Build Home Fitness Equipment With Wood

Even if you're not an accomplished carpenter, you can build a home gym for less than $200.

| May/June 1984

I'm an athletea competing bodybuilderand a few years ago I was faced with a problem. In order to train for competition, I needed ready access to bodybuilding equipment for six days a week. And though I was working out at a nice spa that featured quality equipment, I couldn't get enough time on the machines. The establishment was always crowded, and it was closed on weekends and holidays. As memberships increased, so did interruptions. The whole situation soon became annoying enough to send me in search of a solution.

A home gym seemed the perfect arrangement. Of course, like most people, I couldn't afford to invest the $2,000 required to buy the heavy-duty home fitness equipment I needed. I considered constructing my own metal gym, which would have cost half as much as buying commercial equipment. But even that plan demanded more cash than I could afford.

A Homemade Solution

After giving the problem a lot of thought, I decided to try making my own fitness center out of wood . . . even though I'd never seen any wooden gym equipment and wasn't much of a carpenter! My first project was an adjustable bench. With $15 worth of materials (including wood, screws, and glue), my training partner, Rod Jackson, and I built the bench in my living room . . . and were almost surprised when it worked!

That success inspired me to draw up plans for building what my wife calls my "wooden gym". It contains a total of eight pieces, ranging from a pulley machine to a curling bench for the arms, and machines to exercise the legs. Though made of wood, the equipment that Rod and I built is designed to function as the expensive metal machines do. People are always amazed when they see the gym . . . and some have traveled 250 miles just to take a look!

Proven Success

With the help of this equipment, I won the 1980 Virginia State Physique Championships (Mr. Old Dominion) ... the 1981 United States Physique Championships (Mr. U.S.A.) . . . and the 1981 North American Physique Championships (Mr. North America)all in little over a year! Then, in 1982, Rod won the title of Mr. U.S.A., as well. You can see, then, that the gym has worked quite well for us!

Our total investment in our home fitness center (a dream come true for any bodybuilder!) was approximately $192. Keeping the cost down did involve a little improvising. For example, the cable and pulleys we used for the "lat" machine were salvaged from a wrecked aircraft at no cost. I think, however, that any resourceful builder could manage to spend as little as we did. If, like us, you can buy pipe at a junkyard, do it! The materials don't have to be new.

8/7/2017 1:18:06 PM

My Grandson is working toward his Eagle Scout rank. Do you have ideas or plans for building, with wood, some fitness stations along a walking trail at a local park. Thank you.

6/17/2014 3:40:15 AM

Thirty years after this article, gym equipment is far more expensive (although advanced). Other options are still worth looking into. gym for women

6/12/2014 2:23:43 AM

Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a marvellous job! Please keep on posting such quality articles,

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