How to Make Room for the Home Gym

The home gym should be a place in the house that is social and encourages healthy living beyond a simple workout

Nerio Alessandri's gym at his home in Cesena, Italy. He wants his home gym to be a place where family and friends enjoy hanging out together. PHOTO: MARCO ONOFRI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNA

Nerio Alessandri's gym at his home in Cesena, Italy. He wants his home gym to be a place where family and friends enjoy hanging out together. PHOTO: MARCO ONOFRI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNA

Carving out a gym space at home has its challenges. Shiny, large pieces of workout equipment and cozy living spaces don’t always jibe. But, there are ways to seamlessly integrate the two, says Nerio Alessandri, founder and president of Technogym.

For this to work, “the gym should not only be a space to work out,” says Mr. Alessandri, whose Cesena, Italy-based company has outfitted thousands of wellness centers and home gyms internationally since 1983. “My philosophy is that it should be a social space” that accommodates family and friends, he says.

Mr. Alessandri has a spacious gym in the 15th century Cesena palazzo that he calls home. He says it’s important to place the workout space in a part of the house you enjoy being in. “The gym should not be in a hidden area—it should be in a part of the house where you want to spend time,” says Mr. Alessandri, whose gym is on the first floor of his home, “in a part where there are some beautiful arches and lots of light.”

 

FIVE TIPS

How to make your gym right for your home
 

Nerio Alessandri’s gym at his home in Cesena, Italy. PHOTO: MARCO ONOFRI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Nerio Alessandri’s gym at his home in Cesena, Italy. PHOTO: MARCO ONOFRI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

  • Place the gym in a part of the house your enjoy spending time in.
  • Choose equipment styles or colors that match your décor—leather detailing can match a traditional backdrop, for example.
  • Or emphasize contrast, putting modern, shiny equipment in a muted setting.
  • Choose a space with lots of natural light and windows with views.
  • Create a hangout space, with perhaps a sofa, juice bar and library.

Gym equipment aside, Mr. Alessandri says lighting and a view are essential to a home workout space because of the ambience they create. “You need to get inspired to exercise,” he says. “You want to create experiences, not just workout sessions. It should be an emotional experience, and light is important as it creates balance in the room. It creates a relaxed and social atmosphere.”

Because he wants his home gym to be a place where family and friends enjoy hanging out together, Mr. Alessandri has a library in the space, as well as a juice bar, sofa and large stability balls that he encourages people to pull around the couch to use as additional seating.

“It’s a social space,” Mr. Alessandri says. “I wanted it to be a space that includes physical exercise, but you also enjoy culture and you’re putting together body, mind and spirit.”

The pieces of equipment Mr. Alessandri says are essential for a good home gym include a treadmill for walking or running, a mirror and, if there is space, free weights, an elliptical trainer and perhaps a station with ropes or straps and handles.

For those with limited space at home for a gym, Mr. Alessandri still recommends putting a piece or two—perhaps a foldable treadmill, elliptical trainer or a station attached to the wall with ropes or straps and handles—in a room where you like spending time. PHOTO: MARCO ONOFRI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

For those with limited space at home for a gym, Mr. Alessandri still recommends putting a piece or two—perhaps a foldable treadmill, elliptical trainer or a station attached to the wall with ropes or straps and handles—in a room where you like spending time. PHOTO: MARCO ONOFRI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Choosing pieces with “a beautiful design element” can help them fit into the surrounding décor. “If you have a more urban and cutting-edge situation at home, perhaps you can go with pieces with mirrored finishing,” Mr. Alessandri says. “If you have a more traditional or classic house, you can go with pieces that have leather” detailing.

Or, you could choose equipment in colors or finishes that match your home décor. Finishings in matte colors can blend in well with subtle or neutral interior designs, Mr. Alessandri suggests.

Sometimes, contrasting looks work well together. In Mr. Alessandri’s home, he has picked “very minimal, very urban” looking gym pieces that are modern in style and silver in color because he likes how they look against his 15th century backdrop. “I believe the contrast is beautiful—having a historical palace and modern equipment,” he says. “It’s like those boutique hotels where they mix historical venues with cutting-edge design.”

Choosing pieces with ‘a beautiful design element’ can help work the pieces into home décor—’if you have a more urban and cutting-edge situation at home, perhaps you can go with pieces with mirrored finishing,’ Mr. Alessandri says. PHOTO: MARCO ONOFRI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Choosing pieces with ‘a beautiful design element’ can help work the pieces into home décor—’if you have a more urban and cutting-edge situation at home, perhaps you can go with pieces with mirrored finishing,’ Mr. Alessandri says. PHOTO: MARCO ONOFRI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Mr. Alessandri believes a mirror is essential. “It is incredibly important to use proper form when working out, because it helps prevent injuries and ensures that muscles are being worked in the correct way,” he says. Having a mirror “allows you to monitor your form and make necessary adjustments throughout the workout.”

Mirrors can also enhance the decor, Mr. Alessandri notes. “A mirror can help make a small space feel larger and add light and texture to the room,” he says. “It is important that the home gym is welcoming, inspiring and helps you improve your personal wellness, so adding a mirror can certainly enhance the aesthetic appeal of the room and make you want to be in the space.”

For those with limited space for a home gym, Mr. Alessandri still recommends placing a piece or two in a room where you like spending time. He recommends pieces with “smaller footprints” that are designed for apartments or small homes, such as a wall-mounted station kitted out with cardio equipment.

“Think about the equipment experience and how you want to train,” Mr. Alessandri says. “If training is something very private for you then maybe the bathroom. If you want to train with the family or a partner, maybe the living room.”

The danger with gym equipment that feels like it doesn’t belong in a space is that it could be rarely used, Mr. Alessandri says. “It should be something that feels right.”

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