We’ve all been guilty of using a couple of the same excuses to get out of exercise: no time or money for the gym, no space for a gym at home. We might even believe our own excuses, especially that last one.
Homes are getting smaller all the time and it often feels difficult to contain everything we already have, let alone exercise equipment—especially since the term “exercise equipment” usually brings images of treadmills and full-length rowing machines to mind.
The truth is this is just an excuse we’ve fooled ourselves into believing. There are many pieces of exercise equipment that can be folded up for easy storage when they’re not in use and even more ways to creatively store equipment in small spaces.
Here are 19 ways to get all the exercise you need, even if you have very little available space…
Put some long mirrors on the wall
This might not give you extra storage space but it will make the room you’re working out in feel larger and more like a proper gym. Big mirrors can be quite expensive so only get one or two at a time if you’re on a budget.
Create vertical storage
Some tall, open shelves along one wall can display all your exercise equipment in an organized fashion and keep it all away from the center of the floor where you’re working out. Many vertical shelving units can be directly attached to the wall for added security.
Use pegboard storage
Put up a small pegboard in one corner of the room and add hooks for towels and earbuds. Depending on the size of the room you’ll be working out in you might want to add hooks for other gym accessories.
Hide your equipment in the living room
Don’t actually have a whole room you can use for your workouts? Get a moderately large ottoman and store your dumbbells and other small equipment in there. If you have a living room closet you can get a closet organizer with drawers that will keep your exercise equipment out of immediate view.
Opt for a set of adjustable dumbbells
When you get adjustable dumbbells you can increase or decrease your weight for different exercises and different strength levels without having to reach for a new set. Most adjustable dumbbells come with a weight range of around 40 pounds, often starting at 5 or 10 pounds and going up to 40-50. This keeps a whole lot of dumbbells out of your storage space.
Become best friends with the jump rope
You will need a considerable amount of space to do jump rope, but you can do it outside and when the jump rope isn’t in use it’s one of the smallest pieces of exercise equipment out there. It’s also one of the most effective, commonly used as a warm up by all types of athletes.
Get a suspension set
Suspension sets can be set up in pretty much any room and allow you to do a huge range of exercises, giving you an intense total body workout. They’re also made entirely of foldable straps that can fit into any space and even comfortably come on the road with you.
There are many different exercises you can do with kettlebells to strengthen your upper body and core, but you don’t want to end up with several kettlebells stacked in your closet. Adjustable kettlebells are newer than adjustable dumbbells but just as useful.
Soft medicine ball
You can add a medicine ball to many different exercises to make them more intense and it also comes with the potential for throwing and catching exercises. Always stick with a soft one to avoid injury when doing catching exercises.
An exercise mat is essential for many stretches and other forms of exercise. Opt for a pilates mat because they’re thicker than yoga mats and will generally last longer.
With the boom of condos and small apartments, several companies have started creating fold up treadmills designed to fit comfortably in the average closet. A good one will cost you a few hundred dollars, so be sure you’ll actually use it before you decide to invest in this item. There are much more affordable pieces of exercise equipment you can fit in your home.
Another item so small they’ll fit in your suitcase, resistance bands allow you to do several different strength training exercises.
Pull up bar
Pull up bars are one of the most affordable pieces of exercise equipment and are remarkably easy to set up, fitting in almost any doorway.
This is one thing you can’t really make smaller but it is worth every inch of space it takes up. Add it to almost any core exercise to give yourself a more intense workout. Oh, and they’re fun to sit on when you’re not actually working.
Steppers take up almost no space and can even hold other small exercise equipment when they’re not in use. They’re also good for more than just stepping—try using an aerobic stepper as a simple way to adjust your push ups for more intensity.
This simple piece of exercise equipment takes up about the same amount of space as your exercise mat and can help you massage your stiff muscles after an intense workout—all you have to do is literally roll them out.
Blasting your favorite music is a great way to get inspired and stay focused throughout your entire workout.
Total Gym exercise chart
Need some inspiration to get you going? The Total Gym exercise chart shows a variety of bodyweight exercises you can incorporate into your workouts for some variety, including easy-to-follow instructions for each one.
Another great way to add some variety to your workout, one of the fitness dice has a different bodyweight exercise on each side and the other has different numbers (you can choose to make it a number of reps or a number of sets). They’re also small enough to fit in your purse and go traveling with you.
It is possible to create an excellent home gym in a small space, even with a limited budget—you can even buy most of these items used.
Author: Holly Nunan
I am a mother of three daughters aged four, six and eight. I write about anything related to exercise and fitness, raising healthy children, home remedies, along with “fitting it all in” as a busy mom.