A gym and sauna room in the loft of a luxury new home.

In most cases, setting up a home gym is relatively easy to do. (Getty Images)

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The global COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just closing your office and favorite restaurants – gyms, spas and recreation centers throughout the U.S. have been shuttered as well as local, state and federal governments try to stifle the spread of the coronavirus.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a gym rat, you may be desperate to get active as cabin fever sets in from self-isolation, social distancing and sheltering in place.

Fortunately, setting up a home gym – even a temporary one – is relatively easy to do. You may even find that the simple do-it-yourself projects that go along with creating an exercise space will help exercise your mind as well.

Here’s how to set up a home gym:

  • Find the right space.
  • Locate natural light and good ventilation.
  • Make sure you have a strong Wi-Fi signal.
  • Order equipment.
  • Incorporate what you already have.
  • Connect with your gym, trainer or other exercise sources.
  • Get outside a little.

[See: 10 Home Renovations Under $5,000.]

Find the Right Space

Whether you’re creating a gym for the pandemic only or you seek a more permanent setup, it’s important to designate an area that will be comfortable to spend time in.

The basement is a popular spot to set up home gym equipment, but if you don’t like the idea of spending 45 minutes below ground every day, pick a spot you like more. Temporarily convert a guest bedroom, commandeer a corner of the living room or even leave one of the cars in the driveway to transform a part of your garage into a gym.

If you're looking to incorporate exercise machines like a treadmill or a stationary bike, make sure you set aside plenty of space. Dan DiClerico, smart home strategist and home expert for HomeAdvisor, based in Brooklyn, New York, recommends about 6 feet of clearance behind a treadmill, and a couple feet on either side. “We see a lot of injuries where people slip off the back of a treadmill and they get stuck,” DiClerico says. A few feet of space surrounding a stationary bike is also advised.

If you’re living in a studio apartment, the right workout space is wherever you have a few extra square feet. In limited space, handheld exercise equipment that can be tucked away in a closet or under the couch may be the best way to go.

Locate Natural Light and Good Ventilation

At least one window and a good deal of natural light can help motivate you to exercise. For this reason, DiClerico says the basement may not be an ideal spot for your home gym.

“If there’s no light, no windows down there, that may be a reason not to go down there,” he says.

Ventilation is also key to making your home gym setup a success – you don’t want to be in a room that’s too hot or cold, and you certainly don’t want it to smell like sweat after a couple workouts. If you’re in a space with windows or a door that goes outside, open them to let fresh air in.

Make Sure You Have a Strong Wi-Fi Signal

Many people are relying on video workouts on YouTube or Facebook, interactive exercise apps and individual advice from their personal trainers. So a smartphone, tablet or smart TV may be key components of your home workout.

To ensure your sweat session doesn't get interrupted by a buffering video, make sure you have a strong Wi-Fi connection wherever you set up your home gym. If you find yourself struggling to get through a routine workout without service interruptions, DiClerico recommends getting a Wi-Fi range extender. Range extenders simply plug into an outlet and help boost the Wi-Fi signal in a specific area and can be ordered online from stores like Best Buy or Amazon for $20 to $150.

[Read: How to Finish a Basement.]

Order Equipment

If you like the idea of keeping your workout similar to what it would be at the gym or in a SoulCycle class, you can order equipment online for delivery, from an elliptical machine to a weightlifting rack to a stationary bike. To keep costs down, however, you can focus on smaller pieces of equipment, including a pullup bar, a couple of dumbbells and resistance bands that can give you a full workout.

While stores nationwide are currently closed, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, Target and Eastern Mountain Sports are offering contactless curbside pickup at store locations. Orders for curbside pickup can be placed online.

Equipment to consider for your home gym:

Yoga mat. Even if you don't practice yoga yet, a yoga mat creates a space for you to stretch before and after any exercise, and it can be easily rolled up and put away. Depending on how often you plan to use the mat and whether you're looking for a simple option or one that will withstand hot yoga classes in the future, there are many types of yoga mats available. [Shop Now]

Dumbbells. Dumbbells or free weights can be used to make a cardio workout more difficult or to simply do a few bicep curls. You can find them in a variety of styles and weights that will best suit you. For example, Dick's Sporting Goods' highest-rated dumbbells, the ETHOS Hex Rubber Dumbbell, are available for contactless, curbside pickup and vary in price from $8 for a single, 5-pound weight to $65 for a 40-pound weight. [Shop Now]

Elliptical machine. If you're looking to create a permanent home gym and you have the funds to invest, you may want to consider larger machines that provide more of a gym membership experience. LifeFitness, for example, sells both home gym equipment and commercial gym equipment. Elliptical cross trainers are a popular, low-impact cardio option for people who may be looking for an alternative to running on the treadmill. [Shop Now]

Incorporate What You Already Have

You can still have a fulfilling workout without ordering any home exercise equipment, or you can supplement what you're ordering with items already found in your home.

