Nikhil’s Gym Adventure🏋️‍♂️: From a US Garage Gym to Building a home gym in India.

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Hello there! I’m Nikhil, a 38-year-old Software Engineer/Husband/Father of two. I was in California, USA for 11 years before returning to India in 2023.

I started my weight loss journey in 2016 and my fitness journey in 2021.

My current training routine is a 4-day rotation of the lower body, upper body, cardio and rest day with powerlifting movements like deadlifts, squats, bench press, pull-ups, shoulder presses 💪 and barbell rows for weights and indoor rowing for cardio.

A short note about my weight loss journey

✅ Before I talk about how I built a home gym in India I’d like to talk about my motivation, which is that until 2015 I led a very unhealthy lifestyle.

I worked and partied hard. Dinner was often steaks and wine during parties, and bhujia and ice creams otherwise.

In 7 years, I gained a lot of weight.

Figure 1: 2008 to 2015 image

Family members often commented on how “different” I looked, but I didn’t know how bad it was until a health checkup in 2015. My BMI was 29 and my total cholesterol 298 (LDL 259). The cholesterol levels were especially bad.

👉 The doctor sounded the alarm ⏰ and told me to start taking statin pills. It was a shocking (and a little upsetting) development for a 30-year-old.

I vowed to change my diet to lose weight and reduce cholesterol without pills💊, and there began my misguided weight-loss journey.

For 6 years I tried many funky diets and superfoods with no real exercise. I did see results but my weight see-sawed. Though my BMI reduced to 23.5 and LDL 180, I became noticeably weak. 👍

In other words, I had skinny-fat syndrome. Simple chores at home requiring lifts were challenging. I was lazy and thoroughly hated exercise.

Eventually, I just gave up, stopped dieting and gained back a lot of weight.❌ It dawned upon me that diet alone wasn’t going to cut it.

✅ I finally started exercising in 2021 and changed my diet. I ate home-cooked north Indian food and protein supplements while staying mindful about the calories consumed, and started weight training with a trainer.

I still didn’t like exercising but I pushed myself to do it every day, and I felt happy and proud of myself after every session. 😅

Figure 2: Shoulder press 45 lbs

With this approach, I‘ve seen steady progress and now my BMI is 22, LDL 105 and body fat 23% (DXA Body Comp). I’m stronger and healthier than I’ve ever been.

Figure 3: 2023

Occasionally I slip up, make a mistake, skip a session, eat something I shouldn’t have. ❌

But I forgive myself quickly and move on.

Every day is a new day.👍 I’m driven by my goal to become stronger, fitter and better looking. I hope to sustain this even into old age.

Figure 4: Deadlifting 245 lbs

I tell everyone I meet that it’s never too late to start weight training, but it is always better to start early.

For e.g. my trainer is a 70-year-old ex-athlete (Champion Discus, Champion Caber Toss, Indoor Rowing Medalist).

He’s been weightlifting since he was a teenager. Even at age 70, he is fitter and stronger than I could ever be having started training at age 36.

His approach with me was very simple: do what works, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Still, he would carefully monitor for injury risks.🤕

Figure 5a
Figure 4: My trainer, Jim McGoldrick, then and now, forever young

Another thing I share with people is this picture, which is an MRI Cross-section of the legs of three different people.

It reveals how bad it can get if you don’t exercise.

Figure 5: Source-

Source –

My home gym in US

Without a home gym, my fitness journey would have ended quickly.🤒

With 2 children 🧒 and a full-time job and little help (help is expensive in the US), every minute was precious and going to a gym took the time I simply didn’t have.

At first, I didn’t know what I could do to work out at home or how to make a home gym.

But with help from my trainer and some research, I decided to invest in powerlifting equipment. This is what my gym looked like in 10 months.⬇️

home gym in US

Though this was enough, I didn’t stop there and was constantly upgrading. To keep things affordable 🤑 I started buying used equipment from online marketplaces.

Over time, I acquired used equipment from top brands like Rogue and Eleiko.

Fortunately, there’s a big market for this in the US.

Rogue fitness plates and barbell

⬇️ Here are details on some of my notable equipment:


  • High quality
  • Premium look and feel
  • super compact.
  • Easier to collapse compared to a door-close style rack from other brands.
  • Wall-mounted rack is more stable than most unbolted racks.


  • – Very expensive for a wall-mounted squat rack.
  • – J hooks have only 2 side of UHMW.

