Almost every commercial gym I’ve ever seen has mirrors on the walls. It’s part of the deal when building a gym. They are useful for both the patrons and the trainers and it would be hard to make a case for not installing them.
So when people are building their home and garage gyms, a commonly asked question is should they install mirrors? If so, where do you buy the right kind of mirror, and once you have it, how the heck do you hang something like that?
Installing mirrors in your home or garage gym is a good idea if you want to check your form, make your gym look bigger, or both. Large mirrors are easy to source and easy to hang yourself, so if you have the room it’s something you should definitely consider.
When you talk to professional trainers, many of them will tell you that having mirrors in your gym is a must. To many of them, mirrors are as important as the equipment you’ll be using in front of them.
To be fully transparent, I don’t personally have mirrors in my own garage gym. Instead, I use one of the alternatives listed below. A big part of the reason is I just don’t have the wall space for mirrors. But if you do, I think they are something most home gym owners should install.
I’m sure those trainers could come up with a lot of reasons why they almost insist on them, but here are the three that I hear most often.
Check your form
Training, while good for you, can also be dangerous if done wrong. One of the best ways to prevent injury is to use proper form. There is no better way to do this when training alone than with mirrors.
This is true for all types of training from using barbells and plates to running on your treadmill. No matter what you are doing, proper form will benefit you greatly and prevent injury.
When training alone in your home or garage gym, there are few easier ways to check your form that to have large mirrors in place. These allow you to monitor and correct your form as you are training.
Being able to correct form issues during a lift or movement is the ideal time to do it. Not checking at all or looking at video after the fact can be too late. This is probably the best reason to add mirrors to your gym.
Make your space look bigger
A really great quality of having mirrors installed in your home gym is that they will instantly make your space look bigger, more open, and less confined.
Since we are often cramming our gyms into already tight or cramped quarters, they can sometimes feel small and claustrophobic. If this describes your gym, consider adding mirrors (and good lighting!!!).
Mirrors will give the appearance that your space has doubled or more. They are a great way to make a small home gym seem very open and inviting.
Regardless of the actual purpose of putting mirrors in commercial gyms, the two things I just listed are not what mirrors get used for the most. Yes, people are checking their form. Yes, it makes the gym look bigger.
But by far, the single biggest thing people in commercial gyms use the mirrors for is people watching. And not just other people, themselves too.
It’s simply human nature to check other people out. Especially in a gym. And it’s human nature to want to look at yourself mid and post-workout!
I train specifically to be healthy and live a longer healthier life. But as my coach told me once, “who doesn’t like to look like they lift?“. We all do and we all secretly check ourselves out in the mirror more often than we’d like to admit.
It’s your gym! If you like to regularly check your progress and your pump, go for it! Add some mirrors to your gym today!
Do you need mirrors?
So, do you need mirrors? The answer here is no. No one needs mirrors in their gym. But you may want them. And I would even go so far as to say they are a really good idea for most people. Whether it’s for one of the reasons I just listed or something else, if you want them and you have the wall space, add mirrors today!
Where to put gym mirrors
Once you make the decision to add mirrors to your gym, you’ll have to decide where the best place to put them is. While you can do whatever looks best to you, if your mirrors are going to serve a functional purpose it’s important to put them in a place that serves that function.
If you have a squat or power rack, a very useful place to install mirrors is directly in front and directly to the side of where you will be squatting.
Squatting is one of the most potentially injurious movements when done incorrectly and being able to see your squat from multiple angles will be very helpful. Especially if you can see your form as you perform the movement!
The other very useful place to install a mirror is in front of an area of open floor space. Wherever you stretch, do calisthenics, yoga, dumbbell work, etc. Having a mirror in front of this space is useful to many people.
One note is to keep mirrors away from your weight and bar storage. At some point, those things are going to hit the wall and break your mirror. That’s 7 years of bad luck coming your way.
One commercial gym owner I talked to said that they experience broken mirrors at least once a month. The biggest culprit? Dropped dumbbells that bounce into the wall. So be careful with those dumbbells!
What type and size mirror to buy for a home gym
This will probably be more of a don’t buy list than anything else. The right type of mirror for a gym is very straight forward.
You want a large mirror for your gym. 3 feet by 5 feet with little to no framing around the outside. This is the perfect size and type for most home gyms. This type of mirror can be hung vertically or horizontally to fit any application.
