Garage Gym Party of 1 with Robin Savala

Garage Gym Party of 1 is part of Robin Savala’s Instagram handle because this busy wife and mother is consistently getting it done by herself at an hour when most are just turning over in bed! Read on to find out more about her high energy routines and how she stayed on track over the holidays!

Robin, you work in the medical field  as an x ray tech and you’re a wife and mother to three active kids. All of those make for very limited time. Plus you’re a spinning instructor. So what motivates you to train at home despite your many commitments in and out of the home?

Getting up early and working out in the comfort of my garage has changed my life! Having 3 busy kids with after school activities and homework, I used to have to rush to the gym after work and rush through my workout. Some days I would be so tired after work, I’d just skip my workout all together. Now I’m up early, I head out to my garage and I get my workout done.

Why a garage gym? Why not just train at the gym where you host your spin class?

I stopped teaching spin over a year ago. I LOVED it so much, it was such an adrenaline rush leading a class, blasting my playlist and hopefully giving people a great workout. I had been teaching spin for 19 years and I just got to a point where I wasn’t enjoying it anymore.

How long are your work days?

I’m pretty lucky, I work 3 days a week. I enjoy the balance of part time work and mom stuff.

That means you probably get called on a lot to do volunteer stuff because everyone assumes that because you’re not at work you’re available. Sometimes you end up working harder at the volunteer stuff than at your normal job!

Yeah sometimes, I mean as the kids get a little bit older the classrooms don’t need as much help but like field trips and stuff I’m always there.

I get that. My wife and I once worked a total of twenty-four hours over the course of a weekend at a youth wrestling tournament to help out our sons’ high school wrestling program. 

Yeah, that’s a lot of dedication.

Do you find that you have to simply say no, just for sanity’s sake and if you notice it’s impacting your health?

Yeah, I kind of backed off this year with a lot of the school things because it was just getting to be too much. I just felt like I needed to like I said, kind of back off. I needed a little more time for myself, just for my sanity!

And that’s tough for moms especially because they feel guilty! I honestly, am pragmatic about it like, “Hey, I can’t do it!” But my wife feels guilty because she’s like, “I don’t want the kids to feel that I’m not supporting them,” you know?

I know. That’s exactly how I feel. As a mom or parent, you can let yourself feel guilty pretty easily. But I just kind of had to scale back. But just recently, like you said, I was in the classroom, all of the field trips, all of the outside activities. All of that stuff.

So when you’re doing all of that, it cuts into your workout time especially when you feel, “It’s selfish for me to go workout when I could be doing this thing to help them. But I find and my wife finds that when she makes the time to work out it’s kind of like a stress relief valve.  No matter what you do! Even if you just stretch; you do something for yourself and you kind of just get that time to just breathe and let it all out.

It’s so true, I feel like I’m a better mom after I get my workout in because I did get that time to myself and that’s why I started working out early before anybody’s even up. Because then I don’t get… because I’m still in the house, they can still find me! They can still come out to the garage, “Mom! Mom I need…!” So they’re asleep and I just have that time.

A former CrossFit box owner told me that he heard a statistic that says only 3% of people are able to train at home. I’d guess that’s because there’s a huge temptation toRobin Savala benching in her garage gym procrastinate when you know all you have to do is walk downstairs or into the next room. How do you defeat the urge to sit on the couch instead of train?

It’s honestly not even an option for me to not workout unless it’s a rest day. It’s part of my daily routine. I grew up with very active parents! My dad was the OG garage gym athlete! He had an old school and a weight bench out in our den and he worked out early every morning before work. You know what I’m talking about, it’s like a ski—

Yeah, I know what a NordicTrack is! So he had that and bench? That’s cool!

That’s not saying I just hop out of bed every morning raring to go! Some days I can think of a million excuses why I don’t really need to work out today, hit snooze a few more times than I should but the feeling of completing a work out is more powerful than my excuses.

Oh and my music. I LOVE music! All kinds of music, that’s what fuels my workouts. All of the songs I add to my videos are songs on my workout playlist! Although lately IG has banned any music I try to post which is really frustrating.

Do your parents still train?

Um, they ride their bikes and they walk. And they belong to the gym so they still do workouts at the gym.

So who inherited the NordicTrack and the weight bench? Did you get all of that stuff?

Ha, ha! I wish! They got rid of them a long time ago. I wish they would have kept the bench ‘cause I had to buy my own.

It’s holiday season and the biggest temptation for many people is an abundance of bad food choices. How do you avoid losing your way during the holidays especially without offending anyone?

The holidays are tricky as far as temptation goes but everything in moderation. That’s true all year long. EAT THE COOKIE, indulge. Don’t deprive yourself, find that balance and enjoy. Enjoying good food is a wonderful part of life. I recently read a book explaining macros and how they’re   calculated and I used the formulas to find my own daily macros. I love stuff like that! I want to know what I need to eat daily to fuel my body and it really keeps me accountable. I use the My Macros app.

Robin Savala doing ab work in her garage gym at 5amHow long have you been exercising?

I’ve been pretty active all my life starting with softball at a young age. I joined a gym at 16 and never stopped working out. Took a few weight training classes in college, participated in a few fun runs and became a spin instructor.

Really? How did you become a spin instructor?

