Health & Fitness: 10 small home gym ideas to transform the tiniest of spaces into workout opportunities

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These small home gym ideas will help you incorporate a workout area into homes that don't have much room. Few of us have homes large enough to have a separate home gym. Home gyms for small spaces often have to be improvised in corners of main rooms, hallways, or even in outdoor rooms.

A small home gym area in a bright, neutrally-decorated home © Provided by Real Homes A small home gym area in a bright, neutrally-decorated home

The home gym ideas you are about to see will work in a variety of setups – in open-plan living rooms and studio apartments, or in homes that have unused spaces, however small. The main principle here is: if you have the space for a yoga mat, you have enough space to create a dedicated workout area.

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Small home gym ideas: first considerations

Where do you start with designing a home gym for a small space? You need to decide on where in your home is most suitable for this purpose. Interior designer Katie Thomas, founder of KTM Design, explains that 'a popular area to convert into a home gym is an unutilized garage. It is the perfect size for all the equipment you may need and normally has separation between your home giving you a designated space to focus with minimal noise disruption.'

The other thing to consider is the sheer weight of some of the machines, especially multi-gym machines. You need to be certain that your flooring is up to the task of having one of these on top, which is why garages are again preferable. As Katie points out, 'garages are built to take the weight of cars, so you don’t need to worry about the weight of the machines.'

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Not everyone has a garage, or a spare room, so 'another option is to transform a garden shed to create a home gym. You can also build an outbuilding although you must check if you need planning permission first.'

Wherever you choose to set up your home gym, 'try choosing a room with a window to ensure good ventilation, as this creates good airflow to keep you cool whilst working out.'

Next, you'll want to consider the design of your small home gym. As Katie advises, 'home Gyms don’t have to be boring spaces. Add your own personality through decorative pieces and add colour using bold paints, wall art, or wallpaper. This will help to create a workout space that is motivating.'

If you want to create the impression of a larger space, 'decorate with a large mirror that can either cover the whole wall or most of it.'

1. Don't compromise on style in small spaces

Let's face it: for many people, the idea of a home gym is a room that's purely functional and not necessarily very attractive. The best gym equipment isn't always amazingly good-looking. However, there's no real reason why you can't invest in great design in your home gym in the same way as in any other room in the house.

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This small home gym is professional cyclist Alan Philippe's personal workout space, with flooring from Quick-Step. What we really like is the cool modern storage, chic lamp, and the striking blue walls. Blue room ideas in combination with a small home gym? It works.

2. Open up a narrow space with a painted ceiling

This gorgeous small home gym was created by Austin-based architects Barley|Pfeiffer Architecture, and offers a clever design solution for an extremely narrow space. The ceiling, painted in a cheerful light blue, instantly draws the eyes upwards, creating the illusion of a bigger space. You can learn how to paint a ceiling yourself and give your home gym an update with a bright and uplighting color.

3. Organize the space with a storage rack

Blogger Sara Meadows transformed her small home gym space, which 'started to feel messy and cluttered' after she invested into accessories such as 'weights, mats, yoga blocks and more'. Sara's organizing solution is a small storage rack with multiple shelves. It keeps everything neat while not occupying too much space.

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4. Combine a book room and a home gym

It may seem like a home gym and a home library are incompatible, but it turns out that if you only have one room to spare to house your books and your gym equipment, it can work. Barker Associates Architecture Office fitted a small gym area into a booklined room, and the result is surprisingly cozy and harmonious.

5. Create a dedicated home gym space in a garden room

Sometimes there really just isn't room for home gym equipment inside your home – which is where a garden room could come in very handy. Garden room ideas can easily incorporate a home gym setup – and if you're also using your garden room as a home office or study, the two can coexist.

6. No room at all? Consider a workout space in the hallway

Hallways are often underused, and if yours isn't already full of shoes and coats, you may well be able to create a small workout zone in your hallway, especially if it has nice wood flooring. A simple bench can easily provide both storage space for smaller pieces of equipment and act as a prop for stretches and/or pressups.

7. Use part of your extension as a home gym

Many house extensions provide perfect opportunities for creating a small home gym space. Even if you're already using yours as a dining or sitting area, there's usually extra space available where the extension faces the garden. Besides, an extension will typically give you enough height for a taller piece of equipment that would be difficult to fit in elsewhere.

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8. Create a workout corner in your living room

If you don't have any separate space at all for a workout area, why not use an unused corner of your living room? Your stylish living room ideas won't suffer if you keep the workout space separate by using a room divider – or a tall storage unit as in this home gym idea from IKEA. And if you're into barre, then why not use a curtain rod like the Hugad from IKEA to create your own barre exercise space?

9. Don't underestimate the power of mirrors

Installing a mirror in a small space to visually enhance its size is one of the oldest tricks in the home design book. Mirror ideas for small home gyms can include either horizontal or vertical mirrors, such as the one used in this workout area created by S-B Long Interiors.  When choosing where to position your mirror, consider what it will be reflecting. A mirror that reflects your equipment or furniture in the distance will do a better job of opening up the space than one that reflects a blank wall.

10. Set up a discreet exercise area in your bedroom

A small home gym as part of your bedroom ideas? A tough sell, you might think. And, of course, most of us will not want a bulky piece of equipment next to the bed. However, there are ways of making a small and discreet workout area look good in the bedroom, as this design by IKEA proves.

What we really like about this idea is the choice of storage unit – good-looking enough for a bedroom but still functional for housing weights. Decorating it with candles and a reed diffuser on top softens the look. The yoga mat matches the rest of the color scheme, and the curtains make the whole workout area easy to hide when you don't want to look at it.

What do I need for a small home gym?

Health & Fitness expert at FitKit, Iveta Bernane, has the following list of basics for a small home gym set up: 'items like dumbbells, kettlebells, and exercise steps are perfect for small spaces.' If you don't have the space for large machines, don't try to cram them in. Also, Iveta recommends 'putting a padded mat, like a yoga mat down' in your workout area, even if you're not planning on doing yoga – the 'noise will be kept to a minimum, which is great in flats and shared buildings.'

What is a good size for a small home gym?

Katie told us that 'the smallest size room you would want for a home gym is three square meters; however, a good-sized room would be five square meters.

As basic guidance, Katie advises that 'for a functional home gym, make sure you have sufficient space for all the essential equipment including machines as well as leaving enough floor space for your workout. Also ensure there is space for storage for any other equipment such as weights, mats and yoga balls.'

Investing in large equipment? 'Most gym machines need a minimum of 2x2 meters; however, you should allow for extra space around it for movement during your workout and you still need to allow for extra space for flow between the machines to ensure your safety.'

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