Here was my goal, to create a total workout home gym in my 1,100 square foot apartment without cluttering or disrupting my decor. I feel like I accomplished my goal.
My total-workout apartment gym features a large workout mat, adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands, an exercise ball, an exercise bike, and a step platform. I’ll explain how I use them and how I store them in greater detail below.
Before reading further, there are a few things for you to keep in mind. First, I live in a 1,100 square foot apartment by myself so unlike many people, I recognize that I have the luxury of making all the decisions and don't have "shared" spaces. Still, I wanted to think creatively about where to store my home gym equipment to not disturb my equally important decor.
Second, I live on the second floor of my apartment building so I needed to avoid disturbing my downstairs neighbors. Third, I did NOT buy all of this equipment at once. I bought the bike first, then slowly added more equipment over the course of several months until I felt I had everything I needed. If you share this same goal please don't feel like you have to have everything all at once.
Without further ado, welcome to my apartment total workout home gym!
No. 1 An Exercise Mat for Lifting, Yoga, Cardio & Stretching
Extra Thick Gorilla Workout Mat
$119.95, available on Amazon
As I stated earlier, I live on the second floor of my apartment building and so far my neighbors have graciously put up with me singing to my dog all day. Therefore, I decided to not press my luck further and instead buy a good quality workout mat for noise absorption, and shock absorption during cardio, jumping, etc.
I get to do all of my floor work like stretches, abs, and yoga on it. I do HIIT training like jump squats and jump lunges with minimal noise in the apartment or for the apartment below me, and I can lift heavy with my adjustable dumbbells without being worried about damaging the floors. I’m trying to make sure I get my security deposit back.
As you can see, my apartment isn’t cluttered but there’s definitely not a lot of space left. To make it fit, I scoot my coffee table to the side and that's just enough space for the 6ft by 8ft mat. When I’m done, the mat is pretty lightweight and easily rolls up for me to toss in my closet.
You can check out the mat here on Amazon and read the reviews.
No. 2 Adjustable Dumbbells - 5lbs to 50lbs
Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells
$299.00, available on Amazon
These adjustable dumbbells might be my favorite part of my home gym because adding heavy weight to workouts is what stimulates muscle growth. Before, if I wanted to add weight to my workouts I had to go to the gym. Now I can do heavy leg days in my living room with exercises like dumbbell deadlifts, goblet squats, weighted lunges. Nearly every exercise can be completed with dumbbells, so the sky is the limit.
I also specifically sought out the adjustable dumbbells because you can adjust them from 5lbs up to 55lbs each and they barely take up any space. If I wanted to buy an equivalent set of dumbbells I'd need a ton of space dedicated to a dumbbell rack large enough for about eight pairs of dumbbells. The rack plus the 8 pairs of dumbbells would've cost a ton of money. So, no thanks to that idea.
As you can see in the picture of my office, I hide them on the side of my couch where they're not immediately visible when just walking past the doorway.
My Bowflex adjustable dumbbells can be viewed and purchased through this link which takes you to Amazon.
No. 3 A Step Aerobic Platform
Step Original Aerobic Platform
$69.99, available on Amazon
Say hello to my youngest son Teddy in the second image! While I'm working hard, he also likes to work hard by sleeping on my office couch.
My step aerobic platform is clutch for HIIT cardio workouts, and lower body workouts like lunges, because you can get added stretch in the hamstrings for greater muscle stimulation. When I'm not using it I slide it underneath my couch and out of the way where it's not immediately noticeable.
More info on the step platform is available here on Amazon.
No. 4 Multiple Resistance Bands
Kinzi Resistance Band Set
$22.99, available on Amazon
I have a TON of resistance bands in my home gym arsenal, and honestly, now that I have my dumbbells I don't have to use them for every aspect of my workouts. Now I just use them for stretches, any "pulling" movements I need to make like for example tricep pull-downs, etc. and muscle activation prior to pulling out my dumbbells. So they're most certainly still useful and crucial for my muscle development and flexibility.
In the second image, you can see that I've inserted my resistance band kit into the top of my door jamb for tricep downs for arm workouts and overhead lat pulldowns for back workouts. When I want to do seated lat rows for back I just insert my resistance band kit in the bottom of my door jamb like you see in the third image.
