I have written before about working out at home, but I never thought that this post would be anything more than a dream; something not to be achieved in my lifetime. But, no – this time I made the dream real.

“What do you think?” the man asked, “they are about £2k for a basic one with heat, light and electricity”.

I gave him the old-fashioned look, the one that says, Yeah, right

“2 grand?” I asked.

The girl behind him straightened at my tone and her smile went to glass.

We were standing in a “garden room”, a sort of prefab room dropped anywhere you have space in the garden. I had seen lots of them in Japan, where they are mainly used as temples and tearooms, either opening fully on one side or with crawl-height doors for shuffling in for a cuppa’. This one was much more British and resembled a brightly fitted out front room, somehow avoiding the acoustics of a normal outside portacabin. At that point Cesca and I moved on. We were at the Suffolk show and she was here to see the animals, not the man-cave vendors. I, however, looked back at the stand and at the flyer in my hand.

Oh, to have a space for a real gym.


And then something clicked in my mind. I was mentally placing the garden room in my garden space, when I turned it 90 degrees and suddenly realised that I already had a garden room, with power, light and a door into the main garden. It was the garage. An insidious idea formed in my heart and here, six months later I am standing in that idea made flesh:

Convert the garage into a gym.

The first problem with this project, and indeed the main one to be overcome, was that the garage was full – and by full, I mean stacked six-foot-high full – of stuff. Of course, any modern couple collect a lot of stuff in their lifetime, but Cesca is especially good at it. She had her first shoes. In their box. She had her Christmas cards from high school. All of them. We had enough stuff to have packed out a 40ft shipping container when we went travelling. It needed clearing and, although some progress had been made, the garage was absolutely rammed and had been since we moved in. So, the first step was convincing Cesca and help me clear a third.

That took a month.

A month later I had enough cleared to start planning. Firstly, I was currently paying £60 per month at Bannatines gym next to my London office of Tower 42. I added up the cost of this over two years and that set my budget.

Next, I noticed to my horror that the floor in the garage was unsealed concrete, which dusted and created lots of floating cement particles in the air. This would make working out not only uncomfortable, but potentially dangerous. So, the next step was sealing that floor. This, of course, required me to take everything out of the garage to get at it.

A plan formed.

Since I would have to empty the garage into the garden, I should also take the moment to improve the lighting. Not much in this life can be achieved without the help of a friend. And here my friend came to my rescue. A brick layer and window fitter by trade, Mark was a phone call away and offered to come help fit some windows. So, I went down to the local Wicks to buy everything from a list he gave me. I also ordered two lintels – whatever those were I thought at the time – and some very large tarpaulin sheets.


I then took a week off work.

During that week, I coordinated everything arriving and ferried the orders from Wicks.


I also ordered some garage paint and floor sealant.  Mark then arrived, having borrowed some high-end tools from his friends. Using his incredible knowledge and skill he hand cut two holes for the windows, and we both fitted them in one afternoon.



He was using a special set of screws that went straight through the frames into the brickwork, preventing the need for complex hanging equipment.



I bagged up the debris and bricks and put them for offer on the local websites. A man building out his driveway came and picked the whole lot up.

Mark well-earned his reward of food and my affection that day.


Next came the floor painting. The one bit of equipment I had not hired was a floor sander, and the basic swept concrete had many ridges. I spent a couple of hours hammering off bits of dropped concrete. Anyway, I knew that the actual surface area of the floor would be higher than basic measurement of the space. I therefore over-ordered on the paints, but in hindsight I should have made the effort to flatten the floor as even this over order wasn’t truly enough. Indeed, I should have doubled it. I painted the sealant on and then got to work painting on the floor. This took a night of work and two day