As lockdowns come, go and come back again, setting up a home workout area may not seem like a bad idea—but it’s easier said than done when you’re short on space. However, even if you’re stuck in an itty-bitty shoebox apartment, a little creativity and the right gear can go a long way.
Don’t buy the first all-in-one compact gym system you see a sponsored ad for. “There are a lot of gimmicky things out there,” says Sopearin Yos, a personal trainer and founder of Toronto gym Common Ground. Working out in a tight space means every item should be tailored to your preferred activities, so consider what your training is focused on.
You don’t need an entire dumbbell set to pump iron; an adjustable one will save you plenty of space. If you just want to get some light weight training in, Yos says even a pair of 10-pound weights offers a lot of versatility.
If you’re looking to get your heart pumping with a good cardio session, Saman Munir, a personal trainer and Under Armour athlete, suggests an agility ladder. This flexible device has slats you can roll out and do drills over—even high-intensity interval training. “They’re underrated,” she says. “But they’re one of the best cardio workouts you can get.” While machines aren’t a must, if you prefer them, Munir recommends a space-saving treadmill or stationary bike.
If you’re a newbie, Munir and Yos suggest buying a couple of basics, regardless of your fitness level: Resistance bands elevate even the simplest routine and a kettlebell is easy to work with and stash away. And don’t forget the equipment already built into your home. Yos says ottomans, counters and other elevated surfaces are great guides for sit-ups and push-ups.
Above all, watch your technique. “If you’re a beginner and your form isn’t correct, you’re going to get hurt,” says Munir. Tuning in to a live-streamed class or two could help.
Five tiny gear picks that pack a punch
GHB Pro Agility Ladder
Usable indoors or out, this 20-foot agility ladder folds up to suit small spaces. $51, walmart.ca.
Bodylastics Stackable Resistance Bands
The 12-piece set can be combined for up to 96 pounds of resistance and comes in a small bag that’s easily stowed under your bed. $175, amazon.ca.
TRX Home2 Suspension Training System
TRX uses gravity to create resistance, and can be anchored on a door. The brand also offers free workouts on YouTube. $200, store.trxtraining.com.
Feierdun Adjustable Weight Set
Transform these adjustable dumbbells into either a kettlebell or a barbell as needed. $169, amazon.ca.
Marcy Foldable Upright Exercise Bike
This bike can be folded up and rolled away post-spin. $160, marcypro.com.