A step by step guide of how I converted my garage into a home gym, including all the steps, equipment and costs.
After a long and difficult house move, my family and I have now moved into our new home, which included a double garage perfect for converting into an awesome garage gym.
Now I’ve watched plenty of home gym conversion videos, and they’re all quite similar – you’ve got time lapses of garages being cleaned, and another time lapse of walls being painted, you don’t need to see that again. So I’m going to show you how I did everything, exactly what I used, and most importantly how much everything cost. Spoiler alert… it’s probably not as expensive as you might think.
Step one – Preparation
The first step was preparing the garage. Now when you move house, the garage basically becomes a dumping ground. So the first step was tidying up as much as possible, finding a home for everything that doesn’t need to be in a garage, and ultimately trying to free up as much space as possible.
I also invested in a really cheap bike rack, to put the kids bikes on the garage door, and out of the way. This was a Peruzzo Cycle Storage mount from Amazon that cost about £23.
Next it was cleaning and preparing surfaces ready for painting. A lot of people try to skip this step because… it sucks, and they want to get straight into the painting. But the more time you spend doing this, the better everything will look, and your paint will have a greater bond with the surfaces.
I spent a lot of time removing grease stains from the floor, as well as scraping off bits of loose mortar from the walls, and rough surfaces from the floor. It was then just lots of sweeping and mopping to get rid of as much dust and dirt as possible.
Preparation cost – £23
Step two – Painting the walls
My first step was painting the walls, and I knew that I wanted black walls for the look I had in mind. Now I had spent months painting and decorating my old house, so I felt like I knew what I was doing, but painting breeze blocks is very different to painting nice smooth plastered walls. As such I massively underestimated how much paint I was going to need due to the deep textures of the surface. I was also using standard rollers and brushes which aren’t really fit for the job.
After 3 coats, there was still a lot of breeze block showing through, so I bought a proper masonry set of brushes and rollers which have a much longer pile. This helped a lot but used considerably more paint than the standard rollers.
In the end I was left with a surface that was just about acceptable, with a few speckles showing through that I could live with. In hindsight, because the texture of the breeze blocks was so deep, I really should have used a paint sprayer. This would have provided much better coverage.
Now there are 3 walls to my garage, because the garage doors are where the 4th wall would be, and I decided to have 2 black walls and 1 white wall to provide a little bit more light. I was much less fussy about the application of the white walls, and I actually painted this wall after painting the floor, just because of how I had all the contents of the garage stacked at one side.
Step three – Painting the walls
When it came to preparing the floor, I researched a lot of different solutions, including epoxy resins and all different types of paint. I found a really good heavy duty paint from Amazon for £48 which I was really pleased with. Now this was a solvent based paint that had very strong fumes, so I had to paint in 15 minute bursts, wearing a mask with the doors wide open to air it out.
Again because the garage still had a lot of contents, I had to paint two thirds of the floor, wait for it to dry, then move everything over to paint the remaining floor. This paint was supposed to be touch dry in 1-2 hours, however, maybe I applied it too thick, because it took 8 hours before it was dry enough to move things across.
But when it was finished, it looked great and really did change the whole look of the garage, and of course, it means the surface is sealed and protected.
Step four – Adding the entertainment (the TV!)
So as at this stage I had ordered the mats and the gym equipment and scheduled them to arrive a few days apart. While I was waiting I decided to add “the entertainment” to the gym. We had an old 26” inch TV and TV bracket which wasn’t being used, so I mounted this onto the wall.
We then bought a really cheap Amazon Fire stick. Now I’ve set up a really good WiFi network in the house because I work from home, so the WiFi signal in the garage is already pretty good. The Fire Stick can be used for playing music, playing YouTube videos and even watching films and TV shows on Netflix while doing cardio on the bike, so it’s a really simple way of adding some atmosphere.
Step five – The perfect gym flooring
I spent a lot of time researching the best gym flooring. Initially I quite naively assumed that some cheap EVA foam flooring would do the trick, and priced up a decent coverage from a seller on Amazon for about £150. However I very quickly realised that they weren’t going to be suitable, and really were unlikely to last long.
So I looked at lots of different options, trying to find the best value solution. I looked at gym rubber matting rolls, garage mats, stable mats, and tons of different mat brands. Eventually I found a company called Cannons UK – these guys had brilliantly priced products and free delivery, so I was able to get 20, 1m x 1m commercial grade mats for £580 – which is equivalent to £29 each. Most other companies were charging £40-£50 per mat plus delivery so I was really pleased to find this deal.
The mats are 20mm thick of solid rubber, and probably weigh about 20kg each. Fitting them was easy, I just placed them on the garage floor, and the combination of the grip and the weight of mats means there is no movement in them at all.
Step six – The equipment
The biggest expense with building your own home gym is always going to be the equipment. I’m not going to talk through every piece of equipment I bought, although I have listed them all in the description below, but there are a few key decisions I made that I thought might be useful for people to know.
First of all, pretty much all the equipment I bought came from Mirafit. I have to say I’m super impressed by the quality of everything I’ve bought, and what great value they were.
