How to Make a Home Gym (No Matter How Little Space You Have)

Want to work out at home but don’t know where to start? Here’s how to build a home gym, no matter how much space and money (or how many downstairs neighbors) you have.

A Padded Workout Mat

A workout should hurt in a good way, not because you’re lying or kneeling on a hard floor at home. A good padded workout mat will protect both you and your floors, and provide some soundproofing if you’re doing any kind of jumps that your downstairs neighbors wouldn’t appreciate.

This non-slip yoga mat is decently padded and rolls up for easy carrying. For even more cushioning, this tri-folding mat is great for any kind of kneeling work or weightlifting.

TRX Suspension Training System

TRX Home2 System.

You can’t beat TRX Suspension Trainers for the highest impact in a small space—all you need is a door and enough floor space to do a lunge or plank. The TRX Suspension Trainer is a “home gym in a box” and includes a free subscription to the TRX app (which has guided TRX fitness classes, running workouts, and stretching guides), a door anchor, a suspension anchor, and all the TRX bands and straps that you need.

Water-Filled Kettlebell

Adjust this kettlebell to a weight of two to 45 pounds (depending on which size you choose) just by filling it up with water. It’s made from a durable material, so you don’t have to worry about leaks. Unlike a regular kettlebell, if you drop this on your floors at home, it won’t do damage or make a loud noise, plus you can drain it and fold it flat for storage—or for packing for a portable hotel room workout.

Resistance Bands

Letsfit Resistance Loop Bands.

There are endless exercises you can do with resistance bands. This pack from Letsfit comes in five different levels, offering resistance of five to 40 pounds—without bulky weights. A portable carry bag is included, so you can pack these easily, or just keep your home gym organized.

Flippy Lap Stand

Flippy Lap Stand.

There are so many great online streaming classes you can take at home—but it’s hard to keep good form and an eye on the instructor if your phone or tablet’s on the floor. The Flippy Lap Stand will hold up any size phone or tablet so you can take a class hands-free. Plus, when you’re done working out, you can use it to treat yourself to a Netflix show in bed or on the couch.

Portable Ballet Barre

portable ballet barre.

Addicted to online barre classes? This portable ballet barre turns your home into a studio. It’s lightweight and easy to assemble, so you can move it around your home as needed. Available in single bar, double bar, and different heights, you’ll find a barre that will work for you.

An Adjustable Dumbbell Set

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells.

You can have a full set of weights that rivals the gym, without needing space for a giant rack. Bowflex’s SelectTech 552 Dumbbells replace 15 sets of weights by combining them into an adjustable weight dumbbell. Simply twist the dumbbell’s dial and lift it out of the (included) holder to change the weight in 2.5-pound increments from five to 52.5 pounds per dumbbell.

Don’t need that much weight? For a cheaper alternative, check out the smaller hand weights available at Target.

Pilates Reformer

Pilates classes aren’t cheap, so this all-in-one pilates reformer (which comes with DVDs, online workouts and a pushup bar) will pay for itself after just a few uses. Best of all, it comes fully assembled, so you can take it out of the box and get straight to working out in your home gym. When you’re done, it folds down and can be stored under a bed or in a closet.


Mirror Fitness Device.

Want to build a home gym that doesn’t look like one? Keep your home looking like a home with Mirror, one of the coolest new fitness devices. When you’re not using it, it looks like a simple and elegant regular mirror. Turn it on and it becomes your portal to a fitness studio, with 70 plus new live classes streaming through the mirror each week—or thousands of on-demand classes you can take any time.

All different types of workouts are available through Mirror, like cardio, strength, yoga, and boxing. You can even sign up for personal training sessions, in which a trainer will be able to see you via a built-in camera (only activated during personal training) and critique your form or offer encouragement.

SereneLife Folding Compact Treadmill

A treadmill doesn’t have to become a clothes hanger in your bedroom when you’re not using it. This compact one from Sunny Health and Fitness folds up for easy storage when not in use. The treadmill has Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to link it to your workout apps or fitness monitors. It’s surprisingly inexpensive for a treadmill, and it’s available on Amazon Prime so you can get it quickly.

Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine

Rowing is one of the best low-impact, full-body workouts. Take your rowing indoors with the Circuit Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine, which has adjustable resistance, ergonomic design, and an easy-to-read monitor. This rowing machine folds up so it won’t take up much room when you’re not using it.  

Working out at home? Do it in style:

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Caroline Morse Teel is a Principal Editor for SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline for travel photos and advice.

By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo,, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

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