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How To Create A Home Gym (Or Nook) You Will Actually Enjoy Using


Disclaimer: This post discusses weight gain and loss, body image, and other diet/fitness related issues so if you’re someone who is sensitive to this type of content just look at the photos or skip altogether.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post over on my blog about how 2020 was a rough year on my body but I was ready to get back in the game fitness-wise. This was in the first few days of the year when my dry January was in full swing, I was working out every morning, and I was eating really well…

Cut to the next week when an unprecedented wind storm whipped through my town, toppling tons of trees in my yard, smashing tons of houses, and cutting the power out for more than a week. I spent a few days in my freezing, internet-and-electricity-free house before giving up and heading to LA to house sit for a friend who was out of town. I came back a few days later and spent a few hours cleaning up the mess from living without power for a week (you’d be surprised how dirty your house gets when you can’t see anything because there aren’t any lights). A few hours later a blizzard started that ended up dumping 10’ feet of snow on my house, trapping me inside (at a certain point I just gave up shoveling because the snow was coming down faster than I could get rid of it and I was getting sick from being cold and wet for so many days on end). 

The snowstorm drama ended when I dug a tunnel out from my garage, hiked down some snowmobile tracks with a bunch of bags on my back while my dog pulled me down the hill, and was picked up by two of my aunts who live an hour away to be taken to warm shelter and (GASP) internet access!

This story isn’t really all that relevant to what I want to talk about today – how to create a fun, functional gym that will actually make you want to workout. But it does have to do with a theme that I think is important when it comes to approaching fitness: giving yourself a break when you need to. What did I do when I was trapped in my cold house with no way to heat up food? I ate whatever garbage non-perishable food I had lying around that didn’t need to be heated up (Hello Goldfish crackers I bought for my nephew when he visited only to realize he was too fancy to eat Goldfish crackers!). With no water and no way to shower, my motivation to go lift weights in my gym diminished. And what do you do when the sun sets at 4:30 PM, your house is pitch black, and you have no cell phone service because the tower got knocked down? Drink wine and think about that past whilst snuggling your puppy, duh!

Needless to say, after the wind and snow storms that basically made survival my full-time job, working out and eating thoughtfully kinda went out the window (keep in mind the snow storm literally made it impossible for me to get out of my house for days and there wasn’t electricity or heat – my neighbors who have lived here for 30 years said nothing like it has happened in all their time here). But I think for a lot of us that’s what 2020 was. Every time we picked up the mess from the last disaster, another disaster came right along after it, making it hard for us to be as resilient, motivated, and healthy as we wanted to be. And this is why it’s so important to not only forgive ourselves for not necessarily being at our best at all times, but also celebrate ourselves for the resilience we showed in just getting through a truly awful time.

A lot of people found themselves feeling a lot less healthy by the end of 2020, and I know weight gain was a typical symptom. I have had my own fair share of body dysmorphic and self-esteem issues, so I want to be careful about how I phrase all of this. I’m not gonna frame the 30 pounds I gained as an inherently bad thing – I actually think I look fine and I’m more annoyed that my clothes don’t fit than I am about being thicker. For me, the real fitness crisis is how I feel. Tired, depressed, just literally weighed down. So in seeking out to remedy my 2020 health depression, I tried to start from a place of self-acceptance and approach wellness from a more encouraging, psychological perspective. And I wanted that sensibility to be reflected in my own home gym.

Fitness and weight gain have been something I have struggled with for a really long time. The first diet I ever went on was when I was 12. And since then I’ve had a rollercoaster of a relationship with my body, my physical appearance, and my body’s relentless desire to be overweight. As an adult, I have never not been on some sort of diet or extreme exercise regimen. And the one gift 2020 brought was that I fell completely off that wagon and it gave me some distance to actually think about what the most mindful approach to my own wellness should be. 

The first thing I had to get over when starting to plan my gym was guilt. I think a lot of us have this thing where we feel guilty about spending time and money on things that seemingly will only benefit ourselves. I could also hear my parents’ voices in my ears saying things like “DO YOU REALLY NEED TO BUY THAT $1500 WEIGHT SET???” Like many people, my finances have been all over the place during Covid so spending a ton of money on a home gym felt a little scary. But my work, my entire business, and everything I make money on depends solely on my creativity, my personality, my leadership, and my energy. And ALL of those things depend on me being happy, healthy, and capable of being productive AF. 

