How to Refresh Your Home Workout Routine, According to Certified Personal Trainers
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How to Refresh Your Home Workout Routine, According to Certified Personal Trainers

Aug 04, 2023

Sometimes, a fresh design and some new equipment is all it takes to rediscover your motivation.

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For all the items in the “pro” column of working out at home — convenience, lack of commute, and the ability to wear your favorite t-shirt from college with no judgment — it has to be said: Working out at home can get pretty stale, especially once you’ve been doing it for a long time. (See: Anyone who’s ever used an expensive treadmill or indoor bike as an extra clothing rack.)

“Our homes have many distractions that can hold us back from focusing on our workouts with enough intention and purpose to see results,” explains Amy Potter, Certified Personal Trainer at Ladies Who Lift. “If you do have a dedicated workout space, using outdated equipment in an uninspired space can feel bland and stale, which is the exact opposite of how you want to feel when you’re training.”

Even if your space is limited, there are ways to revamp your home gym and add extra oomph to your at-home workouts. We asked certified personal trainers who specialize in virtual coaching for their expert tips on essential home gym equipment and design — here’s what they said.

One of the biggest challenges Lauren Leavell, NASM, CPT, and inclusive fitness trainer, sees her clients facing is a haphazard, ad-hoc home gym. “Most people acquire workout equipment here and there without a solid plan of how it will work with what they already have and how they will use it long term,” she points out. “This can leave people with a bunch of equipment they do not use or pieces that do the same thing.” The result? Your space feels cluttered and uninspired, and you’re unable to focus on the equipment you’ll actually use and love.

Start your home gym refresh with a quick assessment. What workouts do you enjoy most, and what equipment would level up your experience? What fitness gear have you truly not touched in months, and what do you have duplicates of? From there, you can prioritize your must-haves and nice-to-haves, while understanding what you can ditch once and for all (looking at you, stack of resistance bands that somehow seem to multiply every year).

“It is important to take inventory before you buy so that you know the new equipment will complement what you already have,” advises Leavell. “A new, functional piece of equipment that gets you excited to move at home can help you get back to using all the pieces you have invested in.”

According to the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (think: running) per week. Both Leavell and Potter agree that you don’t need a large, expensive cardio machine to get your heart rate up. “Everyone should be doing some form of cardio throughout the week, but there are many ways to do cardio at home without investing in a big piece of equipment,” says Potter.

The way to decide if you should shell out for equipment? Know thyself. “If you know that you love running on a treadmill or cycling, then I think big purchases are totally worth it,” claims Potter. “However, for those people who aren’t sure if they like running or cycling, don’t make the mistake of buying a big machine thinking that the purchase itself will give you motivation.”

If you want to dip your toes into cardio machines during your home gym revamp, try something smaller first, recommends Leavell — like an under-desk treadmill.


Shop now: Egofit Under Desk Walking Treadmill,, $479

Using the same equipment day in and day out can actually stop you from reaching your fitness goals — especially if you’ve hit a dreaded plateau.

“One of the main principles behind strength training is progressive overload,” adds Potter. (ICYDK, that’s the idea that your body is constantly adapting to new levels of challenge and resistance — so what once felt incredibly tough eventually feels pretty easy.) “If you are still using the same eight-pound dumbbells you’ve had for five years, there’s a good chance that you’re not challenging your body enough to adapt. You may notice that you’ve plateaued and that plateau can feel unmotivating.”

So any home gym revamp needs to account for your current abilities AND future progress. Instead of dedicating a ton of floor space (and money) to individual sets of dumbbells, stick with the dumbbells or kettlebells you have and add long resistance loops to fake heavier weights. (Here’s exactly how to do it.)

Another portable, travel-friendly strength training option? The humble resistance band — but take it up a level (and add a new facet to your workout) with a door anchor, so you can mimic any moves you would do on a cable machine at the gym.


Shop now: Jayflex Resistance Bands,, $60

Or, splurge on a durable set of adjustable dumbbells. Leavell and Potter both love the Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells (which effectively replace 15 sets of dumbbells). “This isn’t cheap, but compared to buying all of these weights individually, it ends up being a great deal,” says Potter, who recommends scouring second-hand marketplaces like Offer Up or Facebook Marketplace for gently used fitness equipment.


Shop now: Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells,, $549 Read our full review here.

And if your yoga mat acts as your home gym, you can still add variety to your home workouts without the luxury of more equipment. Swapping a stale routine for something exciting and sweat-inducing can help rekindle your workout mojo. Maybe you're in need of a long power flow à la Peloton Yoga or a mood-boosting dance cardio session with Megan Roup. If you switch up your streaming, you can transform your energy (and therefore your space) in a heartbeat.

Your home gym aesthetic doesn’t have to be “whatever I can hide in my couch ottoman” — if interior design TikTok has taught us anything, it’s that there’s a way to blend form and function for every area of the house.

“We have a lot of distractions at home so I highly recommend carving out a dedicated workout space in your home,” says Potter. Start by defining your home workout space to make it feel like its own, separate area of your home. If you don’t have a dedicated workout room, you can accomplish this with a room divider, adding gym-specific flooring, or painting the walls of your workout space a different color.


Shop now: BalanceFrom Puzzle Exercise Mat with EVA Foam,, starting at $25

Next, think about how you want to feel before, during, and after your workouts. Do you want to feel motivated? Challenged? Cool, calm, and collected? Using these emotions as your guide, consider what design elements will bring those to life. For example, maybe posters with motivational phrases will help you push through that last set of squats. Painting the walls a serene light blue and accenting the space with greenery and plants can add a soothing vibe if your goal is to prioritize you-time during your workouts. If you’re a runner, keep your medals and race bibs on display to remind you of your past accomplishments.

“I am big on fun lights,” says Leavell. “I have lights that allow me to change the brightness and color. This can change the entire vibe and when I am done, I just turn them back to normal.”


Shop now: Amazon Basics Smart Color-Changing LED Light Bulb,, starting at $13

If you’ve got a separate room for your sweat sessions (lucky you!), Potter suggests going all in on a transformation — and it doesn’t have to be expensive. “Painting the walls, hanging pictures, and adding a big mirror turned my cringe garage into a more comfortable and welcoming space,” she shares.

And if you’ve got room in your budget, don’t be afraid to spend on fun elements that will genuinely spark joy. “I splurged on these donut and pizza weight plates for no reason other than I think they’re fun and bring some personality into my workout space,” admits Potter. “If it brings you joy and can make your workout more exciting, then it’s absolutely worth adding in to give your space a fresh and fun vibe.”


Shop now: Fringe Sport 10lb Pair Pizza Weight Plates,, $227


Shop now: Fringe Sport 10lb Pair Donut Weight Plates,, $246

Sure, it may feel a little frivolous or unnecessary to put so much thought into your home workout space — but you’ll see it pay off when you’re excited, motivated, and crushing your workouts. “Revamping your space by organizing your equipment, separating your workout space from the rest of your home, and decorating your workout room can make it feel like a fresh new space, giving you more energy and inspiration for your workout,” concludes Potter.

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