Most people who are serious about being healthy have tried a gym membership at one point or another. And why not? There is a lot of draw for a place that has put money and research into helping people reach their fitness goals. What is inviting about a big gym? Well, for one thing, it’s organized – things are clean and in reach, there are complete sets of weights, the equipment is in good repair. The place is well-lit, has towels and water on hand, and has options for personal training and group workout classes.
Life rhythms can change, however. And for you, maybe it was more cost-effective, or convenient to set up a rig in your garage. You may already have your equipment in place and have been crushing those goals consistently. But as you make the place yours, why not bring some of those “Big Gym” extras to your own workout space to give it a boost?
What are Big Gym Details?
Big gym details are those thoughtful intuitive things you may not even notice when you walk in, but that create an environment where you feel motivated, things are familiar, and the overall atmosphere is positive.
The gym experience and journey to fitness and wellness is a personal one. Some people like to watch sports or videos while they work out. For others the motivating music that’s pumping through the loudspeakers while they jog on the treadmill keeps them going. What is that one thing that helps your mind relax and get into the rhythm of working out? For some, it’s a scent. Some big gyms trademark their signature smell, so that any time you walk in to one of their locations, its distinct, and triggers something in your brain that connects that scent with the experience of pumping iron in their building.
But the overall goal is making you feel something. Relaxed while doing yoga, energized while doing cardio, focused when lifting in sets. So how can you take these “Big Gym Details” that have been perfected by business-minded fitness enthusiasts and make your own version in your personal garage gym?
A lot can be said about making your garage gym your own personal haven for pumping iron, building muscle, and burning calories. But by taking some additional “Big Gym” details from the commercial guys, you can put your garage gym over the top in ways that bring new energy and focus. Things like having an intentional layout, having clean and organized equipment, and a creating a motivating ambiance will take your personal garage gym to a place where your neighbors might be asking for a membership.
Big Gym Detail #1 to Bring Home – Organized Equipment Layout
Before we get started, let me ask you – How do you want to walk into your garage gym? Or rather, where do you typically start your workout? Big Gyms organize their equipment is specific ways, sometimes to create a flow in your workout. So the better question is, what can you learn from the way a commercial gym sets things up and transfer that knowledge to your space?
The average garage size is 20′ x 20′, which, in general, is plenty of room for home gym essentials like a weight bench, a squat rack, weights, monkey bars, and maybe a piece or two of cardio equipment, such as an exercise bike and treadmill. So honestly, you have room to customize as you see fit.
Layout can make all the difference in your garage gym – especially if you plan to use it for a variety of exercises. It can keep you focused on what to work next, reduce the time between sets because your equipment is right there, and generally provide the atmosphere you need to stay motivated.
Here are some layout designs that may help you brainstorm what will work for your space:
- Layout (2 car)
- Layout (2 car)
- Layout (1 car)
- Layout (basic CrossFit)
- Layout (no frills)
- Layout (a bit more modern)
- Layout (modern)
- Layout (active)
- Layout (sports-driven)
- Layout (tight space)
- Layout (Yoga-inspired)
- Layout (Contemporary hotel gym design)
- Layout (rustic charm)
- Layout (modern gym)
The main point about any layout is that it makes sense for your gym as well as your routine. You want a design that you’ve given some thought to. Does it make sense to have the hand weights by your mirror? Or the whiteboard for tracking progress by the door? Take a walk through and a think through your routine for leg day, your yoga, or your CrossFit circuit. Once this is set, you won’t have to give much brain power to it and you can get on with your workout – just like the big guys do.
Don’t forget also that a big part of your layout is keeping your smaller things organized. Your weights should have a rack of some kind. Your exercise ball may need an alcove, and your resistance bands a hook or two. Remember – sidewall storage is your friend! You can do incredible things with some slatwall or pegboard.
And if you want a specific place for hand towels and body towels these shelf units with an integrated towel drop cabinet are an ideal gym towel storage solution and honestly, it just looks nice. Very clean. It can add a little spa feel to your corner.
Big Gym Detail #2 to Bring Home – The Right Equipment
Each commercial gym knows which kind of clientele they draw. Some of them focus more on having a large number of treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes, while others have niche things like punching bags and martial arts mats available.
You probably have some fitness goals in mind already. And you probably already have your equipment picked out and purchased. BUT if you are new to this idea of setting up a garage gym, just know that you will have to be a bit more particular about what you spend money (and space) on.
If you share your garage with your washer and dryer, or a parked car or, a work bench, your best bet will be to invest in more multi-purpose types of equipment. Their layout can help with keeping things organized, but it won’t do you much good if you buy a set of power blocks or a yoga strap and mats if you never use them. They will just be taking up valuable space.
