Home Gym 2.0

How to Set Up the Perfect Home Gym

What you need to create the perfect workout room.

By Cooper Levey-Baker January 4, 2021 Published in the January-February 2021 issue of Sarasota Magazine


Image: Jordan Kay

Working out at home has become even more popular since the arrival of Covid-19. Whether you’re building a new exercise space from scratch, or just stocking up on gear to use in your living room, here are some expert tips for people on a budget or when the sky’s the limit.

When you're on a budget

When figuring out how much space you need, the first decision is about what kind of equipment you want to invest in. According to the American Council on Exercise, if you want a treadmill, you’ll need at least 30 square feet; for free weights, you’ll want to clear out 50 square feet. And if you want to create a full, multi-station gym area, you’ll need 200 square feet.

Whatever space you do have, you can make it work with a variety of simple workout tools. Kyle Ferrell, a strength and conditioning coach at Drive, a fitness studio in Lakewood Ranch, recommends buying a large exercise ball that works with your height and weight ($17-$40), a standard medicine ball ($10-$50), a few dumbbells at different weights up to 20 or 30 pounds ($12 a pair and up), a pack of resistance bands ($30-$50) and a jump rope ($7 and up) made for your height. (A tip: Stop by Play It Again Sports, where you can scoop up affordable used equipment.)

There are a zillion varieties of weights and resistance bands. How do you know which ones to buy?  Ferrell says the brand name doesn’t matter as much as finding those that fit your body size. If you’re interested in kettlebells, Ferrell recommends visiting a shop and trying them out first. “Grab one that feels slightly challenging to you,” he says.

When you want to splurge

If you’re willing to spend big, you’ve got plenty of all-in-one options. Ricky Perrone, vice president of luxury home builder Perrone Construction, says more homeowners are planning home gyms, and his company designs those spaces to be both flexible and pleasant. Aesthetics matter, he says. Perrone has created lavish gyms with expensive wooden dance floors and walls of mirrors, plus pocket doors that open to the outdoors and discrete air-conditioning systems so you can keep your gym as cool as you like.

If you’re willing to spend big to get results, there are a number of comprehensive, high-tech workout systems out there. Tempo, for example, is a standing digital screen with built-in storage for weights ($1,995). The screen walks you through hundreds of different workouts, while motion sensors track your form and monitor your progress. If you like rowing machines, consider the Echelon ($999), which includes a screen that can connect you to streaming workout classes or even display views that make you feel like you’re cruising down a tranquil waterway.

And, of course, there’s the Peloton, the much-loved exercise bike ($2,495) that will have you cycling along with pros around the world.

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