Monday, May 23, 2016

DIY Gym Projects

I opened my 3,000 sq/ft sports performance facility when I was 25 years old, without the help of investors or a partner. I dumped my life saving into Building Better Athletes, and let me just say, it wasn’t a lot.

We all know how expensive lifting/fitness equipment is, so this meant I had to be creative with how I spent my money. I’ve heard from many others that you should just put the investment down and pass on DIY projects, but I disagree. I decided to do a number of DIY projects, and all of these projects are now going on 3-years strong.

These projects saved me thousands of dollars and have stood the test of time. If you have any craftsman skills or friends that do, I urge you to consider taking this route for a few projects. Plus it’s just fun to gather some friends, grab some beers, and spend a weekend afternoon cranking out these easy projects.


It was as simple as creating an outline with 2x4’s and then using a high quality piece of plywood to fit our our outline (4x6ft). I also used some left over rubber flooring for plate absorption.

Making homemade platforms also allowed me to add the band attachments, with a simple 8” lag screw that can slide in and out. This allows our athletes to perform all sorts of accommodating resistance movements as well as many of our power movements like below.

Total Savings - $1200-2000


Boxes are one of the easiest pieces of equipment to make, and really it only makes sense to make them yourself when you consider it costs $100-150 for a similar box. The box shown in the picture below (on the right) has dimensions of 32”, 28”, and 24” and cost around $35 to build. It also doubles for med ball storage and we’ve put together 3-total boxes of various sizes and all-in-all probably cost about $100.

Total Savings - $200

Plate Storage

Using a couple of 2x4’s, it was very simple to put together solid plate storage. It might not look at nice as a normal horizontal plate rack, but we’ve built three of these storage racks for roughly $15. Compare this to a normal rack ranging between $75-200 for a single rack.

Total Savings - $150-600


We are a big fan of the slideboard at our facility to develop strength and power in the frontal plane. We also use the slideboard to add some variety to traditional type movements like reverse lunges, lateral lunges, plank variations, and other “core” variations.

Putting together a slideboard is as simple as picking up a piece of melamine board (8x4ft) and a thin piece of plywood. Cut both in half and screw the melamine to the plywood and then took some spare 2x2 or 2x4 to use as edges. Now we had two slideboards for a total of $35. Slideboards normally cost is $115-200 for a single board, so this is a wise investment.

Total Savings - $200

Soft-Tissue Tools

Everybody knows the importance of soft-tissue and joint mobility; just look at any fitness website and you’ll see dozens of mobility and soft-tissue tools. Next, look at the prices –I find it hard to rationalize actually buying these tools when almost all of them can easily be made with things probably lying around in your garage. Here’s a list of four common tools and there prices

  • Gemini - $24-35
  • Thera Cane - $30
  • Supernova - $35-40
  • Firm Foam Roller - $20

The Gemini can be easily made by taping two tennis balls, golf balls, or lacrosse balls together. Thera Cane can be made by taping a golf ball to the end of a ¼” PVC pipe. Supernova = softball with tape on it. Firm foam foller = PVC pipe. There’s really no reason to go off purchasing all these fancy tools when you can make 8-10 of them for the same price as buying just one.

Total Savings - $100-300


With our athletes do a lot of hurdle work, whether it be for hurdle mobility, jumping/plyometrics, agility, or speed development. A set of 6 mini hurdles cost around $35, a set of 6 tall hurdles can cost between $100-200. I was able to put together sets of 6 - mini (6”), medium (12”), tall (20”), and maximum (28”) – for a total of about $100.

Total Savings - $100-200

Bulgarian Split Squat Stand

These bad boys can run anywhere between $150-300!

Why, I have no clue; but I made this one for only $10 with some PVC pipe, some pads I had laying around, and duct tape.

Easy enough!

Total savings - $140-290


Overall, these projects netted a total savings of over $3000 (And this is without any shipping and handling costs). This is close to 3-months of rent for our facility, a very big investment! In the end, these DIY projects allowed my facility to take off and be productive from day 1 and not have.

So, if you are handy with a saw and drill or have friends who are, then I say go for DIY projects. If you’re not so handy with a hammer and don’t have any friends who are either, then maybe going the professional route is probably best.

Go Get 'Em!

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