It’s impossible to be productive when you’re physically depressed because you’re eating poorly and not exercising enough. So while it felt irresponsible to spend thousands of dollars primping this room in my house, I knew I had to do it or I wouldn’t get out of my 2020 funk. And if I didn’t get out of my 2020 physical slump I wouldn’t get out of my 2020 professional slump.

So, I approached designing my gym with one objective in mind: fun and positivity. I wanted my gym to feel silly, inviting, bright, colorful, and encouraging. Which brings me to the reason I brought all of you here today! My Ten Essentials for Your Home Gym. Keep in mind, I came up with these based on the person that I am and how I workout. Some of you may be more interested in yoga or cycling, or other forms of exercise than I am, so your gym might look super different. But for me, combining these essentials has made my gym a place I’m happy to spend time. Follow along why don’t you and see what they are!

Vibrant and Delicious Color

Pink Paint | Beige Paint | Ivory Paint

My first memories of gyms were the one at my high school, which looked more like a prison than an actual prison (concrete, rusted metal, no windows) and the little workout center in Yosemite, which was less depressing but had terrible, glaring fluorescent lights that made you question your will to live whenever you entered. So I knew I wanted my gym to be colorful, bright, and happy. I knew if I didn’t put it in a room that got a lot of sunlight I’d never want to go in there. Which is why I chose the smallest guest bedroom on the south (sunniest) side of my house. I realize it’s a huge luxury to have an entire random room in your house to turn into a gym. But I think these tips can be integrated into even the smallest of spaces, from a corner of your bedroom to the garage – the most important thing is putting some time and thought into making your workout space pretty so you’ll actually be excited to spend time in it.

As an awkward last-picked-for-the-team type kid, anything athletic always felt alienating and over my head somehow. And that kinda permeated into my adult life until I started going to gyms on my own accord and trying things out. I am by no means a “Fitspo” expert or anything, but I grew to enjoy working out once I got over the alienation caused by years and years of childhood trauma. I imagine some people might feel the same entering a gym, a space where muscle and traditional heteronormative masculinity are the norm. I wanted my gym to kind of feel like the antithesis of the typical intimidating gym. So I painted it a color traditionally associated with femininity and gayness, PINK!

Fun & Movement

One of my go-to’s, when I’m trying to give a space a sense of importance and movement, is paint. This is probably because I studied painting in school, but also because it’s such an easy way to make your house look so much different, more vibrant, and more interesting without spending too much. I decided to create a sense of movement in the room by hand stenciling half-circles on the wall, framing out the windows, and giving the ceiling a nice rush of pink. One of my favorite color palettes is pink mixed with beige and ivory, so I combined those three colors to make a room that essentially looks like an ice cream cone. A delicious, sweet ice cream cone. 

A Good “Hook”

Frame TV | Shelf/Bracket Set | Lamp

The way I’ve motivated myself to stay in shape as an adult has predominantly been going to a gym in LA. I don’t know why, but I’ve always found it motivating to be around tons of other people doing the same thing as me. Like in college I couldn’t study in my dorm room, only at the library. So not having that public space to workout in anymore was an absolute disaster for me. I couldn’t get myself to workout regardless of how much workout equipment I installed first for my little LA apartment’s guest room, then the living room, then eventually the backyard. What was missing from my workout regime was that communal energy and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get myself to want to exercise without it.

But then a random business trip sparked an idea. I had to fly to New York (my first time on a plane post-covid) to shoot something for HGTV. And at my hotel room, I was reminded of something I always love doing when I’m staying in hotels: watching The Today Show. To me, laying in your hotel room and watching a cheery morning news show for hours and hours is the ultimate decadence, mostly because if I was at home I’d be screaming at myself “YOU SHOULD BE WORKING!” 

But, what if I could use this vacation decadence to trick myself into working out? So I decided to install a TV in the gym and make working out and watching The Today Show my morning routine. It feels like I’m doing something bad, like a treat, but really I’m also motivating myself to get back to health.

I actually think the TV trick is a pretty good one. I splurged on the Frame TV because I’ve been eyeing it for years and love it aside from the fact you have to buy the frame color you want (you don’t get to choose, it just comes black and if you don’t want black you have to pay $200 for a cover). But I think this trick could definitely work for other people. Like maybe your wife hates “Bridgerton” and you can use your workout time to watch that alone? Or maybe you just buy a good wireless speaker and listen to your favorite podcast (I like “Why Won’t You Date Me?,” “Left Right & Center,” and “Fresh Air”). If TV or podcasts aren’t your thing, I’m sure you can do some digging to see if there’s any “hook” you could use to get yourself into your gym. This might take some time (it did for me) but if you truly think about things you love it can help you think of ways to motivate yourself. After a lifetime of dieting and obsessive exercising, I’m kinda over it. So it was really key for me to fill in the motivational piece to make sure I would actually workout. The struggle (to find motivation) is real!

