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How to Turn a Shed Into a Gym

Published: 30/09/2020

Creating a garden gym shed is an appealing prospect for a lot of people. There's no having to wait for machines to become free, it's open whenever you want to work up a sweat, and it's completely free (that is, once you’ve paid for all the garden gym equipment). But when you think about how much a gym membership sets you back monthly – anywhere between £19 and £30 on average – then you realise you’re spending hundreds of pounds a year on fitness that could go towards investing in your own private gym. This is where home gyms come into play. You can use some of your outdoor space to create your ideal garden gym pod you don’t need to share with anyone. Plus, with the recent pandemic to take into consideration, a gym that belongs to you alone comes with even more benefits! Creating your shed gym or summer house gym couldn’t be easier – as long as you know how to do it. To help you, we’ve put together this handy how-to guide, along with some shed gym ideas, to help you tailor the space to your workouts.

A DIY garden gym for any budget

Whether you're looking to create a no-frills budget garden gym or a gym shed with all the bells and whistles, keep reading!

Step 1: Choose the right shed for the job

Tiger Retreat Contemporary Summerhouse

The first thing to consider is what sort of shed is up to the task of becoming an outdoor garden gym. If your existing shed won't do, then you need to consider how to build a garden gym room that's fit for purpose. As with any space that’s designed with a specific purpose in mind, there is a range of factors to take into consideration. How much floor space will you need? Will it need to hold a large amount of weight? Is there adequate ventilation to prevent the garden room gym getting smelly?

The best sheds for home gyms

Ensuring the base is sturdy enough to handle the amount of activity you’ll be doing without warping or breaking under the stress is also crucial. Larger log cabins are much suited to this purpose because they tend to be more robust, better insulated and better ventilated. A standard garden storage shed that people buy to store old furniture, fridges and lawnmowers will need more work to make it gym-ready.

The benefits of log cabins

Tiger’s 28mm and 44mm log cabins are also naturally better insulated and ventilated than the standard garden shed. This is an important consideration for any gym shed – after all, you need to be able to breathe! Health professionals say that proper breathing engages the muscles properly [1]. And as we say earlier, a well-ventilated shed won’t suffer from those unpleasant smells that might otherwise be caused by damp and mould – so you won’t need to hold your nose while you work out!n So while log cabins may still need to be insulated, they provide a better base to work with if you want to build a home gym shed.

The benefits of tongue and groove flooring

A strong floor is also important – especially if you’re going to use heavy garden gym equipment. The best shed flooring is made from thick tongue and groove cladding as standard, which is considerably stronger than the OSB board you’ll see on other sheds out there (and likely wouldn’t be up to the task). Again, you may need to reinforce the flooring, but it’s always wise to start with good base (more on this later).

How big should an outdoor garden gym be?

Diagram of shed dimensions

When it comes to figuring how big your garden gym should be, you need to keep in mind that you need plenty of space, both horizontally and vertically. Ultimately, the size you choose should depend on what you want to do in there…  A building of 18x10 feet would provide enough room for an exercise bike, rowing machine, or cross trainer, as well as some free weights. This will also be big enough if you want to do all your HIIT routines or yoga forms without feeling cramped or closed in. It’ll even provide enough headroom if you plan on adding in a stepping machine or doing activities like skipping where things could catch on the roof. Both the Workman Apex and Retreat Summerhouse are available in this size and offer you all the room you to fit in all your garden gym equipment and plenty of natural light for your workouts. But if you’d rather keep your workouts completely private, you can opt for windowless versions! Tiger Workman Apex

That said, if you want to use an exercise bike or cross trainer and free weights without the need to stretch out or jump up, the 10x10 Tiger Contemporary Summerhouse (or something of a similar size) should be big enough.

Step 2: Decide where to place your shed

Once you’ve settled on which shed is the right one for the job, you’ll need to look at your outdoor space and have a think about where the best place for it is. This isn’t just a practical decision – but an aesthetic one too. Are you an early riser and want any windows to catch the sun? Or would you rather have the shed face into your garden so you can use it for other things as well? You should also think about the ground below the shed as you’ll need a suitable base for it to sit on. If you plan to install heavy equipment, we recommend a concrete shed base (made from a concrete mix) – as long as you’re placing the shed on level ground. If you’re not using heavy equipment, then a paving slab shed base will suffice. If you want to know how to build a home gym shed on a slope, take a look at our post on how to build a shed base on uneven ground.

Step 3: Find the right flooring

Rubber tiles for gym sheds

Since your primary use for the space will be exercise, you’ll probably want to look at installing some form of hard-wearing flooring that’ll be better suited for your workouts. This can be a material such as rubber, which is highly resistant to impact – so you won’t have to worry about dropping free weights and denting or marking the floor. Consider warm floor tiles - they're made of rubber and offer good grip, so you won’t slip and injure yourself. You could also use foam, which can provide more cushioning for pilates or yoga. Making this decision comes down to personal preference and what sort of workouts you’ll mainly be doing, but it’s better to get proper flooring rather than relying on strategically placed yoga mats.

