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Thanks to technology and sheer innovation, many good things now come in small packages: We wear tiny computers on our wrists (love my Apple Watch), and we geek out over things like portable, foldable, reusable straws (it comes with a case!).
The same concepts apply to fitness equipment. Manufacturers recognize the need to accommodate people–like me–who live in small spaces and don’t have room for 300-pound, commercial-sized treadmills and squat racks. The best compact exercise equipment spans the range of workout styles, from HIIT cardio machines to adjustable kettlebells. Coop, myself and our team at Garage Gym Reviews have collaborated to put together our favorites.
Why You Should Trust Us
Just because you live in a small space doesn’t mean you can’t have a home gym. Trust me, I know: I have lived and exercised in a studio apartment, and I currently store my bumper plates in my fireplace (no, really).
Someone–and in many cases, more than one person–at Garage Gym Reviews has had their hands on every piece of equipment listed here. We tested and analyzed important space-saving factors, like footprint, portability, and stowability. Outside this list, we have literally reviewed hundreds of products to assess the basics and the details, judging workout gear against criteria like durability and performance.
We stand by our recommendations because we don’t just say we like these products, we actually use them in our everyday workouts.
Our Picks for the Best Compact Exercise Equipment
- Best Workout Mirror for Small Spaces: MIRROR
- Best Compact Treadmill: Echelon Stride
- Best Compact Home Gym: Tonal
- Best Compact Exercise Bike: NordicTrack S22i
- Best Foldable Exercise Bike: Marcy Foldable Upright Exercise Bike
- Best Compact Elliptical: Bowflex Max Trainer M6
- Best Home Exercise App: Future
- Best Pull-Up Bar: Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar
- Best Dumbbell Set for Small Spaces: PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbbells
- Best Kettlebell Set for Small Spaces: Bowflex SelectTech 840 Adjustable Kettlebell
- Best Bodyweight System: TRX Suspension Trainer
- Best Portable Home Gym: MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Cable Machine
- Best Compact Rowing Machine: Stamina ATS Rower
- Best Resistance Bands: Rogue Monster Bands
Best Workout Mirror for Small Spaces: MIRROR
Good for: Affordable in-home personal training and cardio workouts
Best Workout Mirror for Small Spaces
The MIRROR is a nearly invisible smart home gym that installs in your wall or leans against it on a carbon frame stand. When not in use, the MIRROR serves as an aesthetic full-length mirror. In use, the MIRROR offers more than 50 different types of workouts, from strength training to yoga to cardio HIIT.Working out with the MIRROR is like going to a boutique fitness studio class. The instructors are high-energy, certified trainers. You don't need any equipment to use the MIRROR, but it helps to have some basics, like dumbbells and kettlebells.
My Favorite Things:
- 56″ H x 22.4″ W x 1.4″ D
- Professional installation included
- Great video and audio
- Personal training and group classes available
- Monthly subscription required
- No additional equipment (i.e. dumbbells) included
- Not a touchscreen
When it comes to interactive virtual training, MIRROR does it better than just about any other product we have tested. Taking up around 8 square feet of your wall space, the MIRROR requires you to have just enough room to move your body comfortably through exercises (that’s about 6 feet by 6 feet for most of us, but you could potentially get away with less).
You can also use MIRROR on a stand mount, though this is still secured to a wall. Whichever option you choose, professional installation is included in the price. Trust us, you want the pros to do this.
The MIRROR is on our best workout mirrors roundup in part due to its exceptional high-energy classes and extensive library. You have options that include on-demand or live workouts for Pilates, yoga, cardio, boot camp, strength training and even pre-/post-natal exercise.
One of our staff writers, Amanda Capritto, says that one of the MIRROR’s best features is the personalized training. Using a two-way camera, MIRROR connects you to a certified trainer who customizes your workouts and guides you through them. This is an additional cost (around $40 for a 30-minute session) on top of the $40-ish a month subscription.
There are few downsides to purchasing a MIRROR. One is that you only get the MIRROR, so if you want to do strength training, you’ll have to BYO equipment. The other is that you control MIRROR via an app, not on the actual product itself (it’s not a touchscreen). It’s not overly cumbersome, but it is one area we think MIRROR could be improved.
