Dana Santas and her family built their home gym as a collaborative effort.

Editor’s Note: Dana Santas is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, experienced registered yoga teacher and mind-body coach known as the Mobility Maker. She’s the yoga coach for the Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Lightning and others in Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the Professional Golfers’ Association.

Story highlights

Dana Santas wanted more than a treadmill stuck in a corner

Her family created a home gym that's become their favorite "room"

CNN  — 

Have you ever owned a piece of at-home exercise equipment that became a massive, expensive clothes hanger? I have. Like many who make good-intentioned commitments to working out at home, I set myself up for failure by going too big, too soon. After only a month, I lost the motivation to run in place on my treadmill, like a hamster on a wheel, in the corner of a room. Thankfully, I came to realize that a smaller-step, progressive approach is more sustainable, enabling you to match your budget and space allocation to your growing dedication and needs.

Start small: Accountability, interest and ease

A crate of workout tools in the bathroom helped Dana Santas stay accountable.

Many years after abandoning the treadmill, I recommitted to working out at home with a few cost-effective multipurpose tools: yoga mat, yoga block, dumbbells, kettle bell, mini band and foam roller. Although the crate holding these things didn’t take up much space, by placing it conspicuously next to my shower, I saw it every morning. And when I used a dry-erase marker to write workouts on the bathroom mirror, they’d literally stare me in the face.

To ensure that I couldn’t claim lack of time, boredom or being overwhelmed as excuses, I initially limited workouts to five to 10 minutes and stuck with familiar exercises I enjoyed that could be done barefoot in pajamas. These included my favorite morning yoga movements, foam rolling and basic dumbbell exercises such as bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and shoulder presses.

A pull-up bar in the doorway helped her meet her goal.

Because I wanted to improve my upper-body strength and coveted the idea of being able to do a pull-up, I took an additional measure to keep myself accountable and interested by hanging a pull-up bar in the master bathroom doorframe. After making a rule that I had to do a band-assisted pull-up every time I walked under it, within a few months, I could do multiple unassisted pull-ups in a row.

Let necessity lead the way

A TRX suspension trainer is a great solution to a space crunch.

As a reward for six months of working out at least five mornings per week, I added a training tool to my crate. After concentrating on upper-body strength, I felt I needed something multifunctional that could increase opportunities for total-body exercise within the confines of my bedroom and bathroom. The TRX suspension trainer could hang on a door and offered the perfect solution, considering that its inventor, Randy Hetrick, a Navy SEAL, created it as a means of overall conditioning in the space-confined conditions of deployment.

I started with simple exercises from the manual, but empowered by the success I’d had creating workouts based on my yoga interest and experience, I also experimented with yoga movements, both supported and resisted by the TRX.

Dedicating to dedicated space

Working out became a fun family bonding experience.

Although I enjoyed the suspended body-weight workouts, within a year, I began craving more weight-training exercises. So I expanded to a weight-lifting bar with plates on my lanai.

Now that my home workouts were no longer confined to the privacy of my bedroom and bathroom, my husband and children began joining me. Soon, our weekends included family workouts that spilled out into our yard and driveway. They were fun bonding experiences that promoted a healthy lifestyle commitment to our kids.

With our dedication to home workouts now evident in numerous places inside and outside our house, creating dedicated space was a logical next step. Consequently, 18 months after I set the milk crate next to my shower, we converted our garage into a home gym that quickly became our family’s favorite “room” in the house.

The family's garage gym grew bit by bit.

As our budget and opportunities allow, we continue to build out our gym. At first, we turfed only half the garage, but nine months later, we were able to install higher-end turf over the entire floor space. And, periodically, we make family decisions to add functional training equipment, like the heavy bag.

Beyond physical benefits

Friends and family helped create a wall of motivational words.

To make our workout space feel less like a gar