Small gym arranged in white room at home

4 Tips for Setting Up a Home Gym

Having your own workout room is the ultimate convenience. Here’s how to set one up.

Be honest: How much time do you really spend working out? If you’re not getting 150 minutes of moderate activity each week (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity), you’re falling below the recommendation of the American Heart Association. But you’re not alone: Two out of three adults don’t exercise enough, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Having a workout room in your home eliminates a whole bunch of excuses, including the need to trek to and from a fitness studio or jogging path. You don’t have to contend with bad weather or traffic on your way there. And you definitely don’t have to worry about spandex-clad cyclers or runners judging you for sweating too much. Although some people benefit from the added structure that comes from joining a gym or signing up for fitness classes, convenience often trumps accountability. Fitness expert Catherine Andersen – who co-owns Achieve Personal Fitness with her husband, Michael – shares some no-nonsense tips for setting a home gym up here.

photo by Jordan Whitfield

1. Choose quality over quantity

You don’t necessarily need a room full of expensive equipment to get a great workout. “If I could only invest in one thing, I’d get a dumbbell set,” Andersen says, explaining that dumbbells can provide a full-body workout and can be used in hundreds of different ways. “The next best option is resistance bands. You can bring them with you when you travel, and they aren’t expensive.”

2. Personalize your space

You’ll dread working out a lot less if you set up a room that is warm and welcoming. Andersen encourages her clients to hang up photographs of vacation destinations or other inspirational imagery, to help them stay motivated. And mirrors are a must-have – they can lighten and brighten your space while also allowing you to focus on your form.

3. Tune out

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photo by Getty Images

Take advantage of the privacy you have while working out at home and install a killer sound system. “There’s a connection between workout intensity and beats per minute,” Andersen says, adding that websites like generate playlists that match up to your target bpm.

4. Pencil yourself in

Just because you don’t need to worry about signing up for a fitness class or booking a popular instructor before his or her calendar fills up doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stick to a set schedule. “The best cardio is the cardio you actually do,” Andersen says. “Schedule your workouts like you would a meeting at work. Prioritize yourself.”

“Home Body” appears in the 2018 Health issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning April 30th, or buy a copy at

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.