To learn more about our take, read Amanda’s full MIRROR review.
Best Compact Treadmill: Echelon Stride
Good for: People who want a treadmill they can stow away
Best Compact Treadmill
My Favorite Things:
- 69” L x 31” W X 49” H footprint
- Folds to just 10.25” deep
- Light and portable at 156 pounds
- Quick, easy assembly
- Interactive programming available via app
- Low motor power
- Short one-year warranty
- Small running deck
There are plenty of folding treadmills on the market, but the Echelon Stride is one of the most compact running machines out there. It collapses down to just 10.25 inches. You can store it horizontally–like under a bed–or flip it up on the front wheels to store it vertically against a wall or behind a door.
I personally wheeled this treadmill around to see if it really was as easy as advertised, and it is. Weighing in at 156 pounds, it’s fairly light for a durable treadmill, especially one that has auto-fold technology and a handle on the back to help you flip up the machine.
Another advantage the Stride has over other treadmills is the assembly process. Larger machines take a long time to put together, and actually require significant parts as you move through the assembly steps. The Stride arrives almost completely put together. All you have to do is flip up the arms and connect the emergency stop.
In terms of workouts, the Stride comes with eight preprogrammed options. This is also a “smart” machine that can connect via Bluetooth to a tablet or phone. Echelon has paid subscription memberships that unlock access to live and on-demand classes.
Where the Stride falls a few steps short is with the motor, which has 1.75 continuous horsepower. What that essentially means is that this isn’t a treadmill that’s going to withstand heavy duty use or hard sprints. So if you want to log 10 miles a day, five days a week, the Stride may not be ideal. Also, the Stride’s compact size translates to a shorter running deck at 55 inches. We typically like to see 60-inch decks to accommodate people over 6 feet tall.
Even more details are over at our in-depth Echelon Stride treadmill review.
Best Compact Home Gym: Tonal
Good for: Anyone looking for responsive personal training
Best Compact Home Gym
Looking for a complete home gym that fits in a compact space? The Tonal smart home gym offers 200 pounds of resistance, more than 170 moves, and a range of full-body exercises. Plus, the AI gets to know you as a lifter the more you use it, so the workouts will be customized to your needs.Tonal may be effective, but it's not budget-friendly. The machine sells for close to $3,000 (which does include professional installation), but you still have to pay a $50 monthly subscription fee on top of that.
My Favorite Things:
- Requires just 7’ W x 7’ L x 7’ D in your home gym
- Form correction and automated weight changes
- On-demand and live classes available
- Up to 200 lbs in resistance
- Smart accessories are extra
- Price starts around $3,000
- 12-month subscription required (and extra)
Tonal is perhaps one of the best pieces of smart home gym equipment there is. It’s a wall-mounted screen that is over 4 feet tall and a little under 2 feet wide. There are two adjustable cable arms that extend from the screen. Because of those arms, Tonal suggests that you have a 7-foot-by-7-foot area in front of the machine to be able to exercise.
With Tonal, you essentially have a personal trainer on your wall. It uses artificial intelligence to watch your movements as you move through your workout. Tonal can adjust your weight and offer form correction cues as you go. It will count your reps for you (huge bonus for those of us who space out a little in that area). There are even advanced features like “Spotter Mode” that will actually drop the resistance if Tonal senses that you’re struggling on an exercise.
With your subscription to Tonal, you get access to live and on-demand workouts. The live workouts were added in late 2021. Coop said that those workouts are good, but he thinks there are still some technical things Tonal needs to work through before the live classes rival those of, say, Peloton. Still, it’s nice to virtually exercise alongside people when you’re doing intense cardio and strength sessions.
To really get the most out of Tonal, you need to have the smart accessories, and those are all sold separately. The unit itself is already around $3,000 plus a mandatory 12-month subscription, so the cost can really start adding up when you throw in the extras like the smart bar, rope, bench, and handles.
Pssst: Check out all the Tonal discounts here!
For a more in-depth look, check out Coop’s full Tonal review.