“A whole range of programming can be carried out with zero equipment,” says Alex Peacock, general manager of digital solutions for eGym, a company that works with gyms and fitness facilities to make exercise machines more dynamic and improve communication with members. He adds that in many cases, you can use “everyday household objects rather than specialist equipment.”

Many people working out from home are using canned goods as hand weights, filling up backpacks with bottles of water and running the stairs in their apartment building to achieve a gym-level workout.

Connect With Your Gym, Trainer or Other Exercise Sources

Exercising at home would be even more intimidating if you had to come up with all your own routines and workout plans. Fortunately, you can get free and low-cost instruction from experts. Peacock explains that many gyms that eGym partners with are focusing on providing substantial resources and communication to their members, so if you belong to a gym now, check if it has an app and inquire about virtual classes.

Many personal trainers are communicating through similar apps, or even directly with their clients. “Your trainer can continue to give you routines to do at home,” Peacock says.

Also check out the countless workout apps available for free, including Nike Training Club, FitOn and Daily Yoga. Some apps may require a subcription but offer free trials for a few days or weeks, including TRX and SHRED: Gym Workout & Tracker. Peloton is best known for its stationary bikes, but its mobile app can be used for workouts without equipment, and it is currently free to new customers for 90 days when you sign up.

[Read: 5 DIY Backyard Renovations on a Budget.]

Get Outside a Little

If you’re not exhibiting symptoms of illness, consider supplementing your home gym exercise with some outdoor sessions such as a run or walk with your dog. Just remember to keep a distance of at least 6 feet from everyone else.

“There’s no substitute for actually exercising in nature – it will give a boost of serotonin,” Diclerico says.

You might also consider occasionally taking your yoga mat into your backyard or onto your apartment balcony for a guided yoga or tai chi class. You can also do workouts with crunches, squats or pushups easily in a small space outside, or if you have more room you can do lunges over the length of your driveway or backyard.


The 20 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for the Weather in 2019

Avoid the extremes in these metro areas.

(Getty Images)

How you take to the weather where you live can be a major factor in how much you enjoy living there. U.S. News went on the hunt for the metro areas – out of the 125 largest in the U.S. considered for the Best Places to Live rankings – that offer the most moderate temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Data is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, and it factors in the average number of cloudy days and the average number of days above 90 degrees or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Those with the fewest cloudy days and the most balanced temperatures made our list. Read on for the Best Places to Live in the U.S. for the Weather.

20. Little Rock, Arkansas

20. Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, AR, USA - June 12, 2015: View of W Markham Street in downtown Little Rock city, Arkinsas

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 88
Metro Population: 730,346
Median Home Price: $147,150
Median Annual Salary: $43,780
Days Below Freezing: 55
Days Above 90 Degrees: 75
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 219

The capital of Arkansas typically has 55 days with lows below 32 degrees and 75 days above 90 degrees during the year. With 219 days of clear or partly cloudy skies, there are plenty of opportunities for residents to enjoy the weather in Little Rock.

Learn more about Little Rock.

18. Memphis, Tennessee (tie)

18. Memphis, Tennessee (tie)

"The Historic Main Street Trolley in Memphis, Tennessee, with buildings, an elegant station, and water fountains in the background."

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 118
Metro Population: 1,344,058
Median Home Price: $151,900
Median Annual Salary: $43,590
Days Below Freezing: 53
Days Above 90 Degrees: 68
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 214

Tied with the next place on the list and located along the Mississippi River in southwestern Tennessee, Memphis offers residents an average of 53 days with a low temperature below freezing and 68 days that peak above 90 degrees.

Learn more about Memphis.

18. Greenville, South Carolina (tie)

18. Greenville, South Carolina (tie)

Greenville, South Carolina, USA downtown buildings.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 22
Metro Population: 872,463
Median Home Price: $172,067
Median Annual Salary: $43,230
Days Below Freezing: 61
Days Above 90 Degrees: 40
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 221

Located in the northwestern portion of South Carolina, Greenville enjoys milder weather partly due to its proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Of the 221 days residents can spot some sun throughout the year, a little over half are clear days, with an average of 100 partly cloudy days.

Learn more about Greenville.

17. Birmingham, Alabama

17. Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham skyline at twilight, Birmingham, Alabama, United States of America, North America

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 89
Metro Population: 1,144,097
Median Home Price: $171,450
Median Annual Salary: $47,300
Days Below Freezing: 51
Days Above 90 Degrees: 61
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 210

Birmingham comes in at No. 17 with a decent number of both hot and cold days, although residents experience, on average, 10 more days above 90 degrees during the year than they endure temperatures below 32 degrees. With 155 completely cloudy days out of the year, Birmingham residents typically see just 99 fully clear days annually.