If you can, avoid a framed mirror. If you find a great deal on something you like and it’s got a frame that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. But you will be paying for that frame too.
Buying a mirror with no frame will usually be less expensive than buying one with a frame. It’s also nicer looking in your gym.
Avoid tiling smaller mirrors together. This includes the small flexible stick-on mirrors you see advertised everywhere these days. You want one solid piece of reasonable thick glass.
When you use a flexible mirror, or smaller mirrors tiled together, you get this weird effect similar to walking into a funhouse at a carnival. It’s distracting at best. It also looks pretty bad and is generally not worth the cost savings.
One last tip… Always look for mirrors that have a safety coating on the back. This is an adhesive backing that prevents the mirror from shattering apart into loose pieces if broken. You’ll be really glad you have this type of mirror if you accidentally break it with a weight or barbell.
Where to buy mirrors for your gym
If you are on a tight budget, garage sales and FaceBook marketplace are the best places to look. You can often find old mirrored closet door or unwanted home decor in these places. I’ve even seen mirrors that are free to anyone who can take them safely away.
On the opposite end of the price spectrum is your local custom glass and mirror store. You will pay a premium, but you’ll also get something custom designed to fit your space. Delivery and installation by professionals is a nice additional benefit of going this route.
My preferred places to buy mirrors is WayFair or Amazon. WayFair is where to look if you want something framed or more in the home decor line. If you want the perfect, large, frameless gym mirror, Amazon is the place to go.
The ideal solution is this 60″ x 36″ gym mirror by Fab Glass and Mirror. This is the perfect mirror for most home gyms. It’s relatively inexpensive, but it can be a little large for some.
They also make a 30″ x 40″ option (check it out here on Amazon) which is usually a third of the price and the ideal option for those on a budget or those that want to put mirrors in several locations.
One last note is that Fab Glass and Mirror have really great customer service. You can’t say that about some of the cheaper options out there.
How to mount a gym mirror
You’ve found a place to hang a mirror or two and you’ve decided to pull the trigger. Now what? Well, now you have to hang that puppy. Sound intimidating? It’s not!
With the right (very basic) tools and two people, you’ll have your new mirrors hung in your gym in no time! And seriously, folks, two people please!
Instead of typing out full instructions for you, this video by Fab Glass and Mirror is all you’ll need.
Alternatives to mirrors
What if you don’t have room for mirrors? What if they just aren’t in the budget? What if you just feel weird about putting big mirrors up in the first place? Well, you’re in luck! There are some very good alternatives out there and at least one of them could work for you.
I don’t really have the wall space for mirrors, but I believe strongly in the importance of constantly monitoring your form. How do you do that without mirrors? Like so much else these days, you do it on your phone.
For me, I record almost every set of every exercise I do. Part of that is that I work with a personal trainer and I send a lot of those to him for feedback. But a bigger part is that I can see exactly what I need to focus on during the next set.
This, combined with good notes so I can progress week to week, has been a great alternative to having mirrors in my gym.
If you already have your phone out and recording, there’s another option that can be just as effective as having a mirror.
For those of you that have installed a TV in your home gym, you may be able to broadcast the image from your phone up to your TV. Most smartphones will do this to most smart TVs with no additional gear needed.
If you don’t have a smart TV, adding an inexpensive item like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick is a quick way to gain this functionality. (Please check compatibility with your phone and TV before buying!)
If you hang your TV on a swivel arm like this one you can pick up inexpensively on Amazon, you can see yourself even easier and in more areas of your gym.
Get a trainer
This is not a less expensive option than mirrors. But it is a lot better. Even if you hire someone to get you started the right way by simply coaching the major compound barbell movements, you’ll be way ahead of most people.
I’ve been training on and off most of my adult life (more off than on if I’m being honest) and there is simply no comparison to the progress, accountability, and consistency I’ve gained by working with a trainer over the last year.
I know that might sound like a silly thing to include in an article about putting mirrors in your gym, but if the goal is proper form I can think of no better way to approach that!
Your gym is for YOU!
So should you put mirrors in your gym? Only you can answer that. There are lots of shoulds and musts and ought tos thrown around when researching home gyms.
In the end, you have to build a gym you’ll actually use and enjoy. It needs to become a valued part of your everyday life.
If mirrors will help with this, then put them in. If not, then don’t! It’s your gym, after all!