Best Compact Exercise Bike: NordicTrack S22i
Good for: An all-in-one cardio machine with interactive programming
Best Compact Exercise Bike
Join high energy studio classes, mountain bike rides in Moab, or ride a Tour de France stage all from the comfort of your home. Access on-demand classes with the world's best personal trainers for beginners or the hard-core cyclist. Interactive Personal Training comes to life as your personal trainer controls the incline, decline and resistance of your ride, a truly Interactive Experience.
My Favorite Things:
- 63” L x 22” W x 60” H footprint
- Has transport wheels
- iFit compatible
- Screen swives to broadcast workouts on and off bike
- Incline and decline training available
- Screen is 22” and makes moving the bike a little awkward
- 200 lbs and not super easy to move around
- Fairly expensive around $1,500
Exercise bikes are, in general, among the most compact cardio exercise equipment you can find. By nature, they are smaller than ellipticals and treadmills. So when determining which was the best exercise bike, I looked at more than just the footprint and factored in how much value you’re getting out of the equipment. Based on that, it really doesn’t get better than the NordicTrack Commercial Studio Cycle line.
Right off the bat, the Commercial S22i (and its sister, the S15i), are more than just exercise bikes. They use iFit, which gives you access not only to cycle workouts but also strength training, yoga and a host of other fitness classes. Both bikes have screens that swivel so you can rotate the display to do HIIT off to the side.
I fell in love with this bike the minute I put my feet on the pedals and started moving. The Commercial S22i is like a Peloton Bike in many ways: large, 22-inch touchscreen, interactive programming that includes live and on-demand classes, pair of dumbbells included.
Where the S22i stands out is that it has incline and decline capabilities, a feature you don’t often see on exercise bikes. And this compact exercise bike packs in a lot of extras: Cooling fan, Bluetooth connectivity to headphones, dual water bottle holders, and a device holder.
There are a few downsides: I put together this bike myself, which I don’t recommend. If you can afford it, opt for the professional assembly. While there are transportation wheels on the front of the bike, the S22i weighs 200-plus pounds and isn’t exactly easy to move around. Perhaps most significantly: If you store any NordicTrack equipment in a non-temperature controlled environment, the warranty may be voided.
For more on this bike, check out our in-depth NordicTrack S22i review.
Best Foldable Exercise Bike: Marcy Foldable Upright Exercise Bike
Good for: People who want to log miles on a no-frills, stowable bike
Best Foldable Exercise Bike
The Marcy Foldable Magnetic Resistance Upright Bike is a Garage Gym Reviews top pick for folding exercise bikes. It has eight levels of magnetic resistance, an adjustable seat and adjustable pedals, and it's made out of durable 14-gauge steel tubing.
My Favorite Things:
- 34” L x 19” W x 44” H inches footprint
- Folds to 18.5” L x 18.5” W x 51.5” H
- Weighs 37lbs but can support 250lbs
- Comfortable seat
- Extremely sturdy
- Basic console for basic stats
- No preset workouts
- No fancy extras or conveniences
When it comes to folding bikes, there’s one thing you should know: These aren’t going to be high-tech, full-of-frills machines. Their value proposition is how small they are. If you go into it knowing that, then you have accurately calibrated your expectations and won’t set yourself up for disappointment.
That’s the lens we had to take when testing multiple foldable bikes. Our staff writer, Amanda Capritto, says the Marcy Foldable Upright Exercise Bike tops the list and has even found a permanent spot in her home gym. Yes, it’s small and light and easy to move, like any other folding bike, but the quality construction sets it apart. Amanda notes the thick, 14-gauge steel makes the Marcy bike feel incredibly sturdy during workouts, even during hard pedaling.
She also says that the LCD display on the Marcy bike is larger than most of the other screens you find on these compact bikes. True, it only displays time, calories, and distance, but that’s pretty standard for these machines.
Amanda points out that while there aren’t many levels of resistance (just eight), this is great for beginners or can be used effectively in warm-ups and cool-downs.
Best Compact Elliptical: Bowflex Max Trainer M6
Good for: Cardio fanatics who enjoy HIIT training
Best Compact Elliptical
The Bowflex Max Trainer delivers full-throttle, high-intensity cardio that progressively gets harder as you get stronger. Challenge yourself with addictive, fast-paced, HIIT-style workouts that skyrocket your heart rate and propel you into the best shape of your life.
