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Build a Budget-Friendly Gym in a Small Space

by Guest Poster

450 square feet.

That’s the current minimum apartment size in New York City. If Mayor Bloomberg has his way, micro-units with 275-300 square feet of living space will become the new normal. Even if you boast larger quarters, many people simply don’t have space for a treadmill, elliptical trainer, or wall of free weights in their home.

Try these 5 ideas and lack of space is no longer an excuse for skipping exercise.

The BOSU® Balance Trainer, an acronym for ‘both sides up”, provides the opportunity for strength, core and balance exercises in one small space. Do squats while standing on the squishy dome and work your core muscles as well as your quads. Turn the Bosu over so the dome is on the floor and do push-ups holding onto the edges of the platform for an extremely challenging exercise that works all your muscles. The Bosu takes up about 2’ of space so if you have room to sit on the floor, you have room to use the Bosu.

Free weights take up an entire wall at the gym and weigh hundreds of pounds, but you don’t need a large space or reinforced floor for weight training at home. Adjustable free weights that look like regular dumbbells but come with various plates allow you to add or subtract weight with the push of a button. PowerBlock and Bowflex are two companies that make adjustable dumbbells. Or save money by filling empty hard plastic detergent bottles or gallon orange juice jugs with water or sand and make your own free weights. One gallon of water weighs about 8.3 pounds, one gallon of sand weighs 22 pounds.

If adjustable dumbbells take up too much space, use resistance bands. Bands are color-coded according to the tension level, with black typically giving the most and green the least resistance. A package of three bands takes up less space than your Kindle, and can be used for a wide variety of strength exercises. Look for bands that attach to a doorknob to expand the range of possible exercises.

If you’re looking for cardio, strength, balance and flexibility in one piece of exercise equipment that also provides fun and entertainment, check out the Wii Fit Plus. Do yoga on Monday, play the ski slalom game on Tuesday to work on balance, run on Wednesday, show off your hula-hooping skills on Thursday and perfect your plank on Friday . All exercises are performed on a balance board that is about the size of a typical bathroom scale.

If you have a small living space and are short on cash:

Use your body weight for resistance in exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats, and triceps dips using a chair.

Walk or even run up a flight of stairs. If going up is too difficult, start by walking down the stairs.

Practice balance exercises, Pilates or yoga positions.

Guest blogger Lynn Grieger is an ACSM certified personal trainer and contributor for Everyday Health and its calorie counter and fitness tools.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly@FinancialFixers November 9, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Love that you deal with all aspects of money management in balancing a healthy lifestyle. Great ideas here, and the easiest way to stay in shape when you really have no money for gym equipment is to get in some cardio (running, walking, jumping rope) and then doing body weight exercises. No one has an excuse!
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Shawanda Greene November 12, 2012 at 9:24 PM

Don’t even get me started on jumping rope. It’s one of the toughest and most effective cardio workouts. I think I picked up a jump rope off of Amazon for about six bucks. It was worth every penny plus some.
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Johnny@ Financial Freedom November 9, 2012 at 4:20 PM

These are great ideas! And space, among other things, is a barrier people put up when considering exercise. I loved the idea of utilizing a Wii. Anything that can make fitness fun is a great idea.
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Shawanda Greene November 12, 2012 at 9:36 PM

I used to buy workout videos when I was a kid. I couldn’t believe how much space the routines required. I grew up in a packed, small house. I barely had enough room to perform floor exercises.
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Laura@ Financial Freedom Newsletter November 12, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Those are definitely some great tips! I’ve been in tiny city apartments where there’s barely room to breathe, let alone get a good workout in. But I like the filling up a gallon of water idea, it’s a cheap substitute for weights! Wii Fit is great too!
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Shawanda Greene November 12, 2012 at 9:45 PM

I’ve gotten in a couple of good workouts while playing the Wii Sports boxing game. I felt like I’d pass out. Got my butt whipped in the fourth round.
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Annie Miller December 1, 2012 at 10:19 PM

True! It’s great that you address money matters when building a gym. I believe that a gym should be practical and affordable. There are so many ways to make things cheap yet useful.

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weightliftinggearforsale.com December 14, 2013 at 10:56 AM

You undoubtedly make it seem to be easy and your display however I locate the following issue being genuinely one important thing that I experience I would personally in no way comprehend. The idea sort of seems very tricky and wide in my opinion. I will be having a look in advance on your future article, I’m going to attempt to have the suspend than me!

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