A Fitness Sanctuary: My Home

A Fitness Sanctuary: My Home

Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.

There’s a reason working out has the word “work” in it—often the hardest part of exercise is actually motivating yourself to do it. But instead of dragging yourself to a communal gym, what if you had your very own personal fitness sanctuary in your home?

Where you exercise doesn’t have to be a sad, dark corner of the house. Here’s how to design a beautiful home gym that will inspire you to work out.


How do you decide where the gym should go?

Think about where you like to exercise. You want to pick an area in your home where you want to be, so you don’t get distracted and avoid working out. When I’m in an actual gym, I gravitate toward more secluded and quiet areas— and if there’s really bright light, I get too energized and can’t focus. So I chose a space that had soft light and good energy.


How do you figure out how much space you need?

Most people don’t have the square footage to have a huge gym, so from a floorplan perspective, you want to figure out what are your most important pieces of equipment and how much space you can devote to them. Do you need room for a Peloton, a treadmill, and a Pilates reformer, or do you just want an area for free weights and yoga? Will multiple people be using the space at once? If so, some sort of separation is ideal.


How do you source equipment?

I recommend looking for gently used equipment if possible, so there’s no off-gassing. I personally have a hard time going into brand-new or newly renovated gyms, because the equipment is horrible in terms of VOCs, plus the ventilation in gyms tends to not be great to begin with. When you’re working out, you’re breathing heavy and getting rid of toxins, so it doesn’t make sense to breathe in more toxins.


How can you improve the air quality in your home gym?

Ventilation is key. In my home, we added 8-foot doors going out to the garden that I can leave open. I was inspired by gyms at resorts in warm climates—I love when you go on vacation and the gym has big retractable doors with half of the equipment outside.


And if you’re limited in terms of space?

Add as many houseplants as you can—they help purify the air and give off oxygen, and they’re calming to look at. If you do have windows or doors in your gym, think about what you’re planting just outside. Gym time is meditative for me, and the view is important.


Other than equipment, is there any décor in a home gym?

Your gym should feel like a room that’s part of your house—you can have a regular hardwood floor instead of that springy vinyl stuff that off-gasses. I have drapery on my doors, and it’s a nice, neutral, nubby linen that we’re using elsewhere in the house. I also bought artwork for the gym—you want to see things that you like hanging on the wall so you’ll stay in there.


How else can you make your gym a sanctuary?

I am a big fan of infrared saunas—they’re great for de-stressing and detoxifying your body, and they have cardiovascular benefits as well. I bought a special corner unit so it takes up less space and positioned it so it faces the doors and I can see out into the garden. If you have ample space, the larger ones are big enough to work out in and stretch in.  It’s like getting in a hot yoga session at home.


Figure out how and where you like to exercise, then design a gym where you’ll enjoy spending time.

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