Home gyms: The basics

In collaboration with Promutuel Insurance

Are you thinking of turning a room into a home gym but aren’t keen on renovating? No problem! It’s easy to set up a home gym on a budget. Just determine your equipment and fitness needs and you’re good to go! Your home gym will be ready in no time.

Equipping a no-reno gym

First, choose the room you’ll use as your home gym. Ideally it should be bright (to motivate you), have at least one window, and be well ventilated. The room should be at least 10 square metres so you have room to move without bumping into things.

An unused room in the basement will do just fine. If you set up your gym on the ground floor instead, make sure you ventilate the room well and bear in mind that some equipment, like stationary bikes, can be noisy. It’s something to consider if you live in an apartment building.

Then get the room ready with some inexpensive changes:

  • Brighten up the walls by painting them white or a pastel colour.
  • Free up as much floor space as possible, for example, by mounting the fan and TV on the wall. You need clearance of 2 metres around you.
  • Put up a full-length mirror. You don’t need to get one custom-made. Some retailers sell large frameless mirrors that you can hang side by side.
  • Get racks, baskets, or other things you can use to store your equipment. It’s safer and it looks good.
  • Adjust lighting to fit the activity. Use natural light for yoga and other gentle activities and bright light for resistance training and cardio.
  • If you can afford it, invest in a foam mat for yoga-style exercise and a rubber mat for weight machines and cycling. You only need a mat to cover the part of the room where you exercise—no need to redo the whole floor.

If you can’t devote a whole room to your home gym, you can also separate the space using room dividers or large storage units (that will serve two roles). This will work well if you plan to use part of the basement family room. Here too, a foam mat will visually set the exercise area apart.

For a tight budget: Good, inexpensive equipment

Once the room is set up, it’s time to add equipment. You don’t need to spend a fortune. Basic equipment is enough for a complete workout. You can easily find equipment that meets your needs for less than $200.

These are some essentials and how much they typically cost:

  • Exercise ball (about $30, depending on size)
  • Resistance bands (about $20)
  • Ab roller ($20)
  • Foam roller, to relax muscles ($25 to $30)
  • Kettlebell ($40 to $140, depending on model and weight)
  • Yoga mat ($25 to $100, depending on thickness and quality)
  • High-quality jump rope ($15)

These essentials are also good for small workout spaces. It doesn’t take much to stay in shape without annoying the neighbours! (If that’s a concern, skip the jump rope.)


For a mid-range budget: Get a full gym

Able to spend more and want a more complete setup? Consider adding the following to the above list (typical cost: $750):

  • Free weights (about $150 including a rack)
  • Ankle weights ($25 to $30)
  • Resistance bands with handles ($30 to $35)
  • Medicine ball (about $30)
  • TRX kit (suspension straps, $130)
  • Pull-up bar ($50)
  • Aerobics step ($40)
  • Adjustable bench ($100)
  • Mini-trampoline ($200)

Want to get real gym equipment? Stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical and rowing machines require more space and a larger investment. But if you’re looking for a complete home gym experience,

Stationary bike: a good option if floor space is tight, since it’s the most compact machine of the bunch. Some bikes even fold up for easy storage. Expect to pay about $500 for a good-quality model.

Treadmill: an ideal choice for walking and running enthusiasts, though more expensive. Expect to pay about $1,000 for a walking treadmill and $1,500 for a combination walk/run model.

Elliptical trainer: great for walkers and runners who want exercise that isn’t as hard on the joints. It retails for about $1,000.

Rowing machine: popular with CrossFit enthusiasts, this machine works the major muscle groups. It costs about $800.

Watch the classified ads and visit garage sales. You can usually find these machines in good condition at bargain prices. This is a great option if your budget is tight or you’re not sure you’ll like this type of equipment.

Finally, regardless of your gym setup and budget, you need to check whether your insurance coverage for personal property is sufficient for your new purchases. Tell your insurer about larger renovation projects to see whether they affect your coverage. Up-to-date home insurance is the right insurance.