Posted in DIY

When coronavirus hit, we built a patio gym

You could say I was a regular at Planet Fitness. But when the pandemic hit — even before closing by state ordinance, I stopped going, just to be safe.

I was stranded without a gym to work out in. At first, unsure how long this outbreak was going to last, I made do with what I had. I started running around the neighborhood, and hastily cobbled together equipment with stuff I had lying around. That worked fine — for about a week.

Then my partner suggested to me that we build out a real home gym. It had been something was had talked about before, and this seemed like the perfect motivation to actually go forward with it. When that stimulus money came in, it was on!

The first step was making the space more accommodating. The patio was in pretty rough shape, especially the concrete slab. Since we’re on a budget, we couldn’t jackhammer the whole thing and re-pour. We did the next best thing, which was the grind down the ridges, and fill in the cracks.

At this point, we also started getting some basic, compact equipment. Evidently, everyone had the same idea about outfitting a home gym, so equipment was scarce. We were both interested in calisthenics, so we started with a jump rope, some resistance bands, a bosu ball and some gymnastics rings.

Second only to a trip-free floor, a comfortable space was most important. Being in Phoenix, heat is the number one enemy. Our answer to that was shade. We had the idea to enclose the patio with a slatted wall and barn doors, that match a wall we had done earlier.

The walls were repetitive, but easy. On the other hand, the barn doors were a bit of a bear. We really pleased with how they turned out, however.

With the space all closed in, it was back to the floor. Every gym needs a durable, yet flexible surface that can handle heavy weights and equipment, yet be gentle on creaky old knees and ankles. We settled on a rolled flooring from Rubber Flooring Inc. It’s tough, affordable, easy to work with, and from a local company.

Thanks to some steady stalking of several fitness equipment companies and Amazon, we were able to acquire the keys pieces we needed. This included a dumbbell rack (even a few dumbbells!), a squat rack, and a few plate weights.

That was plenty to keep us going, though we did later add some cardio equipment – a small treadmill and a Wahoo Kickr for my road bike. You can see those here, along with a recap of the entire build:

It’s been a year since we started this project, and it’s been one of the best ideas we have had. I do not miss the gym at all, and it is so much easier for me to show up, when all I have to do is step outside our back door.