By Strength Oldschool
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Back in 2013 having secured a full-time job (which I now regret but that's a story for another time) I was looking to stop renting and get myself on the property ladder. I couldn't afford much but came across a nice two bedroom house with a small garage. The measurements of the garage were:
- (L) 17ft 2 / 5m 20 / 520 cm
- (H) 7ft 1 / 2m 16 / 216 cm
- (W) 8ft 10 / 2m 78 / 278 cm
The garage wasn't up to much but it had electricity which meant one thing in my eyes... HOME GYM!
At this point in time I had very basic gym equipment...squat stands, a barbell, a bench and some Olympic weight plates. To be honest, that's all you really need. The garage was spider infested which didn't please me and badly needed renovating but it was mine and a place to call 'Home' away from home!
Anyone who is passionate about training and loves the Iron Game will understand how important a Home Gym is. It's not just a dungeon to build muscle, it's also a place to unwind, get rid of the daily stress, get away from all the bullshit and simply focus on yourself. No one's there telling me what to do or what to say, it's my zone where I can visit when I want and do what I want. So if you're thinking of investing in a Home Gym, do it!
This is how my gym originally looked back in 2013. Very old school!
This was a noted "Training Diary" entry dated Mon. 4, Nov. 2013. It was my first ever workout in my new garage gym. Pretty cool I kept this photo.
I've even included the duration of the workout including notes at the bottom... "Buy a radio"..."Buy a mirror" ha ha! Brilliant. I eventually did.
Anyone else keep a training diary of past workouts?
Here's some photos of my garage gym over the years. It's always nice to look back and reminisce.
* Ha ha, the photo above shows my heavy, heavy dumbbells, 60 kg (132 lbs), 65 kg (143 lbs) and the massive 70 kg (154 lbs) 'bell! All of which I would later sell.
* Look at that! Two bins, how tidy was I? Ha ha!
The garage gym developed over time. Unfortunately, I should have properly renovated the garage and made sure it was fully insulated. Looking back, I actually wish I would have invested money in knocking down the garage and re-build it from scratch. But I didn't.
Instead, I began renovating the gym (on the cheap). I simply painted the brick walls, replaced the garage door and ripped out some stuff to clear some extra floor space (with the help of my brother, cheers bro!).
I then covered the ceiling with large plastic white sheets. This was purely for aesthetic reasons, not for proper insulation purposes. Later I would start building my gym up by adding the following equipment...
- 6ft wide Mirror (£100 - UK British Pounds)
- Treadmill (£1000 - £1500 - Rarely used - Gave to my brother a couple of years ago)
- BodySolid Multi-Press Rack (around £400)
- Foldable Wall Dipping bar by "The Gym Revolution" (£160)
- Hex Rubber Dumbbells (1 kg up to 30 kg) and storage Rack (£1000+)
- Hex Rubber Dumbbells (35 kg up to 70 kg) and another storage Rack (£1000+)
- Gym Rubber Flooring (black jig-saw square panels) (Not Recommended) (£100 - £200)
- Various Barbells i.e. Ez-Curl bar, Cambered bar, 5ft Straight bar etc
- Thick Grip accessories i.e. Fat Gripz and Alpha Grips
* For more information on "Thick Grip Training", please read the following article entitled: "Fat Grips - The Ultimate Thick Grip Portable Training Tool".
I remember I desperately wanted a proper, heavy duty, Power Rack for my Garage Gym. But unfortunately, due to the low ceiling height of the garage, I couldn't get my dream rack. So I ended up settling for a "Multi-Press Rack" by BodySolid.
To be honest, It was a fantastic rack, which I still have today, stored in my garage. I would definitely recommend this rack to any Home Gym user, and it's pretty cheap too!
A little tip when considering to purchase a Power Rack or Half Rack etc - Make sure to do your research. Only buy a rack if its heavy duty and can support serious weight, not just the rack itself, but the "Safety Bars"! Your safety when training with heavy weights is paramount. So always check that the safety bars can support for example, 1000+lbs! You may not lift a 1000 lbs or anywhere near, but if you plan on serious strength training, you want a rack which will always provide 100% protection. You never know when you may get injured. Better safe than sorry, especially when training by yourself.
A rough estimate of the total cost involved in renovating my garage at the time was around £4000+ which included buying the gym equipment.
Over the months and years rust began building up on all my gym equipment - dumbbells, barbells, racks etc which became noticeably bad. I ended up having to clean everything.
But after this clean up job, it was just a matter of time where I either invested the money to renovate my garage or I had to give up the garage gym and shift everything into my house. Due to financial reasons, I chose the latter option.
A little tip for you should you consider setting up your own garage gym... MAKE SURE your garage is INSULATED and has heating and ventilation, especially if you plan on buying EXPENSIVE gym equipment. This will help prevent / minimise rusting.
The twilight photo actually looks inviting as the light contrasts with the darkness outside, producing a warm seductive glow....until you step into the gym and are unpleasantly greeted by a billion insects crawling the walls, along with leaves, some rubbish and stones everywhere, after being blown in under the main metal garage door.