Quality Weights and/or Equipment

This was a must for me but I don’t think it would necessarily be for everyone. I don’t know if it’s still like this, but I found it impossible to find decent weights when I was designing my gym (everyone seems to installing home gyms these days so they’re sold out all over the place). Everyone’s different, but I will say you should think about the type of workout you like to do and not feel guilty spending some money on making it possible. There are obviously a million things you can do with free weights (and I’ve been learning more and more by using YouTube) so for me it was important to have a set. And for my eyeballs it was important that that set matched and was easy to organize.   


Rainbow People Print | Mirror | Barbell Rubber Hex Dumbbell Set

This one seems stupid but it’s not. There’s a reason fancy private gyms have mirrors everywhere. Firstly, they bounce light all over the place and make the room feel airier. And as I’ve already said I love lots of natural light in my workout space. Which means you should too! Because I am the one writing this post and you are the one reading it! 

Mirrors are also obviously helpful in making sure your posture and form are correct. I can’t tell you how many times the little voice in my head has said “You’re doing it! You’re doing it RIGHT!” only to look in the mirror and realize I am doing it totally wrong. You have to be able to see yourself to know if you’re using correct form. I have used these Ikea mirrors about seven thousand times and while I wish the frame was another color they are undoubtedly the best bang for your buck when it comes to a huge ass mirror that only costs $129. I thought about spraying these white or another color but was worried I’d end up spending too much time on a small detail I wouldn’t really appreciate later. 

Eye Candy (Art)

Be Nice Tea Towel | Lamp | Face Bookend Vase 

One of my favorite things about going to an actual gym with actual human beings in it is staring at hot gay guys in athleisure doing sweaty things together. But with no sweaty hot gays (except myself?) to look at, I found myself worried there wouldn’t be anything to feast my eyes on should The Today Show enter into a commercial break or should Hoda enter into a tangent I didn’t personally find interesting (impossible!). So I decided my gym was gonna need some art. Clearly, I need constant stimulation in order to do literally anything. 

No matter how beautifully decorated they are, there never seems to be any art in even the fanciest of private health clubs. And since I wanted my gym to be fun, silly, and welcoming I decided to use some of my more playful art in here. I asked myself “why can’t every wall in here be a gallery wall?” and when I couldn’t think of a good answer I decided to just put art all over the place. I also wanted to make sure I was integrating the fancy Frame TV I bought into the room and capitalizing on its ability to look like a pretty piece of art instead of a giant black box on the wall. 

Cushy Flooring

Foam Floor Tiles | Mirror

I had to swap the flooring out in this room because the dated ’90s carpet was hurting my eyeballs (though it was super comfy to walk on tbh). But I wanted something to protect the floor from me constantly dropping heavy things on it, insulate for sound in case I had guests (what are “guests” and when will they come back?), and be nice and easy on my joints (because I want my muscles to be swole, not my knees!). The solution was relatively inexpensive and easy. I installed these interlocking foam tiles from Amazon in a few hours. Basically, you just cut them to size and tape them down with carpet tape. I have had to maintain them a bit as they tend to warp depending on how warm it is, but they function pretty well and cost about $150 which seems not bad for flooring an entire room. 

Ample Lighting

Lamp | Grip Plate Weight | Adjustable Rack | Pulldown Attachments | Adjustable Bench

All people are different, but I’m super sensitive to the lighting wherever I am. Bad lighting can destroy my mood and potentially my entire life depending on what day it is. I like things to be bright, especially when I work out. Good lighting, along with the views out my windows, gives me energy to keep going. One of the reasons I moved to the woods was to experience all four seasons again. Believe it or not, after 13 years in LA I really missed winter and snow. Life gets boring when it’s sunny every day for years on end. But living in a place with weather also means living in a place where it’s often cloudy and overcast. So I not only wanted a room with ample natural light, I also wanted to make sure if it was gloomy outside I’d have enough lighting to keep it bright and cozy in my gym.

