Bringing Fitness Home

By Lindsey Johnson

Home gyms have become increasingly popular, especially over the past year. Whether it’s a parent trying to squeeze in a quick workout during naptime or a serious athlete training for competition, home setups run the gamut and can be a good fit regardless of budget and fitness level. 

Local athletes shared their gyms with us and their opinions on their most useful equipment and must-haves as well as their favorite splurge items. 

BOB RUANO, a CrossFit enthusiast, has qualified for the pinnacle annual competition, the CrossFit Games, four times in the last five years with his best finish in 7th place in 2017. In 2021, he finished 6th in the world in his age division in the first round of competition and is moving on to the semifinals. His home gym is quite extensive for his next-level training and utilizes both his backyard and garage. 

KENDRA AND ERIC MILLER have created a home gym in their garage with the bonus feature of including a collapsible rack, a great space-saving feature that allows extra garage space when not in use. 

HILARY TARABOUR uses space in her garage for the larger weightlifting equipment and has her stationary bike in the living room (bonus – air conditioning and watching TV while she cycles!) 

RUSSELL CLENDENIN set up his home gym on an enclosed patio, a great option for keeping indoor space free.



– Stall mats 

– Kettlebells of varying weights 

– Dumbbells of varying weights 

– Mirror 

– Whiteboard 

– Pull-up Bar – installed in ceiling in garage into studs 

– Low Gymnastics Rings – Installed in ceiling in garage into studs 

– Concept2 Rower 

– Air Assault Bike 

– Glute Ham Developer 

– Rig with Barbells and Plates 

– Sandbags 

– Bench 

• Outside: 

• 12ft rope 

• Pull-up bars 

• High Gymnastics Rings 


– Dumbbells – 2.5 – 55# 

– Plates – 400# + 

– Resistance Bands 

– Stretching Equipment 

– Mats 

– Squat Rack / Bench 

– Barbell 


– Rack for weightlifting and includes pull-up bar 

– Dumbbells 

– Kettlebells 

– Box for box jumps 

– Sandbags 

– Barbell and plates 

– Jump Ropes 

– Timer 

– Whiteboard 


– Kettlebells 

– Rack and Pull-up Bar Combo 

– Stationary Bike 

– Rubber Mats 

– Barbell and plates 

Best Splurge Item 

Bob’s higher end splurge items include a rower, an Air Assault bike and the glute hamstring developer (GHD). Kendra and Eric love their fold-up rack, which provides opportunity to do weightlifting movements as well as a pull-up bar. Russell loves the full squat and bench rack. Hilary’s biggest splurges this year were memberships to programs that help guide her workouts such as Apple Fitness, ifit, and Hannah Eden fitness. 


If using heavy weights or heavy equipment, protective flooring is a good idea. Dependent on the underneath surface and what items your gym contains, rubber gym mats may be sufficient. Another great option that will hold up to dropping heavy weights are stall mats, available at farm supply stores. The 3/4” mats are designed to withstand the weight of horses and are a durable and inexpensive option for flooring.


No garage? No problem! Home gyms do not have to be based in a garage. While many athletes (and we are all athletes!) prefer to store their equipment and train in a garage, others store equipment in a spare bedroom, living room, or exercise in a driveway or outdoor space. 


Mirrors can be helpful to watch and correct form. While not necessary, it does allow the opportunity for technique review and to notice when form is compromised. 


Some athletes choose to have a timer installed that can count down, do intervals, or cut off at a certain time. Others choose to use their phone or an iPad to time their workouts. Having some method for timing is a good idea. 


A whiteboard is a great option to write out the workout before getting started. This helps with accountability and provides a good visual during the tough moments. Others prefer to write out the workout on a piece of paper. Writing it down before you start helps you stay committed.

Most Used and Must-Have Items 

We asked our local home gym friends which items they used most often. Kendra’s must-haves are the barbell and plates as well as the dumbbells. Her favorite movements are cleans and back and front squats. Hilary’s most used item is her kettlebells, which she uses for kettlebell swings, cleans, snatches, and Turkish get-ups. Russell’s favorite item is the Olympic barbell, which he uses for a wide variety of exercises, both with and without weight. Bob’s training requires that he vary his workouts but uses his pull-up bar and barbell most often. Thrusters are his favorite movement because it tests both hip and shoulder mobility and strength at the same time. 


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