Boost your Well Being and your property’s value with your very own Workout Retreat
En vision being able to work out whenever you want, for as little or long as you want, in the peace and quiet of your garden. Imagine not having to contend with crowded changing rooms, nor hanging around waiting for equipment to become free. Imagine your journey to the gym taking less than a minute! Sound like a dream?
Well, you could make having your own gym in your garden a reality, and for less outlay than you might think. With a huge range of garden gym buildings now available, it’s easy to find a design that fits your needs and available outside space, like Amy and Fraser did.
And, thanks to growing demand, prices are fast becoming more affordable. The average cost of an annual gym membership in the UK is £480 per person, which is a considerable sum to put towards buying your own gym pod especially if there’s more than one gym-goer in your family. Factor in that building a garden gym can boost your home’s value by as much as five per cent, and you’ll realise why this is fast becoming the hottest trend in modern garden design: it’s more than your well-being that will benefit!
CONSIDER YOUR NEEDS
Your first step should be to think about how you would use a garden gym. This will help you make key decisions about the shape, size, structure and therefore cost of the new building. Do you long for a quiet, contemplative space for yoga and meditation? If so, a single space with plenty of natural light flooding in could be the answer. If you crave a high cardio workout involving multiple exercise machines, then a room with more headroom and solid walls for a plasma screen and sound system is on the cards. Think carefully about how much, and what type of equipment you want, as this will determine the amount of floorspace needed.
For free weight or boxing fanatics, your gym pod’s structural stability is critical, and this may determine the overall shape and proportion of the space and the materials used. A reinforced ceiling and wall joists are a must for mounting punchbags and pull-up bars, and a well-supported floor is crucial for dropping weights safely. You may need to include a mirrored wall area to check good form too, so bear this in mind while deciding on window and door configurations. Considering the long-term use of these outdoor spaces is important if you are to recoup the financial outlay. Will the structure always be used for exercise or will it need to double up as an extra work/study or sleeping area, now or in the future? This forward-thinking could convince you that it’s worth including a small shower room or separate storage area, which could be vital at a later stage.
FIND THE PERFECT DESIGN
As most garden rooms are in view from the house, it’s better to choose a design and materials that will complement, rather than dominate, its surroundings. Traditional wooden garden buildings are a solid, practical and relatively cheap option, but timber-clad structures of a more modern design are becoming an increasingly popular alternative. Sleek and seamless, these create a neat look that complements most property types and styles.
Most solid wood cladding gently weathers over time and blends beautifully with the natural tones in your garden. A wide range of wood types is available, from stylish oak and cedar to dramatic scorched or blackened larch. Alternatively, consider a composite clad structure. Made from recycled timber wrapped in a polymer skin with timber-grain imprint, these designs are quick to erect, extremely durable and are available in a wide range of single and dual-coloured finishes including on-trend dark and light grey, black and walnut. Depending on whether the panel’s surface is ‘capped’ or not, the external colour may fade slightly over eight to 10 weeks before stabilising, but these buildings generally require less long-term upkeep than timber structures.
COMPLEMENT YOUR PLOT
The shape and size of your gym depends on the dimensions of your garden. If yours is a long, narrow plot, then a building that spans the width of your garden may work best. Front-facing doors and windows, with a roof that slopes from front to back will make the most of the available space. If you have a larger or more evenly proportioned garden, then it might be better to opt for a gym with a square footprint.
This can tuck neatly into one corner, allowing you to add bifold or sliding doors along two sides that can be opened for summer workouts, and perhaps a wrap-around deck as well. Think, too, about how you could use a gym to provide a solution to other garden needs. For example, if a lack of storage is an issue for you, then think about dividing off an end section of the building with its own external door. Perfect for stashing away garden essentials, bikes or loungers, the space can always be re-purposed in future. Or how about choosing a structure with an overhanging roof at the front to shelter a hot tub or seating area?
Do I need planning per ission? Unless your garden building is extremely large or your property has been considerably extended in the past, it’s likely that your garden gym will fall under your property’s permitted development allowance. Your retailer will be able to advise you but double-check with your local authority before any work begins. Guidelines for Scotland, Wales and England differ slightly so check what’s permitted in your area at gov.uk/planning-permission-england- wales or eplanning.scot. In most cases, if the building is 2.5m high or less and positioned less than 2m from the boundary, permission is not required. If the site is more than 2m away from the boundary, the maximum height permitted rises to 4m for a dual pitched roof and 3.5m for a mono pitched or pent roof.
ONLY PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED
There are many types of garden gyms with very different specifications on the market. Being clear about what you do and don’t need can save you a fortune. A high level of insulation is a must for most people, as you’ll want to use the space year-round. However, you may decide you need plenty for a cosy yoga studio, but less if your gym will be housing a running or rowing machine. Instead, heavy equipment like this will make a strong floor more of a priority.
Ventilation and heating are also key issues to consider. Think about the best glazing configuration for your space and ensure that some of the smaller windows can be opened independently of any large bifold or sliding doors so you can still enjoy fresh air during the coldest months. Or, would air conditioning to keep the room cool even in high summer be a better option for you? Underfloor heating is also worth thinking about, especially for yoga or pilates. Having power in your gym is crucial and most suppliers will offer a certified installation service, fitting electric sockets and light switches at the time of construction. Most installers will not be responsible for extending the power supply from the main property down to the garden building, so you may have to employ a qualified electrician to do this.
Upgrade a summerhouse Spending out on a purpose-built garden gym isn’t the only option – you could upgrade a basic garden building for a budget-friendly choice. A sturdy, no-frills construction such as the Harwood Log Cabin (£1,599.99, forestgarden.co.uk) can be transformed into a compact workout zone with a little creativity. With a pent roof measuring 220cm high and a footprint of 3 x 2m, there’s just enough room for a treadmill, static bike or yoga mat. Insulate the roof and floor to make the space more comfortable to use – you’ll find simple DIY guides to help you do this online. Add simple lighting and a Bluetooth speaker, and you’re good to go!
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