One of the problems with having a gym in your home is you run out of room! My gym used to be in the lower level of my home, but thanks to the incredible deals you can find on craigslist, my gym was expanding too rapidly and had to be moved out into the garage.
Luckily for me, my wife likes home improvement projects, and didn't mind the fact that our cars would be sitting out in the driveway all through the long Indiana winters from now on.
Now the garage is 15 years old and filled with sh!t, errr, I mean priceless stuff! Cleaning it out was the first step. Since we started this project in the winter, we installed a heater so we could work comfortably. I bought a Dayton 3UG73 Utility Heater. This thing puts out the heat! In less than thirty minutes it warms a 400 square foot garage up by 20 degrees.
We started by installing an insulation kit on the garage door. My wife did this while I was at work, so she had all of the fun!
Two walls and the ceiling had nothing but bare 2 x 4 studs. The first thing to go up was insulation: R13 in the walls and R30 for the ceiling.
Insulating is a nasty, scratchy job! You have to cover every square inch of your body to keep the fiberglass off of your skin. Wearing all of this protection (respirator, safety glasses, long sleeve shirts etc) I couldn't even imagine doing this job in the summer. For those of you out there reading this who are insulators - my hat's off to you brother!
After the insulation was hung, the drywall was next. We initially tried to handle a 4' x 8' sheet of drywall by man handling into place and holding it over our heads, but eventually we rented a drywall lift.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE DRYWALL LIFT!
Another great invention and I hope the inventor is resting on a beach somewhere counting his millions.
With the ceiling drywall in place, the walls were next:
The drywall on the walls was a pleasure to hang versus the ceiling panels. The next step was to "MUD" or hide the gaps between drywall panels with joint compound. This is really an art form, trying to fill the gaps and make it appear seamless. My wife promptly kicked me out for this step (I guess I didn't have the finishing skills required ; -)
With the mudding complete, all that was left was to clean up and paint. We chose a basic white primer for both the ceiling and the walls and got the whole family involved in the painting which made the job go pretty quick.
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Working on this in our spare time, this took about two months from start to finish. All that was left was to paint the garage floor, but since it was February, we had to wait for the summer months when the floor temperature was above 55 degrees so the paint would cure properly.
Painting the floor
Painting the floor was no picnic. Because we had to wait a few months for the temperature to rise, we put everything back into the garage (workbench, storage racks, etc.), which meant everything had to come back out.
The painting itself was easy; the cleaning of the floor was the hard part. You have to use an acid "etcher" to prepare the concrete for paint. The floor was old, oily, dirty, pitted and cracked, but with a new coat of paint it looked good…BUT, in certain areas the paint started to flake away. Good thing I was planning to cover most of the floor with horse stall mats.
Horse stall mats
This is the best flooring you can buy for your garage gym. These things are heavy; they are made for 1000lb animals to stand on! You can drop anything on these. They are about 3/4" thick and measure 4' x 6' and weigh a good 90lbs.
Originally I planned to only put two mats under the Powertec power rack. Then maybe two more to go under the Powertec workbench; and finally one just under the weight holders on the Body Solid leg press. what the hell let's put ALL of the gym equipment on top of mats! After three trips to the tractor supply store, I ended up with TEN mats altogether. Not cheap at $40 each!
Moving of the gym equipment
Before we started this project, my wife laid out the garage floor on graph paper to make sure all of the equipment would fit. You can see this here (link opens with PDF reader).
Cutting out the shapes of the equipment out of sticky notes was brilliant! We knew exactly where to place the equipment within an inch. If you are going to do it this way, make sure you take into account the room needed to USE each piece of gym equipment.
The actual moving of the equipment went smoothly! We didn't have to take anything completely apart to move it, and that included the power rack. Every piece went back together easily.
Completed garage gym photos:
I added a garage door screen so I could work out with the garage door open and be bug free. Mosquitoes are bad this summer. I made a best offer to this seller on eBayand it ended up costing me $99 with free shipping.
Overall, I am satisfied with how the project turned out. Now, I'm not going to lie and say this project was inexpensive - the total cost including the horse stall mats ($400) and the garage door screen ($99) was right around $2500.
Really not bad considering I have another 400 square feet of living space.
Readers question: Any suggestions for an electric room heater for the garage? I have good insulation but want to get something programmable and powerful enough to head my garage gym for a few hours a day. Very useful site and thank you, Jesse C.
Reply: Besides the Dayton 3UG73 Utility Heater I mentioned above, this electric heater plugs in and hangs out of the way, perfect for a home gym with limited space: Eco-heater 602 High-Efficiency Electric Panel Whole-Room Heater
Garrett Wow, it just keeps getting better. Your wife is awesome, by the way. Tell her you love 'er! So the sauna's gone now?
Barry C. LOL - my wife is awesome and I do "love'er! The sauna is still in my family room and I use it about 2-3 times a week.
Anoura So the insulation and drywall for walls and ceiling cost 2k? That seems high considering ya'll put in the elbow grease. :) looks really great though!
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