dress you want to fit into? Putting up distracting landscape photos or artwork can be effective, too. A detailed cityscape or nature scene may present enough of a distraction to keep you exercising for a few more minutes each day. Don't forget the ceiling, either. If you're exercising on a floor mat, you'll learn every dip and imperfection in your ceiling. Make that attention pay off by putting something worth looking at up there, like photos of your kids or even yourself -- a few pounds ago.
You should also consider making space for a small cool down bench and a table to hold your water bottle. Mounting a towel rack or a couple of hooks for towels and outerwear is a good idea too. The more self-contained, functional and welcoming you make your exercise room, the more you'll use it -- and that's the whole idea.
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