Home Batcaves: Building Awesome Home Gyms and Work Spaces

By on June 11, 2021
Home Batcave 1

Recently, more and more of us have become acquainted with working and training from home. While this might not have been a choice, the truth is that there are huge advantages in both cases.

Training from home means you always have access to your equipment with no commute. This greatly reduces the friction of starting a workout: it’s easier than ever to just pick up a dumbbell and go. There are no queues, there’s no self-consciousness, and you can train multiple times per day.

See also: The Bioneer Toolkit: The Training Tools & Gadgets I Use

Working from home means being productive in an environment without distractions, surrounded by things that inspire you to do your best work. It means setting your own working hours and being free from prying eyes.

In fact, I would argue that anyone can benefit from creating a space at home to work and train, lockdown or no. From creating their own Batcave.

Home office and gym

I made a video about this a few years ago and it was surprisingly successful. Since then, many more of you have submitted your own batcaves and my own has moved location and bulked up, too.

The idea of this post is to share ideas and inspiration. To discover ways we can be more productive and physically active by creating the perfect environment. You don’t need to have tons of space or heaps of cash like Bruce Wayne, either. I’ve made do with some pretty limited space, as have many others who submitted their own caves. Though, with that said, some of your training spaces are actually insane. To see those submissions, make sure to watch the video that accompanies this post.

Let’s go!

A Space to Work: My Biolab

I call my home office “The Biolab.” Because I’m a massive nerd.

This room is also a guest room, so I’ve had to accommodate a big sofa bed. That said, the sofa actually provides a handy place to sit and read, and a great spot to do some dips.

Biocomputer

The brains of the operation is the Biocomputer. That’s a pretty new Aurora R11, packing a 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X, RTX3080, 64GB RAM, and 3TB storage. That’s by far the most specced out computer I’ve ever owned, but it has already proven to be a smart investment for how much more quickly I’m able to edit, render, and create 3D animations. And yeah, it games pretty good, too!

I work on two monitors, which is now a minimum for me. I have one fancy 1440p monitor and a small cheap monitor to one side. I recently also got myself a Secret Lab chair. Everyone is asking why I didn’t get the Dark Knight edition, which is fair. But a) that version cost too much to justify, b) it’s leather and I prefer not leather and c) it’s apparently ideal for slightly taller individuals. Plus the turquois and grey of this chair matches The Bioneer branding, so that’s a win. It’s really comfortable and so far seems to be MUCH better for my back than the old 20 quid chair I had from Argos. I kept that thing for, like, 5 years!

Secret Lab Chair

A Space You Want to Work In

The result is a workspace that’s extremely comfortable and that I actually enjoy sitting down in. This is really important if you want to be productive. I look forward to sitting down to write or edit with a cup of coffee and that makes me far more likely to do it and to put out good quality work.

To further this cause, I’ve filled the room with things that inspire me or help create the right mood. I’ve got my first ever Iron Man comics on the wall, a Batman displate, and a picture I created that you can actually buy if you like it – the link should be right below this video on YouTube. Creating your own art is a big win, in my opinion!

Priming

I have a chart of the muscular system on the door, too. This both sets the mood and serves as a useful reference when I inevitably forget the name of that tiny muscle in the forearm. Or, you know, biceps.

I’ve also got an Echo here which can turn on my PC (see my old video for Android Authority if you want to know how to set that up) and some Hue lights which are overpriced but do a great job. This way, I can set scenes to match my mood: bright lights when I want to concentrate, or a light blue for working into the evening. I also use these for background lighting in YouTube videos.

VR headset

Otherwise, there’s a star globe, some old VR headsets, some figurines (they’re figurines Mum, not toys!). Oh and lots of books, which also serve as a reference when writing a lot of this stuff. I’ve run out of shelf space (they have to share it with my action films collection).

I also like to work with music, mostly synthwave, which I listen to on some Jabra Elite 85H headphones.

The Eudaimonia Machine

I mentioned this last time, but in his book Deep Work, author Cal Newport discusses the notion of the “Eudaimonia Machine.” This is a hypothetical space designed to encourage the maximum inspiration and productivity from an individual but using the right cues. What this book doesn’t really touch on, though, is just how subjective this should be. What inspires you and primes your mood is different to what puts me in a productive state. You might find that having a movie-accurate Optimus Prime stare at you is not helpful, for example. You do you.

