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Health and Fitness

The Hydra

Thinking of converting your garage into a home gym? Live in a cold climate? Learn from me!  In this post I will take you on a short tour of the trials and tribulation of my unheated garage gym.

I’m not one who knows much about Greek Mythology, but I did watch the Disney Hercules cartoon.  In a particularly relevant part of the movie our hero, Hercules, cuts the three heads off of the hydra. Apparently this isn’t the way to kill a hydra because two heads grew back in each place there was one, and each additional beheading produced a similar result.  That’s my garage gym in a nutshell.

If my garage were in a warm climate I would be bragging about my ingenious use of unused space.  Unfortunately, I live about as far as one can get from a warm climate without having a Canadian passport.

To review: Because Covid has closed the gyms, and wanting to err on the careful side any way, and because my house is only a step up from a tiny home, I chose to turn my unheated, detached garage into a workout space.  I insulated the walls and ceiling, putting a vapor barrier over both.  I bought insulated moving blankets and punched grommets into them so I could hang them from the ceiling on hooks, the idea being I could move them to reduce the size of the space to be used.  I bought absorbent mats for the floor to catch all the snow melt that would inevitably drop off the cars I still had to park there at night.  And I bought a small heater.  This process is all detailed in full on my “The Set Up” post.

From the day I started using it in September to just before Christmas I couldn’t have been happier with the space.  I had my music on as loud as I wanted, I never had to wait for a piece of equipment, and the only time I got self-conscious was when my wife, not knowing I was in there, opened the garage door to park the car.

Then…it snowed.

Turns out, cars and trucks tend to pick up more snow than a person would think.  Then that snow melts.  Then the mats on the floor hold on to that moisture.  Then it evaporates. Then the highly effective vapor barrier holds it in the garage.  Then it congregates on anything cold, like garage doors and windows, for example.(see images below)

Not even this seasoned sailor can see out these windows.
You should stand under these doors after they heat up in the sun = rain bath

To summarize:  

  • The really ingenious blankets I designed with the help of my wife, the ones we made extra long so they would drape to the floor to keep the heat in, well they have become pancake shaped sponges that need to be clamped to the shelves to keep them off the floor.  In addition, they are easily rolled over by truck tires which are popping the grommets out left and right.
  • The garage mats are amazing right up until there is a significant amount of liquid in them.  It’s not that they don’t perform as advertised, they hold even more water than I think is advertised.  That’s the problem.  Once soaked they are extremely hard to dry.  When I attempt to use a wet/dry vac on them it counts as my workout!
  • Now that I’ve turned my garage into, what amounts to, a huge ziplock bag with nowhere for water vapor to go I’ve had to rethink my plan.  I have a trap attic door that I have tried keeping propped open, I have even used a fan in that opening to suck air up and out the attic vents, but either my fan is too small, or the vapor isn’t interested in leaving because there was no noticeable improvement.  I have rolled up one of the mats and used a squeegee on that half of the garage in the hopes that less trapped water will equal less vapor.  The jury is still out on this idea.  
Though it’s hard to see my Yoga block works overtime keeping the attic propped open.

I’m not ready to give up yet, but I did find myself kneeling on a rubber glove today to keep my knees dry.  I never had to do that at the Y.  If you have a suggestion for me spill it. As you can see I’m willing to try just about anything. 

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