Health and Fitness

The Set Up

Covid has certainly forced us to get creative. The YMCA four blocks away is now a distant dream. For the first time in more than a decade I don’t have a membership. My old weight set has been gone even longer than that. So, what does one do when the house one lives in is smaller than most apartments? Answer? Go after the garage.

Living in Minnesota complicates the issue of using a garage as a work out space just a smidge. As temperatures here in the winter can fall way below zero, certain precautions have to be taken. As you can see from the photo above, my gym ain’t pretty, but it is functional. Here’s what I did.

Many years ago I insulated that sheet-rocked the walls of my completely unfinished garage, so I had a head start. To contain whatever heat I could generate I added a layer of the thickest insulation I could find-R38. Originally, my plan was to completely finish the ceiling with more sheetrock, but that just seemed like a lot of unnecessary work, this was, after all, going to be a gym not an art gallery. However, the thought of inhaling pink fiberglass insulation didn’t sound very appealing either. So, on the advice of the greatest contractor ever, Barry(he did our kitchen), I stapled a layer of fire retardant plastic over the cotton candy. Just before I put up the plastic I added two u-bolts with carabiners to the ceiling joist for future use as a TRX strap anchor, and a fitness band anchor.

I should note here that different cities have different code requirements for garages. As mine is unattached to the house, and was not going to be heated(at least not permanently)I was reasonably confident that I was not breaking any hard and fast rules.

Once the ceiling was done I moved to the walls. I knew I was going to use only a small space heater for heat, so it made no sense to heat the whole garage. How then, could I break it up in a way that still left it functional as a space for parking cars. The answer was insulated moving blankets. I found 7 of them on craigslist for a grand total of $35 dollars. My lovely wife came up with the idea of using grommets to attach them to hooks in the ceiling(we added 4-6 inch loops of rope to make them easier to maneuver into place. We also cut one blanked into 18″ strips and she sewed to the bottom of the full blankets to make them longer ).

The beauty of the moving blankets is that because I made the grommeted hook loops the same width as the ceiling joists on all the blankets, and secured the J hooks into the joists at that same width, the blankets are interchangeable and I can make different sized “rooms.” For example, when my daughter, Maddie, joins me for a workout we divide the “gym” in half. When I am spinning alone I build a 1/4 garage sized room of blankets.

On the floor I have two second hand 4’x6′ rubber gym mats that my brother decided he didn’t want. The price of nothing was perfect. Over the mats I put a Armorall Garage Floor Mat. This has been a double edged sword that I am still working to perfect. You see, Minnesota isn’t just cold, it also snows. Parking snowy cars in my gym sounded moist, cold, and uncomfortable. So I bought two of these mats to capture the snowmelt from the cars-which they do wonderfully! They hold gallons! Unfortunately, I didn’t think this through completely. Have you seen the issue based on what I’ve told you so far? With my new fancy-dance vapor barrier the evaporating snow melt seems to like to accumulate on any cold exterior surface(windows, the uninsulated garage door, etc.). This is especially annoying when I open the door to back the car out and it rains! My solution so far, and it is not perfect, is that I have removed one of the mats temporarily, and I put a fan in the pull-down attic steps in the hopes of blowing the moisture to where the roof vents are. Still a work in progress. Fortunately, it seems to be an issue only when we have fresh snow.

Finally, I added an old tv to the wall, A Lasko blade-less space heater, I bought a $25 dvd player from Mills Fleet Farm, I dug up my old P90X DVD’s, and most importantly, I bought a used tank of a spin bike form Push, Peddle, and Pull, pictured below.

There you have it. One garage gym, no waiting, icicle lights optional.

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