Step 4: Insulate and ventilate the shed

Insulating a shed with Celotex

Once you’ve reinforced the floor of your gym, you’ll want to turn your attention to ventilation and insulation.

The importance of garden gym insulation

Insulation will help keep your shed cooler in summer and warmer in winter – adding to your comfort. This is also important because exercising in hot weather is said to put extra stress on your heart and lungs [2]. Meanwhile, experts at Harvard say very cold weather can reduce coordination and increase fatigue [3]. Ventilation also helps decrease noise pollution – so you’ll be less likely to hear your neighbours complain about the loud noise coming from your stereo during your workout! There are many ways to insulate your backyard gym shed – including using PIR boards, bubble wrap and more. For more information, check out our guide to insulating a shed.

The importance of ventilation in a garden gym

According to military.com, proper breathing improves athletic performance. And as ventilation improves air quality, it can also help you breathe better (and perform better) in the gym [4]. This is especially important in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the UK government says proper ventilation is vital for preventing the spread of the virus [5]. To improve ventilation, it would be a good idea to install windows you can open, as well as wall vents and even an electric fan. For more in-depth advice, take a look at our guide on how to ventilate your shed or log cabin.

Step 5: Add storage units

Storage units in a garden gym shed

To help keep your home gym shed tidy, you may want to install shelves, racks and cabinets to keep things like dumbbells, water bottles, gym clothes, towels, skipping ropes and more. This will help keep the floor space clear. This is especially true if you're looking to build a small home gym shed due to lack of space. To find what you need, you can find new or used purpose-built storage units online. But to save money, you can also re-purpose old bookshelves and cabinets from your house – or even upcycle metal lockers to add an authentic look and feel to your garden gym. For more tips on how to organise your gym shed, read our post on shed storage ideas.

Step 6: Power up your gym shed

Shed with solar panels on roof

If you plan on adding a heater, lighting, fans, a stereo or screen(s) to your garden  gym shed, you’ll need a supply of electricity. The easiest way to do this is to run an underground cable from your house to your shed – we recommend hiring a qualified electrician to do this job. However, you can do this yourself as long as you follow the UK government’s Part P Building Regulations on electrical safety [6]. As part of these regulations, you must also notify the relevant department at your local council. For more information, read our guide to running power to a shed. For a more eco-friendly, you could generate a supply of electricity using solar panels – although we also recommend you hire a qualified installer to install them. If your shed has a flat roof or you live in a conversation, you may have to apply for planning permission before installing the panels, so check with your local council beforehand [7].

Step 7: Add a chalkboard (or whiteboard)

This step may not carry the same importance as adding power or ventilation to your gym shed. But it can be great for setting out workout plans or giving yourself messages of motivation when you need to squeeze out a few more reps.

Step 8: Plan and create your garden gym shed

Gym setup in a shed

Now you have the space sorted and the flooring down, you can start to choose your gym equipment and begin crafting your ideal home gym in a shed – although it probably won’t feel like a shed now! If exercise machines are more your thing then you can typically find compact or lightweight versions designed for home gyms, meaning they’re easy to move around or can condense down to fit snuggly into corner spaces. If you’re looking to add heavyweight equipment like benches or squat racks, you’ll need to plan things out so you can operate it safely and have extra padding around areas where weights could be dropped.

Step 9: Be secure

Kasp Hasp and Staple Disc Lock_

Now you’ve created your perfect garden gym setup, you’ll want to make sure all your equipment – and the shed itself – stay safe and secure. At Tiger, we offer a range of optional extras to enhance shed security, including Kasp Hasp and Staple brass or disk locks. You may also want to consider adding tamper-proof screws to make it more difficult for thieves to break in. If your shed has windows (this is a good idea for ventilation), consider adding thick curtains to stop people seeing into the shed from the outside.

Does outdoor gym equipment need planning permission?

As we state earlier, electrical supply and other factors can complicate matters in the UK. But in most cases, it's unlikely you'll need to apply for planning permission when creating your outdoor gym shed. That said, if you're unsure, you should contact your local council for confirmation.

For more garden shed gym ideas, take a look at what our range of large sheds, log cabins and summerhouses can offer you.

References

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/when-to-inhale-and-exhale-during-exercise [2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048167 [3] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-wonders-of-winter-workouts [4] https://www.military.com/military-fitness/workouts/breathing-during-exercise [5] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/providers-of-grassroots-sport-and-gym-leisure-facilities [6] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-safety-approved-document-p [7] https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-9475315/Is-possible-power-garden-office-solar-panels-roof.html

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