It may be freezing cold or boiling hot outside your window, but no matter what your go-to excuse currently is for not exercising, building a basement gym can eradicate it, pronto. No time to commute to the gym? No worries there. A few short hours spent outfitting your existing space, or refurbishing a less-than-structurally-sound basement, will save you countless hours of commute time better spent showing off your buff new bod. No more excuses. Summer’s coming and so is your new at-home basement gym.

Maximize Your Space – The size and shape of your basement space will determine the amount of equipment you buy. Try to avoid oddly-shaped areas that cannot accommodate equipment readily and calculate the square footage available to you. Don’t forget to calculate space height if your basement has a low ceiling. If a treadmill or elliptical is your must-have piece of gym equipment, you’ll need around 30 square feet to use each of them properly. If you are planning on placing your equipment on rubber matting, add in around 5 square feet to your space calculations. Stationery bikes, including recumbent models, take up a minimal amount of space. If you have your heart set on a multi-station gym, you’ll need at least 50 square feet, with some models requiring up to 200 square feet to use properly. To avoid purchasing expensive dust-gatherers, choose equipment you know you will enjoy working out on and make them the centerpiece of your gym.

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Allow for Light and Air – Many basements do not have much in the way of windows. Rooms with ventilation and a light, airy atmosphere are not only motivating but also healthier to work out in. If possible, add an egress window that meets building codes to a basement wall, either with the help of a contractor or as a DIY project. You can also run your home gym on a separate heating and air conditioning system, or add ceiling or free-standing fans for added ventilation, plus well-placed floor lamps for added light.

Think About Sound – Today’s equipment is much quieter than in than it used to be, but the thud of a barbell hitting the floor can still send shock waves up to your living space. Placing carpet tile or rubber flooring over the existing concrete can help soundproof your gym, plus it will look inviting and absorb perspiration drips as an added plus. You can also install acoustic ceiling tile and wall panels if you plan on blasting music during your workout.

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Create Atmosphere – Many treadmills and stationery bikes have built-in televisions, but if you’re planning on installing a flat screen, make sure you have the space to do it at a comfortable viewing level from your equipment. If your gym will be used by multiple users, a sound system with your favorite music at the ready, as well as areas to accommodate people’s stuff, will come in handy. Other mood-motivators include mirrored walls which increase the feeling of space and put you in the spotlight. Create a display area for trophies, or consider framing and arranging race bibs and memorabilia from sporting events as wall decorations. A mini-fridge for water and a place to stow towels is a must. Creating an atmosphere conducive to the job at hand will keep you motivated, enthusiastic and working out for years to come.

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at

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