I repurposed an “orb-lando” (DIY wire light fixture) I’d crafted as a prop for my book and added a few lamps on surfaces around the room. I even replaced the existing boob light with a simple, modern flush-mount I found on Amazon. Amazon has actually been a pretty great resource for inexpensive lighting as I’ve been slowly trying to swap out all the dated fixtures in the house. The fixture I chose is LED and cost less than $30. I don’t LOVE the temperature of the light. It’s a bit bluer than I tend to prefer. But the other lighting in the room is super warm so it kind of balances out.

I’ve been installing fixtures all over the house which has been an adventure because A) I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing and B) The breaker box is labeled in a very confusing and mysterious way – I thought my dryer didn’t work for two months and hired an electrician to come out and tell me that it did work it was just labeled as “microwave” on the panel. Probably by the time I’m done replacing all this lighting I’ll be a certified electrician because there’s still so many ugly fixtures to get rid of. But, lighting is one of the most important elements in any home. Especially if it’s in a gym with a bunch of mirrors – you want to see yourself in the most flattering light possible. 


White Bins | Bracketed Shelves | Hey Sosi Paintings

Since I wanted my gym to be pretty and organized, I added some shelving I’d had leftover from a project I did at my parents’ house years ago. To be honest, most of the stuff in this room (aside from the equipment) was leftover from something else because I was trying not to spend too much. These pretty shelves are from Rejuvenation and I love them along with the pretty brass brackets. But I didn’t necessarily want to see all the wellness accouterments I’ve collected over the years so I added some simple white bins from Ikea to hide things in. The more you research different workouts the more stuff you’ll accumulate. For example, I just bought these bands for glute exercises and they’re great, I just don’t want to look at them all the time. When creating a composed, organized gym storage is essential. This is doubly important if your gym is integrated into a corner of your bedroom or another room in your house.  

Not all storage has to be hidden away. I’ve been experimenting with making different things out of dowels lately. So I cut a few down to make a storage system for all the accessories that go with my pull-down system (this is a set of pulleys attached to the ceiling, mostly used for chest and shoulder exercises). To make these, I cut down a 1.25” dowel to 5” rods, sanded it down, and attached it to the wall with a double-ended screw. I like that they bring in pretty blonde wood and make the pull-down handles and bars into a little gallery wall while keeping them easily accessible. I used the same 1.25” dowel to make a mobility stick (bar you use to do different arm/shoulder stretches) and added it to the wall next to the TV as a fun little accent that’s also a super practical way to store it.

Self Love

Clock | Be Nice Tea Towel

I know this is super cheesy, but no post about gyms or working out would be complete without the reminder that none of this is going to work if you don’t begin your wellness journey from a celebratory, self-love perspective. 

I was talking to a friend the other day about how stupid the ’90s were. I’ve been watching Dawson’s Creek, which I’d never seen before, and I never knew how racist, homophobic, and slut shamey it was. I also just watched the New York Times Britney Spears documentary and it reminded me what a weird time the late ’90s were. The public wanted Britney to dress like a sexy baby, but also be a virgin. The number of “legit” news reporters who asked her about her virginity is shocking. And it wasn’t just her, it was Jessica Simpson and literally every other visible woman back then. I’d hope that if that question were asked now the response would be NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS YOU CREEP. What a gross time. I remember even being a teenager in the ’90s feeling like I was somehow living in the past.

The ’90s were also stupid because of how rigid the standards for bodies, especially womens’ bodies were. The super skinny heroin chic look must have given half (if not all) the women my age complexes about their bodies. I’m a guy and it even rubbed off on me. And my impression was that things were better now. We have beautiful people like Lizzo around letting us know that there are a million ways to be gorgeous. But I think if you actually look at Instagram, TikTok, and everywhere else there’s still a lot of the same content asking us to hate ourselves.

For me as a gay man, I feel constantly inundated by THOTy gay influencers with perfect bodies. Consciously or subconsciously I always end up comparing myself to them. Which is one reason I don’t spend lots of time looking at Instagram and TikTok. When I sense that my scrolling is starting to elicit dark feelings, I shut the app down and do something else. On Instagram, sex definitely sells and it still feels like even though we have made strides in inclusion, the same old traditionally “hot bodied” people tend to get more traction, gain more followers, and procure the most lucrative brand deals.

And I’m not a woman but it’s clear the same kind of please-hate-your-body bullshit is being hurled their way. For example, you’ll see brands celebrating “curvy” women, but the curvy women they’re celebrating have a very specific type of curviness that’s often only possible via plastic surgery (huge breasts, tiny waist, big butt). You’re not really celebrating body diversity if you’re only celebrating one very specific version of “curvy.” We still have so far to go in terms of figuring out how to accept and celebrate diverse bodies.

