How to create a home workout space without spending a fortune

'All you need is two square metres and a bit of will. Anything else is just an added advantage,' says personal trainer Vladislav Farkas

Hadeel Alami, a Jordanian judo practitioner, uses the sofa as a part of her trainings at her home during the curfew imposed by the government amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Amman, Jordan, April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
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It's a story that has been around since time immemorial: home gym equipment bought in a spurt of false enthusiasm, then left to gather dust in a forgotten corner of the house. Exercise bikes covered in clothes; dumbbells loitering in the darkest recesses of store rooms; and old-school ab crunchers searching for new homes on secondhand sites like Dubizzle.

But now, with visits to the gym and outdoor exercise options off the table, we are all having to bring our workouts into the home, whether we like it or not. That doesn’t mean you need tonnes of equipment, though.

“All you need is two square metres and a bit of will,” says Vladislav Farkas, personal trainer at Fitness First. “Anything else is just an added advantage.”

So before you rush off to order that treadmill and elliptical trainer, think about how much space you actually have, and what kind of exercise you plan to do. Do an honest "needs-analysis” of yourself. Here are some tips that might help.

A dedicated space

Whether you have an entire spare room waiting to be converted into a mini home gym, or are using a corner of your living room or balcony, choose a dedicated workout space and stick to it. Mark it out with some essentials – a mat, some towels, a water bottle and a Bluetooth speaker. It is always best to keep your gym equipment somewhere you can see it; if your dumbbells are stashed away under the bed, you will be far less inclined to actually use them.

Make it inspiring

Make your workout area as appealing as possible. Try to choose a spot with natural light, or make sure to introduce a good light source. An airy, well-ventilated spot is ideal and can be spruced up with motivational posters or even a plant. Make sure there is a clock or timer within your line of sight, so you can keep track of your workouts. And keep everything clean and tidy. A cramped, dim space will not inspire you to get active.

Make sure your workout space inspired you to get active. Courtesy Artylicious Home & Gifts  
Make sure your workout space inspired you to get active. Courtesy Artylicious Home & Gifts  

Lay down some cushioning

Avoid causing undue shock to your joints by exercising on a cushioned surface, whether it's a yoga mat or those puzzle foam blocks that are used in children’s play areas. While a mat is necessary for yoga, pilates and stretching, it will also support any floor exercises that you are doing, such as push ups and sit ups.

Shot of an attractive young woman practicing yoga at home
Make sure you have some form of cushioning when you exercise. Getty Images 

Stick to the basics

If you do want to invest in some exercise aids, stick to the basics: resistance bands for strength training and stretching; a kettlebell for weight lifting and to add resistance to body weight workouts; dumbbells for upper body workouts; and a medicine ball for strength training. Try to buy things that are not overly bulky and are easy to store. And remember, there are lots of items in the home that you can use as substitutes – you can do tricep dips using your (sturdiest) dining chairs or bicep curls using bottles of water and cans of soup. You can even substitute a resistance band with an old pair of tights.

Brush up on your body-weight exercises

If space is truly limited and a full-scale Zumba workout is out of the question, stick to body-weight exercises. They don't require much room, and are effective at building lean muscle and increasing strength levels. Seek out bodyweight workouts online – you may be surprised at the variety on offer.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 09: Julia Basa leads an online PILOXING session from her backyard on April 09, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. PILOXING is a non-stop, cardio workout which combines standing pilates, boxing and dance. With gyms and indoor exercise facilities now closed and outdoor fitness classes restricted to two people due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians are finding ways to maintain their fitness at home and in ways that respect social distancing rules.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Instructors around the world, such as Julia Basa, are offering online workouts. Getty Images

Make sure you can see yourself

Form is particularly important if you are working out on your own, as you don’t want to cause any injuries. Try to exercise in front of a mirror, so you can keep an eye on your own form and correct yourself where necessary. Slow things down, keep an eye on yourself and do things properly.

Keep a workout log

Keep track of what exercises you are doing, what combinations you have planned, what routines you’d like to try out and what improvements you are making. This will go a long way in keeping you motivated.