Learn more about Birmingham.

15. Modesto, California (tie)

15. Modesto, California (tie)

Sunset light on magnificent oaks growing along Dry Creek in Modesto, California.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 120
Metro Population: 803,074
Median Home Price: $289,168
Median Annual Salary: $46,176
Days Below Freezing: 22
Days Above 90 Degrees: 82
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 261

Modesto enjoys a good deal of days above 90 degrees, with 82 hot days a year, on average. But cold nights are far less frequent. The Modesto area typically hits freezing temperatures or below 22 days throughout the year.

Learn more about Modesto.

15. Stockton, California (tie)

15. Stockton, California (tie)

Webber Point Silhoutted Red Sunset Reflection, Stockton Callifornia

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 123
Metro Population: 724,153
Median Home Price: $352,350
Median Annual Salary: $46,770
Days Below Freezing: 22
Days Above 90 Degrees: 82
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 261

Similar in population size to Modesto, neighboring Stockton also occupies the No. 15 spot. With an average of only 104 cloudy days per year, residents are lucky enough to enjoy some sun more than 70 percent of the year.

Learn more about Stockton.

14. Sacramento, California

14. Sacramento, California

Clouds over cityscape of Downtown Sacramento at sunset.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 82
Metro Population: 2,268,005
Median Home Price: $389,858
Median Annual Salary: $55,010
Days Below Freezing: 18
Days Above 90 Degrees: 73
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 265

A bit milder on both the cold and hot ends of the spectrum, Sacramento is about 75 miles north of Stockton and Modesto. The Northern California metro area – and the state’s capital city – averages 265 clear or partly cloudy days per year.

Learn more about Sacramento.

13. San Juan, Puerto Rico

13. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cheap beach vacations

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 125
Metro Population: 2,193,264
Median Home Value: $124,200*
Median Annual Salary: $29,820
Days Below Freezing: 0
Days Above 90 Degrees: 65
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 276

Puerto Rico’s capital city sees 65 days that hit above 90 degrees but no days dipping below freezing temperatures. San Juan’s location in the Caribbean means it has an elevated risk of storms during hurricane season. But those storms certainly aren’t the whole story, as the San Juan area averages 276 clear or partly cloudy days annually.

Learn more about San Juan.

(*The median home price for San Juan was not available, so median home value per Data USA is listed.)

12. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

12. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach South Carolina aerial view at sunset

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 75
Metro Population: 432,772
Median Home Price: $181,800
Median Annual Salary: $35,890
Days Below Freezing: 41
Days Above 90 Degrees: 44
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 215

The popular tourist destination in coastal South Carolina doesn’t reach above 90 degrees more than 44 days a year, on average. Still, residents and visitors don’t have to worry about too many gloomy days – typically 215 days per year are either clear or partly cloudy.

Learn more about Myrtle Beach.

11. Fayetteville, Arkansas

11. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Houses in a neighborhood in Arkansas

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 4
Metro Population: 514,166
Median Home Price: $177,942
Median Annual Salary: $45,830
Days Below Freezing: 72
Days Above 90 Degrees: 77
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 218

This Arkansas metro area has roughly 30 more cold and hot days per year than Myrtle Beach, but the weather extremes balance each other out. Additionally, Fayetteville sees three more clear or partly cloudy days per year.

Learn more about Fayetteville.

10. Atlanta

10. Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia, USA downtown city skyline.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 57
Metro Population: 5,700,990
Median Home Price: $209,658
Median Annual Salary: $51,390
Days Below Freezing: 44
Days Above 90 Degrees: 43
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 217

Atlanta gets some cool nights and its fair share of hot days, but those almost completely cancel each other out across an entire year. With an average of 149 cloudy days per year, Georgia’s capital has more gloomy days than others on the list, but the sun is certainly present most days.

Read more about Atlanta.

9. Tulsa, Oklahoma

9. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa downtown skyline with trees and the Arkansas river in the foreground.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 83
Metro Population: 977,869
Median Home Price: $149,000
Median Annual Salary: $45,260
Days Below Freezing: 76
Days Above 90 Degrees: 73
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 235

The first of two Oklahoma metro areas on the list, Tulsa comes in at No. 9 with a difference of just three days between the average nights dipping below freezing and average days peaking at 90 degrees or above.

Learn more about Tulsa.