For me, starting from a place of self-acceptance with my own body has helped me make working out, which formerly felt more like a punishment, into something I had positive associations with. Instead of feeling “I need to look like that” or “this is a punishment for eating ___” I’m more concentrated on “I’m doing this to feel better and be stronger.” Expressing positive thoughts about your body is not only a way of helping yourself feel better, it’s also a way of boosting up everyone around you. This is especially important if your body doesn’t fit into the traditional mold of what has been recognized as beautiful. Loving your body gives the people around you permission and encouragement to do the same.

Okay that’s it. I love your body. And I think it’s worth taking some time to think about ways to make it healthier and stronger. And (especially now in Covid times) creating a space for that in your home is the best way to do that. Goodbye!

*Photos and Design by Orlando Soria

Fin Mark


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Great post – and beautiful gym! I hate hate hate gyms, but I think even I would want to work out in that one.

Kristi B

So beautiful! It comes together perfectly as one space. If I had to pick a favorite detail it would be your paint color and the shapes you created with it.
btw, lamp link is not right. Love that lamp.

i noticed that too about the lamp because i love that lamp. the one listed is actually for the lamp in the next picture.

Orlando! please link the lamp with the tapered shade and wood ball base!


I think it is this one. It’s been out of stock until just yesterday.

Lori S H

I love this gym! What a bright spot to focus on wellness.


I loved everything about this post! Thank you for brightening my morning.


Thank you for this. I added a “fitness” corner two months ago to our tv room after reading an article about working out over 40 to maintain mobility as you age (gah!) and was like, “yes, do this now”: inexpensive great SUNY rower, extra thick fitness mats (my knees are so much happier) for stretching and yoga, and some free weights. But I sort of lost steam on making it pretty. Now I’m re-inspired. Oooh! I have a giant ornate wall mirror I could install! Also, Walmart, in the kids section has a very inexpensive foam floor tile that is chevron and the size of 3×5 rug. Like $20. I use it in my classroom, but it would be great over there. OK. Doing this. Thanks!!!!!

what a great post. LOVE the commentary about the 90s. i actually have such fondness for the nineties because i was young and a little more carefree than i am now, BUT your assessment was actually pretty spot on.
also, love the pink and the natural light. i’m not an exerciser, but this has encouraged me to want to !


The one mercy of the 90s was the fashion. Grunge was a darn godsend to a self-conscious teen like I was. Loose flannel shirts and jeans? Yes please! ’99-’00 took a turn as Paris Hilton’s miniskirt look rose, but there were some blissful years there where being in shapeless flannel was very cool, thank goodness.


Love this post so much and the gym looks amazing! Totally relate to the The Today Show – I don’t know what it is, but it really feels like such a treat to watch ha.


Haha … for me, that kind of show onky got watvhed when I was really unwell and had to stay home from work.
I was exceptionally poor at self-care, so tg5e only time I did it was when I was simply too sick to work (at work or at home).
It comforts me still, because of that connection … and we have it in Australia too – both the US and Aussie versions!
I really only watch TV in the evenings.

Cris S.

I grew up as an Air Force brat in Germany and England during the 80s and our sole TV channel was AFN (Armed Forces Network). For the first few years we only had black and white westerns on when we got home from school but eventually we got the live feed of the Today Show. And since AFN didn’t play commercials we got a weird mix of military commercials (No to FOD on the flight line, watch out for spies, and don’t shop when you are hungry? – anyone else out there grow up with AFN?) and just getting to watch Bryant Gumble and Jane Pauley et all chat during breaks. Today Show for the win!

Orlando – we love your body and your spirit too! Thank you for writing this. I need to get my 50 year old broke @ss moving again. I appreciate your inspiration.


Thank you for sharing. I think the built environment is vital to everyone’s well being and health. This is just one example I’ve seen online where others delve in and make the deeper connections between health and design: I think we’ve entered a more evolved era in design (interior, fashion,et al.) where we will be making thoughtful decisions that will help us to be our healthiest selves. I believe sharing your journey will help others. Be well.


Brigitte, thank you for that link. It’s terrific!! x


I love your home gym! And I really hope you get to enjoy a warm and electricity-lit house soon without having to dig a snow tunnel 🙂


Love the gym and your posts!

