Everyone knows the health and fitness benefits of regular exercise, but excuses for not getting it in most commonly include a lack of time and energy. For apartment dwellers, the list also includes what seem like legitimate excuses: no space, the need to be quiet for close neighbors, and a lack of necessary equipment — which circles back to no space. The truth is that none of these are true obstacles to getting in a good workout at least 5 days a week, even if you don’t have a gym membership, access to an on-site fitness center, or any pieces of standard equipment. Here’s how.
‘No Space’: Apartment-Friendly Exercise Equipment
A significant portion of any gym is devoted to machines: cardio equipment like treadmills and ellipticals, and resistance machines that isolate particular muscle groups. Without them, getting in a good cardio or toning workout inside a tiny apartment might seem impossible. Nonetheless, there are a few pieces of equipment that will fit in an apartment and get your heart pumping just as well, such as:
- An indoor bike trainer that easily transforms your outdoor bike into a stationary one. These cost $50 and up, and take up little storage space in between uses.
- A mini-cycle. This is essentially a stationary bike you can use while seated anywhere in your apartment, and tucks easily under a desk or table for storage.
- A rebounder (mini trampoline) doesn’t just give you a good cardio workout. It also stores easily under the bed, and will make you feel like a kid again…just make sure the ceiling is high enough!
- Resistance bands are cheap, highly portable, and isolate muscle groups just as well as gym equipment.
- A door-mounted pull-up bar doesn’t require hardware and safely holds most people’s body weight.
- A balance ball makes a good substitute for a bench, often comes with specialized routines, and gives the added benefit of a stability workout.
Apartment-Friendly Workout Routines
Body weight Training
Pushups, sit-ups, planks, squats and lunges — all these require only your body and the floor. Add a few free weights, ankle weights, or a kettle bell, and you’ll turn these move into strength training; speed them up, and they’re cardio. A popular way to get in a great body weight workout without any gear is HIIT or Tabata-style training, a concept that cycles between intervals of high intensity and rest. All you’ll need to get started are a few easy routines (search YouTube for some inspiration, or just follow along) and a free Interval Timer app.
A few dumb bells (or resistance bands) are all you need, but rather than store several different sizes, you may want to invest in one set of adjustable dumbbells. I say ‘invest’ because they’re expensive, but if you’re truly cramped for space, they might be worth it to you.
Barre, Pilates, and Yoga
Classes in these disciplines are expensive at city studios, but can also be performed at home with only a little floor space, a mat, and in the case of barre — a chair, table, or counter for balance.
DVDs, Celebrity Trainers, and Streaming Media
Specialized fitness routines are no longer gym or studio exclusive. Workout with your favorite celebrity trainer, follow a favorite YouTube fitness guru, or utilize entire workout channels like Beachbody on Demand with club membership. The best thing about media is mixing and matching routines so you never get bored. Most are also specifically designed to be completed within a small area.
Noise, Energy, and Other Excuses
Living close to others requires a certain amount of discretion when choosing indoor workout routines. If you’re exercising early or late, it’s polite to avoid subjecting your neighbors to loud thumps. When you must jump, use a padded mat and focus on a controlled landing technique, and when you’re watching a routine, forgo the audio and watch for cues, instead.
Everyone feel exhausted at times, and it can seem daunting to try to fit in a workout before or after long days. At these times, I find it helps to remember that exercise is energizing. It gets your blood pumping, raises your alertness, limbers your muscles, and will make you feel better in so many ways, immediately and long-term. Don’t let a small living space add to the excuses of time and energy. Use what you have, modify for your space constraints, and you’ll be further on your way to living a tiny but healthy lifestyle.