Build the right workout space for your home

Dana Santas and her family built their home gym as a collaborative effort.

Story highlights

  • Dana Santas wanted more than a treadmill stuck in a corner
  • Her family created a home gym that's become their favorite "room"

Dana Santas is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, experienced registered yoga teacher and mind-body coach known as the Mobility Maker. She's the yoga coach for the Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Lightning and others in Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the Professional Golfers' Association.

(CNN)Have you ever owned a piece of at-home exercise equipment that became a massive, expensive clothes hanger? I have. Like many who make good-intentioned commitments to working out at home, I set myself up for failure by going too big, too soon. After only a month, I lost the motivation to run in place on my treadmill, like a hamster on a wheel, in the corner of a room. Thankfully, I came to realize that a smaller-step, progressive approach is more sustainable, enabling you to match your budget and space allocation to your growing dedication and needs.

Start small: Accountability, interest and ease

    A crate of workout tools in the bathroom helped Dana Santas stay accountable.
    Many years after abandoning the treadmill, I recommitted to working out at home with a few cost-effective multipurpose tools: yoga mat, yoga block, dumbbells, kettle bell, mini band and foam roller. Although the crate holding these things didn't take up much space, by placing it conspicuously next to my shower, I saw it every morning. And when I used a dry-erase marker to write workouts on the bathroom mirror, they'd literally stare me in the face.
    To ensure that I couldn't claim lack of time, boredom or being overwhelmed as excuses, I initially limited workouts to five to 10 minutes and stuck with familiar exercises I enjoyed that could be done barefoot in pajamas. These included my favorite morning yoga movements, foam rolling and basic dumbbell exercises such as bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and shoulder presses.
    A pull-up bar in the doorway helped her meet her goal.
    Because I wanted to improve my upper-body strength and coveted the idea of being able to do a pull-up, I took an additional measure to keep myself accountable and interested by hanging a pull-up bar in the master bathroom doorframe. After making a rule that I had to do a band-assisted pull-up every time I walked under it, within a few months, I could do multiple unassisted pull-ups in a row.

    Let necessity lead the way

    A TRX suspension trainer is a great solution to a space crunch.
    As a reward for six months of working out at least five mornings per week, I added a training tool to my crate. After concentrating on upper-body strength, I felt I needed something multifunctional that could increase opportunities for total-body exercise within the confines of my bedroom and bathroom. The TRX suspension trainer could hang on a door and offered the perfect solution, considering that its inventor, Randy Hetrick, a Navy SEAL, created it as a means of overall conditioning in the space-confined conditions of deployment.
    I started with simple exercises from the manual, but empowered by the success I'd had creating workouts based on my yoga interest and experience, I also experimented with yoga movements, both supported and resisted by the TRX.

    Dedicating to dedicated space