Notable Specs

💡 11-gauge 3”x3” pillars
💡 1000 lb capacity
💡 42” gap between pillars
💡 90” height


  • High-quality product
  • Industry standard for all indoor rowing competitions.
  • Excellent mobile app support with tons of telemetry
  • air rower provides more consistent power-distance dynamic over magnetic rowers
  • very low maintenance especially compared to water rowers.


  • Expensive
  • Slightly noisy for indoor use
  • No fancy electronics like those seen on some treadmills and more expensive rowers.

Notable Specs

💡 Dimensions: 96”x24”
💡 PM5 monitor with Bluetooth, ANT+ and mobile app support (ErgData)


  • Top Brand
  • High quality knurling.
  • SS bars last a long time


  • – Disappointingly loud bushings (See videos)

Notable Specs

💡 28.5mm diameter
💡 200k PSI
💡 SS bar and chrome sleeves with grooves
bronze bushings


  • – Top Brand
  • Thinner than regular bumpers make it a premium product


  • – Letters are not embossed and thus feel less premium

Notable Specs

💡 Zinc coated Steel plate
💡 90 durometer rating
💡 63.5mm max plate width


  • – Thinner than regular bumpers make it a premium product
  • – Sturdy bumpers can take a beating.


  • – Extremely expensive.
  • – Poor manufacturing quality. Plates are misaligned at the seam and wobbly
  • – Not the most premium product. American Barbell, Rogue have better products.

Notable Specs

💡 Metal hub.
💡 62mm max plate width.


  • – Excellent bearing assembly
  • – Very quiet
  • – Excellent value for money.


  • Mild knurling
  • Cerakote sleeve sheds colour every time I slide plates on it.

Notable Specs

💡 28.5mm
💡 240k PSI cerakote finish bar with mild knurling and cerakote finish grooved sleeves.
💡10 pcs needle Bearing.


  • More compact than Bowflex-style especially due to the dynamic size
  • Urethane-coated plates are less noisy.


  • Not expandable like power blocks.

Notable Specs

💡 5-50lbs range with 5 lb increments
💡 Twist lock handle
💡 dynamic size
💡 urethane-coated plates.



  • Not the most premium product available.

Notable Specs

💡 17” height
💡 42 kg weight
💡 1000 lbs capacity
💡 11 gauge steel

I learned that big brands != best quality.💯 
eleiko weightlifting plates

I was disappointed with the quality of the Rogue SS barbell and the Eleiko plates.

✅ My favourite equipment was the PRX Squat Rack, Concept 2 rowing machine and the Core Home Fitness adjustable dumbbell set.

Overall, I loved my home gym. 👍 The premium equipment felt inviting.

And Then I Moved to India.

For reasons that I will not get into, we decided to move back to India. 🇮🇳

This was a huge step for us and there was a lot to do. Fitness was on the back burner now. 🔥

What of all my premium gym equipment?

🚢 Shipping to India was expensive and I had to decide what I would sell and what I would ship.

Though I had worked hard to build it, it was impractical to ship the whole gym and I felt pretty bummed about that.

My family suggested I try joining a gym but I had visited Indian gyms and it was rare to see powerlifting equipment, it was machines everywhere. 😲

👍 Moreover, the convenience of a home gym is simply unmatched.

  • Would I be able to build such a gym in India?
  • Would there be space for it?
  • Is quality equipment available?
With an open mind, I started researching home gym equipment in India and found website. 

I learned about brands like BullRock, SF HealthTech, ATE and Siege.

While the number of manufacturers was limited in India, there was enough on offer for me to get started.

This time, I decided, I will spend on quality and not brands.

Buying from “India’s Rogue” had no value to me at all.💰

Gym equipment that I shipped from the US

1. My Rowing Machine

The Concept 2 Model D RowErg was an easy decision to ship.🚢 IMO, it’s the best full-body cardio machine. It is a quality product that is expensive in India.

If anyone is wondering about the kind of rowing machine to buy, my advice is to choose a good air or water rower.

Magnetic rowers are not consistent with resistance.

With air or water the resistance increases with the velocity. Magnetic resistance has a threshold.

👉 When you pull harder on an air/water rower you feel more resistance. If you pull harder on a magnetic rower it becomes easy after the threshold.

concept 2 air rower

Figure 8: Concept2 RowErg

2. FID Adjustable Bench

🤔 Disappointingly, I didn’t find an affordable high-quality FID bench with 17” height in India, akin to the REP AB-3000.

In India, the SF HealthTech Elite Adjustable Bench comes close to what I have.

BullRock – Stallion FID bench and Siege Goldem Bench, too, have decent options but I liked mine more and decided to ship it.

REP AB-3000

3. Dumbbells

🤜 I sold the Core Home Fitness LB adjustable dumbbells in the US for a great price.