My Favorite Things:
- 46” L x 26” W x 64.2” H
- Front transportation wheels
- Built-in and subscription-based programming
- Stair-stepping design
- Cup holder, tablet/phone holder, and USB charging port
- Heavy machine
- Priced around $1,500
- Basic display
I’ve always been a fan of elliptical training for its low-impact, high-output style. It’s running without running, which is my favorite kind of running.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M6 is one of the most compact ellipticals out there. Whereas most home elliptical machines are around 7 to 8 feet long, the M6 is just shy of 4 feet in length. I kept it in my tiny apartment for a solid six months, wheeling it out of the living room and into my bedroom when I had company. Yes, it moves, but it is a little heavy at 148 pounds.
Due to its compact nature, the M6 is really more of a climber than an elliptical. Instead of long, running-like strides, the pedals glide in much more of an up-and-down motion. This gives you a swift kick in the glutes as you burn through the 14-minute interval workout that the Max Trainer product line touts.
There are four other built-in workout options as well, including calorie burn and fat burn. The handles on the machine move for a total body workout, or you can use the fixed handles to just blow up your legs.
If you want more training options, you can opt to subscribe to JRNY. This is an interactive app that syncs with the Max Trainers as well as other machines, like the Bowflex Velocore. When you buy the M6, you receive a free trial of JRNY. You’ll find on-demand classes as well as personalized options. As the program gets to know you, it makes recommendations for your workouts.
To use JRNY, you need to bring your own smart device to the table. The device holder on the machine can be sized for phones or tablets, and there is a USB port for charging. The console on the M6 is fairly basic, but there is a sweet-looking speedometer that shows you how fast you’re going when you really hit those hard intervals.
Read my full Bowflex Max Trainer M6 review.
Best Home Exercise App: Future
Good for: Anyone at any fitness level with any amount of home gym equipment
Best Home Exercise App
Future is the futuristic workout app. Future matches you with a certified trainer who creates personalized workout programs based on your goals, equipment, and current fitness level. In futuristic fashion, the company sends you an Apple Watch to use for the duration of your training. You just pay a $199 deposit. If you want to keep the Apple Watch at the end of your training, you pay the difference between the deposit and the full cost. You can chat with your personal trainer in the app, and your trainer modifies your workouts based on your progress and other factors.CLICK OUR LINK AND YOUR FIRST MONTH IS JUST $19!
My Favorite Things:
- Stream from iPhone or Apple Watch
- No extra equipment necessary
- Affordable virtual personal training option
- Accountability from a coach
- Ability to submit videos for form check
- No live cuing or instruction
- Some might think $149/month is expensive
- Only compatible with Apple products
It really doesn’t get more compact than having a personal training program on your wrist. Future is one of the most integrated virtual workout apps I have ever seen. It syncs with Apple devices–including the Apple Watch you get when you sign up–so your workout streams from your phone or wrist.
Also, you technically don’t need to have any equipment. When you subscribe to Future, you are paired with a certified coach (you can choose your coach yourself or have Future match you with someone). During an initial FaceTime meeting with your coach, you share your fitness goals, the equipment you have, any injuries or concerns, and how much time you can devote to training. The coach then develops a personalized program just for you based on all those factors.
I (and several other people here at Garage Gym Reviews) tested Future for 30 days. I have continued to subscribe to it because I genuinely like it that much. My coach adapts workouts as I acquire new equipment or if I go out of town. During your workout, a video on your phone displays someone doing the movements, and a voice gives you cues to remind you of things like squeezing your core or finishing with locked out arms.
Because Future streams from your phone, you can take your workout anywhere (provided your equipment travels well). However, the app is only compatible with iOS devices. And the technology isn’t perfect; sometimes the app on the watch lags, and if you don’t keep the app updated, you’ll have syncing issues. Also, you don’t get live instruction, though you can video yourself doing the workouts to send to your coach for a form check.
Some people may view $149 a month as expensive, but it’s incredibly cheap compared to the price of most personal training sessions. For more on what this program is all about, check out Coop’s full Future review.
