The premium on fitness centers in the U.S. is often not so friendly. For example, in New York City, the average cost of a monthly gym membership is $134.50.
While these nauseating costs — along with the potential for crowded spaces, unwanted social interaction, and inconvenience — might make you want to turn on your heel and skip the gym altogether, it’s still important for your mental and physical health to remain active.
So, consider making use of the space that you already have: your apartment. That’s right, we’re bringing back the home gym (or, should we say, apartment gym).
Read on for our guide on how to set up a home gym in your apartment — whether you are repurposing one corner in your living room or a full extra bedroom.
Limited Space? How to Turn One Wall into a Home Gym
You can always turn to the minimalist method for your home gym. This will require the least amount of space and storage, making it great for small apartments.
Depending on where you source your home gym equipment, the minimalist method is also one of the cheaper options when it comes to building a home gym. But remember, you’re making an investment in your wellness (with no monthly cost thereafter) so find equipment that will last.
If you’re worried about disrupting the interior design of your living space, there are plenty of stylish setups that can complement your favorite color schemes in minimalist setups. In fact, you know that one empty wall you can’t seem to find the right décor for? It’s finally time.
Resistance training: If you’re interested in strength training with minimal equipment in a small space, reach for light-weight workout gear that can be hung on that empty wall or stored in a small storage basket. Think jump ropes, booty bands, resistance bands, and suspension training systems that hang in your doorframe when you want to use them.
Tip: If you find home workouts tedious, throw on your favorite TV show while you get active. You’re at home, after all!
Strengthening and stretching: Practices like yoga and Pilates are always compatible with the minimalist home gym. You can use household items like blankets and pillows for yoga instead of purchasing pricy workout equipment — or invest in a yoga mat, yoga blocks, and fun accessories like Pilates rings and weights to bring your home sessions to the next level.
Tip: Optimize the ambience for your at-home yoga and Pilates sessions — light candles, play calming music, and invest in an essential oil diffuser.
Room for More? How to Turn One Room’s Corner into a Home Gym
Maybe in addition to that empty wall, you’ve got a barren corner of your apartment that needs furnishing. Or maybe you’re looking for a bit more intensity and room for growth in your home workouts. A slightly more involved home gym setup could be a fitting route for you.
Just remember when you start considering implementing cardio equipment and actual weights into your home gym, you’ll likely be looking into more expensive products. So don’t forget about pre-loved pieces of equipment on platforms like Facebook Marketplace and eBay — you could save hundreds if you pass on buying brand new products.
Cardio: If you’re not in a running- and biking-friendly area or prefer the comfort of home for something as terrifying as cardio workouts, it could be a great use of your workout space to invest in a cardio machine like a stationary bike, rowing machine, or elliptical — or if you have space, a treadmill. You can also try stand-up boxing bags, but if you have sound-conscious neighbors or thin walls, reach for the spin bike before noisier options that involve punching and pounding.
Tip: If you can’t say no to the treadmill, buy a treadmill mat to reduce noise.
Weightlifting: With a bit more floor space to play with, at-home weightlifting can be almost as involved as it is at the gym. Think about investing in a light, medium, and heavy set of dumbbells or kettlebells so you can have the appropriate free weights for different exercises and the ability to progress as you get stronger. You can also mimic the feel of a traditional barbell setup with body bars, which are versatile and distribute weight more evenly than dumbbells.
Tip: Add resistance bands to any dumbbell or body bar movement if you’re ready to level up, but don’t have the weights yet.
Even More Space to Spare? How to Create a Home Gym With a Spare Bedroom
Did you move into a two-bedroom during the pandemic when suddenly you were asked to return to the office for work? You’re not alone — and still 90% of companies say they’ll return to the office by the end of 2024; so if it hasn’t happened yet, your home office days could still be numbered. On the bright side, this newly spare room could become a full-fledged home gym with all your favorite equipment.
If you’re outfitting a whole room with fitness equipment, be sure to make organized plans and do plenty of research into your machines and weights. Think about your fitness goals, your favorite workouts and movements, and the parts of your routine that never get old — those are what may be worth investing more money in.
And finally, don’t overlook the importance of Zen and relaxation in your workout routine. Your workouts can make you feel strong and healthy, but they can also be a source of rejuvenation and stress relief. Think about ambient lighting, décor that calms you, and air fresheners that release pleasant smells as you work.
In-home studio: If you’re a loyal workout class attendee and can’t get enough spinning, stretching, and sweating, mount a TV in your home gym where you can broadcast live workout classes. Companies like Peloton and celebrity trainers like Kayla Itsines and Taryn Toomey have online subscriptions that are much cheaper than in-person classes, and your spare room could be the perfect place to tune in, dial in, and work out.
Tip: To get the whole in-studio class effect, hang a mirror on the wall to keep track of your form and show yourself some love.
The whole nine yards: If you have the space, you’re prepared to hire movers when your lease is up, and you’re passionate about fitness, go for it — invest in a pulley system, a barbell with plates, a set of dumbbells, some medicine balls, and whatever else your healthy heart desires. But keep in mind the limitations that come with renting; you won’t be able to install equipment straight into the floor or wall, and if you’re not on the ground floor, consider looking into your building codes for weight limits and other information.
Tip: If you do have a spare room and are a beginner, it could be a great opportunity to hire a personal trainer and gain foundational skills for your full-body workouts before you start totally on your own.
Remember: The best home gyms are the ones used regularly, so regardless of how much space you have, make sure you are tailoring your workout area setup to your preferences and skill level.
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