The reign of the commercial gym is over!
Why pay expensive gym membership costs to wait in line for your favorite machine and stare at brazenly uncovered old men in the locker room?
This guide is for those that are part of the new generation of lifters who appreciate their home comforts.
We will break down the costs and the pitfalls of building a gym at home, covering several different budgets.
We are also going to look at how much you will save in terms of money, time, and motivation, so sit back, get comfortable and let us educate you.
TLDR: If you don't have the time to read this article in full, here is the lowdown:
Table of Contents
- Gym Membership Costs vs Home Gym Cost - The Math
- Where To Start On Your Home Gym Journey
- Location, Location, Location
- Set Up Costs to Consider
- Weightlifting Equipment Costs
- Cardio Equipment Costs
- Types Of Home Gyms & How Much They Cost
- Expert Buying Tips
- Tips for Creating a Home Gym You Will Actually Use
- Home Gym Cost FAQs
Gym Membership Costs vs Home Gym Cost - The Math
Where To Start On Your Home Gym Journey
So, you've decided to take the plunge, but you have no idea where to start. There are two routes you can take to get going. The first route is the easier of the two, but it requires more capital.
For this route, you will purchase all of your home gym equipment in one go. This route has its benefits and its negatives.
Firstly, you will most likely be able to get a discount on your equipment if you purchase it all at once. You will also be able to clump together with your delivery, saving a fortune on shipping.
The second method is the method that the majority of people take. It involves purchasing the key equipment for your workout routine and only buying the essentials.
This will give you a good base to start from for a lower cost, and then you can keep your eyes open for deals and 2nd hand gear to add to your collection slowly.
One vital thing you should do at the beginning of your planning phase is to create a realistic budget for your project. You need to get this out of the way quickly and be really honest.
This will stop you from getting carried away with the project at a later point and spending more than you can afford or getting disappointed when you can't afford all of the items in your basket.
As part of the budget planning stage, you need to work out where your priorities lie.
If you are a cardio nut and do a little bit of CrossFit, you will not need the full-weight selection that a bodybuilder might need.
Instead, you will want to save a big part of your budget for the highest quality cardio machine like a good treadmill or a high-end rowing machine.
The key thing to remember with a home gym is that quality is always far better than quantity.
Poor quality weights, for example, will degrade quickly and require you to replace them. A good high-quality set will last forever if treated correctly.
Buy high quality, buy once. Buy poor quality, buy many times.
Location, Location, Location
Home gym builders are a creative bunch. Over the years, we have seen gyms built inside basements, garages, lofts, attics, bunkers; you name it.
As part of your initial planning stage, you will need to decide where you will put your home gym. For most of us, we already have a good idea of where this will be.
Here are the most common spots, their benefits, and their negatives.
The garage gym is the poster boy for home gyms. They are incredibly versatile and offer several benefits.
One of the major positives to a garage gym is the logistics. With a garage door, you have easy and wide access to your home gym.
When a truck turns up with a box full of Olympics weights, it is really easy to pallet truck them inside, where you unbox them in your own time out of the cold.
Garage floors also come with a cement floor. This is perfect for installing rubber tiles and protection too.
Finally, it can be really nice on a hot summer day to throw open the garage door and let the outside in. That summer breeze has never felt so good.
Basements are another common location for a home gym. They already have solid floors that you won't have to worry about if you drop a weight.
One thing to consider is the humidity and airflow.
It might seem like your basement is always freezing, but when you start working out, it is amazing how quickly the temperature of the room can change. Get a good dehumidifier or ventilation as a priority.
The other thing you will have to consider is access.
Getting your equipment down to your home gym might be difficult if you have a tight staircase and no outside access. Make sure you consider this before you order anything difficult to maneuver.
Does you basement have a low ceiling? See what to do in this guide!
Cost of Conversion without Equipment: $500-$2000 depending on whether you want to install flooring or need to install ventilation.
