The ideal gym design: We reveal the most productive setup for a home gym, according to data
For fitness enthusiasts, a private at-home gym is the ultimate luxury. Having your own personal space to work out means you don’t need to spend time and money travelling to the gym, and you can choose to exercise whenever suits you. Plus, there’s no need to wait around in the queue up for the weights or the showers, either.
But another fantastic advantage of working out in the comfort of your own home is that you have total freedom to set up your personal gym however you like. That means you can design a layout and select fitness equipment to suit your goals and favourite kinds of exercise, to help you get more out of your workouts.
To help you create the optimum home gym space, we’ve taken a look at the research and drawn up a plan for the perfect fitness room, right down to the smallest details.
The perfect home gym, according to research and data
While you might be familiar with the benefits of having a home gym already, what you might not know is that certain elements of room design could also have an impact on your performance. Aspects like the colour, lighting, and layout of your home gym can have a knock-on effect on your mood and motivation, which in turn can influence how you exercise.
We’ve looked at the data and found that the ideal home gym would have…
-Bright overhead lighting
-A red, orange, or yellow feature wall
-Large windows for plenty of natural light and ventilation
-Cardio fitness equipment, like a treadmill (with a rubber mat underneath to protect the floor)
-A TV, preferably mounted in front of the treadmill
-A standing fan
-A blue yoga mat
-An essential oil diffuser
-A smart speaker for music
-A motivational sign or artwork
You can find the research we used to create the ideal gym below.
Go for fiery, motivating colours
For a better workout, you might want to use colour psychology when designing your home gym. This is the theory that certain colours can produce both physical and mental effects. And, when it comes to working out, there’s some evidence to suggest that fiery shades — like red, orange, and yellow — can be the most motivating.
Our research found that:
-Being exposed to vivid red shades has been found to have physical effects on the body, including elevating blood pressure and heart rate (Colour Research and Application). This creates an energising effect.
-Red has also been found to be associated with dominance (Frontiers in Psychology).
-Like red, yellow is considered to be an energising colour and can also increase our metabolism (Very Well Mind).
-Orange is a mixture of red and yellow, so is unsurprisingly another energy-boosting colour. While it’s thought to be a poor choice for studying and working environments, research has found that exposure to orange can boost energy and excitement levels which is beneficial for working out (Frontiers in Psychology).
-At the other end of the spectrum, blue is believed to be a calming colour, with research showing that it increases feelings of relaxation (Colour Research and Application).
So, decorating with red, orange, and yellow interiors could just help boost your energy levels. If you include yoga in your fitness regime, you could also include a blue area in your gym, as this can boost the calming effects of this exercise. This could be as simple as using a blue yoga or exercise mat.
As with colour psychology, it’s thought that lighting can have a big impact on our energy levels and sleeping patterns. Our research found that:
-Bright light can help people feel more awake and revitalised (Journal of Environmental Psychology).
-Exposure to natural light can be particularly beneficial when exercising during early daylight hours, as exposure to bright daylight in the mornings can make us feel more alert throughout the day (Verywell Health).
-Those who have more exposure to natural daylight may also get more sleep. A study on people working in two almost identical offices found that those who allowed natural light into the room slept 37 minutes more than those who weren’t working in natural light (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health).
Choosing to set up your home gym in a room with plenty of natural light can be beneficial for both boosting your energy levels and helping you keep a healthy sleep schedule, which in turn can improve your workout performance.
East-facing windows receive the most light in the morning, while west-facing receive the most natural light in the evening, and south-facing windows receive the most light overall. When it comes to artificial light, bright ‘daylight’ bulbs will leave you feeling more awake and alert than dim alternatives — just what you need on those dark winter days.
If you’ll also be using your gym for yoga or meditation, go for a dimmable light, to allow you to reduce the light levels and create a calming environment.
Keep things cool — but not too cold
The air temperature in your home gym can also have a big influence on your performance. Our research revealed:
-Performing high-intensity exercise in warm environments is thought to deteriorate the quality of performance and increase stress levels (PLOS ONE).
-Endurance exercise is thought to be particularly beneficial in cooler temperatures, with a study by University of Aberdeen finding that endurance exercise is most effective at around 10°C.
-For indoor gyms, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends keeping the room between 68–72°F/20–22.2°C if possible (My Fitness Pal).
While keeping your home gym at the ideal temperature through the warmer months can be tricky without an air-conditioner, there are steps you can take to create the ideal environment. Choosing a well-ventilated room will help, as will opening any windows. You may also want to leave a space to set up a fan on warmer days.
However, to avoid temperature extremes disrupting your workout, it’s also a good idea to choose a well-insulated room so temperatures don’t drop too low in the winter. An uninsulated space like a garage might be a bit too cold, making it hard to focus on your workout. If necessary, use a space heater to warm things up before starting your workout.
Make it your own
If you love the way your home gym looks, you’ll be more likely to use it. So, it’s well worth taking the time to decorate your space, to make it feel personal to you. But, what kind of décor is best for performance?
Our research found that:
-Houseplants may significantly reduce levels of pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and improve the air quality of your gym (Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health). The same study also found that five houseplants in a poorly ventilated office could reduce NO2 levels by up to 20%. So, not only do houseplants look good — they also improve the air quality.
