Keep Fit at Home: Garden Gym Ideas

By   | Last Updated :   May 12, 2021 | Filed In :   Garden Accessory Ideas

Do you wish it was a little easier to get your fitness fix? Building your own workout area at home is a great way to ensure you can exercise whenever you like, but the challenge can be finding the space. We’re here with some garden gym ideas that should help you transform whatever outdoor space you have into a function workout zone!

First things first: let’s look at the practicalities…

Do you need planning permission for a garden gym?

You don’t need planning permission to build a cabin in your garden, providing it doesn’t exceed certain height limits. If you’re building your garden gym within 2m of your property boundary, it must be less than 2.5m tall. If it’s more than 2m from a boundary, your cabin can be up to 3m tall.

Of course, these rules will be different if you live in a listed building or conservation area – it’s best to check in with your local planning department to see what’s possible if this is the case. We do have a few ideas coming up that don’t require complicated construction!

a minimalist shed painted black and brown in a gravel garden

How big should a garden gym be?

This depends on the kind of workouts you’re hoping to enjoy in your garden gym. It’s generally recommended that you have a space that’s at least 4m x 5m to fit several pieces of equipment as well as floor exercises. However, if you’re tight on space and just want somewhere to lift weights, jump on a stationary bike or practice yoga in between classes or gym sessions, a 3m x 3m room should be enough.

a clean white she shed being used for yoga, with a yoga mat, exercise ball, yoga blocks and small weights

The benefits of a garden gym

If you’re reading this post, you probably don’t need persuading that a home gym is a good idea. However, just in case you’re trying to articulate all of your reasons to get someone else on board, here’s a reminder:

It’s more time-effective

Get ready to shave SO MUCH TIME off of your regular gym sessions. Firstly, your travel time is basically non-existent. Second, you’ll never be hanging around waiting for someone to finish so you can get in your last set. On top of that, your garden gym won’t have fixed opening hours – so you can move your sessions to whatever time suits you. The result of all of these things is that it’ll be much easier to fit your workouts around the rest of your life.

You can exercise in privacy

You might not always be in the mood to get your sweat on in front of strangers. While there’s benefits to exercising in a communal space, there are some days where you want to go at your own pace, or workout without being pestered or feeling self-conscious. A garden gym is a place where you can exercise however you like, without being concerned about anyone watching.

No membership fees

Investing in a gym at home will be worth the cost if it means you can cut back (or cut out) membership fees elsewhere. Chances are, your monthly payments also cover a lot of equipment you don’t use – with your own garden gym, you can invest in the pieces you actually need. Just do some costings to compare the equipment you would buy and the memberships you (and other people in your household) would be able to cancel to see how long it will take for your investment to pay off.

Unaffected by global events

Okay, nobody is expecting gyms, pools and leisure centres to have to close long-term again. However, if, for whatever reason, your local workout spot becomes unavailable in the future, you’ll have your own, socially-distanced exercise zone at home. Personally, I think it would be worth it during flu season alone – avoid other people’s germs or exercise in a socially responsible manner if you’re feeling a bit under the weather yourself. Win-win.

What do you need in a garden gym?

Everyone is going to be looking for something a little bit different in an exercise area, but there are a few key features that will make your experience more comfortable. Take a look at these garden gym ideas for inspiration.

Shelter

Not everyone is looking to build a whole structure in their garden to exercise in. If you’re keen to workout in the fresh air, you can have a decent setup without investing in a new building. However, even if you want to keep your garden gym ideas flexible or temporary, do yourself a favour by at least installing some kind of cover for your equipment or floor area to keep it somewhat dry and sheltered from the elements.

If you do build a cabin, think about its design carefully. Not just its size, but how high you need the roof, where you want windows, whether a skylight will be useful etc. The last thing you want is to start your usual routine, only to discover there’s not enough clearance.

Supportive flooring

Whatever else you choose to have in your outdoor gym, good flooring is essential. For almost any exercise and equipment, a natural lawn will be too soft and uneven, while a patio is too hard and unforgiving on the human body. If you don’t want to give up too much of your garden, you can create a sturdy surface that has the appearance of a lush lawn with the help of artificial grass.

The first thing to consider is what you’ll be using your garden gym area for. This is because heavy equipment – like machinery or free weights – will need a much sturdier foundation structure than a room that’s used for yoga or aerobics.

It’s also smart to choose an adaptable flooring (so your garden cabin can have a different purpose later down the line), and then invest in a surface cover for it. For example, covering a laminate floor with interlocking rubber tiles for a free weights area, or cushioned vinyl for dance.

a close up of interlocking rubber floor tiles, good for weightlifting

Exercise equipment

Compared to a professional gym, space is going to be at a bit of a premium. What you want to avoid is having so much equipment that there’s no space to actually use it. For this reason, it’s best to focus on one primary style of exercise (that only needs limited equipment), or to find a multi-gym frame that suits your workout preferences.

Alternatively, you might want to look into small pieces of equipment that can be used for a whole-body workout, like a Fitt Cube or TRX equipment.

It’s worth having some dedicated storage for your fitness stuff too – it’ll keep your exercise zone tidier (and therefore safer), and saves you the hassle of digging out whatever you need from some disorganised corner elsewhere in your home.

Temperature control

Make sure you have double-glazing as well as wall and roof insulation to keep your garden gym at a comfortable temperature. In cooler weather, you might also want a space heater, even if you don’t want to install a more permanent heating solution. Having ventilation is essential for keeping damp out of your garden gym, but you will probably also want windows that open to keep your cabin cooler in warm weather.

Electronics and technology

Will your workouts be more fun with music? Do you like to follow instructors on YouTube? Include whatever speakers, laptop stands or screens you’ll want into the interior plans for your gym cabin, and you’ll enjoy a more seamless experience when it comes to starting your routine (unless you like leaving your valuable tech on the floor).

Don’t forget that this will possibly mean running electric out to your cabin – we’ve got more details on our posts about she-sheds and garden man caves. Internet – or at least an internet booster – might be another requirement.

a garden gym with lots of fitness and exercise equipment

Security

Last – but by no means least – is keeping your lovely garden gym secure. An attractive garden building can always draw the wrong kind of attention from would-be intruders who can see it from the street. If your cabin has windows, keep the blinds or curtains drawn when you’re not inside, and make sure there’s a good lock on the door. Take a look at our other garden security ideas for more ways to keep your outside space safe.


Hopefully this has helped with all of the basic garden gym ideas you need to start creating your own outdoor workout zone. Let us know if you think we’ve missed anything – and don’t forget to check out our other posts about upgrading your garden shed to the next level!

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By Kirsteen Mackay

Kirsteen is a professional writer who traded a tiny garden for an even smaller balcony when she moved to Brighton in 2015. Her interest in gardening stems from a keen desire to turn her simple slab of concrete into a lush urban oasis, complete with cosy-but-practical garden furniture and delicious edible plants.

View All Posts By Kirsteen Mackay »

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