Before a pandemic changed our collective routine, Mark Hamilton and Juan Francisco regularly worked out at the World Gym 10 minutes from their Palm Springs house. When COVID restrictions closed the gym, they converted a bay of their three-car garage into a home gym, complete with mat flooring, air conditioning, dumbbells, and a multipurpose exercise machine.
When the gym reopened, the fitness buffs returned to the gym, where they have access to equipment that offers a greater range of options than their home setup.
“If my schedule is busy and I have 45 minutes to exercise, it’s more efficient to work out at home,” Hamilton says. “But variety is really important, because I get bored easily. Instead of one or two chest or leg exercises [on a single machine], there are one or two dozen [at World Gym].” A desire for variety also explains, in part, why he seeks professional guidance from personal trainer Dan Donahue three times a week. The other reason is to create a commitment for himself.
“If [a session] is not on my calendar, I might go run errands, and then the morning disappears,” he says. “Having a trainer instills the discipline I seek.”
Francisco needed to be fit in his former role as a firefighter and then hired Donahue to help him train for bodybuilding competition. Passion fuels his devotion to training. Something else drives Hamilton.
“I see so many people who don’t exercise, and day-to-day things are harder for them to do. If I could skip the workouts, I would; but they’re the best way to keep active.”
Mark Hamilton’s Tips for Setting Up a Home Gym
• Ensure the space is well ventilated and air-conditioned.
• If your space has concrete flooring, install a mat.
• Gym equipment takes more space than you expect. You need room not only for machines and weights, but also to move around them.
• Don’t get complicated equipment you won’t use so that it turns into an art installation. Start with a basic machine that makes switching from one exercise to another easy.
• Most people only need a range of free weights from
5 to 40 pounds.