-Research has found that people are more likely to think of a statement as truthful if it rhymes (Psychol Sci). So, why not display a rhyming motivational quote which resonates with you to boost motivation in your home gym?
-Research on working out in front of mirrors has been mixed. While some people find that mirrors are useful for checking form and position during exercise, some studies have suggested that mirrors can make you feel worse about your body image and leave you feeling less energised post-exercise (Health Psychology). Another study found that doing ballet in front of a mirror may negatively impact skill acquisition (Percept Mot Skills).
So, when decorating your new home gym, you’ll definitely want to include a few plants. Snake plants, aloe vera, peace lilies, and spider plants are thought to be among the best air purifiers, but you can go for any houseplants you like. Remember to consider the amount of natural light in the room and choose plants accordingly.
While the jury may still be out on whether exercising in front of a mirror is beneficial, it’s ultimately your choice. If you find it does help, or you just want a cool spot to take some post-workout mirror selfies, then go for it!
Pump it up
What you listen to and watch in your home gym can not only increase your enjoyment of your workout but improve your performance too. According to our research:
-Listening to your preferred music may improve your workout performance, compared to exercising without music (Percept. Mot. Ski.).
-For treadmill workouts, songs ranging from 123 – 131 BPM have been found to lead to the best performance (Psychology of Sport and Exercise).
-Listening to music while sprinting has been found to increase enjoyment of the activity (Med Sci Sports Exerc.).
-Watching television while exercising has also been found to increase enjoyment of exercise (Journal of Sports Science & Medicine).
There’s nothing like blasting your favourite tunes to get you in the mood for a killer workout, so a decent speaker or hi-fi system is a must. Adding a TV to your home gym can also help make workouts even more fun — especially cardio. Place your TV in front of your treadmill, rowing machine, exercise bike, or cross trainer to give you an extra incentive to get your daily dose of cardio in.
The scent of success
Scents might not be the first thing that springs to mind when designing a home gym, but don’t underestimate the power of fragrance. Some scents may work to improve our moods, which in turn can make for more effective workouts. According to our research:
-Essential oils have been found to induce mood-boosting effects (Neurochemistry International).
-A study in the International Journal of Psychophysiology has concluded that the scent of peppermint oil can reduce sleepiness, although more research is needed to confirm this.
-Nostalgic scents in particular may have a positive impact on mood and self-esteem (Psychology).
-Both cinnamon and peppermint have also been found to increase alertness (North American Journal of Psychology).
So, adding a diffuser and some energising essential oils, like peppermint or cinnamon, could just give your workout an added boost. If you often use yoga to wind down in the evening, you could swap these energising fragrances for something more relaxing, like lavender or geranium.
To lower stress and enhance performance, you might want to opt for natural materials like wood when furnishing and decorating your gym. We found that:
-Research has suggested that environments with wood furnishings can lower cortisol and stress levels (Int J Environ Res Public Health). Reducing our cortisol levels can reduce fatigue (Healthline), plus research has found that exercising while stressed can increase our risk of injury (Sports Med).
With this in mind, you might want to consider adding wooden elements to your space, such as wood panelling or flooring.
Wooden flooring tends to be durable, level, and easy to clean, so it’s ideal for a home gym environment. Just be sure to place some equipment mats underneath fitness machines, and rubberised heavy-duty mats or tiles in your weights area. This will reduce noise, provide cushioning support and grip during your workouts, and protect your new wooden floors.
Equipment to work the whole body
Of course, by far the most important element of your home gym will be a varied selection of high-quality fitness equipment. But what equipment do you need to cover all bases and get a full-body workout?
-Research has found that moderate-vigorous exercise has the largest impact on overall fitness levels (European Heart Journal).
-There’s evidence to suggest that skipping can be particularly effective as a form of exercise, with research suggesting that 10 minutes of rope skipping can improve cardiovascular efficiency as much as a 30-minute jog (American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation).
-Resistance training has been found to improve physical performance, walking speed, and potentially promote bone development and enhance cardiovascular health (Curr Sports Med Rep).
-Combining strength/resistance training and cardio is thought to be especially beneficial for overall health and fitness. A study has found that while performing either weightlifting or aerobic exercise still reduced mortality rates, there was a significant reduction amongst those who did both forms of exercise (British Journal of Sports Medicine).
When it comes to creating the ideal home gym, you’ll want to include equipment for both moderate-vigorous intensity cardio and strength training alike.
Exactly which machines and equipment you decide to include will depend on your fitness and strength goals, as well as the kind of workouts you prefer. But, at minimum, we’d recommend including:
-A selection of weights. A set of barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and a medicine ball can be used to create countless strength-building routines. Don’t forget a weights rack to keep things neat and tidy.
Here at Fitness Superstore, we have all the equipment you need to kit out the gym of your dreams. Need more inspiration? Why not pay a visit to your nearest store? You can try out our display equipment to make sure it’s right for you, and get some expert advice from our friendly in-store team while you’re there. We even offer a free bespoke gym design service — simply share your goals with our helpful team, and they’ll work with you to create a digital plan that’s tailored to your exact specifications.