So you tried out that new gym in your neighborhood and found yourself uninspired? A yoga class that did zip for your zen? Didn’t quite latch onto the latest strip mall DIY cardio corral or fashionable fitness theory? Maybe the effort of parking, mingling, waiting for the shower and spending even a minute more of your precious time in traffic when it’s all said and done just isn’t for you.

And that’s okay.

You don’t need an overpriced, under-used gym membership to get and stay fit. A well-stocked, thoughtfully built home gym will hold up in efficiency, cost and time saved.

There’s more to creating your own home gym than buying a Swiss ball and a pair of dumbbells. Or an expensive treadmill. Worse yet, that miracle contraption you saw late at night on television through bleary eyes and spontaneously ordered for fear you’d never get another chance.

I want to help you make informed choices when putting together your home workout sanctuary with regard to the optimal use of space, stocking equipment with longevity and versatility, and creating an inviting, motivating atmosphere you will enjoy.

We’re going to start from the ground up.

When you decide to turn that basement / garage / extra bedroom into a dedicated workout space, probably the last thing you would consider is the floor. When that one strategic decision could be one of your most important. Consider the impact of jumping on a cement garage floor, for example. You could have the best running shoes out there, but they are not going to stand up to concrete over time. Throwing a yoga mat over a carpeted spare room isn’t going to give you the stability you need to get in quality exercise. We need shock absorbency, stability and some form of cushion beneath us or our joints will eventually stage a mutiny, putting us out of commission and further from our goals.

Here are some of the best flooring options out there, tiered for your budget:

303 Home Gym Go! Mat I

photo courtesy of Dollamur

Go! Mat by Dollamur – $99

This handy mat rolls up when not in use, yet is ultra-durable for your heavy lifts. Super easy to clean – which I love – and comfortable enough to use for any post-workout stretching. Comes in 5 colors.

Interlocking Floor Mat – $100*

Probably your least-expensive option for full-coverage. Customize to fit the space you need, and sometimes even reversible — doubling the life of the mat.

Grip-embossed Gym Floor Rolls – $150*

If you are covering a larger space or have your little ones running around while you work up a sweat, these rolls might be your best bet. Prevents slips and falls if you drop your water bottle and increases traction. Bonus: you can choose your grip pattern and color.

Cork Flooring – $280*

303 home gym wood floorYou want performance out of your gym floor but also want to reduce your carbon footprint. Not only is it beautiful, cork flooring reduces noise and vibration, has naturally hypo-allergenic properties, and offers a softer yet durable surface for your tired old feet. Companies like Globus Cork responsibly source their product, only harvesting from the cork tree every nine years — the tree is never destroyed, helping you to create an eco-friendly retreat.

Hardwood or Bamboo – $300 and up*

The granddaddy of upscale spas and health clubs, this is your floor if your parents are paying for your private gym and you want to go all-out. Maybe you just need that place to escape to when you get home from a long day or a business trip. Be prepared to pony up some cash to maintain this floor and be careful not to drop any heavy barbells on it. Or kettlebells. Or free weights. Better yet, dedicate this space to low-impact activities such as Pilates or yoga.

Next time we’ll discuss in-home cardio equipment: good buy, or good bye?

Happy floor shopping.

*price estimated based on a 50-square foot area

PT-color-headshot-I3Jodilyn Stuart is the Health & Sports Senior Staff Writer for 303 Magazine, owner of ModaBody Fitness, and has been a professional fitness geek since 1997. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]