I store them in a bin that I got from Target, which is also tucked away on the side of my office couch.
Here is the listing for my resistance band kit on Amazon.
No. 5 Exercise Sliders
Elite Sportz Exercise Sliders
$22.99, available on Amazon
I hate these because they hurt so good and present such a challenge. Exercise sliders are awesome for body-weight workouts because your body and gravity provide all the resistance. They also challenge your balance, and stabilizer muscles. To use them you place either hands or feet on top of the sliders while the felt fabric on the bottom of them helps you slide across the floor. Sounds majestic, doesn't it? No, they suck, and it hurts. I'm not kidding
I use my sliders for ab exercises like mountain climbers and knee tucks where I target my lower ab muscles. You can use them for lower and upper-body workouts as well. For example, for lower body exercises you can do side lunges and use a slider to allow you to lower your body into a nice hamstring stretch. Or, for your upper body, you can get into a plank position and alternate extending each arm. That exercise will kill your abs and also work your shoulders.
I completely forgot to take a picture of the sliders as part of my home gym while I had ample natural light. If you need a visual here they are on Amazon.
I toss the sliders in the same bin as my resistance bands for storage.
No. 6 Exercise Ball
Trideer Exercise Ball
$20.99, available on Amazon
Again, I forgot to take a picture of my inflatable exercise ball as part of my gym but my guess is that you've seen them everywhere and thousands of times. You can lie on one and use it for ab workouts and incorporate it into lower body workouts to challenge your stabilizer muscles in your legs.
For as simple as this piece of equipment is, it sure is a pain in the butt to store in an apartment. One option is to deflate and inflate the ball before and after each use. But, let's be honest, that sounds like a terrible idea. So I just throw that thing in my office closet fully inflated.
Truthfully if I didn't have a closet in my office I probably wouldn't keep it. An exercise ball is most helpful during ab workouts because it allows you to extend your core passed parallel which provides extra stretch in your abs and thus better development. Other than that, it's not an item that I couldn't live without in my version of the "perfect home gym."
No. 7 Loop Resistance Bands
Motivated Fitness Thigh Loops
$39.99, available on Amazon
Remember when I said that I had a ton of resistance bands? Well here are some more.
I'm only half-way kidding because these are used differently than the ones I covered in number four. Loop resistance bands are fantastic for wrapping around your legs to stretch your hip flexors, activate your glutes before a lower body workout, and providing an extra challenge by stabilizing your legs activating your glutes even during a lower body workout. These innocent looking bands make my butt hurt in the most amazing way and you guessed it, I toss them in my resistance band bin.
I have two types that I use. The first type is made of a thick cloth material that doesn't roll up on my legs.
The second type is made of a thin silicone material, and they do this annoying thing where they roll up no matter what.
You don't need both, and I would recommend sticking with the first type which is available here on Amazon.
No. 8 An Exercise Bike for Cardio
Sunny Indoor Cycling Bike
$298, available on Amazon
Last but certainly not least, it's the item I actually purchased first. It's my spin bike. Woot Woot! When I bought it I sort of crossed my fingers and hoped for the best before it arrived. I just wasn't sure what to expect.
If I recall correctly, it arrived in one single huge box, and it was HEAVY. I repeat it was HEAVY. It took me maybe an hour to put it together, and likely because it was 4 a.m. and I decided to be productive rather than lie awake in my bed from insomnia.
I absolutely LOVE my bike. For the quality I received, I was happy with the price I paid. I have it positioned in the corner of my office facing my computer monitor so I can spin while watching movies or during conference calls (oops, did I say that?).
As you can see, there's no hiding this thing. It has wheels but it's too heavy to bother moving around. So it's just going to stay there in plain sight. Overall, if it's the only piece of equipment that's "disruptive" to the flow of my apartment I can deal with that. I still feel like I accomplished my goal of creating a total workout home gym that didn't make a mess of my house.
Like with the other items, check out my spin bike here on Amazon.
So what do you think? Did I "nail it" or "fail it"? Let me know in the comments, I respond to all of them!