Got a shed in the backyard and are wondering if you can turn it into a home gym? That depends on quite a few things. Here’s what you need to turn a backyard shed into a home gym.
To convert a backyard shed into a home gym, it has to be large and high enough, the flooring has to be able to withstand heavy loads and there can’t be excessive moisture intrusion. Lights or bigger windows have to be added for lighting and ventilation.
To find out what you have to do and figure out exactly to convert your shed into a gym, keep reading.
Converting a backyard shed into a home gym
It’s possible to build a good home gym in a shed but some things have to be right before you start buying equipment. Here’s what you want to look for.
- Foundation and flooring
- Ventilation and climate
Below we’ll go into all of these in more depth.
Shed Gym Size
The first thing you need is a shed that’s big enough. If gym equipment doesn’t fit inside, you’re not going to be able to build a good home gym. How much space you need really depends on what kind of equipment you want.
There are a few common setups for home gyms;
- Free weights
- Cardio + Free weights
For just a cardio machine you don’t need much space. Of course it still depends on which type of cardio machine you have and the specific model. A treadmill takes up much more space than an exercise bike. Here’s what you need for the average cardio machine of each type;
- Rowing machine: 9’ x 4’
- Treadmill: 3.5’ x 7’
- Elliptical trainer:
- Exercise bike: 5’ x 4’
That’s enough to place and use the machine although for comfort a little extra space is not a bad idea. Also, that’s for the average sized machine of that type. If you’ve got a big treadmill, you might need a bit more than that.
A full free weights setup means you’ve got a power cage, barbell, weight plates, bench and possibly a set of dumbbells. To be able to place that equipment in a way you can actually use it, a space of 8’ x 8’ is the absolute minimum and you’ll have to look for a compact power rack and shorter barbell than standard. For a bit more space 8’ x 10’ is better.
With machines, it’s impossible to say how much space you need because there are so many different ones. For a popular cable machine like a functional trainer or multi-gym, a space of 8’ x 8’ is enough.
So as you can see a shed that has indoor dimensions of at least 8’ x 8’ is necessary to create a home gym although if you’re only looking for a place to put your exercise bike or treadmill a little less is OK. If you want to combine a cardio machine with any of the other equipment, simply add up the space requirements for both.
Height For a Gym Shed
The amount of space is important but an even bigger issue in most sheds. Sheds are often pretty low and many pieces of gym equipment are quite tall. If the equipment is taller than the ceiling, it is obviously not going to fit.
Measure the ceiling height carefully before buying any equipment. To be able to use your shed as a gym you should be able to stand up comfortably at the very least. If you can raise your hands above your head a reasonable amount, you can do most exercises. Of course you’ll still have to measure the ceiling height to be able to fit the equipment.
For most people and equipment, a ceiling height of at least 7’ is necessary. If you’re over 6’ tall, 7’5 high ceilings are better. 7’ is the minimum amount of height that can fit many pieces of gym equipment most people want in their home gym like a power rack.
Foundation and Flooring
If you found your shed is large enough to do what you want, it’s time to dive a little deeper.
Check what’s going on under your shed. What’s the foundation like and what’s the flooring situation like? Can the floor handle what you’re planning to put on top of it? Depending on the construction of your shed, this could be an issue.
If the floor is strong enough but the surface isn’t suitable for a gym, that’s pretty easy to fix. Get a high quality rubber gym flooring and you’ll have a nice surface to work out on. Rubber gym flooring is hard wearing, protects the floor underneath and is easier to clean than most other surfaces.
Putting gym flooring directly on mud is not great since that will get very messy when it gets wet but pretty much any other typical shed floor is fine. Laying gym flooring on top of tiles, concrete or wood works great.
Ventilation and climate
Working out makes you breathe and sweat a lot. That degrades the air quality in any space pretty quickly. And breathing low quality air while working out is not only uncomfortable but can also cause health issues over time.
Of course you can just open the door of your shed a little and you’ve got plenty of ventilation. Some sheds also have windows that can open which is even better. However, some sheds don’t have any windows at all. Adding a window that opens is a really good upgrade to get your shed gym ready.
After a workout, there will be sweat you didn’t catch and that evaporates into the air. That doesn’t only increase the humidity but also causes bad smells and can lead to mildew and mold growth. An exhaust fan can provide some good forced ventilation to control the humidity inside the shed. Find out more about home gym air quality here.
If you live in an area where opening the door or window is going to make it only less comfortable inside you’ll need A/C or heating.
Gym equipment is largely made from metal and metal can rust if it gets wet. Sheds tend to have more moisture intrusion problems than a home. With relatively simple sheds, the walls don’t really seal all that well at the ground. So when it rains, water can get in pretty easily.
The floor also plays a big role here. Is the floor sealed so moisture doesn’t get in through? Any moisture that seeps in can start corroding your gym equipment and shorten the lifespan. Get as many holes plugged before putting in the equipment.
In an already existing shed you can pretty easily see if there are any issues like that. If there are any, try to fix them. Few things will degrade your gym equipment as fast as corrosion. Of course having decent ventilation system in place will help get rid of moisture after it got in.
Whether you work out when it’s dark or when it’s light out, you’ll want to be able to see something while working out. Sheds are often not designed to be comfortable and bright inside so it can be a bit difficult even if it’s bright out. Sheds don’t always have electricity inside so just turning on the light isn’t always possible either. For a home gym you don’t even need all that much light but at least enough to see what you’re doing is necessary.
There are two ways you can get more light into your gym shed;
- Bigger windows (or just open the door)
- Add (more) light bulbs
If you like to work out during the day and are willing to do some renovations, a bigger window is the best solution. Natural light is pretty much always better than artificial light. Of course it has to be possible in your shed. A resin shed is much harder to work with than a wooden one.
Installing lighting fixtures is easy if there is wiring going to the shed already. If there isn’t any electricity, It’ll be a much bigger operation but necessary to work out at night. Alternatively, there are some pretty good battery powered lights. Just hang two or three from the ceiling during your workout. These lights can last quite a while on one charge so you can get a few workouts done before having to recharge them.
After checking and fixing all of the things above, it’s time for the equipment. Don’t start buying things before you know they’re even going to fit or possible to use properly in your gym shed.
If your shed is big and high enough, there aren’t any moisture problems and there is a solid lock on the door, you can get the same equipment as you would for any other home gym.
In some cases there will be a bit more moisture than is ideal and there is nothing you can do to fix it without building a new shed. In that case, really avoid any equipment with electronics. The electronics are going to fail when they get wet and then your expensive machine is pretty much useless.
There is a lot of information in the points above so let’s recap quickly. Here’s what you need and have to check to create a good home gym in your shed;
- Enough space: 8’x8’ is the minimum indoor space you’re going to need but more is better.
- Tall enough ceilings: at least 7’ tall.
- Check the foundations and the flooring in the shed. Install rubber gym flooring.
- Some form of ventilation that can remove moisture and make workouts comfortable. A simple exhaust fan can be enough.
- No moisture coming in that corrodes your equipment
- Enough light to see what you’re doing. Installing bigger windows and/or lighting fixtures are the best options.
- Get equipment that fits your shed and your goals. If there are no problems with moisture, it’s possible to use normal indoor gym equipment.