Workout in Style

7 tips for creating a functional and inspirational home gym

Ever buy a treadmill only to see it turn into a clothing rack a few weeks later? Even the best of intentions to exercise at home can fail without a well-designed space. “The keys to a great in-home fitness space are planning, style and accessibility,” says Jan Kyle, interior designer and owner of Jan Kyle Design, based in Kansas City and West Palm Beach.  “Because if it’s not well thought out, inviting and easy to reach, you’ll never go there.” Here, her tips on how to create a home gym that’s exactly that.

Decide how much space you’ll need Long for a serene place to practice yoga? You’ll require room for your mat, your wingspan, and whatever device you use for music or DVDs. Envision lots of machines? You’ll need their specific dimensions to create a floor plan that allows for good flow, says Kyle. The American Council on Exercise has guidelines on their web site ( for how much square footage various pieces of equipment require. And consider whether you’ll be working out solo or with others.

Choose a spot that’s free from drafts and can be kept at a comfortable temperature, says Kyle. If it’s part of a larger room and isn’t completely walled off, keep it secluded with screens to fend off distractions and mark the space as for fitness only.

Try to select an area with natural light, which is more energizing. And window or not, invest in mirrors. “They reflect the available light and make the space seem larger,” says Kyle.

To maximize small spaces try using a wide-striped graphic that runs up the wall and over the ceiling, suggests Kyle. It will make the ceiling look taller. Carpet tiles coordinated with wall color and artfully placed can help ‘widen’ the walls.

Flooring will be exposed to perspiration, lunging, and jumping, and it may need to muffle noise and vibrations caused by equipment. It can also make your workout more comfortable. Options include a simple mat on top of existing floors, rolled rubber flooring and interlocking foam rubber tiles, says Kyle. If you’re using wall-to-wall carpet, she recommends Flor brand carpet tiles, which can easily be replaced if they become soiled.

Keeping the space organized and clutter-free will help create an area you’re inspired to be in, says Kyle. Simple wall tables, wall mounts, or racks offer homes for things like weights and bands so they’re easy to locate—and out of the way when not in use.

Choose colors you find energizing for walls and accessories, and consider inspiring wall graphics.