Eudaimonia

But I encourage you to make this space yours, rather than turning it into what you think it should be. Be honest with yourself about how you work best and what you like to be surrounded by.

Incidental Training

Incidental training is the term I use to describe training throughout the day. Whenever you stop what you’re doing for 10 minutes to do a few reps of something, or to stretch, that’s incidental training. Likewise, when you curl your shopping as you carry it back to the car, that’s incidental training.

To encourage this, I’ve filled my office with training tools and opportunities for movement. I have dip bars that I can use at any point to do dips, as well as bodyweight rows, and all kinds of other things.

Incidental training

I also have some lower, wooden parallettes for hand balancing. There’s a balance board, which is great for improving proprioception, as well as waking up the brain in general. I have juggling balls, dumbbells, a kettlebell, an Indian club. I also like using a Bullworker, which is a device for isometric training that happens to be perfect for working out in limited space.

See also: Incidental Training: Everything Can Be Training

Whether I’m practicing tuck planche push ups, banging out bodyweight rows, or having a juggle, I’m up and doing something multiple times throughout the day – and it has helped immensely with my progress.

Tuck planche push ups

In fact, I actually totally ripped off Cal Newport’s idea with my own hypothetical space: The Adaptation Facilitation Machine. This would be a space that would transform an individual into a fitter, stronger, more mobile version of themselves, simply by virtue of existing in it.

The environment shapes the organism. We’ve made a mistake by creating an environment with the singular goal of making us more comfortable. Adaptation to such an environment renders us slow and weak.

What if doors were designed to be too heavy to move? What if stairs required actual climbing? What if items were kept low or high up, to encourage us to jump or squat to reach them?

Wobble board

I’m a way off from achieving that in my office, but it’s a start, at least.

The Bio-Arena

The Bio-Arena is the home gym where I train. This is actually an outdoors gym, which gives me plenty of extra space.

The centre-piece of the Bio-Arena is the wall-mounted pull up bar. This is great as a pull-up bar, as it’s much sturdier than a door-frame bar. More important, though, is the inclusion of eyelets. These allow me to loop carabinas through, so as to attach a rope or a punch bag. A short rope like this to climb is one of the most awesome, functional pieces of training equipment.

Bio-Arena

I’ve also got a kettlebell here and a barbell that stays permanently on the floor here – much to my wife’s chagrin. The barbell is all rusty, which doesn’t look great, but I’d rather have a rusty barbell that I can use quickly and easily, rather than a perfectly shiny one in a shed that I can never be bothered to use!

That said, there is also a lot of stuff in the shed that I get out on an as-needed basis. I rarely get everything out but it’s pretty awesome when I do.

Functional Training Equipment

A lot of this equipment falls into the “functional training” category. Perhaps my favourite example is the Plyo Box. This is a big box you can jump on. It has a bit of grip and you can turn it on its sides to alter the height. You don’t need to spend money on one of these, though, as you can just use a wooden crate or someone even recommended a water barrel!

Plyo box Bio-Arena

This is the kind of equipment you see in gyms a lot but never in home gyms. To me, that’s a missed opportunity: this stuff isn’t that expensive (no moreso than a barbell with a few weights, I think this was £50) but it creates loads of great-fun training opportunities.

Similarly, I get a lot of use out of my sandbag and medicine ball. I’ll make videos about these in future, but they have a ton of unique benefits and they’re loads of fun to use. I use the Bulgarian Bag slightly less, but it has a definite place in my workouts.

Sandbag training Bio Arena

Otherwise, it’s more parallettes and some dumbbells! Oh, and I just added a balance beam. This is flimsier than I hoped it would be: I wanted to use it for jumping from the Plyo Box to practice precision landings. But for balancing, crawling, or practicing some cool moves I want to try on railings in future, it’s a neat and unique addition.

In short, The Bio-Arena has a little more in common with an assault course or a Ninja Warrior gym than your regular commercial gym. I have gym access for when I want to squat and bench press, so this makes sense. But actually, I much prefer training this way these days. It’s way more exciting, action-packed, and varied.

Let me know what your home gym and office look like in the comments, or check out the video to see the amazing response from other viewers! I was really overwhelmed by how many people sent in their gyms and I found it very inspiring. So, don’t worry if you missed the boat this time, we shall do it again!

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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

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