Lofts and Attics
Much less common but still not rare is the attic space home gym.
With a gym in the attic, you will have a lot more considerations to make before taking the plunge.
The first and most crucial thing to work out is how much weight your floor will be able to handle.
Often, the flooring used in DIY loft conversions is not capable of taking as much weight as a typical floor or anywhere near as much as a concrete floor found in basements and garages.
You will also have to deal with the space issues caused by being near the roof. This means there will be less room to stand, and you will have to seriously think about your equipment placement.
Cost of Conversion without Equipment: $3000-$5000 for a good subfloor and loft conversion.
Learn More About - Building Home Gyms On A Second Floor
The Spare Bedroom Gym
A popular and inexpensive location for a home gym is the spare bedroom of the house.
If you don't have a garage or a basement or the money to convert your loft, it can be an easy way to start out and begin collecting your equipment ready for when you have a better space.
Conversion Cost without Equipment: 0-$500 depending upon whether or not you need to protect the floor.
Set Up Costs to Consider
Now you have decided where you are going to set up your home gym and you have decided what your budget is, here is a more in-depth look at space setup costs.
The lighting is an important aspect of any home gym.
Good natural light has many benefits, from increasing your body's production of melatonin to helping control cortisol levels.
Good lighting also makes you look better, and this can provide a huge confidence boost as well as dopamine release when you like what you see in the mirror.
The main thing you need to watch out for with gym lighting at home is the heat they produce.
You won't want your lights to add to the room's heat, especially if you are working out in a basement or loft.
Total Cost: Around $600 to add recessed lighting to a home gym space.
The flooring in your gym is another incredibly important aspect. If you have a concrete floor and you don't mind a little dust and noise, you will be able to avoid this next cost.
Foam tiles are one of the more popular choices when it comes to a home gym. They are cheap and can be installed with very little knowledge.
You can also use horse flooring from any tractor shop. This is a popular hack.
Total Cost: Allow $1-4 per square foot depending upon the quality you desire.
Mirrors is definitely something to factor into your home gym cost.
Having mirrors in your home gym might seem vain, but the truth is, they serve more purpose than you think.
Mirrors help you see how your form is looking during different exercises. This allows you to self-correct, so you don't end up with muscle imbalances.
Mirrors can also be very motivating. As you lift and get stronger or leaner, you'll be able to see your results right in front of you.
They are also fairly cheap as you can buy a standard full-length mirror and hang it on the wall, or you can go all out with floor to ceiling mirrors.
Also Check Out - Complete Guide To Home Gym Mirrors
Heating & Cooling
If you live in an often extremely cold or hot climate, you will need to make sure you are prepared.
Nothing will put you off your training sessions like minus degree temperatures, and nobody wants to do cardio in the scorching hot either.
You should factor heating and cooling into your home gym cost. Whether you need a few small fans or a mini-split AC, you'll be much more likely to workout in your gym if it's comfortable.
Check out our buying guides below:
Weightlifting Equipment Costs
The setup we are going to look at is a basic weightlifting setup.
This is a bare-bones setup that will allow you to do all compound lifts and most popular supporting workout exercises.
Power Rack/Squat Rack
One of the most important pieces of gym equipment is a power rack or squat rack. It will allow you to perform all of your big compound lifts with ease and safety.
If you have the space and budget, I'd recommend a power rack.
As a powerlifter myself, you will get a lot more out of it and be able to lift heavier due to the increased weight capacity and stability.
If you're more limited on space and money, opt for a squat rack or stand. They still allow you to perform compound lifts, but they're cheaper and take up much less space.
For a budget power rack, you can expect to pay around $400-$500. For a high-end power rack, you'll be looking at a minimum of $1,000.
For a decent squat rack, expect to pay around $200-$300.
The first and perhaps the most important item you will be purchasing for this setup is your barbell.
When it comes to barbells, you will want to make sure it has high tensile strength and a good coating.