For more on picking the right equipment, check out this article on The Best Compact Equipment to Maximize Any Garage Gym.
Big Gym Detail #3 to Bring Home – Clean, Maintained Equipment
It feels good to work out in a space that you know is clean and where the equipment is well taken care of. Big gyms want to keep things sparkling and in good shape because it’s in their best interest – it will keep members coming back and save them from the liability of broken equipment causing undue injury.
This should be a detail you take a cue from – Your health and safety are important in any gym setting, especially your own! And if you neglect the cleaning and maintenance, the only person you will have to blame is you.
Now, you won’t have a cleaning crew come in and scrub the place down each night like the big guys do, (unless you want to pay that neighbor kid down the street). But, in truth, it really doesn’t take too much effort. Take a few extra minutes each day, post workout, to wipe things down. Maybe weekly give the floor a good sweep or mop. Polish the mirrors to get rid of any dust and smudges.
And as far as maintenance goes, just keep your eyes open. If something breaks or starts to show significant wear – replace it right away! Don’t gamble with your safety or compromise the look of your gym space by settling for ripped vinyl on your bench, tattered edges on your floor mats, or a clip somewhere that doesn’t quite close.
Big Gym Detail #4 to Bring Home – Motivating Ambience: Sights, Sounds, Smells
Here at the Garage Junkie, we are all about making the garage a place you want to spend time – A place you look forward to being in. The ambience you create can be a large part of keeping up the motivation. How your senses perceive the space will make all the difference. So how can you set yourself up for success by taking a tip from the Big Gyms?
We’ll start with the look of things. We already talked about cleanliness and layout. But what other things engage the eye during a workout? Maybe it’s a couple of motivational posters, or a wall decal. A whiteboard that shows your progress, or a jersey of an athlete you admire. How your garage gym looks matters.
Some people also like to have a screen of some kind on them while they do cardio. 30 minutes on the treadmill goes by much faster when you’re focused on SportsCenter or an episode of that cringy sitcom you love. Big gyms even have equipment with screens built into them now. So, maybe a TV in the corner would be something to consider.
Lighting can also make a big difference. There’s a good chance that some of these commercial gyms have had a professional lighting designer position some of those fixtures for some impressive looks. But for your purposes, you will probably just want to find a fixture that is functional but also adds to the aesthetic. Especially in the winter, this can help keep you going when everything else is dark and cold.
Sound is also a detail you won’t want to neglect. Maybe your workout requires a little more focus, so watching TV isn’t for you. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want some classic rock, or heavy metal, or even an audio book playing in the background. This is where some Bluetooth speakers can come in handy. Have a playlist ready, bring the speakers in with you, and voila! Instant audio backdrop for your exercise.
Because it’s your gym, that also means if you need to shift gears into some yoga, you don’t have to fight with whatever pop music the gym would have blasting through the speakers. You can switch those soothing Tibetan singing bowls and start that routine with just the click of a button.
Remember that time when you first enter your local gym, and there’s instantly a whiff, a scent greets you as you step into the gym. It affects your mood and energy. Familiar scents can tell you you’re home, this is your garage gym, nobody else’s – which can either relax you or bring you to a peak state of performance.
Now, as a caveat, when most people thing scents, they go straight to candles. Candles can add a smell to your space. However, these can be dicey if you don’t have a well-ventilated room. Along with the smell, burning a candle can release toxins into the air that you might not want to be breathing in heavily if you are doing cardio. Plus, one bumped candle can mean a fire disaster for your garage.
An alternative to candles is essential oils. These can be dispersed into the air using an electric diffuser, or also any number of other simple diffusers that you can hang from your pegboard or your weight rack. These are a better choice for your health and have shown to have positive effects on mood.
- Invigorating oils scents: Peppermint, Lemon, Orange, Lemongrass
- Soothing oil scents: Eucalyptus, Lavender, Sandalwood, Frankincense
For the highest quality essential oils, we recommend Young Living.
Keeping it Green
If you are good with houseplants (or your significant other is), maybe think about moving a couple in with you while you work out. (I know, that sounds weird. But track with me for a minute.) Some plants have a distinct fragrance when they bloom, and they also enjoy all that carbon dioxide you are breathing out as you burn calories. You don’t have to convert your garage to a green house. But maybe think about adding a splash of color and smell the natural way.
Details matter. And the Big Guys know it. But now you do too. As you walk your garage gym this week, give some thought to those tiny things that will make your workout better. Whether it the layout that needs a tweak, or maybe just a little more organization. The ambiance, or the cleanliness. Paying attention to the small things will make a big difference. Find your motivation and your new happy place – and get ready for a great work out!