tiny home gym header
You don't need much space for a great workout

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Friends, in my entire adult life I’ve never lived in a house with more than 1,300 square feet. Currently, I live in a roughly 850-square foot renovated barn with my husband and three large dogs. It’s not quite small enough to be considered a tiny home, but it’s certainly not large. And when you consider the almost embarrassing amount of exercise equipment I own, it’s a wonder I’ve made it all fit. Here’s the truth, though: You don’t need much space to have a killer (but tiny) home gym. You just have to be smart about how you make it work.

Tip #1: Put your equipment on display

Who says workout equipment has to be considered an eyesore? I’ve made the most of my tiny home gym by using my dumbbells, kettlebells and medicine balls as decorations in my makeshift entryway.

tiny home gym equipment display

If you have an office or an entryway where you’re comfortable highlighting your love of fitness in a not-so-subtle way, go ahead and position your small weights and accessories on sturdy shelves or on your desk. You could hang a vibrant yoga mat on the wall like a tapestry (check out a few really cool mats here), or use wall hooks to show off your outdoor gear, rather than trying to hide it away.

Tip 2: Choose compact cardio equipment

There is absolutely no room in my house for any type of large cardio equipment like treadmills, bikes or elliptical trainers, but I don’t let that stop me from giving my heart a workout in my tiny home gym. Sure, I incorporate outdoor running into my regular routine, along with long walks with my dogs and weight-based circuit training, but when I want to get a cardio bump while watching my favorite TV show, I rely on compact cardio equipment: jump ropes, a slideboard, and a mini trampoline.

tiny home gym compact cardio

Jump ropes are especially easy to wrap up and store in a gym bag or hang on the back of a closet door. I keep my seven (yes, seven!) Crossrope jump ropes in a gym bag I hang near my front door. Admittedly, slideboards and trampolines are a little harder to put away, but both are actually exceedingly narrow. I found I can store my slideboard vertically, fitting it in about a two-inch space between a cabinet and the wall, and the Bellicon rebounder I’ve been testing for an article on another website has foldable legs, which makes it incredibly easy to break down and put away, either standing it against a wall or sliding it under a bed. And each of these items is every bit as effective as a traditional machine… and a whole lot less expensive. Not to mention, they have fewer ongoing maintenance needs since they don’t have motors or mechanical issues. Sometimes low-tech really is better!

Tip #3: Make use of every available space

I may have mentioned I have an obscene amount of exercise equipment. To give you a quick run down, I have:

  • 2 BOSU balls
  • 2 aerobic steps
  • 1 24-inch plyo box
  • 1 battle rope
  • 1 slideboard
  • 3 weighted bars
  • 3 foam rollers
  • 2 medicine balls
  • 2 skateboards
  • 6 yoga mats
  • 6 sets of dumbbells
  • 2 kettlebells
  • 7 jump ropes
  • 1 suspension trainer
  • 10 resistance bands
  • 1 bike trainer
  • 1 under-desk cycle machine

And that doesn’t count the sports equipment I keep outside in a shed, like tennis racquets, bikes, snowboards, and more. And may I remind you, I live in a tiny house with absolutely zero closets.

Amazingly, I don’t feel overwhelmed by equipment. I store larger items, like the BOSU balls, aerobic steps, foam rollers, weighted bars and the battle rope under a bed, hiding them from view with a dust ruffle. I use the plyo box as a storage container, flipping it over (it’s a solid wood box) to hold my skateboards and yoga mats. As already mentioned, I display my dumbbells, kettlebells and medicine balls as decorations, and the rest of my equipment I keep inside decorative storage boxes. Everything’s readily accessible and available, but also mostly out of sight.

Tip #4: Use your mats as rugs

Who says gym mats can’t serve as everyday rugs? I actually have three gym mats currently doing double-duty.

First, I have a FitnessMat from WellnessMats that’s perfect for core work and any exercise where I need some extra cushioning (it’s a really thick, heavy mat that feels amazing). But when I’m not using the mat to exercise on, I keep it in my kitchen between the sink and stove so I can stand on it while I cook.

tiny gym kitchen mat

Next, I use a basic yoga mat as a runner just inside my sliding glass door. I frequently do yoga over here, so having the mat ready to go helps to cut down on any barriers to getting started. Plus, my dogs like the extra cushioning when they lounge in the sun – it beats lying on the cold, hard tile. When it’s time to actually use the mat, I just spray it down with a little mat wash to clean it off before I get started.

tiny home gym yoga mat

Finally, and absolutely best of all, are the SoftTiles home gym flooring squares the company sent me in a red and white configuration. Don’t they look like a legit rug?

tiny home gym softtiles collage

We have tile floors, so using weights on the tile is a tricky thing – it would be really easy to break a tile if I set a weight down too hard. But with these SoftTiles in place, I just have to scoot my dining table and chairs out of the way (it takes less than three minutes to do), and I have a really nice-sized gym floor that I can safely use my weights on. When I’m done, I just put my table and chairs back in place, and – boom! – it’s a decorative rug again. This particular configuration costs right around $75 and requires the following pieces:

  • 10 SoftTiles 1’x1′ in Red
  • 18 SoftTiles 1’x1′ in White
  • 14 Side Borders in Red
  • 4 Pairs of Corner Borders in Red

And, of course, you could choose different SoftTile colors if the red and white configuration aren’t your thing.

Tell me: Do you have a tiny home, or a tiny home gym? How do you store your equipment creatively?

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