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Home Gym Essentials for Small Spaces

This week, we received the notice that we will be going into another provincial lockdown in efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That being said, gyms will be closed and more people will be seeking to implement movement into their day-to-day quarantine life.

Home gyms are becoming more common, but not everyone can stock their home with the same equipment found at big-box gyms. It’s important to be practical and economical when making your choice for equipment if you’re working with a smaller space.

Try choosing items that are versatile and can be easily implemented into most workouts. Nothing’s worse than purchasing an expensive piece of equipment that takes up half of your living room and is only being used as a coat rack.

The following are my top “Home Gym Essentials”:

Yoga Mat

I believe“durability”, which includes “mobility” and “flexibility”, is the foundation of movement. If our bodies are not durable, it’s not safe or effective to be loading our tissues.

Gray Cook says it best:

“Don't add strength to dysfunction.”

A large percentage of time in training sessions should be devoted to making your body more durable. This includes range-of-motion exercises, stretching, soft tissue mobilizations, and practicing unfamiliar movements.

Having a yoga mat makes being on the floor more comfortable, appealing, and enjoyable.

Foam Roller and Lacrosse Ball

These tools are awesome when it comes to improving your durability. Foam rolling and using a lacrosse ball to apply pressure to different areas in the body helps:

  • Bring circulation to tissues, which helps warm up tissues and prevent injury

  • Muscles loosen through myofascial release

  • Stimulating nerve receptions, translating signals to the brain, which then instructs the muscle cells to “loosen up”

I have a lacrosse ball in almost every room in my house which makes me gravitate to using it frequently.

Skipping Rope, Agility Ladder, or Stepper

My go-to would be a skipping rope. It’s small and can be packed away very easily. Skipping is a great way to train your cardiovascular system, as well and improve your timing and coordination. If you skip barefoot, it’s also a fantastic way to strengthen the muscles in your feet.

At a staggering height of 5’1”, skipping is usually quite accessible for me. Skipping doesn’t fit in everyone’s home though. If you live in an apartment building or have low ceilings, this will definitely present a problem.

If skipping is not feasible, I would recommend an agility ladder. These are fantastic because it requires plenty of focus and can also help improve timing and coordination like skipping does. The spaces in between each rung of the ladder can be adjusted to accommodate smaller spaces.

If the former options don’t work, I would suggest purchasing a stepper. A stepper is a good option for low-impact cardiovascular exercise. Steppers can also be used to provide an elevated surface for exercises such as dips or elevated push-ups. These can easily be tucked away when not in use.

Resistance Bands

I love resistance bands because they are lightweight and portable. You can easily change how much load you apply tissues by simply shortening the length of the band. Bands also provide a source of constant tension to tissues as well as increasing tissue load throughout an individual exercise as the band stretches, making resistance bands a highly efficient way of loading your tissues.

I usually keep a resistance band in my backpack or purse (laugh all you want!) and I use it to throw in a set or two of rows whenever I have a free moment between clients. You don’t have to keep it in your purse, but they are great additions to home gyms.


Kettlebells are a fantastic weight option since they are extremely versatile. Start with one moderately heavy kettlebell so you can use it for a variety of movements. Choose a weight that will be challenging for most movements, but still feel safe to do.

Kettlebell training is highly efficient since it tends to use many muscle groups at the same time and is designed for high repetition movement, developing both strength and cardio.

Integrating kettlebells into your exercises is a great way to:

  • Ensure that you are moving your body through all planes of motion

  • Develop coordination

  • Incorporate “Power” into your workouts. Power is a combination of both strength and speed.

Gyms have evolved quite drastically over the past three millennia, from the open-concept-no-equipment space in Ancient Athens to the modern big-box gyms with rows of treadmills, machines, and mirrors.

Humans are adaptable and innovative and I have faith that we will adapt to the unpredictable changes that the world is battling with right now, one home gym at a time.

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