Create a Home Gym on a Budget
I like to think of myself as frugal, but if I’m being honest, most of my friends would probably label me as cheap. Nonetheless, I’m okay with both. The principle of frugality forces me to be smart about my money, especially when it comes to higher ticket items like health and fitness equipment.
From personal experience, this skill does not come overnight. Frugality requires discipline, diligence, and most of all, patience. So when I began planning to build my dream home gym (aka workout cave) on a budget, I learned some valuable lessons:
1. Comb online swap sites and discount retailers.
Craigslist is your best friend when it comes to buying used exercise equipment from just about anyone. Some established retailers advertise on Craigslist as well, which can give you added bargaining leverage. I also always check sites like eBay and Amazon to get a baseline price for the equipment I’m looking at.
2. Be patient.
Have you ever bought anything online and wished the item you purchased automatically appeared on your doorstep after you submitted payment? I get it, but buying online requires a little patience.
3. Be safe.
When you buy anything from Craigslist, especially from an individual, meet in a public place.
4. Negotiate the price.
Most people don’t like to negotiate because of the hassle it poses, but I found that the majority of online sellers will. I live by the mantra that “all things are negotiable.”
5. Buy it.
See, wasn’t that easy?
Now back to my workout cave.
Choose a theme and organize your space in a way that makes it usable. I decided to use my garage, but didn’t want to deal with road grime, dampness or spiders. To get around that while staying within my budget, I started with the flooring and installed garage-specific tile. The plastic tile snaps easily into place for easy installation, can withstand the weight of a car and drains properly, while still being aesthetically pleasing.
My next step was to paint the garage ceiling and walls. It was dingy, exposed and starting to “yellow,” so painting it white really brightened up the space and made it feel more comfortable.
And what’s a garage workout cave without cable TV? Craigslist is teeming with people selling old LCD TVs and mounts. After all, how are you going to stream your P90X or Zumba videos without one?
And last but not least, I went about acquiring the gym equipment. I chose to purchase a treadmill, a compact free-weight machine, medicine balls, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu mats, and power block (all-in-one) dumb bells, which go up to 55 pounds.
To keep the space tidy, I have a wet-dry vacuum that is hung up with an extra-long hose. Plus, it’s a multitasker – it’s a great spider sucker upper.
The space developed organically and the process got a bit exhausting, but I hung in there. Once I found the right mix of efficiency and function, there hasn’t been a gym I’ve enjoyed more.
Have you built out a space at home for fitness? If so, share what you like about it in the comments below!
Chris Arceo, a married father of two and Premera systems engineer, has done an Olympic distance triathlon along with two half marathons.