A gym in the garden creates the perfect space to workout without leaving home. Finding the right garden building can create the best space for both cardio and resistance workouts.
Over the last few years, more of us than ever before have ditched the gym membership in favour of our own private workout area. While large commercial gyms are great, they have their downsides too. If you can only make it during peak times, the gym is busy and there’s often a wait for equipment. Travelling to the gym can also be time-consuming, especially during rush hour.
Your own gym in the garden could be the perfect solution, with a number of benefits that you just won’t get from a public gym. Owning a home gym means there’s no waiting around for someone else to finish with the equipment. The long drive also changes into a quick walk down the garden. If you work from home, there is the potential to use the home gym before work, or even during your lunch break.
Garden buildings including sheds, summerhouses and log cabins create the perfect location to build a home gym. A gym in the garden is detached from the house, creating the feeling of separation between relaxing in the house and an intense workout. There is also complete privacy, with no one watching and the ability to turn the music up and get motivated. A large garden building can provide plenty of space for both cardio and resistance training equipment, especially when using combo machines.
A huge amount of garden buildings are available, depending on the requirements of the garden gym. Features such as insulation, windows and timber thickness all need to be taken into account. With lots of expensive equipment inside, the garden building needs to be secure and waterproof to keep them protected.
Best sheds for home gyms
With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best shed, log cabin or summerhouse for use as a garden gym. Below we have put together a list of our favourites which we believe make great options for converting into a garden gym.
Finding a garden building that’s both stylish and practical can be a challenge, but the Tiger Garden Studio does a great job at both. Tiger Sheds has a great reputation for garden buildings that are high-quality, creating a durable structure for use as a garden gym. The front of the Tiger Studio features large full-length windows to let in plenty of light and provide views of the garden. All of the windows feature toughened double-glazing for heat retention and security. The door configuration is flexible, allowing for practical positioning.
The structure features heavy-duty framing and 16mm shiplap cladding. The timber is pressure treated for longevity and protection against the elements. Instead of felt, the building features an EPDM rubber membrane roof with a life expectancy of over 50 years. A five-lever lock is also included for keeping the gym equipment inside secure.
Log cabins make a great choice for a garden gym thanks to their durable construction. The interlocking logs are much thicker than those found on a summerhouse, meaning that additional insulation for the walls is often not required. The Palmako Lea features thick 44mm nordic spruce interlocking logs, providing plenty of heat retention during the winter. The front of the cabin features 4 double glazed bi-fold doors, ideal for getting workout equipment inside easily. Rubber seals and silicone are used around the doors to maximise the insulating effect.
The large combined doors & windows let in plenty of light and provide a contemporary feel for any garden gym. 19mm tongue & groove cladding is used for the flooring, along with treated foundation joists. A cylinder lock is used for security and the windows are made from glass. Several roof options are available and we recommend the torch on felt for maximum weather resistance and longevity.
Summerhouses make a great choice for a garden gym due to being contemporary and spacious to fit in plenty of equipment. The Shire Highclere boasts a stunning modern design that will look great in any garden. Constructed from 12mm tongue & groove cladding, the building makes a good choice for creating a garden gym without breaking the bank. Insulation can be installed once the structure is assembled to allow for use throughout the year. The roof features a sloping pent design and uses felt on the top.
This summerhouse features a 10-year anti-rot guarantee when maintained in line with the manufactures recommendations. A locking door is included as standard to keep the contents inside secure. The timber is deep treated and an optional topcoat upgrade is also available for water repellency.
For those that are looking for a large garden gym, the Sampi log cabin provides a premium structure that’s ideal for creating the ultimate home gym. The large building is available in an 18×10 and 20×10 size, providing space for plenty of cardio and weight lifting equipment inside. The roof is higher than many garden buildings, creating a spacious interior with a futuristic design. 44mm thick timber logs are used for construction, creating a very sturdy building that’s great for use in both the summer and winter.
Toughened glazing double doors make it easy to get workout equipment inside, and let in a huge amount of light. Optional roof shingles can be selected for the roof and are available in several colours including black, red and green. The heavy-duty floor joists come pressure treated and the wall logs are planned for a smooth finish.
The Danbury cabin is perfect for use as a small garden gym and is available in a range of sizes. A contemporary design features big windows on both the front and side of the building, as well as a large roof overhang at the front. Interlocking 28mm timber logs provide a balance between durable construction and good value. The windows and doors feature toughened safety glass and are drought sealed to improve heat retention during the winter.
Opening windows allow fresh air and ventilation during workouts in the summer. The 14mm floor is built from pressure-treated bearers to protect parts that touch the ground against rot and damp. High-quality fixtures and a key locking door provide security for storing workout equipment inside.
How to find the right garden building for a gym
Not all garden buildings are built equal and it can be time-consuming to find the one most suited to your needs. Everything from the size of the building to the materials needs to be considered. A garden gym creates its own unique set of requirements that go beyond a shed that’s used for storage.
Size & height
A gym needs plenty of space to be able to workout without banging into equipment and walls. Accidentally knocking a dumbbell into the structure of the shed could cause permanent damage. Cardio equipment can take up several metres of space on its own with room for access, and a bench also needs space around it.
