Making A Home Gym

Age is hard to deny. For the last year or so I’ve realised that running alone won’t keep me in shape, and I need to cross train. If I wanted to join a gym they’re periodically closed. The onset of Covid has also made running in groups at times difficult, at other times illegal.

I’d purchased a treadmill at the start of lockdown as was fearful we’d be in the full house arrest mode of some countries like Italy. It was expensive. It was in the lounge as the garage was too full of junk and I had an optimistic goal of running on it whilst the family watched TV. The excessive noise meant this wasn’t really sensible. So it sat in the lounge for months, used a handful of times.

Seldom used and when it is the dog barks at it….

The problem was the garage. It was full of car. A kit car shared with mates that had not moved under it’s own power in about 8 years. I couldn’t get at it to work on it as there was too much junk. I started to clear it. Tips were shut so started with a skip. Then once lockdown eased much was sold, or taken to the tip.

This is mostly cleared. The before situation was so bad the kids refused to believe there was even a car in there

Flogging stuff – Facebook marketplace is amazing. It’s free, and key is it’s local. You may get less £ than ebay but you can get it immediately with no fees. Drag something out garage, take photo, state collection that day, gone by end of day. Some items seem to attract idiots though and you need to assume 50% of people are idiots who will never show.

Once the garage was cleared we could pull out and sell the car. The amount of stuff I had in the garage was alarming. I am a natural hoarder. I don’t normally do clickbait articles but this link HERE was brilliant. We’d moved into the house about 7 years ago so I knew much of what I was coming across I had not used since we moved. Seven years of keeping stuff ‘just in case’. So I got rid.

Now an emptier garage.

First step was sweep, sweep, sweep again and then paint the floor. Everyone in the UK seemed to have the same idea and garage floor paint, along with loo rolls sold out. I started to paint by mixing up all the odds and ends of gloss paint in the garage. It worked but wasn’t amazing. By luck someone locally donated a half tin of proper floor paint and I managed to get two full coats.

Keeping draughts and leaves out. I’m lucky to have a double garage. One door is always blocked by wheelie bins so I sealed that by gluing a length of plastic trunking under it, to seal water and dirt.

Sealed up second door and built a bike rack

For the other side that would open I went cheap and screwed a length of the flexible damp proof roll I had spare. This is doing a great job so far, especially given the proper seals are expensive and most involve a strip on the floor that would make wheeling stuff in and out harder.

For the crap I was keeping I gradually amassed Milton Keynes entire supply of filing cabinets. Went for these as they’re cheap (most were free), sturdy and lockable. Also look a little neater than open shelving of crap.

I’d had a gym at the old house and had used some industrial carpet tiles with rubber backing to keep the warmth in. We moved them (it appears I moved a load of crap) so put them down first.

Other lockdown project was sorting the daughters bedroom so a quick relocation of the pink carpet from her room on top and I had a double layer of sound and noise insulation.

I had a shed load of used race numbers so kids and I got stuck into the sticking and gluing of them to a panel of wood. This was to go behind the treadmill. The bib from my DNF at the Track 100 was placed front and centre.

All garages needs tunes so I dug an old amp and speakers out the loft and bodged a movable laptop arm that pivots and raises or lowers to match the height of the treadmill or rower. Speakers are slung up in the roof pointing down. I had a spare set of power line adapters to retransmit internet into the garage.

Rower – I’ve had a cheap rower before. They’re awful. I wanted the proper Concept 2. These are gym spec, and the manufacturers still make the parts for models as old as 20 years ago. Look after them and they will outlast you. After missing out on numerous auctions and Facebook marketplace ads I finally scored one for £350, a cost more than covered by the crap sold. It’s more than I’d like to spend but unlikely to lose money. The screen was broken but there’s a chap on eBay who can fix them for £45 – hence why missing in photo.

Spin bike – I wanted one as well but again kept missing out on the sales. Then good mate Neil offered me one. For free. It’s been around the running club and I’m now the 3rd or 4th keeper.

Gym coming along well. But what if I wanted to get buff?

Picked up a cheap weight bench from marketplace. It was £15. It was tatty. Given I wasn’t sure if the weightlifting would stick this was a good price point. I cleaned it up, sprayed it with some silver paint I had left from a car I owned about 10 years and recovered (badly but enough to work) with an old blind from the boys room.

Weights are going silly during lockdown. If you can manage to find any in the shops you can pretty much resell for a better margin than a Playstation 5. Through some lucky adverts I managed to score a bar and two 20kg weights – 40kg plus the weight of the bar is more than enough for weak runners arms. Also managed to score some cheap dumbbells and weights. A bit of elbow grease and paint and they started to look better. Had more weights than handles so made some DIY handles for these CLICKY.

Knocked up a dumbbell rack out of scrap wood and gym is pretty much there for now. Assuming my arms ever develop to more than that of a small child I may need some more weights. There’s a vague thought to get some Olympic weights and try some proper lifts but will wait for gyms to open and someone who knows what they’re doing to show me. For now I’ll stick to normal stuff.

It’s also been handy for the kids. When I use it myself I tend to stick a Youtube spin class video on and follow that as a warmup, then the rower, interspersed with some weights. Goal is no matter how busy I get, try and do at least 30min in the gym a day on the rest days from running. Had a few work days where I’ve left at 5am, got home at 8pm, and once kids in bed could blast out 30min spin so I wasn’t a complete coach potato all day.

Hopefully this has shown how you can manage to set up a reasonable home gym for a relatively affordable price. The running machine was the most expensive and to be honest the least used. Leave that out. Run outside. Keep the rest.

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