"Exercising in Place:" Your Set-up & Equipment Guide

With all this “sheltering in place,” you may not be able to get to the gym these days. In fact, it may be challenging to simply get outside and take a walk. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your daily dose of exercise at home.

After all, you don’t need a lot of room or a lot of fancy workout gear. The key is simply finding a suitable spot, decluttering, and making sure that you have a few of the basics.

Below are four easy steps toward a healthier and happier you.

Step #1:  Find a suitable spot

For serious fitness fanatics, you might want to consider setting up a permanent home gym, particularly if you have an extra room or extra space in the basement or garage. If you’re deep-pocketed, you might also be willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on aerobic machines, free weights, reinforced flooring, mirrors, accessories and more.

However! For those of you like me, who don’t have the extra extra space or the extra dollars, there’s a much easier and less expensive alternative. Find an existing place within the house that simply has enough floor space for an exercise mat and enough standing room space for you to fully extend your arms and legs during a typical exercise routine. This could be in a spare bedroom, in your living room, outside on a deck, wherever.

If you prefer to follow a specific exercise routine led by an instructor (a live class or a recording), place a monitor somewhere close with a clear line of sight. A nearby desk or bookshelf works. So does the floor.

Finally, you may want to find a workout spot where you can prop up a large mirror against a wall. While by no means required, a mirror provides great feedback while exercising to help ensure that your form is good and that exercises are being performed correctly and safely.

Step #2:  Get your equipment

Yes, a Peloton stationary bike – or some other high tech aerobic machine – would be great. And, yes, it would be awesome to have a complete set of free weights to work with. However, these are “nice to haves" not “must haves” and, according to the vast majority of fitness instructors and personal trainers, you can derive much of the same health benefits with a handful of smaller, much less expensive items. Below is a list of exercise “staples” that you’ll want to consider.

An exercise/yoga mat

For those exercises that require floor work like pushups or sit-ups, you’ll want something reasonably cushy and comfortable. While a rug or a thick towel will do in a pinch, a quality mat that’s easy to clean and easy to roll up and store is much more civilized. There are a number of popular, reasonably-priced options available on Amazon, including this best seller:


Weightlifting is not just for the heavily muscled. It’s an important part of any exercise regimen designed to boost metabolism, bolster bone density and stave off chronic disease. Start off with three sets of varying weights – each of which can be used standing up or sitting. Use them to tone shoulders, arms, chest and back. Check out the range of dumbbell options on Amazon. If you're just getting started, we'd recommend that you'd opt for a simple rack with modest weights, like this best seller:

Exercise ball

An exercise ball is a great tool for building core strength, improving balance and boosting flexibility. It also makes a great desk or accent chair! Available in several industry-standard sizes (55 cm, 65 cm and 75 cm), there are countless exercises that can be easily integrated into your workout routine. There are tons of durable, high quality options available on Amazon. This best-seller is particularly well reviewed:

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are another great way to activate muscles and improve strength. They can be used on both the upper and lower body. They don’t put a strain on joints like heavy weights and, aside from toning muscles, can lead to significant improvements in flexibility and mobility. What’s also great about them: They generally come 4-5 to a pack, they’re lightweight and they take up virtually no space. To brush up on your resistance bands, check out these reviews on Amazon. Or simply check out this highly recommended option:

Kettle Bell

A kettlebell is a type of dumbbell or free weight that is round with a flat base and an arced handle. It looks like a cannonball with a handle, or a teapot without the spout, hence the name “kettlebell” in English. Most kettlebell workouts include squats, lunges, and other moves that work your abs and other core muscles. Your legs, your glutes, and your back will also benefit! Lots of well-reviewed options available on Amazon, including this "Best Budget" winner:

Jump Rope

Skipping rope is one of the most effective cardio exercises around.  Studies have found that just 10 minutes of skipping is comparable to 30 minutes of jogging.  It’s also a great full-body workout that tones your arms, tightens your abs and strengthens your legs. If you’re skipping inside the house, just make sure that you have enough ceiling clearance! Browse the wide range of rope options or opt for this Amazon best seller:

Aerobic step  

Step aerobics is a classic cardio workout. It's lasted for decades for a simple reason: It delivers results. The "step" is a 4-inch to 12-inch raised platform. You step up, around, and down from the platform in different patterns to boost your heart rate and breathing, and strengthen your muscles. Beginners should start with the lower step heights. Browse the reviews or check out this "Amazon's Choice" step platform:

Step #3:  Workout!

Most of the gear listed above will come with suggestions for specific exercises. However, you’ll probably want to come up with a routine that’s customized to your specific goals and preferences. You may be looking for a whole body workout or one that’s focused on toning a particular part of the body. You may want to focus more on cardio and weight loss or more on building muscle mass. You may want to mix it up. Spend the time to do a bit of planning before jumping in. There are tons of online resources and videos available.

The important thing is to just do it. But be smart about it. Build it into your daily schedule. Start slowly and step it up incrementally – be it the amount of time, the number of reps,  the amount of weight, etc. Even a handful of minutes each day can make an enormous difference and set you on a healthier and happier path.

Step #4:  Put Away & Store Your Equipment

Now what?  You’re sweaty, your living room is full of exercise equipment, and you’ve got friends coming over for a visit in 30 minutes. (Okay, we're pretending for a moment that we no longer need to shelter in place!) One solution is to find a storage solution that’s both simple and tasteful – something that it’s easy to stow in a nearby closet and/or that looks great sitting out in the open as part of the room decor.  

Below are a handful of ideas that you might find at any one of a number of popular retailers:

Happy toning. Let us know if you have any suggestions of your own for setting up your exercise space and conducting your workouts!