We’ve all been there — you tell yourself that you’re going to make strides to get into shape via exercise…and then proceed to fail. Whether you just never get started or you over-buy and underuse, it’s easy to fall victim to your own fleeting drive. In this piece, we’re going to look at building a home gym space that you will actually want to use.
The Psychology of Your Workout Space
“Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.” – James Clear, author of Atomic Habits
We’ve used that quote in pieces before, but we wouldn’t if it wasn’t so true. When it comes to your home gym, if your mind isn’t in it, it will be nothing more than a storage room for your exercise equipment. It’s for this reason that we need to change the dynamic and rethink how we see the space.
This isn’t your home gym. This is the place where exercise happens.
If you assume that exercise will happen in your home gym once you fill it full of expensive exercise equipment, you’re likely to fall victim to what is known as a “false start.” If you’ve ever purchased that expensive set of golf clubs in hopes that they will motivate you to hit the greens, only to never make it out there, you understand this concept completely. A false start in the realm of your home gym can happen just as easily. If you don’t think of the space itself as an area of your home where exercise happens, even the fanciest equipment won’t help. It’s crazy how quickly treadmill can become a $3,000 towel rack when we’re not serious about facing our workout goals.
Trick to try:
Before you place a single barbell or piece of exercise equipment in your home gym, clear out the room completely and use the space solely for solo exercise. Run in place. Do jumping jacks, push-ups, planking, and other exercises that don’t require any equipment whatsoever. After a few days or weeks, this space will become your home gym in your mind before it ever materializes physically. After a while, doing jumping jacks in an empty room will start to feel somewhat silly. Still, this space will feel more like a gym and less like a closet for your workout gear.
Add Equipment Piece By Piece
Once you’ve mentally dedicated the space as the location of your physical exercise, you may begin adding exercise equipment piece by piece. Start small and work one at a time depending on your actual workout routine. Maybe start with a set of hand weights or a jump rope. A few weeks or months later, if you feel up to it, install a pull-up bar. Take baby steps to make your gym customized to exercises you actually do.
Only Buy the Equipment You’ll Use
It can feel tempting that, just because a transaction went through on some new sneakers, you’ll start to see gains on new equipment. If you’re not ready for it, it will likely collect dust. Don’t buy a treadmill just because you feel like a gym isn’t a gym without one. Instead, buy a treadmill because you’re tired of running in place. Don’t buy a benchpress set because that’s what a gym has. Buy it because you’re tired of doing bench-presses laying on the floor, pushing your hand weights towards the ceiling.
Trick to try:
If you’re thinking about buying a piece of equipment, put that piece of equipment on your calendar a month away. In the meantime, start doing exercises that the piece of equipment would help you with. Before you buy a rowing machine, replicate the movement with elastic bands in a sitting position on the floor. Before you buy a punching bag, try shadow boxing. By delaying purchases and trying out their benefits, you may find that you wouldn’t actually enjoy the kind of exercise the equipment offers or that you don’t actually need it to achieve similar results.
By only buying what you need once you’re ready to incorporate it into your workout, your home gym won’t be cluttered with unnecessary equipment.
Organize Your Gym In a Transparent, Inspiring Nature
If a plate of cookies were sitting on your kitchen table, you would probably grab one every time you went to get a glass of water. Over time, you’d probably want to consider changing out the plate of cookies with a bowl of apples. Your gym should have the same kind of environmental cues associated with it.
Your home gym is a place to get work done. Like any other workplace, it should be tidy. With that being said, don’t hide pieces of equipment in drawers where you’re likely to forget they exist. Organize your gym equipment where you easily see everything you have. Install a hook on the wall for your jump rope. Keep your weights on a rack where they are visible. Also, keep your equipment organized in accordance with your workout. If you start your workout stretching, leave an open space by the door that allows you to do so. If you then move on to jumping rope, keep that located on a wall hook just outside of that space, followed by weights just beyond that. Allow the flow of your gym to take you on a journey through your workout.
You May Start With No Mirrors
As you start building up your home gym, you may be tempted to copy the look and feel of a regular, subscription-based gym — including installing huge mirrors. If you’re just starting your workout journey, you may hold off on the mirrors for a while. According to an article in Psychology Today, those with body issues may be deterred from continuing their exercise routine if they can see themselves in mirrors all the time. Even if you know that you’re not quite in the best shape yet, you know that you don’t look your best when you’re struggling through a workout. While you may be on your way to six-pack abs and toned limbs, mirrors may make you feel hopeless at first.
Make Appointments For Your Home Gym Use
When you schedule time on your calendar to use your own home gym, you’re more likely to keep the agreement you’ve made with yourself. Treat it like you’ve paid for a membership and you don’t want your money to go to waste. This is actually pretty spot-on as you’ve definitely paid for the use of this gym.
Don’t Break The Chain
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld attributes much of his success to never “breaking the chain.” By this, he’s referring to a habit he developed of writing one joke every day. It could be great, it could be terrible, but just the act of doing this act is what led to notebook after notebook filled with jokes. On every day that he wrote a joke, he would draw a huge red “X” on the calendar date of a calendar that hung on his wall. His goal was to never “break the chain” of Xs. In a similar way, you may consider hanging a generic calendar on your gym wall with a red pen or marker hanging next to it on a string. For every day you work out, X out the date. See how long you can go without breaking the chain.
If you’d like help designing your ideal home gym space, you may consider factoring this into your new home build with help from Perry Hood Properties.