The home gym challenge

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The home gym challenge

Photography By David Pike

Without hesitation, I always barrel towards a new year with a list of well-intended resolutions; a belief that a new chapter of fitness success and financial prosperity awaits, and optimism that a newer, better, 2.0 version of myself is just a flip of the calendar away.

And as soon as January hits, I stock my fridge with the healthiest foods, I buy myself some cute workout clothes (on sale, of course), and heck, I even sign up for a gym membership!

“New year, new you.”


But, after a few short weeks of delusional enthusiasm, reality sinks back in and suddenly, I find myself sprawled out on the couch eating stale Christmas cookies, wearing head-to-toe, crumbcovered spandex, and making every excuse in the book why I don’t have time to go to the gym.

The only thing that seems to get skinnier every year is my bank balance after dishing out hundreds of dollars for a gym membership that I end up rarely using. And when I say hundreds… last year alone I spent a grand total of $813.60 for a mere six visits to my local gym. Ouch!

That formula isn’t good for the bank balance or the waistline.


Given that I fall right in line with most Canadians who spend an average of $800 annually for a gym membership, I’m going to venture to guess that a good percentage of those same people also fall into the “rarely-use-it” category…  just like me.


So, this year, I took a different approach. I dusted the crumbs off my gym clothes, ditched my expensive gym membership and empty excuses, and decided that instead of lying to myself about going to the gym, I’d create one in my own home.

And I knew the perfect spot!

With two tween-age boys at home, they’ve completely outgrown what was once their toy-filled/joy-filled (albeit cluttered) playroom, and instead they now prefer to bury their faces in electronics for as long as we’ll let them. Subsequently, our basement playroom sat unused for about as long as I’ve been paying for that “never-use-it” gym membership, and the furniture, electronics, and toys were simply taking up space.

Fun fitness fact: From January to July 2018, there were 33,874 treadmills, 11,074 dumbbells and 20,153 elliptical listings on Kijiji, and there was definitely no shortage of options when I started my shopping search on the app.


I devised a plan to transform the playroom into a home gym by posting and selling our gently used contents on the Kijiji app, and once everything was sold, I planned to use the earnings to shop for second-hand furnishings and gym equipment to create the space.

After only a few weeks, I had sold almost everything! The futon for $80, bookshelves for $100, a gaming system and video games for $125, and the drum set for $200. With the addition of books, toys, and a chest of outgrown dress-up costumes, I made a whopping $712! Not too shabby for items that we didn’t use anymore!

With a stack of cool cash in hand, I then set out on a search to find some gym equipment and furnishings to create my dream home gym.

I found a weight bench for $30, a set of hand weights for $25, and a brand new treadmill, with the tags still on it, for $175! I looked up the model online before purchasing it second-hand, and it was listed at a local retailer for almost $800! Considering that the average Canadian saves about $825 a year by shopping in the second economy, I was feeling pretty good about my more than $600 savings on the treadmill alone!


I really wanted to maximize functionality by adding storage in the space, so I also purchased a few additional second-hand furnishings, including a set of cherry cabinets and an old metal locker, because every true gym needs a locker. The cabinets got a fresh coat of Chalked Paint in “Lake Blue” and now covertly hold all of my craft supplies. This once-rusty locker was cleaned using “The Must For Rust” gel, painted with a sleek coat of Tremclad metal paint in gloss black, and now holds all of my wrapping paper rolls and gift bags.

After investing in paint and materials to make over my thrifty finds, plus using a roll of low tack tape and leftover paint to create a cheap and cheerful DIY-geometric mural, I spent a total of $720.


Now, I’m no math-lete, but after earning $712 and spending $720, that means my total gym makeover cost $8! Eight dollars! That’s less than one per cent of what I was paying for my “never-use-it” gym membership! And I now have my home gym forever with no annual membership fee.

I’m thrilled with how my new fantastically-fit-and-frugal space turned out, but the only downside is that now I’m fresh out of excuses for not working out!

A self-proclaimed DIY ninja, Leigh-Ann believes that great design has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget. As an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, Leigh-Ann embraces every opportunity to spark creativity and instil confidence in others who strive to “do it yourself!” For more information, visit huelala.com @leighannallaire


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