We recommend a minimum of 3x3m, and ideally at least 5x3m for a garden room gym. Any larger and you can fit an even bigger range of equipment inside. When measuring how much space your garden has available, be sure to leave at least half of a metre gap around every side of the shed. This allows easy access for maintenance such as painting the exterior in the future.
Not all sheds are built to the same height so we need to check how tall the ceiling is inside the building. Remember that if insulation is being installed into the roof, this may reduce the height. Several types of roofing styles are available including apex and flat roofs.
Type of garden building
Garden buildings come in many different varieties including sheds, summerhouses, log cabins and garden rooms. Choosing the right type of structure will depend on the budget available and the features required. A shed is typically the lowest cost option and is constructed from 12mm shiplap timber. Sheds are great for building a budget garden room but often feature small windows and size options.
A summerhouse is a step up from a shed and designed for spending time inside. While the construction technique is largely the same, summerhouses are widely available in much larger sizes and with larger windows as standard. The interior of a summerhouse feels bright & spacious and many feature double opening doors.
A log cabin is constructed by placing interlocking timber logs on top of each other to build up the walls. The logs are much thicker and 44mm options mean insulation is usually not required. Cabins have a real feeling of sturdiness, making them great for garden gyms. The designs are often traditional and the thick walls keep the contents inside secure.
A garden room goes above and beyond any other type of garden building. Garden rooms feature cladding on the exterior and the walls are insulated as standard. Many house quality fixtures such as uPVC windows and locks can be found as standard. All of this comes at a price, with garden rooms being the most expensive option for a garden gym.
How to convert a shed or summerhouse into a garden gym
Start with the base
Often overlooked, the base is an essential part of any garden building, even more so when supporting heavy gym equipment. If we could give one piece of advice to every new garden building owner, it would be to make sure the base is both solid and level.
A solid base is essential to act as the foundation supporting all of the weight above for years into the future. A summerhouse can weigh hundreds of kilograms, even before it’s been furnished with equipment. Overlooking a level base could result in the garden gym not fitting together correctly. Garden buildings are manufactured to tight tolerances in the factory, and an uneven base could mean the panels or logs not fitting together correctly when assembled.
A poor base can result in all sorts of issues including warping timber and leaks during heavy rainfall. If the base begins to fail over time, large gaps can appear where the panels of the shed join together.
We recommend using a concrete base for a garden gym. The concrete is poured and left to set several weeks in advance to ensure it’s completely dry. A damp proof membrane can also be installed to prevent moisture from rising from the ground below and into the timber flooring. Paving slabs can alternatively be used if they are level. If using an existing patio, be sure to check its completely level before placing the building is assembled.
Guide: Building a garden room base
Assembly & treatment
With the building chosen for a new garden gym, it’s time to plan the installation. Many garden buildings can be installed between two people following instructions provided by the manufacturer. Despite the cost, we do recommend taking advantage of the installation service provided when purchasing a shed or summerhouse. Allowing the experts to install the building provides peace of mind that the garden gym is going to be secure and waterproof for years into the future.
Treating a garden gym with a wood preserver is essential to maximise the longevity of the building. Once assembly is complete, the treatment should be applied as soon as possible, if the weather conditions are dry. Timber is naturally porous and over time will absorb moisture leading to damp and slight movement in the building. Wood preserver provides a weatherproof barrier to keep moisture out and inhibit the growth of mould in the wood.
Choosing a high-quality product, such as those from Protek or Osmo will provide years of protection into the future. Several coatings can be applied over a weekend to provide the best protection.
To use the garden gym throughout the year, we recommend installing insulation in the walls and ceiling. Insulation will keep the building cool during the summer and warm during the winter, allowing greater control over the temperature. Summerhouses and garden sheds feature wooden framing on the interior, which creates the perfect cavity to place insulation in between.
Rigid foam insulation boards make the best choice for use in a garden gym and can be cut to fit tightly in-between the framing. Alternative options such as foil-backed insulation roll can also be used, depending on the budget available. Once the insulation has been installed, the interior wall can be lined with a suitable wooden board. Both plywood and OSB make a good choice for the interior of a garden shed.
Electricity and internet
Both electricity and internet are essential for any good garden gym. Both are required for installing speakers to stream music for motivation during an intense workout. Any electrical work needs to be carried out by a qualified electrician. An armoured cable is run from the main supply in the house to a new circuit for the garden gym. The armoured cable protects against damage to the supply from animals or gardening equipment.
If the gym shed is close to the house, a wireless extender can provide a fast and reliable internet connection. If the building is further away, it’s best to install an ethernet cable between the router in the house and the outbuilding. The cable can be placed underground at the same time as the electricity supply and connect to a wireless access point.
Gym flooring and equipment
With the structure of the building and utilities complete, it’s time to start installing the gym equipment. Rubber flooring can be used to provide resistance to the impact of weights and other equipment. Adjustable equipment, such as dumbbells can reduce the space required for storage, allowing for a wider selection. Combo machines are also a great idea to add extra resistance exercises to a workout.
With all of the equipment installed, be sure to invest in a high-quality padlock to keep the building secure. A shed alarm can also be used to keep you notified if any intruders gain access.
Overall, using a shed or summerhouse can make the best solution for a gym at home. There is no more waiting for others on the equipment in your own private gym in the garden. Building the gym involves converting the garden building for use throughout the year. Investing in a high-quality building to begin with can create a robust and durable structure that will last for years into the future.