Best Pull-Up Bar: Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar
Good for: People who want to do pull-ups in their doorway
Best Pull-Up Bar
The Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar is a multi-function strength training device that promises to sculpt your upper body through pull ups, chin ups, and abdominal work. And that’s just while this versatile pull up bar is hanging high on your doorframe. Move the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar to the ground and you can use it to perform dips to work your triceps, pushups to work your biceps and chest, and sit ups to hit your abs.Iron Gym has made one of the most popular pull up bars on the market, and with good reason. It’s designed to be used and abused while providing excellent, bodyweight-only exercises. The Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar is very strong and durable. But the best part is that it can be moved around without permanently fastening it to anything.Turns any doorway into a personal gym; installs in seconds. Fits up to 35.4 inch wide door frames Ideal for pull-ups, push-ups, chin-ups, dips, crunches, and more. Fits up to 35.4 inch wide door frames Three grip positions, narrow, wide, and neutral. Foam grips Uses leverage to hold against the doorway so there are no screws and no damage to door. The door way needs to be 24 – 32 inches wide to accommodate the bar
My Favorite Things:
- 12.99” L x 36.61” W x 11.02” H
- Fits over most standard doorways
- Not a permanent fixture
- Weighs less than 5 lbs
- Holds up to 300 lbs
- Few grip options
- No swinging/kipping
- May leave markings on your door
One of the best bodyweight and best back exercises is the pull-up, but it’s also one of the most challenging to do in your home. Most of us don’t want to bolt a bar into our living room wall. The Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar is a pull-up bar you can use in any standard-sized door frame. It isn’t a permanent fixture; you slide it into place when you’re ready to use it, and take it down when you’re done.
I can fit the Iron Gym under my bed (which is where it lives when I’m not doing pull-ups). It weighs less than 5 pounds, so moving it around is incredibly easy. For such a small, lightweight bar, it shockingly holds as much as 300 pounds.
The way it works is that there is a bar on the unit that rests on the top of the door frame. Another bar spans across the other side of the door frame, which essentially locks it into place. You’ll have to do a bit of angling in order to secure it, and I always double- and triple-check it before I start going.
At around $30, this is a highly versatile piece of equipment that gives you options. In terms of grip, you can really only do pronated and supinated pull-ups because it’s just a straight bar. However, there are options for wide and traditional grips. Also, you can place the Iron Gym on the floor and use it for elevated push-ups, dips and planks.
A word of warning: You shouldn’t do any kind of kipping or swinging pull-ups on it. That could jar the bar loose and result in injury. Also, some people report that the Iron Gym left scuffs on their door frames. While I haven’t experienced this, I don’t doubt that it’s possible.
Best Dumbbell Set for Small Spaces: PowerBlock Elite Series Adjustable Dumbbells
Good for: People who want a full set of heavy dumbbells in a compact space
Best Dumbbell Set for Small Spaces
PowerBlock was an innovator in this category and has been making adjustable dumbbells since 1991. This means they have had over 25 years of production and refinement to create the ultimately adjustable dumbbells set, and they truly have. The PowerBlock Elite dumbbells are one of the highest-rated and best-selling sets of all time. This is one of the last adjustable dumbbells sets to still be made in the USA, and PowerBlock uses only premium-quality materials. Thanks to their smart and economical design, the PowerBlocks are extremely tough and can withstand all sorts of regular gym abuse.Has a weight range of 5-50 lbs per hand and increments- 2.5 (adder weight), 5, 7.5, 10,15, 17.5, 20 25, 27.5, 30, 35, 37.5, 40, 45, 47.5, 50 pounds per hand Is expandable later to 70 and again to 90 pounds per hand. Made in USA 10 year home use warranty Replaces 16 pairs of dumbbells in the space of 1
My Favorite Things:
- 12″ L x 6″ W x 6″ H footprint
- Replaces 16 pairs of dumbbells with expansion kits
- Ability to change weight in 2.5 lb increments
- Fast weight change
- Weight ranges 5 to 50 lbs with expansion kits to 70/90 lbs
- Boxy design
- A little noisy
- Caged handle
A full rack of dumbbells exponentially increases your workout options, but it also takes up significant space. Adjustable dumbbells solve for both, giving you multiple sets of weights in the footprint of just one (oversized) pair.