So random! I was working behind the desk at my gym part time while going to college, checking people in, folding towels, selling power bars and pouring beer. Yes, pouring beer! And I was good at it too! Our gym served beer on tap, Bud Light and Sierra Nevada! I love a good IPA . . . anyway, one evening the normal spin instructor called in sick, the manager was in a pinch and asked if I could sub. What? Who, me? No way!  But I did it! I was so scared but I loved it. Got certified a few months later and started instructing. I taught through all 3 of my pregnancies, until the bike seat just got too unbearable!

You and your husband, Nick, have been together since you were 16 years old. I saw a picture of the two of you from 1994! That’s an awesome achievement first of all!

Thank you!! We met in high school and after Nick graduated, he joined the Army for 3 years and was stationed in Georgia. He was already into working out but got a lot more involved while in the military.

Does he train with you?

My husband and I don’t train together. We tried years ago and it just wasn’t for us, we have different styles.

How does he view your commitment to fitness?

I think Nick may have doubted my garage fit commitment at first just because I’ve always gone to the gym but he recently helped me pick out my squat rack and he put it together which I really appreciated!

A lot of your training appears to be fairly high intensity, short breaks etc. Are you always in fat burning mode or do you set target goals and do maintenance programs in between as a sort of break?

I usually rotate spin, weight training and HIIT with each workout. I get bored easy so I’m constantly changing things up and thinking of new combinations as I go. I try to put together my IG videos using HIIT and the least amount of equipment. I want everyone to know they can get a great workout at home without having a ton of expensive equipment.

What was the first thing you purchased for your garage gym?Robin Savala is all smiles after an early morning workout

I started out with 2 sets of dumbbells and a stability ball! Seriously, that’s it. I had to get pretty creative! But my first real piece of equipment was my spin bike.

Your Instagram profile calls you a busy wife and mom trying to get it done with minimal equipment, what do you have in your fitness equipment arsenal? I’ve seen a pair of squat stands and a bench. What else do you have?

I have come a long way from a couple sets of dumbbells. Yes, I have the squat rack, bench, medicine ball, resistance bands, a TRX, a kettle bell and my old stability ball.

What’s the goal of your Instagram profile?

My goal is to help not only busy moms but anyone struggling to find time to workout. I hope the workouts I put together are versatile enough to be done at home, while traveling or at the gym.

Do you have a network of people to keep you accountable?

My husband keeps me accountable and I do the same for him.

What’s next on your wishlist for gym purchases?

I’d love a treadmill but our garage has run out of room! I also want to try out the B-Force resistance bands, the ones that have ankle straps for donkey kicks and a ton of other exercises. They look really versatile.

Your kids enjoy biking with mom, do they train with you also or is that just Mommy time?

My 13 year old is really figuring things out like good foods vs. bad foods and he’s getting curious about weight training. My 11 year old is the runner of the family and my baby girl is into softball and gymnastics. They’re all welcome in the gym but I do enjoy my alone time there!

I know it’s tough with young kids, especially when they’re involved in sports themselves but do you compete in a fitness related sport, like cycling, or do you intend to compete in the future?

No competitions for me. I admire competitors so much! I love how they transform their bodies and the physical and mental strength and dedication it takes. For me, I just want to continue to build lean muscle, be strong, stay active and healthy and feel good in my skin.

What advice would you give to busy parents who think they don’t have time to exercise? Or to the person just starting their fitness journey, maybe they’re a new mom who’s not sure if she’ll ever get her pre baby figure back. What would you say to her?

Keep it short and simple! Starting a workout regimen can be overwhelming. Do your research, watch videos, pick a few different exercises each day and rotate through them. Don’t get frustrated when the results don’t happen right away, keep with it and the changes will come. Once the changes start happening, that’s when the motivation really kicks in.

How can someone get in touch with you if they want to ask advice or they just want to follow your training?

I don’t post a lot on Facebook; I was just kind of, nervous. I was nervous about putting myself out there on Instagram! Because I know some people that get thousands and thousands of likes and there are some people who can be brutal, leaving these comments and I was like, “Oh my gosh! If someone left that comment on my post I would cry!” So I didn’t advertise on my Facebook that I’m doing this and I do have a regular Instagram page. I didn’t even, I just kind of put it out there and I was just like I’m going to see how this goes.

And I love, Garage Gym Life, that community, they’re always so positive! I love that because I feel like, I’m not so nervous about posting something because I feel like I’m not going to get any crazy comments. Everyone’s pretty supportive.

Well, for one thing, I police it. That’s one reason why I haven’t turned it over to one of those companies that manage Instagram accounts. I mean it is getting overwhelming—

I bet!

It’s a good problem to have, getting more followers, but I’m still running it myself because I don’t want to turn it over to just any company that’s not going to care about it like I do. I like being able to go through there so I still see when somebody posts something negative. I’ll just be honest with you, at least once a week I have to go delete something. Some company spamming posts to get you to become a “sponsored rep” for them; I don’t just delete those, I report them and I think it’s important for people to do that. Don’t just ignore it. Click the report button. But then other people, if they say something negative, I’ll just delete their comment. I haven’t blocked anyone yet, but if I have to I will. But I police it because I want you guys to understand that it’s a safe place.

I’m really only on IG with my fitness routines.  @savalamama_garagefit I’m always ready to help or answer a question.

About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on