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Basements can be dark, windowless caverns that are only visited when the boiler is acting up or a box needs storing. They can also be a treasure trove of underutilized inexpensive space for creative homeowners.

While we have utilized those areas in many ways for our clients, few conversions are as well suited for the basement as a home gym. Some of the best reasons to use that subsurface space are obvious including the fact that it is basically free raw space.

Others include:

  1. It is close-just a short walk down from the first floor.
  2. Easy to sound proof-at least two walls can be 10 inch thick concrete (foundations).
  3. Basements are inexpensive to heat and cool-even in the steamiest summer they remain comfortable.

A home gym does not necessarily need a lot of space, but it needs to be laid out efficiently to accommodate the users and their equipment. Lighting is important since most basement windows are small or within a recessed area (unless the basement is a ‘walk out’). By mirroring the workout space, like a commercial gym, not only can the users work on perfect form, a greater sense of volume can be achieved.

The optimum basement gym can include a bathroom with shower, changing room and sauna or steam room, but often we simply provide a large well-lit, comfortable space. If a bathroom is included in the design, the location of the septic outlet will determine if a pump is required.

After a good workout, it might be time to think of the many other uses for a basement including a home theater, wine cellar, or recreation room.

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About the Author: James Crisp

James M. Crisp has been an architect for well over 30 years. His architectural firm, Crisp Architects, designs projects throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In April of 2007, Taunton Press published 'On the Porch' by James M. Crisp and Sandra Mahoney.

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