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You’ve heard the phrase go big or go home? How about go big and go home? As in a home gym… that’s big.

If you have a designated workout area in your abode — or are considering it — you’re definitely not alone. Waves of people are opting to exercise at home rather than use a commercial gym. Of course, the pandemic has played a major role in the explosion of home training. In a poll commissioned last summer by Beachbody, a health and fitness company, nine out of 10 Americans who exercise regularly said they would continue at-home workouts even after their gym reopened.

App-based programs like Peloton and Shred are a hot trend in home exercise. But that’s not why we’re here. We’re going big, remember? This article’s purpose is to plan out a dream gym that’ll meet the needs of everyone from the person who wants moderate daily cardio to the hardcore who lifts weights until he or she collapses. To that end, let us introduce our consultant, Jake Rogers, sales manager for Largo-based Bandit Fitness Equipment

The company carries a full line of exercise equipment, and provides consulting services for homeowners looking to add a gym. Rogers and his team analyze customers’ needs — including their exercise routines and aspirations, gear preferences, available space and other factors — then build a 3D model of the gym on a computer. Changes can be made by simply dragging and dropping.

Another view from Bandit’s 3-D home gym rendering.

“Our customers care a lot about installing something unique, and not going cookie-cutter,” Rogers says. “And our designs include not just equipment configurations, but colorings of the walls, flooring types, windows, mirrors, and even stuff like smoothie bars.”

(To be clear: While Bandit can include magenta walls in the design, it only sells and installs equipment. If you want a full room conversion with, say, wall-to-wall mirrors, you’ll need a contractor.)

The 3D rendering offers another key advantage: “We don’t run into situations,” Rogers says, “where our delivery people show up at a giant home with a whole bunch of equipment and the first thing they say is, ‘Where do you want this stuff?’”

So let’s get started on our dream gym.

First, how big is big? According to Rogers, 1,000 to 1,200 square feet is on the high end of Bandit projects. That’s about the size of a three-car garage converted into a workout space — jobs that Bandit has undertaken recently. 

Many home fitness fans are converting their garages to gyms. (Image: Bandit Fitness)

We’ll start with our cardio area. Rogers is enamored with the Hydro rowing machine, a sleek number with a 22-inch, hi-def screen that shows on-demand workout regimens. A maxxed-out Hydro costs $2,245, plus $38 a month to subscribe to the programs.

For those of us who need impact-free cardio, an elliptical machine is a must. Rogers recommends the Bodycraft E1200 ($6,199), with a 16-inch touch screen that’s open-platform so you can access Youtube, Netflix and even an XBox to play video games during your session.

Our dream gym has to include a treadmill, right? Rogers has just the piece, the sturdily made Landice L7 ($4,399), with advanced shock absorption. And finally, for the true warriors, there’s the Stairmaster 10G Gauntlet ($16,000) with a 15-inch touch screen. If you’re not intimidated already, this baby comes with Overdrive Training and a top step rate of 190 per minute. Have fun.

To crib a line from Al Pacino, “We’re just getting warmed up!”

It’s on to the weights area.

Let’s start with the ultra-versatile Tuff Stuff CXT-225 multi-functional trainer ($6,098), with more weights, pushes, pulls, pulleys, cables and attachments than we can calculate. We’ll tack on a Smith Machine in one corner so we can add free weights on barbells and other items of excruciation.

A view of a Bandit-designed home gym with the Tuff Stuff Proformance Functional Trainer.

Speaking of free weights, we gotta have dumbbells. A set of Tag Fitness round urethane pairs — five to 100 pounds in increments of five — with rack ($8,679) oughta do. And for a step up on the maniac scale, we’ll add a Body-Solid SPR-1000 power rack for squats, bench pressing, deadlifts and other uber-taxing endeavors. With a good bench and set of plates, this rig runs around $2,500.

We now have everything we need to keep ourselves in tip-top condition, but our dream gym somehow doesn’t seem quite finished, does it? More bells and whistles, please. 

If you watch sports on TV at all, you’ve seen commercials showing chiseled athletes furiously churning a heavy rope in each hand. So let’s add a 50-foot Body Solid training rope that’s 1.5 inches in diameter ($119) for a good grip. While we’re at it, we’ll get us a Tank M4 fitness sled by Torque ($1,495), just in case we get the urge to get low and push, push, puuush real hard. 

Gotta have a yoga/stretching area for the more cerebral among us. We’ll need a mat, of course, so a Manduka Pro 6m in Verve Red ($120) should suffice. Nearby we’ll put a stylish rack of six CAP medicine balls in a variety of colors ($385), a set of CAP kettlebells (10-50 pounds, by fives, $794.25), and a couple of inflatable TheraBand stability balls (prices vary). Let’s make one blue, the other yellow. No, red.

OK, now we’re done. Time to get huffin’ and puffin’ and humpin’ and heavin’ and gruntin’ and gaspin’.

In your imagination, of course.

For now.

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