The PowerBlock Elite Series has long been a favorite here at Garage Gym Reviews. Each weight is about the size (and shape) of a shoebox, and it packs in 16 dumbbells between 5 and 50 pounds. If you buy the expansion kits, you can get as much as 90 pounds out of each weight.
The base-level pair sells for around $400. If you bought 16 pairs of dumbbells in that weight range, you’d be spending a lot more than $400. A pair of 50-pound traditional dumbbells alone will cost you upward of $150–and that’s for the cheap ones.
Aside from the value and space-saving, we like PowerBlocks because the weight change is quick and easy, allowing you to superset exercises with ease. Also, it’s nice to have the option of adjusting the weight in as little as 2.5-pound increments (makes running the rack even spicier).
I have to point out that the boxy shape of PowerBlocks means they don’t move quite like a traditional dumbbell. The handle is caged, so explosive movements are possible, but slightly cumbersome. There is even more info over on our full PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbbells review. Looking for a Powerblock Coupon? Check it out here.
Best Kettlebell Set for Small Spaces: Bowflex SelectTech 840 Adjustable Kettlebell
Good for: People who don’t lift heavy but want multiple kettlebell options
Best Kettlebell Set for Small Spaces
My Favorite Things:
- 8.8″ L x 7″ W x 12.5″ H footprint
- Replaces 6 kettlebells
- Quick and easy design
- Comes with access to trainer-led technique videos
- Constructed of a lot of plastic, so don’t drop it!
- Weight maxes out at 40lbs
- Handle may feel slick
One of the most challenging aspects of building out a complete home gym is finding the room for ALL THE WEIGHTS. You need a heavy kettlebell for farmers’ carries, a light kettlebell for overhead stability work, and one that’s juuuuuust right for swings. Put those side-by-side, and you just lost about 3 square feet of precious space.
Then the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Adjustable Kettlebell swoops in like a hero with a space-efficient cape. Packing six kettlebells in one, the SelectTech 840 offers 8-, 12-, 20-, 25-, 35-, and 40-pound options. Changing weight is as simple as turning a dial on top of the bell, which adjusts how many metal plates inside remain on the bell when you lift it off the stand.
RELATED: Best Adjustable Kettlebells
For the most part, the SelectTech 840 has the look and feel of a traditional kettlebell. There is the classic bell shape and rounded handle. However, the 840 uses a significant amount of plastic, which means you should never drop it. Doing so could break it and also void the two-year warranty. The handle has ergonomically shaped the way a handle on a regular kettlebell is, but it is fairly slick and, in our experience, doesn’t hold up to chalk well.
Read more in our Bowflex SelectTeach 840 Adjustable Kettlebell review.
Best Bodyweight System: TRX Suspension Trainer
Good for: Anyone looking for a portable bodyweight resistance training system
Best Bodyweight System
Originally developed by U.S. Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick as a portable training solution for his team, the TRX® Suspension Trainer gives anyone instant access to over 300 effective bodyweight exercises—all adjustable to your body type and evolving goals. The system can be set up in less than a minute using any sturdy door or anchor point—be it at home, the office, a hotel, or an outdoor park—and everything you need fits into the included mesh carry bag.The TRX Home Suspension Trainer is a full body workout tool that can improve core strength, endurance, flexibility, and stability, while burning away fat and toning lean muscle.The entire kit weighs less than 2 lbs and includes:Durable Nylon Webbing Straps with loop-and-barrel locking adjusters and a carabiner tested at 1,300 LBS. Padded Block Door Anchor connects to Suspension Trainer for use in any room with a solid, sturdy door. Suspension Anchor for hanging straps off stabilized bars, branches, poles, hooks, etc. Official TRX® App with 4 total-body workouts, 6 modular TRX® HOME workouts and more. Instructional Guide for setting up and planning out your bodyweight training regimen. Mesh Carrying Bag
My Favorite Things:
- Needs an 8’ L x 6’ W footprint
- Mount to door or ceiling
- Lightweight and very portable
- Comes with free subscription trial to TRX workouts
- Beginners may need video instruction/help with learning how to use
- Bundles start around $200
- Subscription costs extra
If you’ve ever done a TRX class, you know how challenging the work is. A former Navy Seal, Randy Hetrick, is credited with developing the patented method and equipment in the 1990s, though we saw Total Resistance eXercise really explode in the early 2000s when commercial gyms started offering classes.
