Cheap as ships: homes built from shipping containers make waves

How to Build a home for Cheap?

Build Custom Home / March 8, 2019

I used to be in shape. Really. Two hundred push-up, 20 chin-up kind of shape. I would blaze through 50-km ski trails. That, of course, was then.

As the decades piled up, exercise became less important, less frequent. Injuries began to take their toll, further limiting my activity, and at some point I came to the realization that nachos, not eggs, were nature's perfect food. The predictable result is that today I am but a shadow—a soft, blurry-edged shadow—of the 140-lb athlete of yore.

While I've made my peace with the long dénouement of middle age, occasionally, when I glance at old photographs or step carefully around the bathroom scale, I can't help wondering: What if I decided to set up a home gym and turn back the clock just a bit? What would it take? How much would it cost? And where would I even start?

Indeed, the neglected home gym, replete with Bowflex coat racks and fossilized elliptical trainers, is a universal cliché. "The best time to buy fitness equipment is a month-and-a-half after Christmas, " points out Wayne Boucher, fitness and wellness coordinator at Fitness Zone, the massive school gym at Algonquin College's main Ottawa campus. "Exercise gear is given as Christmas presents or purchased as part of a New Year's resolution to get fit, and by mid-February it turns up for sale on websites." If you build it, will you come?

Yes, you can construct a home gym for less money than you might think. But should you? "Home gyms aren't for everyone, " acknowledges Shantelle Meaney, kinesiologist and fitness supervisor at Calgary's Preventous Collaborative Health. "Some people need to get out of the house or they simply can't motivate themselves to exercise regularly. The biggest mistake people make is they have big dreams of getting fit, and they go out and spend a ton of money on equipment like a treadmill that they never end up using."

In order to avoid making these kind of expensive, guilt-laden mistakes, Meaney suggests starting any home gym project small, and building upon it only if you actually make use of it.

A Room with a View (of Yourself)

It's hard to get a workout in when you're beset by screaming kids or overflowing laundry hampers. "When you're setting up a gym, it's important that you make the space your own, a refuge from all the hectic distractions of the home, " says Meaney. "Ideally, you want a dedicated room with a door that you can close so your workout isn't interrupted, perhaps with a stereo to help block out external noise." Oh, and at least one full-length mirror—a mere $20—to see yourself from head to toe is important. "If you can watch your form and technique as you exercise it will dramatically lower your chances of injury, " says Meaney.

Adds Boucher: "Sometimes it can be as simple as pushing the coffee table to the side of the living room, laying down a six-foot-square yoga mat, which you can buy for $100, and you're good to go."