Though there are nice dumbbells available in India like Cockatoo Adjustable Dumbbell 2-32KG, but there was a better option available through AliExpress.

✅ This was also Nuobell-styled dumbbell but with 2 kg increments and chrome plating as against the 4 kg increments and urethane exterior of the models commonly available in India. 

So, I bought those from China, had them shipped to the US 🛳️ and then shipped to India because I knew it was going to be impossible to do this from India.

Altogether, I paid more than I care to admit. It wasn’t my proudest moment.

But hey, YOLO! I think they look super slick.🤔

 Generic Nuobell style dumbbell with 2 kg increments and chrome plating

Figure: Generic Nuobell style dumbbell with 2 kg increments and chrome plating

Building a Home Gym in India

1. Rack

Siege Fitness – Daemon Half Rack

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  • The Daemon 3×3 half rack, featuring a precision-engineered and aesthetically stunning design, the half rack stands at 160 kg, and will be the most stable and safe half rack you will ever use.
  • The Daemon comes standard with our heavy-duty spotter arms and two sets of weight storage pins and is compatible with every single Siege Fitness Rack Accessory.

I saw reviews from and did a research of my own as well. I considered options from BullRock Fitness, Siege, Afton, Yoddha and Schultz😀, and also the option of shipping my awesome PRX Pro Rack.

Shipping wouldn’t be terribly expensive❌, but I got a great offer for the PRX Pro in the US.

✅ I visited the Siege showroom in Bangalore and discussed some options with them.

  • The Siege Daemon Half Rack was the perfect combo of stability and compactness.
  • Siege’s Terminator rack was also a great option, but the larger footprint was a dealbreaker.

😀 Siege’s racks are better priced than the equivalents from BullRock and SF HealthTech for similar spec and are better reviewed than brands like Afton, Yoddha and Schultz.

While the quality of the finish isn’t a match for the likes of PRX or Rogue, it is good.

Siege’s sales experience and customer service is great, and I highly recommend buying from them. 🛒

2. Gym Mats

✅ Siege Fitness gave me a great deal on V-Groove 23 mm x 20” x 20” crumb rubber gym tiles with local delivery and installation.

Figure: Siege Rack Installation

3. Barbell and Weights

ATE Weightlifting Set – Men’s 190 KG

  • This 190 kg set includes our 20 kg Competition Barbell, a set of our  Weightlifting Challenger Plates which is a pair of discs ranging from 10 to 25 kg, steel plates ranging from 0.5 to 5.0 kg, along with a set of competition collars.💯

Again, I decided to sell my weights in the US, as I got a great price for them.🏷️ There is a huge demand for Rogue, and Eleiko brand bars and plates.

In fact, I sold them for more than I purchased them for, if you can believe that!

✅ I looked into plates available from BullRock, SF HealthTech, ATE and a number of vendors on India Mart.🛍️ I found that ATE offers the Weight Lifting Training Set which looked like a great deal.

ATE plates

It comes with a choice of weightlifting/powerlifting barbells, competition collars, fractional plates and their amazing Color Bumper Plates 3.0 ❤️

ATE weightlifting set in India - new plates

Also, ATE offered an option to upgrade my barbell to their newly launched Stainless Steel Powerlifting Barbell for an additional cost, which I took.

While ATE’s sales representatives were very polite, patient and knowledgeable, their delivery partner SRD Logistics 🛳️ provided a shockingly bad experience and makes me wonder if I’ll order from ATE again.

3.1 Plate Width
 ATE Weightlifting Set Shipped

ATE’s 25 KG bumper plates are 55 mm wide, which is the thinnest 25 kg bumper plate I have seen, in the US or India. 💯

A normal 25 kg bumper plate is 84-88 mm, a competition bumper plate from Rogue or Eleiko is 62-63 mm wide.

Urethane plates from Rogue and American Barbell are 56-58 mm wide.

The ATE bumper plate is thinner than all of them, despite the lack of a center steel hub. Only the ATE-calibrated powerlifting steel plates are thinner, though they serve a different purpose.

To top all that, the durometer rating is 90. I am impressed with ATE’s accomplishment.❤️

3.2 Finish Quality

The finish quality of the bumper and the calibrated fractionals is good but obviously isn’t as nice as those from Rogue and American Barbell, and there are visible scuffs and cosmetic defects.

ATE’s calibrated fractionals are powder coated, which chips easily, vs the more expensive rubber coating treatment from Rogue Fitness and their ilk.

But they are also several times cheaper than an equivalent Rogue/Eleiko set.