Maggie L

Going paint my workout room now…

Your gym is gorgeous! I am getting some serious inspiration here, thank you! I have to know though. What is that pole hanging on the wall by the TV for?!


He mentions it when he talks about making things out of 1.25 dowel rods, including that–it’s a mobility stick for stretching.


Your voice is always a joy to read and I love your DIY ideas with the blonde wood. Well done, practical plus beautiful – the whole set!


And big thank you for showing us your cables and how you handle them! Reality FTW.


Love the post,the thoughtful discussion about weight and body image. Came of age in the 90s so I know what you are talking about. The only thing I would need in this space is green plants. All of the rooms I want to spend time in need greenery. But I live in MN where we have 9 months of winter. Maybe you aren’t there enough to tend plants?


You make everything beautiful, Orlando.


Oh Orlando, we were really concerned about you! So glad you n your delicious pup are cozy and safe!

You wrote, “celebrate ourselves for the resilience we showed in just getting through a truly awful time.” THIS!
Thank you! I’m borrowing this and just added it to my journal to remind myself as I go through the most difficult time in my life. xx


I love Orlando, that is all.


Me too. His writing voice (and actual voice) is fun and engaging. His message is always thoughtful and hilarious. He always manages to connect design to life, the world, personal feelings, empathy, and social issues. He paints things pink, which inspired me to paint things pink.

Follow him on Instagram! I always look forward to his stories.


Orlando, You are such a thoughtful, talented, authentic person, and you deserve everything in that gym! Especially your adorable pup!


So so true. Orlando, I love and appreciate your authenticity. You just put it all out there in such a real way. You are a gift. And a great writer too.


Great post, Orlando!! So glad you survived the snowpocalypse relatively unscathed. This post is so timely in so many ways. Thank you for the inspiration.


Had no idea a post about a home gym could make me feel so many things! It’s beautiful, but the thought behind it is even better.

I am also SO curious about your escape from the snow. How did you get in touch with your aunts to plan your rendezvous??


Love this gym! And I love Orlando’s focus on loving himself as motivation to work out. Also, I think I need to hang up the quote from him, “I love your body.” -Orlando on my wall. I don’t know why, but that just made me so happy. Orlando, you are awesome!


Orlando, you are an absolutely incredible designer! I wish I had a gym that beautiful to work out in, I really love the ice cream colors and positive art. One random question – in one of the pics you have a wall plug that’s connected to the wall by little white clips. What are the name of those clips/where can I find them? My wall plug situation is a little “medusa” at the moment


Look for nail in clips, nail clips or cable wire clips. You can find them at Home Depot or Walmart, etc…


The tv trick is shockingly effective. We bought a treadmill a few years ago to get through Midwest winters, and it sat collecting cobwebs. When encouraging our five-year-old son to donate things he no longer uses, he accurately pointed out, “Kinda like you guys don’t use the treadmill. Are you going to get rid of that?” Touché.

Fast forward to this winter when we stuck a tv in front of it. I am NOT a morning person, but I’ve found myself rolling out of bed at 530 every other morning to watch Bridgerton while walking or running on the treadmill. Such a fun way to start the day!


Obviously you have other things to do in life, but I would be so happy if you posted something to your blog every day. I just love your kind and thoughtful realtalk


I love your designs too, of course. But I suspect you would make a fantastic therapist 😉


Oh yeah – is that a WTNV print??


Me too!!
I go there to check … nada. Next day, repeat.
His writing is sooooo good; fun, yet so deep.


Love this combo of self care and design. I’m inspired to watch my silly YouTube workout video and get all those good neurotransmitters flowing.


This is such a good post – I, too, am OVER the terrible standards of beauty and now my exercise efforts are focused on feeling good rather than looking good. I also like being strong because I can defend myself. However, I’m the opposite of Orlando in that I much prefer having a private place to exercise – I don’t like the creeps and prying eyes and commentary you get at the gym!! This space is totally beautiful and I’d love to have a home gym like that someday. If anyone in a smaller space wants to recreate the TV idea, you can get a wall or tripod mount for an iPad or even a phone. I also love Satie’s tiny gallery wall next to her bed 🙂

“Bad lighting can destroy my mood and potentially my entire life depending on what day it is.”

I don’t think I’ve ever related to anything more 😂😂😂😂

Wish I could hang out in your fun gym with you and Satie!