We advise that you look at a brand new bar as you have no idea how well it has been treated if you buy 2nd hand.
Look for a full-size Olympic-style bar that can carry you through any stage of your progression.
For a barbell that is well designed for squats, deadlifts, curls, and bench press, you will need to spend at least $250-$300+.
To go with your Olympic barbell, you should grab a good set of weightlifting plates. You should look to get a good range of weights here to allow you some versatility.
Olympic plates should be high quality, but you could definitely save some money if you look for them on a pre-loved website.
Good plates last forever, so finding a gym that has closed down could mean a hefty saving.
That being said, brand new plates are reasonably priced, and aesthetically they look a lot nicer than old battered ones.
For a good set of Olympic plates, you should be able to get a complete set for $300-$500, depending on how many of each plate you want.
Dumbbells are the next most important on the list. A good set of dumbbells is just as important and versatile as a good barbell and Olympic plates.
Dumbells can come in sets of 1-20+, so a good way to save money here is to only buy the weights you need individually and purchase heavier dumbbells as your progress.
Alternatively, a highly-rated set of adjustable dumbbell can save you a lot of money compared to a full set of dumbbells that will most likely contain many weights you don't ever use.
For a full set, look at $350-$450 dollars for a decent quality set. Individually, you can spend anything from $5-$50 dollars per dumbbell, depending on brand and quality.
In order to do essential lifts like the bench press and close grip bench press, you are going to need a good bench.
A good lifting bench offers support and will allow you to complete a wide range of exercises that use a dumbbell or a barbell.
Benches can be really cheap, but we highly recommend that you buy a higher quality option if possible.
A high-quality bench will be $80-150.
Cardio Equipment Costs
Most of us will need some form of cardio machine in our home gym.
Whether this is one or more pieces will depend upon how much cardio you do and how much space you have.
Exercise bikes are a great low-impact option for those who want to do some steady-state cardio.
For the more advanced user, you might want to opt for a spin bike or an assault bike.
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Treadmills are the king of the cardio machines. In terms of pure calorie burn per hour, nothing compares.
They are heavy on the joints, however, which makes choosing a high-quality treadmill essential.
The cheaper machines have less cushioning and will lead to problems later on down the line.
Rowing machines are the perfect blend of cardio and strength, and for this reason, they are often used during bulking season.
They can help you strengthen your upper and lower body and, during intense HIIT sessions, will burn a massive amount of calories.
They are also low impact, with less gravity being exerted on your joints. With the sitting-down position, they do take up more room, so you will need to be conscious of this.
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Elliptical machines are perfect for beginners. They allow for a moderate amount of cardio and incorporate both your arms and legs.
This makes them the ideal choice for people who have never trained before and who need to build up their cardio ability for the bigger machines.
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Types Of Home Gyms & How Much They Cost
1. CrossFit Home Gym
If you like CrossFit workouts and lifting weights, your home gym equipment might cost a bit more. But that's the cost of hitting PRs in your next WOD, right?
While you can get some CrossFit equipment for cheap, like plyo boxes and battle ropes, most of the heavy lifting home gym equipment will cost you a pretty penny.
The bare minimum for a CrossFit home gym is a power rack, barbell, and bumper plates. We've already discussed power racks and barbell cost above.
However, bumper plates can run anywhere from $60-$100 per 45-pound plate. For a full set, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,100.
Related Article - Best CrossFit Equipment For Home Gyms
2. Calisthenics Home Gym
On the other hand, calisthenics home gyms are a bit cheaper than their free weights counterparts.
Since you use mostly your own bodyweight for calisthenics exercises, you will only need some small gym equipment to get you started.
In my opinion, the bare minimum for a calisthenics home gym is a pull up bar, parallettes (push up bars), and resistance bands.
My personal two favorites are a pull up bar and parallettes. The pull up bar allows me to work out almost every part of my body using pull movements. The parallettes work great for pushing movements.