ATE defects

3.3 Bushing Tolerance

I previously mentioned that Rogue’s SS bars were disappointingly loud.

The clang a bar makes when it falls is lesser when the bushing/bearing is snug with the bar.

It speaks to the manufacturing quality and tight tolerances but will most likely not impact the athlete’s performance.

Video 1: Left Rogue, Right Generic

Video 2: Left Generic bar, Right Rogue bar

Video 3: ATE Needle bearing

Video 4: ATE Bushing

It is surprising to see how loud the Rogue SS bushing bar is, and equally surprising to see a generic brand bar so quiet.

While ATE’s barbells seem quieter 🔇 than the rogue equivalent SS bar, they sound a touch louder than the generic brand barbell.

It’s not surprising that ATE’s bars aren’t the quietest.

🗣️ When I spoke to them, they said that their machines aren’t perfect and that they needed to allow for some tolerance.

It’s unlikely anyone can match the legendary manufacturing quality and tight tolerances of American Barbell’s barbells, which are widely believed to be the quietest bars (Garage Gym Reviews).

Though, again, the bushing loudness is unlikely to have any impact on the athlete’s performance.😐

✅ Overall, I’m thrilled with the ATE barbell. It has a blemish-free finish and very nice knurling.

For a more detailed review see Rishabh’s post -

Figure 15: ATE Facility in Meerut (source: ATE Reps)

Summary of Home Gym in India

✅ Here’s a summary of my notable equipment in home gym in India

Siege fitness half squat rack India

Figure 16: My current home gym with Bench, RowErg and Dumbbells arriving soon

No.EquipmentNotable SpecsProsCons
1.Siege Fitness – Daemon Rack– Pull-up bar lacks knurling– Good quality
5/8” holes are standard for attachments in India
– Pull up bar lacks knurling
2.Concept 2 – Model D RowErg– Air rower
– Dimensions 96”x24”
– PM5 monitor with Bluetooth, ANT+ and mobile app support (ErgData)
– High-quality product.
– Industry-standard for all indoor rowing competitions.
– Excellent mobile app support with tons of telemetry
– Air rower provides a more consistent power-distance dynamic over magnetic rowers.
– Very low maintenance especially compared to water rowers.
– Expensive.
– Slightly noisy for indoor use.
– No fancy electronics like those seen on some treadmills and more expensive rowers.
3.ATE – Weightlifting Training Set with SS Powerlifting Barbell Upgrade– 29mm SS Bar with 6 bronze bushings.
– 205k PSI strength.
– 1.5mm aggressive knurling
-55mm max thickness bumper plates
– Includes fractionals and KG collars
– Good quality barbell.
– Cheaper than other SS options.
– Aggressive knurling.
– Bumper plates are the thinnest available in the market.
– Grooved sleeves are noisy.
-The powder coat on calibrated plates will chip faster than a rubber coat, exposing bare steel which will lead to rust.
4.AliExpress– 2-32 kgs range with 2 kg increments
– Twist lock handle, dynamic size
chrome plated plate
– More compact than Bowflex style especially due to the dynamic size.
– Chrome plates look nice. 
– Design is known to be fragile and cannot be dropped.
5.REP AB-3000 Bench– Low height is great for bench presses.– Low height is great for bench press.– Not the most premium product available.
Building a home gym in India

My journey started with a health checkup, revealing a bad lifestyle.😉 Initially, I took a wrong turn as I tried to reduce weight by simply cutting calories, but eventually found the right path when I started weight training as well.

My home gym was a key component of this journey. 🗣️

However, my move to India was a diversion in that I had to pause working out until things settled down. I did join a gym but was unable to keep a regular routine.

In the US, there are tons of high-quality options for weight lifting equipment.🤝

While India doesn’t have that many options, companies like ATE, Siege Fitness, BullRock Fitness and SF HealthTech have good offerings that are enough for intermediate lifters like me. ✌️

ATE and Siege also manufacture their own equipment in India, and that was a plus + for me. 

☑️ For now, my home gym is complete.

It’s silly to assume that the road will be smooth from here on.💢 But though there may be unexpected bumps and diversions in this never-ending journey, I know that I’m on the right path and that I just have to stay on it.

✅ Perhaps the next bump will offer me a chance to share another story.

Many thanks to Nikhil who has submitted this guest blog "Nikhil's Gym Adventure🏋️‍♂️: From a US Garage Gym to Building a home gym in India." and shared his experience of building his gym in India. Thanks! 
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Nikhil Agarwal

Hi, I’m Nikhil. I’m a Software Engineer, father and an intermediate lifter. I like indulging in premium weightlifting equipment. I sometimes write for

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