8. Oklahoma City

8. Oklahoma City

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 68
Metro Population: 1,353,504
Median Home Price: $150,925
Median Annual Salary: $46,070
Days Below Freezing: 76
Days Above 90 Degrees: 71
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 235

While Oklahoma City experiences plenty of cold nights and hot days, a near-even balance between the two makes either extreme seem more tolerable for a full year. Of those 235 days where residents see at least some sun, 139 of those, on average, are completely clear.

Learn more about Oklahoma City.

7. Los Angeles

7. Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles at sunset.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 107
Metro Population: 18,585,594
Median Home Price: $526,214
Median Annual Salary: $53,803
Days Below Freezing: 0
Days Above 90 Degrees: 21
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 263

Not the only SoCal metro area on the list, Los Angeles averages just 103 cloudy days per year. With no nights of freezing temperatures and 21 days over 90 degrees, the City of Angels makes for a great place to enjoy warm weather without extremes.

Learn more about Los Angeles.

6. Honolulu

6. Honolulu

Typical picturesque sunset along Waikiki Beach with hundreds gathering to watch

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 60
Metro Population: 990,060
Median Home Price: $581,658
Median Annual Salary: $54,030
Days Below Freezing: 0
Days Above 90 Degrees: 24
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 271

That tropical vacation wasn’t too good to be true – Hawaii’s weather really is that nice all the time. Honolulu’s island location is the perfect spot if you want to avoid freezing lows at night while experiencing just a handful of days above 90 degrees.

Learn more about Honolulu.

4. San Jose, California (tie)

4. San Jose, California (tie)

Mixed-use european style buildings of the upscale Santa Row shopping district in San Jose, California.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 14
Metro Population: 1,969,897
Median Home Price: $1,080,017
Median Annual Salary: $77,180
Days Below Freezing: 0
Days Above 90 Degrees: 2
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 260

Tied for fourth place with a close Bay Area neighbor, San Jose averages only two days above 90 degrees per year and doesn’t experience any freezing temperatures. It’s no wonder the city is the capital of Silicon Valley – tech startups can’t resist the ideal weather.

Learn more about San Jose.

4. San Francisco (tie)

4. San Francisco (tie)

Aerial view of San Francisco and the Oakland Bay Bridge. See other photos from USA:

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 7
Metro Population: 4,641,820
Median Home Price: $768,517
Median Annual Salary: $69,700
Days Below Freezing: 0
Days Above 90 Degrees: 2
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 260

Known for its rolling fog, San Francisco coming in at No. 4 may be a surprise. But that fog often burns off by the afternoon – and 260 days out of the year are typically clear or partly cloudy.

Learn more about San Francisco.

3. San Diego

3. San Diego

Last minute vacation in San Diego, United States

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 36
Metro Population: 3,283,665
Median Home Price: $555,325
Median Annual Salary: $56,410
Days Below Freezing: 0
Days Above 90 Degrees: 3
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 263

With no freezing days and an average of just three days over 90 degrees, San Diego is No. 3 on the list of Best Places to Live in the U.S. for the Weather. And with just 102 cloudy days per year on average, you’ll be spending plenty of time on the beach enjoying the blue skies and sunshine.

Learn more about San Diego.

2. Salinas, California

2. Salinas, California

"Agricultural lands ready to be planted in the Salinas Valley, California USA"

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 117
Metro Population: 433,168
Median Home Price: $581,342
Median Annual Salary: $48,290
Days Below Freezing: 6
Days Above 90 Degrees: 3
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 267

Located just inland from Monterey Bay and south of the San Francisco Bay Area, Salinas offers residents only six nights below freezing and three above 90 degrees, on average, throughout the year.

Learn more about Salinas.

1. Santa Barbara, California

1. Santa Barbara, California

Girls getaway

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 73
Metro Population: 442,996
Median Home Price: $463,750
Median Annual Salary: $54,320
Days Below Freezing: 6
Days Above 90 Degrees: 3
Mean Number of Clear or Partly Cloudy Days: 286

A little northwest of Los Angeles along the California coast, Santa Barbara benefits from beach breezes and the beauty of Los Padres National Forest. With as few as 79 cloudy days per year, on average, Santa Barbara tops the list of Best Places to Live in the U.S. for the Weather.

Learn more about Santa Barbara.

The Best Places to Live in the U.S. for the Weather include:

The Best Places to Live in the U.S. for the Weather include:

USA, Florida, Stuart, Aerial view of suburbs

(Getty Images)

  • Santa Barbara, California
  • Salinas, California
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose, California
  • Honolulu
  • Los Angeles
  • Oklahoma City
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Atlanta
  • Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Sacramento, California
  • Stockton, California
  • Modesto, California
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Little Rock, Arkansas

Read More

Tags: real estate, home improvements, renting, coronavirus, exercise and fitness


Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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