Orlando, so much of this post resonates with me! We’re the same age, and you are so spot on about coming of age in the 90s and the feelings you have about gyms. I’ve sent all of your gym design posts to my husband, a fitness-obsessed industrial designer, starting with when you were making beautiful dumbbells out of concrete on IG around the beginning of quarantine. I’ve never found fitness so appealing in my life.


Thanks for the post, Orlando. I thought about you when I was at an Ansel Adams exhibit last weekend – how amazing it must be to live near that gorgeous scenery he photographed. (Walking in nature is my favorite form of physical activity.)

The balance stick looks great next to the Frame. I’d like to know where you got the smaller artwork above and just to the right of the big mirror; it has green and white geometric figures. Looking at it makes me feel energetic!


I love searching for answers on the internet instead of doing chores, so I took a few minutes today to hunt down that artwork, and soon realized it must be one that Orlando himself created.

I love this post! I also made a room in my house into a home gym but I haven’t yet gotten around to painting it a fun color. Probably because it has really old wallpaper that needs to be stripped first–ugh. But I also hung art and have a TV– I watch youtube workouts on it but I would totally watch the Today Show too. Anyway, the home gym was a game changer for me and this post has given me lots of ideas about how to decorate it in a way that allows me to focus on my own mental health as well as my physical health.


Orlando! Such a lovely post. But also omg the dog bed!!! Dying for the source please!!!


Love everything about this post and your gym. You may have single-handedly transformed what a home gym can be.

And this, “Clearly, I need constant stimulation in order to do literally anything,” made me laugh-it’s my whole ADD life!


Thanks for a great post, Orlando. I had already checked out your gym on your blog, and I love it. I’m also glad to hear that you made it through that blizzard— so scary! I, too, have that feeling of sluggishness, brain fog, and depression when I’m not exercising and eating healthier. I’ve never been one to diet, and I’m fortunate to have natural thin genes (I’m convinced it’s easier for some us to be thin), but like you, my biggest frustration when I gain weight, in addition to the brain fog, is my clothes not fitting. My style leans toward more tailored clothing, so it’s shocking how much a change in weight affects the fit of clothing. I keep considering more forgiving styles, but it doesn’t feel like “me.” While I’m not big on traditional working out, I do have a stationary bike, and walk and fo yoga regularly. Years ago, we realized that we don’t have guests in our small guest room that often, and decided to upgrade by converting the bed to a Murphy bed. It was well worth it, because now I have a place for my bike and to spread out my yoga mat. With… Read more »


Orlando, I really couldn’t love this post more. Let me count the ways: 1. I appreciate your trigger warning. Even though I’m in recovery for an eating disorder, I read it anyway and I was so impressed by the way you handled this topic. 2. I honestly thought it was just me who needed “ambiance” in order to work out. I HATE the little cramped space in my home office and it’s just not motivating at all. In the Beforetimes I swam laps because it was the one workout that made me feel good and powerful and weightless. It’s definitely been hard to stay active now, but I recently discovered horseback riding which is still open and accessible since it’s outside! Holy hell it’s had such an impact on my mental health and I never *don’t* want to go. Once you find the thing that motivates you, it’s 100% worth the financial and time investment to make it happen. 3. You’re so right about the 90s, and thankfully we’ve come a long way. HUGE thanks to Lizzo, Tess Holiday, Ashley Graham, Jessamyn Stanley, etc. However, I will say that fat shaming is still the one acceptable form of blatant bigotry… Read more »



The fact that Orlando thinks “big” and considers how his words might affect EVERYONE that might read his posts, is so uplifting.
His considerate writing, rather than just belting it out any way he likes because it’s “his”post, is fabulous!

ALL bloggers might consider to aspire and diligently strive to be so considerate of all their potential readers, rather than just saying what they want to say, their way. That’s a bit narcissistic, to be frank.

Being a blogger isn’t about finding one’s “tribe”, it’s about successfully communicating with EVERYONE, considerately and compassionately!

Orlando is so successful because he is so considerate and thoughtful of others, in addition to being a great designer!

Roberta Davis

That’s a happy room! It looks like a great place to work out. And your dog looks so adorable in her bed and pink sweater. (I also chose smallest bedroom with south-facing windows for my yoga room, and it looks like a yoga-room/preschool kids’ reading room because that’s where I also read to the grandkids via FaceTime one day a week. It has dinosaur art from IKEA and bears from Target). I’m amazed at the amount of snow at your place and hope all that snow doesn’t collapse your roofs! Looking at it made me wonder if you could go up on your roof and shovel it off, and then jump right into the snow! (That doesn’t sound advisable, given how deep it is!) I was worried about you when you posted that video of all the snow. Sounds like a wretched few weeks.

