Tonal members share their tips for building out a gym in the garage.
The best room for a home gym is the one you’re actually going to use. For Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS, fitness director at Men’s Health, that’s his garage, where he’s free from distractions.
“If I had it in the house, I would be far less focused for my workouts,” he says. “But whenever I head to the garage to train, I’m making an intentional decision to train, and that helps me get in better, more quality workouts.”
While some keep their equipment in the living room where they can see it (which is very easy with Tonal’s minimal footprint), others, like Samuel, prefer to set up a garage home gym.
Depending on the size and layout of your home, the garage might be the only space you have for a gym, especially if you’re planning on adding equipment like a treadmill or rower.
Bradley Goldman, a Tonal member from Los Angeles who has converted half of his two-car garage into a gym, likes that he doesn’t have to worry about disturbing the rest of his family when it’s time for a workout. “With Tonal in my garage, it’s really easy for me to use, especially in the mornings while my daughter is asleep,” he says.
Read on for the best garage home gym ideas and tips that’ll help get you ready to hit your goals.
How to Plan Your Garage Home Gym
Measure Your Area
It’s tempting to start ordering home gym equipment you think will fit in your garage, but it’s essential to get accurate measurements of your space first.
“You don’t want to buy equipment that will not fit in your space,” says Rachel MacPherson, a certified personal trainer and member of the Garage Gym Reviews expert panel. “You’ll want to leave plenty of room for moving around to adjust your equipment and perform movements without risk of injury.”
The requirements to install Tonal in your garage home gym are the same as if you were installing it inside your home. You’ll need a ceiling height of 7 feet 10 inches to extend Tonal’s arms to their highest position, although you’ll be able to do all the moves in the movement library with a minimum ceiling height of 7 feet. Ideally, you’d also have open space 3.5 feet on either side of Tonal (measured from its center) and 7 feet out from the wall.
“Make sure you leave room for the arms to move,” says Goldman. “There was a light [in my garage] that almost caused an issue, but it turned out to be okay.”
Prep Your Space
With cement floors and aluminum doors, the materials in your garage are likely different from the ones inside your home—which can impact your garage home gym setup.
Tonal can only be installed on certain wall surfaces (learn more here), so check to see what you’re working with first. “In my case, that meant we had to have a fully-leveled wooden bracket secured to the wall first, and then the Tonal could be secured to that bracket after that,” says Samuel.
Your installer may have to use a wide-mount bracket, as the studs in garage walls may be up to 24 inches apart (compared to 16 inches, the standard width in most homes). This is a common modification that Tonal’s professional installation teams perform regularly.
Don’t forget your floor, as you’ll spend some time down there doing planks, pushups, and other moves. If your garage has a concrete floor, mats or padded flooring can soften the surface. “A lightly padded floor is ideal for working out, but it should be stable and resistant to tearing and degrading,” says MacPherson.
Many garage floors also slope in some areas to allow for drainage. If yours is significantly angled, you’ll be better off installing Tonal on the back wall (rather than a side wall) so the floor is level with the trainer.
If your garage’s vibes are more utilitarian than cozy and you’d prefer the latter, MacPherson recommends adding “enhanced lighting along with any decorative items you may like to have including mirrors and motivational posters.” Check out these members’ bright neon setups for lighting inspiration or get more design ideas here.
Check Your Connections
Even if you head to your garage gym to unplug from a stressful workday, you can’t go totally off the grid if you want to stream your workouts. While Tonal’s space requirements aren’t often an issue in garages, you might have to double-check that you have a reliable Wi-Fi signal (strong enough to stream video) and a three-prong power outlet. You’ll need similar connections for other types of equipment that require electricity or Internet access.
To get her garage ready for Tonal, member Lorie Adolf of Lake Stevens, Washington, had a new power outlet installed and added a Wi-Fi booster to ensure the signal would be strong enough. Taking the steps to prep her garage home gym set her up for success.
She’s had her Tonal for nearly three years now and loves the convenience of working out from her garage. “One of the reasons I got a Tonal is that the closest gym to me is 25 minutes away,” she says. “I also work out early in the morning when some gyms aren’t even open.”
Control Your Climate
If you’re turning up the heat in a HIIT workout, you want to be dripping in sweat from your explosive moves—not because it’s scorching hot in your garage. Since most garages don’t have heat or air conditioning, it’s important to consider the temperature of your space if you plan to work out year-round. The ideal operating temperature for Tonal is 50° to 95°F with a relative humidity of 0 to 90 percent. (When not in use, Tonal can be stored in a broader temperature range of -13° to 113° F.) If it’s regularly much colder where you live during the winter, consider insulating your garage walls or simply use a space heater while you’re working out so you don’t have to double your warmup time.
You’ll also want to think about airflow if your garage doesn’t have a window. Opening the garage door a crack or adding a fan will improve ventilation and keep you cool during the summer.
“Place your equipment in a space that will get enough light and airflow so you will be comfortable year-round, ideally near an outlet where you can plug in a fan or space heater if needed,” says MacPherson.
Dealing with the weather hasn’t stopped Samuel’s workout routine. “In the summer, I’m going to sweat anyway,” he says. “The cold definitely isn’t ideal, but a cheap space heater is all I need to offset any issues.
Best Practices for Storing Gear in a Garage Home Gym
As with any small space, finding the right storage solutions is key to keeping your gear tidy and easy to find when you need it.
MacPherson recommends thinking vertically when it comes to storage in a garage home gym. “Choose hooks, racks, shelving, and other types of wall storage systems for your gear,” she says. “Anything that can mount on a wall is a great choice to save space.”
As Goldman says, “Hang up everything possible on the wall. The more stuff off the floor the better.”
For storing your Tonal attachments, the Tonal Accessories Shelf fits all those requirements and even has space on top to hold towels, a water bottle, or anything else you need during your workout.