You might want to add a plyo box for cardio movements and explosive power.
All of this should cost under $500 if you know how to purchase equipment on the cheap.
Also Check Out - How To Build A Calisthenics Home Gym
3. Yoga Studio
Building your own yoga studio is also one of the cheapest options for home gyms. It also doesn't take up very much space.
The essentials for a yoga home gym include a yoga mat, yoga blocks and wheels, and a possibly a yoga strap.
These items are inexpensive and should only cost $100 at the most. If you choose higher quality items, you might go over that.
All in all, yoga gym equipment cost will be the least out of all these categories.
Expert Buying Tips
Buying Second Hand
The garage gym building community knows the importance of second-hand deals.
With amazing marketplaces like the Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay, you have a huge selection.
Facebook marketplace, in particular, is a great place to find deals as there is no cost to list your items on there. You can buy gym equipment and accessories here for cheap.
You could find a gym that is closing down and take their entire collection of dumbells for a fraction of what they paid for them.
Building What You Can
While we always recommend picking trustworthy high-quality brands for things like dumbbells, plates, and barbells, you could save a fortune by building some of the less important but still necessary equipment for your gym.
One popular DIY project is to build your own lifting platform from plywood and stall mats.
Another popular project is to build your own weight plate holders. These are simple DIY projects and replace expensive items.
Tips for Creating a Home Gym You Will Actually Use
Unfortunately, many people who embark on this journey end up listening to everyone else.
This means they buy the equipment other people tell them to buy and build their gym exactly like everyone else.
Please remember, your home gym is just for you. Build it in a way that is going to motivate you to use it.
Follow these tips to create a space that you will definitely use:
Personalize the Space
Make sure you take time to personalize the space you have specifically for yourself. You don't need to have a Rogue-style iron gym just because everyone else does.
You should consider filling your space with posters and inspirational quotes that are personal to you. Put a sound system in and blast the music you love.
Only Buy Equipment You'll Actually Use
This is a big one and it requires us to be honest with ourselves on what we'll actually use in our home gym.
If you hate cardio, there's no sense in spending $1,000 on a huge treadmill. Try to find alternative ways to get your heart pumping, like circuit training or HIIT.
I advise every homeowner to write down a list of the exercises and type of training they actually enjoy and build their home gym around that.
Install Entertainment Options
Who says you can't have fun while working out in your home gym? One thing that helps me get into my home gym everyday is entertainment. I like to multitask!
Decide what you want to do in your home gym. Do you like watching the news every morning? Install a TV in your home gym, so you can do two things at once.
I'm more of a music fan, and my home gym speaker is invaluable to me. Whatever helps keep you entertained will, help you work out more in your home gym.
Make It Convenient For You
Last but not least, your home gym setup must be convenient for you to want to use it.
If you have a ton of garage gym equipment but park two cars in the garage at night, you might find it really annoying to move the cars and drag out all your equipment every morning.
This will greatly reduce the likelihood that you will use your home gym setup. Make sure you have easy access to your gym equipment.
Home Gym Cost FAQs
How much does it cost to build a home gym?
If you built a gym with all of the items we included in the weight section, in a normal space with rubber flooring and lighting and one cardio machine, you should be looking at around $3000-4000 for the full conversion and set up.
Does a home gym add value to your home?
If you have modified part of your house to become a perfect home gym, it will definitely add value to your home.
If you want this to be the case, you should make sure you invest in good lighting, mirrors, and flooring, as these will be the items that you most likely leave behind.
Is a home gym a good investment?
If you intend to work out until you are 50 at the age of 25, you will save $25,000 dollars on average.
As long as you plan to work out for long enough, a home gym is an excellent investment.
Building your own home gym is a rewarding and enjoyable task.
This is going to be your sanctuary from the world, a place to focus and work on your goals. Make sure you take the time to plan it correctly.
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Last Updated on January 18, 2023