I'm not a spider fan so walking into my garage covered in spiders and cob-webs doesn't appeal to me. Nor did it appeal to me having to clean my gym equipment every year to prevent the build up of rust. So I removed as much equipment as I could, which I now have stored in my house. Some remaining items have been sold off as I previously mentioned and other stuff which I was planning on keeping, I am now selling.
So now I'm the proud owner of a Livingroom Home Gym!
This is how the home gym living space began...
And how it looks today...
Watch this video for a personal close-up view of my home gym, from the comfort of my leather couch!
I do miss my old garage gym. I do feel that the house should be separated from the gym. But unfortunately I don't have the money to renovate my garage, so at this point in time, it's the only solution.
So basically I've split my house livingroom in half and as you can see, the gym side is near the window. There's not much space but there is enough room to get solid workouts in. To the left is my brand new Power Rack by Iron King. To the right is my "custom" single stack Lat Pulldown Machine by Watson. These relatively new gym items would never have fitted within my garage gym.
I also have 18 mm (1.8 cm) thick, heavy duty, rubber Horse Mats down on my livingroom floor for protection, but I wouldn't recommend them. The initial smell they give off was horrendous and took forever to go away. Especially during the hot Summer months where all you smell is an extremely strong, rubber odour that spreads throughout your house. Not great.
These Horse gym mats were originally purchased back in 2018, with the intention of replacing the cheaper quality jig-saw mats, which I used to have within the garage gym. The plan was to renovate my garage for a second time but get it done right - professionally insulated, proper heating, plastered walls etc and then bin the old gym mats and roll in the brand new ones. However, obviously this didn't happen.
You can see from the photos below how bulky of a purchase the Horse Gym Mats were.
I had ordered six large Horse Mats. The quality was high, the mats were thick and solid and definitely looked heavy duty enough to protect either my garage or house floor. But as I've previously briefly explained, there were problems.
DIFFICULT TO KEEP CLEAN
No-matter how many times I took a mop to the Horse mats, the bucket of bleach turned a muddy black every time. I assumed it was dirt but maybe it was just the rubber material, I'm not sure.
Upon delivery I stored the mats in my house as you can see from the photos above. However, after a few days, there was a STRONG rubber smell that grew worse as the days went on and began spreading throughout my house. I'd wake up in the mornings and go to bed at night smelling that intense odor. It would actually give me headaches. I needed to keep the windows open all day to get some fresh air in. IT WAS THAT BAD!! After several days it was just too over-powering to the point where I complained to the company whom I purchased the mats from and seeked help on getting rid of the smell. I was told to clean the mats using "White Vinegar" if I recall, (can't quite remember), which did actually help somewhat.
After cleaning the mats, I left them outside to dry for close to a week, to try and get rid of the strong rubber smell for good. I later decided to store them flat in the garage instead of taking them back in the house. I figured that since the garage wasn't insulated, the rubber smell would eventually go away after a period of time, which it did.
Check out the following video showing myself moving the heavy Horse mats. Each gym mat measures 6ft x 4ft and weighs around 40 kg (88 lbs).
The tool I used is called a Grabbitt Mat Moving Tool which is extremely handy for moving heavy Horse Mats. I wish I discovered this tool years ago when I first purchased the Horse mats. I was basically lifting all six mats through sheer macho brute strength when I could have been using this little device.
It cost me around £35 if I remember correctly, for one (you only need one). There are more expensive tools on the market but there's no need, this cheaper "Grabbitt" tool will work perfectly and make lifting and moving Horse Mats a piece of cake! You can thank me later.
If you have any questions regarding my old or new home gym equipment, ask away!
To be honest, there are perks with having my gym within my livingroom, such as being able to stream my workouts LIVE on Youtube etc. This is only possible because my PC is situated on a table behind my leather couch, and this is where I create all my video content for Youtube etc. I would never stick my PC in the garage unless i knew for certain that the garage was 100% insulated! I wouldn't risk it otherwise.
Before moving my gym equipment out the garage, I did consider using one of my spare bedrooms upstairs to store equipment and use for training. But the rooms were too small and I had plans at the time to buy new, heavy duty, gym equipment, which you can see in one of the previous photos i.e. my Iron King Power Rack and Watson Lat Pulldown Machine.
My livingroom gym is not a perfect setup but there are more pros than cons. So I'm happy (for the time being!)
Let me finish by offering some advice when thinking about buying equipment for your gym...
Take your time when looking to purchase new gym equipment. Do your research and shop around for prices. Some companies will actually give you discounts if you ask nicely, especially if you are ordering more than one product from the same company.
Browsing gym equipment is fun to do but you can easily get carried away if you see something you like and desperately want. It's not until you actually buy the product, have it delivered and proceed to build it and discover the thing doesn't bloody fit in your gym! So make sure you get the measurements of equipment right and measure your training area to double check. Its not just the size of the equipment, you also need to leave room for moving around your equipment and have space for actually using it!
You really need to know what type of lifter you are i.e. light weights (pumper), strength athlete, maybe both, whether you prefer cable machines, free weights, everyone is different. Free weights tend to affect the joints more, so if you are prone to injuries or you wish to err on the side of caution, you may be better off looking into using more cable based equipment than free weights, or a combination of both.
Keep training hard folks!
All the best,