Garage workouts cut costs, build muscle

Jerred Moon, 28, has a lofty goal: To squat-lift 500 pounds — in his garage.

Moon’s garage gym was born out of necessity after he got married in 2010. Despite dreams of becoming an officer in the United Stats Air Force after graduating from military college, he found himself out of work for a few months. He and his new bride decided to move in with her parents. “We lived in the middle of nowhere,” Moon explains. “There was no gym nearby.” So he bought a barbell and some plates and set them up in his in-laws’ garage.

When Moon did finally start his first job with the military, the time and money crunch continued. His garage gym workouts were the only way he managed to fit exercise into his routine between training to become a fighter pilot for 12 hours each day and hitting the books at night. It saved him from having to pay for a gym membership and allowed him to spend more time with his two young sons, William and Graham.

Military moves

As Moon shuffled around from base to base, his garage gym followed.  “I was surprised how many people were interested in it,” Moon recalls. “Every time I got to a new neighbourhood, I would always end up with a neighbour or friend coming over and working out with me — whether I liked it or not!”

After flying fighter jets and subjecting his body to the high G-forces, Moon suffered a hernia and the military decided he was no longer fit for service as a fighter pilot. “Once I learned that I couldn’t fly, I knew I wasn’t going to be a career military guy,” Moons says.

Looking for a new role within the military, Moon switched his focus to fitness full-time. He became his unit’s fitness program manager then a physical training leader in the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. Furthermore, Moon became a certified personal trainer, and attained his CrossFit Level 1 certification.

“It’s been a lot of work,” says Moon, who now teaches others how to set up their own garage gyms via his website and his new book The Garage Gym Athlete. “It’s incredible how many people e-mail me and who are inspired. I help people reach their goals. They’re getting stronger, losing weight, or getting ready for a competition.”

Jerred Moon’s top 3 tips for starting a garage gym

Start now. Get started as soon as possible by doing something active in your garage today. Put your notion into motion. Go into your garage and do some push-ups or squats. Dream about the gym you will be building.

Shop on autopilot. Use If This Then That to search for barbells and used fitness equipment. It allows you to set up filters with different Craigslist searches. Then, when the right equipment is posted for the right price, you will receive a notification. You’ll save oodles of time scouring online ads.

Think safe. Don’t skimp on equipment that would compromise safety. A barbell may be expensive, but it will last for life. You can even put it in your will as inheritance. Moon discourages garage gym-ers from making homemade barbells and plates.

The “Weekly Fitness Challenge” on Don’t Change Much is a great way to starting working out with simple, equipment-free exercises that are all ideal for the garage. You don’t need to squat-lift 500 pounds (or even 50) — moves like the lunge, the bicycle crunch and the plank are all ideal for beginners.

Do you have a garage gym? Send Adam Kreek a picture or a message on Twitter @adamkreek. You can also find more tips to stay fit on the cheap at the Don’t Change Much website.


This article is also available through CBC Sports.