Now my garage has a ceiling height of 220cm, which is pretty good, but most garage ceilings are a lot higher, typically closer to 240 or 250cm, and that extra 20-30cm makes a big difference. For example at the shorter height, I can’t do a standing barbell press without hitting the ceiling.
Now a standard power rack will fit in my garage, but there would be no clearance above it for doing pull-ups for example. So Mirafit has a short version of their M200 power rack called the M200S. This is 6 ft high, so leaves plenty of space for pullups. I actually replaced the standard pull up bar with a multi-grip pull up bar as this provided extra space for me to walk under without hitting my head.
Because of the height issue, I also bought a landmine and viking press so I could still do a lot of standing pressing movements without sitting down. This actually is one of the best pieces of equipment I’ve bought and is doing wonders for my shoulders.
Although I already had a good bench, I ended up buying one with a leg developer for leg extensions and leg curls. I chose this one because it was 60kg weighted, which is heavier than most unless you buy a specific leg extension machine.
The cable machines at Mirafit are also really great value, and add a lot of versatility to a home gym setup. This is great for all the pulling and rowing movements, as well as curls and tricep push downs.
I also got a freestanding punch bag – normally I would only ever use a wall mounted heavy bag, but I wanted something that I could easily move around depending on what I was doing. I’m actually really impressed with this bag, and I may do a review on it separately.
The biggest indulgence was the dumbbell rack – I had a set of selectable dumbbells that served me extremely well during lockdown, going from 5kg – 32.5kg, and I could have continued to use them. But they can be quite clunky and I was always worried about dropping them, so having some rubber hex dumbbells is really nice.
If you’re interested, this is a complete list of everything I bought and the cost.
Step seven – The gym mirror
You can spend a lot of money on getting decent gym mirrors, and having them professionally installed. I was tempted to get it done properly, but I found a really good value mirror from Amazon for just £38.
Now drilling breeze blocks is not easy as I discovered when drilling in the TV bracket, storage and cable machine. If the placement of the plugs ended up being slightly off, I was able to get away with this to a degree by just wrenching the bolts through the thread. Of course if I tried doing this with a mirror, it was highly likely to break.
So I decided to use some mirror glue – there was some really strong mirror adhesive called Stixall for just £6 a tube which worked really well. Before attaching the mirror I did attach a small wooden ledge to take the weight of the mirror which I thought might add some more support. Again, in hindsight I probably should have made a quick wooden frame and then screwed the mirror to the frame, but the glue and the ledge worked just fine.
Step eight – The LED lighting
So when I first envisioned how the gym might look, I knew I wanted to include the LED lights. I think they look super cool, and really do make a big difference for a relatively small investment.
Now I’ve seen a lot of home gyms that use LED strips, but they can look a bit – unattractive. In most cases this is because the LED strips are cheap and have just been stuck directly onto the wall, which shows all the individual LEDs… which in my opinion isn’t a great look.
So the first thing I looked for was the LED strip density. Cheap strips have 30 LEDs per metre, so I went for the 60 LEDs per metre. Additionally I bought some aluminium channels with diffusers to make them look like a solid strip.
In a lot of cases I was able to fix the channels using some leftover Stixall adhesive, but in other places I had to drill some plugs into the wall and screw them in.
Finally, the LED strips had an RGB controller so I can change the colour depending on my mood, or even have it in different disco modes if I really overdo the pre-workout.
Step nine – The Batman artwork
So the final finishing touch, I considered adding in some more mirrors above the dumbbells. But I decided, as this is my gym, there is an opportunity to have a bit more personalisation.
Now anyone that knows me, will know I love my superheroes, so the idea of having Batman painted onto my wall just seemed like a great idea.
I got some quotes from some local artists, and showed them the type of thing I had in mind. The costs ranged between £500 – £1,000, which although I’m sure is a fair cost, it seemed a lot in the context of my home gym for a finishing touch. You can buy a lot of equipment for £500 – £1,000.
So I decided to try it myself first, and I thought I could always paint over it again if I really messed it up
So I found artwork online and photoshopped it to the size of how I wanted it, made a few small refinements and simplifications, and added a cool quote to go alongside it. I knew that I didn’t have the talent to paint this freehand, so I initially looked at making a large stencil.
However, I decided a quicker and better option might be to use a projector.
Using my laptop and a cheap projector that I borrowed, I was able to project the artwork onto the wall via a HDMI cable from my laptop. Using some artist brushes I then just traced around it as best I could, and it came out far better than I ever expected.
The artists estimated 1-2 days of work… Using this method, I did it in just 3 hours. I’m sure their result would have been better, but I saved myself between £500 – £1,000.
Borrowed a projector – FREE
Artist paint brush set – £7
One coat paint – £25
The cost for the set up of the gym is really £918.50, which is everything except for the equipment. I could also have bought some minimal equipment upfront such as the power rack and the weights, and bought a few new bits every month, as well as skipping on some indulgences like the dumbbell rack. But I wanted to get set up straight away, and just enjoy having a gym, particularly after a long absence due to the pandemic.
If there is anything you want more information on, let me know in the comments!