With cold, winter weather, facility shutdowns and personal safety concerns, having your own training space has never been so valuable. Unlike a typical home gym, which may be a collection of random fitness equipment, a Personal Performance Center (PPC) is designed specifically for your needs.
I have always encouraged the athletes I coach to have a contingency plan to train at home in case of situations when consistency is a challenge (think weather, time constraints, and pandemics). When everything shut down in the spring of 2020, these athletes were well-positioned to keep training at a high level, and emerged healthier, stronger and faster.
The ability to stay on your training plan helps build confidence, stay consistent, and decreases stress levels. If you are committed to a healthy performance lifestyle, here are some things to consider when building your PPC:
You do not need to start with a large dedicated space. Instead, start simple and build as your commitment to home training increases. If you do not have extra space, you can create great strength workouts with a TRX suspension system attached to a door, some mini bands and kettlebell. Whether you set up a training space in your garage, basement or guest room, make the area a place you want to spend time in, and separate it (if possible) from the rest of the house.
As mentioned above, you can start simple and grow. Cyclists and Triathletes usually have a bike trainer for indoor workouts, and this is a good starting point from which you can build from. If you have an old bike, consider setting it up permanently on the trainer to save valuable set up time.
What About Treadmills?
Quality running Treadmills are expensive, but if you do most of your training in the dark or live in a cold climate, one may be a good investment. If you can do your runs outside, then I suggest focusing on strength equipment instead. You can build a great PPC for a fraction of the cost and space required for a treadmill.
With strength equipment, the key is to have versatile selection that allows you to increase intensity through progressive overload. Dumbbells, power blocks and kettlebells are good options. Body weight and TRX straps are great space savers, and can also be progressively overloaded using body weights like vests and sandbags.
If space allows, a power rack and barbell should be the centerpiece of your PPC. Not only will this allow you to perform high intensity exercises safely, but the rack provides the perfect anchor point for a TRX and bands. This isn’t a cheap or space-saving option, but it’s worth it if you can make it happen. Used weight racks can sometimes be found online, just make sure to make sure all equipment is sound and safe before making a purchase!
Since you will be spending many hours in your PPC, you will want to create an environment that is not only functional but pleasant. Here are some non-equipment factors to consider:
Having windows you can open to allow in fresh air, and fans to cool and circulate air is important. Garages are usually minimally insulated, so they can get very hot—a large capacity fan can create a nice cooling effect.
Daylight and bright lights help you stay alert and focused during training sessions and boosts energy levels. Energy efficient Led lights are a good option to increase brightness.
If you’re working with a concrete floor, some type of rubber pad will provide excellent traction as well as noise dampening. Rolled rubber flooring or interlocking tiles are available at your hardware store in many colors, thickness and price points. Artificial turf is another good choice. And if you’re working with a smaller space or wood floors, a simple yoga mat may do the trick.
A good sound system can make all the difference in any PPC. Whether you decide to go for speaker systems or quality wireless headphones may depend on your needs and space. You’ll also make sure your Wi-Fi signal is strong for music and virtual training apps.
In the last few years, many athletes have shifted more of their training indoors for safety and efficiency. COVID-19 has only accelerated this trend. With more home equipment options hitting the market every year, it is essential that you map out a long-term strategy that meets your training goals and budget. With the right plan, you will create more options to increase your consistency and enjoyment of training.