DIY Garage Gym Guide

Building a garage gym can be a great experience. It’s rewarding to see the results of your hard work come together, and to create a sanctuary in your home; one where you’ll spend hours loving yourself through fitness and discipline. As I, and a few of my friends, built out our garage gyms this year, I learned a few things that might help you during your build. Read this article for tips on how to save money, space, and aggravation.

  • Use Recycled Materials. My brother used reclaimed plywood from shipping boxes to build handsome walls for his small garage gym. I, myself, used scrap pieces of lumber to build a climbing wall in my garage.
  • Stay Comfortable. If you’re really building your gym in a garage, there’s a good chance that your space is not heated or cooled. Will you need to insulate it? Install a durable floor (more on this later)? Will you need to add heating and cooling; or will air-flow from open garage bay doors do the trick?
  • Consider Future Operating Costs. After you build your garage gym, you’re going to have to keep it functioning. Plan ahead before you install features that will include extensive or costly maintenance. Think about your costs for heating and cooling. While this solution might not work for everyone, I chose to install a wood burning stove in my garage, instead of an electric heater. I can cut my firewood for free, and have a low cost way to heat my space all winter.
  • Protect Your Floors. Even if the floor of your gym is concrete, it will need some protection from hard use and dropped weights. Otherwise, your concrete foundation can start to crack and crumble over time. I covered my floors with a laminate faux-wood, and then used rubber horse stall mats ($99 each) for weightlifting platforms. The rubber flooring is needed where you’ll drop weights. If you don’t want to use horse stall mats, commercial rubber flooring for gyms is widely available online for about $1/square foot.
  • To Maximize Space, Hug Your Walls. Most garage gyms aren’t huge. You’ll have to make the most of the space you have. To do that, you can build shelves for storage on the wall. Hang bars and weights flat against the wall. Some equipment, like certain treadmills, will even fold flat to store against the wall.
  • Used Is OK! A lot of the equipment I used to build out my garage gym was used. I spent a fraction of the money, and still got some really good stuff. Be prepared to take your time and shop around for the best deals. I was able to buy these used wrestling mats from a local high school, for 10% of what they cost new!