Building Home MMA & Boxing Gyms;
Why we all need to consider a new martial arts & fitness training environment.
In March 2020 the first Covid 19 Lockdowns started taking hold, no matter what your opinion on the measures one inescapable fact was the damage it did to many peoples training regimes. Many clubs are offering online training for members but having the environment to do meaningful training, whether it’s for martial arts, boxing or for strength and fitness purposes, the inescapable fact is that within the covid 19 world you can no longer rely on your gym being open.
In this article we will try to provide the type of advice we regularly offer to our over the counter customers to our online customers on building a practical, usable training facility which is fit for purpose, whatever the purpose may be.
Simple steps for building a home gym.
Looking at the dusty bench and rusted weights that are sat underneath last year's Christmas tree and a bunch of half empty paint pots, should give any prospective new home gym project a word of reasonable caution. What’s critically important is deciding not only what you want to do in your home gym, but firstly what are you likely to do!
“What’s critically important is deciding not only what you want to do in your home gym, but firstly what are you likely to do!”
We are writing this article on the basis you don’t have a limitless budget and are likely to have a limited amount of space, obviously with enough space and budget anything is possible but we are assuming a garage, shed, outdoor space or room within an average house.
So the steps:
- Decide what it is you at least initially want to do in your home gym
- Assess your available space for a training area and look at its possibilities.
- List the core equipment you absolutely cannot train without
- Assess your overall budget, what can be easily bought second hand and what needs to be new.
- Start with the fittings, end with the accessories.
Decide on what you are Aiming to do in your home gym!
In the recent past, the most common reason for building a home gym, at least for most people, was to supplement your regular training at your regular gym. Whether this was for fitness reasons or to practice your martial art or combat sport, the general idea was not to replace training at a gym but to complement it,things have undoubtedly changed since then.
“In the recent past, the usual reason for building a home gym for most people was to supplement your regular training at the gym. Things have undoubtedly changed since then.”
So unlike before 2020, when often building a home gym was about being able to train a few basics and plug the gap up until your next session, for most now, building a home gym has become more comprehensive.
Let's take two basic examples of aims:
- Build your boxing skills
- Develop a strength & Fitness program similar to something you might want to do at the local gym.
So up until March 2020, Bob had been attending a local fitness gym to lift weights, keep in shape and once a week was attending a boxing class.
He doesn’t want to see it slide so decides to build a home training facility.
Using our stepped approach Bob has decided he wants to do some weights, practice some boxing routines and stay in shape.
Assessing the Space for your Home Gym
At his gym Bob used a range of machines, he doesn’t have the space or the budget for this.
His boxing class involved skipping, shadow boxing, bagwork, technical drills and pad work.
He has one friend he can do pad work with but only once a week.
His space which is 4 metres long, 3 metres wide ( A standard single garage)
The car stays on the drive from now on. His garage is only 8 feet high. Has a standard steel swing door. There is no other door.
The walls are breeze blocks. The ceiling is not strong enough for a heavy bag to hang from.
He needs enough space to move around when he does pads with his friend.
Core Home Gym Equipment
When looking at what equipment you decide upon there are several core drivers but the most important one is to be fit for purpose. With the change in requirement from supplementary training to being the core place to train, then investing in quality gear is vital to keep you training in there.
I know from experience that the more you have to do to get set up to train, the less likely you are to get meaningful work outs done. The more likely you are to slide away and watch your home gym turn into a dust gatherer in the corner of a room or garage.
To give an example. Buying a cheap weights bench with which both takes up space and only has a limited use value might be better than nothing, but a portable or even wall mounted squat rack with height adjusted spaces so it has multiple uses (bench, squat, press etc) might be far more expensive but far more usable and will probably avoid the scenario of a piece of useless gear that doesn’t facilitate a regular training routine.
A concept 2 rower might look like a great addition to your home gym, or an exercise bike etc but the question I would always ask is whether that is already a core part of your workout or whether it's something you just do cos you are in a gym that has one. A skipping rope might work just as well as a warm up device and would certainly be far more cost effective.
I’ve personally seen a lot of home use running machines slowly rotting in garages once people realise they just don’t work the same as the ones that cost five grand in the gym. If running is a core part of your workout then perhaps it's worth the money, or perhaps a pair of running shoes might be a better investment…..You see my point.
Kettlebells are a major buy for home gyms but unless you really like using them then ask if that is really the workout you want to do? It's a particular thing and unless you enjoy kettlebell training then putting the cash toward a set of olympic style plate weights and a good quality bar might be more beneficial if that's what you are more used to doing.
The message is build your home equipment around the routines you want to do, don’t buy the gear and then build routines around it. The latter idea can work but more often than not, go with what you like to do and then expand from there.
Once you have assessed your goal and the gear you need, it's time to consult the piggy bank.
A common scenario we see at Fightstorepro is people buying a really heavy punch bag then being surprised when they find they need a more expensive bracket to hold it.
Look at the things you can buy second hand (assuming you can find them) which make no difference to your training. These would include but are not limited to; plate weights, weights benches, kettlebells and on occasion even heavy bags, although it's rare to find quality heavy bags on the second hand market. Things you should generally always buy new are matts, flooring, focus mitts, thai pads and kick shields, gloves and barbells.
Condition is everything though so if you can find nearly new items, or commercial quality items going cheap due to a closure or likewise then obviously judge as you go.
Overall go for quality not quantity, build your gear around the routines you want to do. Leave some budget for the hidden costs such as brackets.
Where to Start?
Always start with the fittings. Flooring, brackets, racks etc. Then you can see your training space develop. This is how professional gyms do it. A gym that needs a full weights set up will build around key stations, so should you!
Assuming that most home gyms have one person train in them at a time then build usable, practical work stations that promote the training you want to do.
Don’t make it too complicated and build your gear as you want to add to your routines.
Often people buy a base heavy bag then add a Floor to ceiling ball and maybe a second bag for some variety once they get started. A full rack of dumbbells when you only ever used them once in a while at the gym will probably get used once in a while but kill valuable space.
In our next Home Gym Blog we will get deeper into individual home gym set ups and look at some examples of how to build for different needs
In the meantime if you want to take a look at some of the range for building a home gym with Fightstorepro check out our gym equipment category here