By David M. Brown
COVID-19 has brought us home to ourselves.
With many remaining at home during COVID-19, we have lots of time to rethink our spaces. Are they functioning optimally for our lifestyles? We’re spending more time, for example, in our kitchens –– it’s hoped connecting with family and friends, not calories. But is that central room of the house as well as our bathrooms, home offices and other spaces fulfilling their capabilities? Will they when these challenging times have passed?
On April 22, The Global Wellness Institute wrote in Resetting the World with Wellness: A New Vision for a Post COVID-19 Future: “There is much that we can do to strengthen our wellness foundations and build resilience for ourselves, our families, and our communities –– but to do so will require us to shift our priorities and change our behaviors at all levels. The most important step toward wellness is to start in our own lives.”
To this end, we may want to add new rooms or convert existing ones for new uses, such as home gyms, yoga rooms and meditation spaces, explains Tanya Shively, ASID, LEED AP, principal of Scottsdale’s Sesshu Design Associates, which has completed large and small renovations and whole homes for 20 years.
Her WELL Designed interior design holistically combines benefits such as eco-sensitive technology and materials and focuses on comfort, style and psychological well-being.
Post COVID-19, some people may want to re-evaluate their home exercise regimens, considering questions such as the safety of public workout areas, however exclusive they might be. Many people will want to continue the schedule they shifted to at their home gyms after the public ones closed. They might want to expand and update these spaces or build new ones.
“We expect the demand for home gyms and other self-enhancing spaces to increase,” says Frank Aazami, RLSIR, Brand Ambassador and principal of the Private Client Group, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, Scottsdale. The group represents sellers and buyers of luxury homes in Paradise Valley, Scottsdale and parts of Phoenix.
“We also think that the next generation of home gyms will include technology such as UV blue lights to disinfect, recirculating HEPA-filtration ventilation systems, nontouch and self-sanitizing appliances and materials that are readily cleanable,” Aazami explains.
Post COVID-19, people will want to ensure that home gyms will be custom fit for them, making home workouts even more desirable. “Creating a dedicated space is more likely to lead to you using it more,” Shively says. “A bike or treadmill in the corner of the bedroom tends to just become a place to hang clothes.”
Make Your Home Gym Fit
If you’re building a custom luxury home with wellness as a goal, then you will want spaces to help you achieve that, which begins with regular exercise. Setting up your home gym as dedicated space underscores your commitment; you retreat to it on schedule, similarly to how you choose your media room, pool or office.
“When designing your home, don’t make your exercise room an add-on or after-thought,” Shively says. “By having it complement and coordinate with the decor throughout your house and contribute to its flow, your fitness room becomes more a part of your home and less like walking into an institutional-looking gym. You want your space to be more residential, less like a gym but with the perks of one — more a part of your life.”
Do this, for instance, by continuing themes found elsewhere in the home, including materials, colors and styles. Do you have flooring such as hickory planking in the hallway leading to the gym? Perhaps extend that into the gym. Or, pick up colors introduced elsewhere but repeat them in related tones on another wall material.
Consider combining your home gym, yoga or mediation space in a large open area with a flat rug, all centered around a great view to the outdoors. Photo Technogym
Use some additional pieces from your favorite artist, whose work you have in other rooms. Add pictures of family. Stream music. Perhaps add inspirational text in frames or images of places that inspire you: the Grand Canyon, the Chrysler Building, Angor Wat, Pacific Ocean waves breaking on Laguna Beach. If you can, have picture windows installed if your views are inspirational into a courtyard or other exterior spaces. Full glass-paned garage doors are also great here.
If you’re doing a renovation, consider repurposing an extra bedroom or a third garage bay. But if you do that, do it right and replace typical bedroom carpeting or concrete with more appropriate flooring, Shively explains. She often chooses wood, very low level loop carpeting, carpet tiles or recycled rubber mats. “The rubber comes in squares and rolls and a wide variety of colors, from bright primary hues to subtle blends of tans and browns,” she says, noting that she buys locally from Rubber Flooring in Mesa.
Find the best places for heavy exercise equipment, such as stationary bikes, rowing machines, climbers, treadmills and ellipticals; they are not easy to move, even for the buff.
Add mirrors to at least one wall. This isn’t vanity. “It helps to make sure your form is correct and provides motivation,” Shively says. “Using an extra-large framed mirror keeps the room feeling more homey and less like a conventional gym.”
A great view is inspiring and a good focal point for creating motivation in your exercise room. Photo Technogym
In addition, racks and shelves for weights, towels and other small items are functional and can be a fun design element, she adds. Interactive streamed workouts with equipment such as Peleton bikes are more popular, especially during COVID-19; some programs are hosted by motivational trainers and include inspiring scenes and challenging roadways.
“With many gyms offering online classes, working out at home is likely here to stay,” Shively says. “One of the latest home-gym ideas combines online, interactive coaching and classes built into a mirror with internet capability. It brings the personal trainer to you; he or she is right in your face.”
Choose good quality equipment. Technogym, she says, is beautifully designed and very high quality. “They supply exercise equipment to high-end resorts, athletic-training facilities and professional athletes who require the best, and they have a line specially created for personal use.”
Exercise Your Options
With COVID-19 changing how we are re-evaluating our homes, some owners have created centering places for contemplation and reflection. “Creating spaces in our homes will allow for private time,” she says, “and a feeling of sanctuary and safety could be instrumental in an overall sense of well-being for ourselves and our families.”
“We need to recognize that we cannot live a full life without a healthy body, mind, and spirit, and that we are connected to other people and to our natural world,” the Global Wellness story continues. “As individuals, we need to take the responsibility to learn and practice essential healthy lifestyle habits.”
A collection of crystals, candles and other objects that inspire you make a nice focal point in your meditation space. Photo Sesshu Design
Spaces such as yoga and meditation rooms can be more flexible than well-furnished home gyms. All that you need is ample floor space, preferably with a wood or very low-cut carpet. “Carpet that is too cushy makes balance poses more difficult,” Shively explains.
An extra bedroom is a great place to add a low table with some candles and crystals for meditation. Soft lighting, a serene color palette and soothing scents from candles or essential oils enhance the feeling of calm and connection. Again, a large framed mirror allows you to check your yoga posture. If you’re following a television program or video, you’ll need a monitor. Music is good, too, in these spaces.
If you still need the guest space occasionally, a Murphy bed is an excellent addition. “They tuck away into the wall can make the space flex for different needs. “They’re a great option for a multi-function home office as well,” Shively says. “Use it, too, for a well-deserved post-yoga or -meditation nap.”