Thanks for talking about body image and weight issues. Learning how to love and be kind to ourselves is important. I think self-hate is probably playing a big part in all the hatred out there in the world.


Umm can we get the details on that dog bed??? My pups are always watching me while I do yoga in my guest room. I imagine them like little gym teachers yelling at me to keep going. Maybe they need a dedicated spot from which they can sit and judge 😜.

it is tuft and needle and SO GOOD:


You are a gem. Thank you.


It’s true!

Wendy B

Orlando, I LOVE your gym and your take on fitness and wellness. I feel like we are so much the same in our mentality in this area and came from the same place as awkward kids intimidated by fitness and the culture around it. I really struggled in my teens and 20s with my weight and health and overall mental well-being, but in the last few years I’ve done a 180 (starting with very small baby steps). I LOVE working out now and I think it’s the only thing that’s really gotten me through the pandemic. I’m clinging to it and for me it’s about mental health so much more than physical. So I applaud the investment you put into your gym. I’ve had a Peloton bike for a couple years now and I remember people being so appalled that I was willing to spend the money on it, but you’re totally right in that the cost in an investment in your whole self and will boost your ability to excel in other areas. Also, I have to say, that I, too, am a Today Show addict and I love that it’s your hook. Al Roker is an American treasure… Read more »


I’ll freely admit that when I saw you painting that room on your Insta stories, I thought you’d gone insane, Orlando. That the woods had made you go mad. The finished product is amazing. I love it!


Thank you for the lovely post.
On a design note, I love this wood and leather exercise equipment, especially when there isn’t space for a dedicated work-out room.


Love this post so much and wanted to say a big THANK YOU for the disclaimer at the top! As an ED survivor who has finally found healing and balance it made my eyes swell with tears to see the intention and care in that little disclaimer. Thank you thank you thank you! xoxox

This post really hits home,. Love the space you created! I’m missing my workout studio so much especially being with other people. I was walking outside but now that it’s winter I realized I need to utilize the pelaton bike and other equipment I have in the basement. What is motivating me is decorating an playroom we weren’t using to be our home gym. I actually just ordered a mural of a nature scene-it may be really cheesy? but I’m hoping to brighten up space snd give it some energy.


“Loving your body gives the people around you permission and encouragement to do the same.” Loved this. Thanks, Orlando! Also – I loved your home gym so much I started a new pinterest board.


You have a pulldown system! I’ve only recently learned about them as an alternative to the weight stacks/“cages” in commercial gyms, and something I can afford. You linked us to the attachments, but please please please please tell us the nitty-gritty about setting up the system, including how you secured the hook in the ceiling. I also noticed a squat rack—swoon!

When we move, I’m going to build a Murphy bed. When it’s folded up, I’ll use the space to work out with suspension gear. I’d like to also use the hooks for a pulley system like yours. Where can I find out more about them?


D’oh. How did I fail to mention that your approach to loving, taking care of and (I hope!) enjoying your body is spot on. So refreshing!


Orlando you are the best! I love this space and your message. Please keep coming back!!

Great post! I never enjoyed going to the gym before the pandemic, but I would go for health reasons and my hook that made it easier for me to spend an hour on the treadmill or bike was to bring my Nook with me. I love to read and usually didn’t have much time for it, but while I was exercising I could escape into a fun novel for a while and forget that I was working out.


I love Orlando so much–thank you for featuring him! I love not only his design & humor, but also his very thoughtful way writing & expressing insight. I look forward to what he has to say about anything & everything. BTW, this post is very helpful, practical, & inspirational. Thank you, Orlando!


Came for the Orlando post but also stayed for the Orlando comments because it’s so uplifting to read so many positive responses. Something in Orlando – maybe it’s just Orlando plain and simple – elicits this outpouring of affection…’great’ and ‘love’ always feature so strongly. And I love it! And I love his gym too!


Yaaas!!! I think we love Orlando because he’s real, compassionate and considers how his words and sctions affect everyone else.

Humankind = being kind.


i love this so much and i especially love the “watch the today show as a luxurious treat in order to enjoy working out in the morning.” the tv area is actually one of my favorite spots in the room and it really would motivate me to go in there and work out.

Love you Orlando. You are the best.


Love the sort of cable set up!!! Perfect and I really need it! I have fairly severe scoliosis and need the cable row to keep my back strong. Can you please share where you found it?

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