Fortunately, you don’t have to step into a gym to do TRX anymore. These lightweight, highly portable straps can be mounted to your ceiling or secured in a doorway for a workout that targets all your major muscle groups. The entire kit–straps, door anchor and suspension anchor–can be tossed into the accompanying mesh bag for easy storage just about anywhere in your home.
Anyone at any fitness level can benefit from working out with the Suspension Trainer. I have used it for years, both in my own workouts as well as in training clients. It excels in areas like core stabilization, supported leg movements, and challenging upper body work. I had been doing CrossFit for years before I took my first TRX class. At the time, I thought I was incredibly fit, but that class proved to me that I had gaps in my fitness.
Using the straps does require either knowledge of the exercises or some kind of guidance, so I wouldn’t exactly call these beginner-friendly. However, when you purchase the TRX Suspension Trainer, you get access to a seven-day trial of the TRX Training Club, which offers live and on-demand classes. After that, your options for subscription are as little as $4/month.
Best Portable Home Gym: MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Cable Machine
Good for: People who travel or want to be able to take total body fitness on the go
Best Portable Home Gym
The MAXPRO isn't some rubber band tied to a door. It is a serious compact cable machine that replaces numerous bulky cable machines found in your typical gym. MAXPRO brings you the latest revolutionary fitness technology with adjustable resistance from 5 to 300 pounds with a simple turn of the dial.Take your workout to the max with MAXPRO Fitness!
My Favorite Things:
- 10″ L x 16″ H x 4″ W folded footprint
- Weighs just 9lbs
- Travels easily
- Up to 300 lbs in resistance
- Total body workout
- Battery powered, so remember to charge
- Compatible app isn’t the most user-friendly
- Lacks eccentric exercise ability
For heavy resistance training you can take with you, it doesn’t get too much tinier than the MaxPRO SmartConnect Home Gym. Its folded footprint is essentially the size of a shoebox, and it unfolds to be almost flat to the ground in use. Also, this machine weighs just 9 pounds, so moving it around is wildly easy.
Coop tested the MaxPRO and found it to be way more fun than he had initially expected. He even took it with him on a family vacation because of how easy it is to use and how well it travels.
The real magic of the MaxPRO is that it packs up to 300 pounds of resistance into the cables you can use to perform upper body and lower body work. You can use it as a standalone functional trainer with just the cables, or, if you purchase the Elite package, you can mount it under a bench or onto a wall to maximize the number of exercises you can perform.
The “Smart” part of the MaxPRO SmartConnect is in its connectivity to an app that features personal trainers who guide you through workouts that include high intensity interval training and strength training. Coop found the app to be a little clunky, and we are hoping MaxPRO continues to improve on the technology.
Some things to consider when purchasing: First, the MaxPRO only does concentric, not eccentric training. Also, the machine uses battery power. Make sure you keep it charged if you plan on using it frequently.
For more information, read Coop’s in-depth MaxPRO SmartConnect Home Gym review.
Best Compact Rowing Machine: Stamina ATS Rower
Good for: People looking for a budget-friendly rower that folds in half
Best Compact Rowing Machine
Providing all the basics you need in a rower at a wallet-friendly price, the Stamina ATS Rower may be a good choice for the casual rower. The ATS features wind resistance, an oversized seat rail, padded upholstered seat, small LCD display with live fitness feedback, and a smooth glide. The harder you work, the more resistance you will feel. The ATS also uses a strap and return spring rather than a chain for the rowing mechanism. The intent is to decrease noise but some felt the pull feels inconsistent. The ATS is equipped with an oversized seat rail designed to accommodate taller users. However, seat stoppers may limit the range of motion for these rowers. Constructed from carbon steel, the ATS supports weights up to 250 pounds which is a bit lower than industry standard but not surprising for the price. Several reviewers found fault in the design of the footplates which have a more aggressive angle. This forces the knees to protrude too far forward which leads to improper form and stress on the knees. A 3-year warranty covers the frame and only a 90-day warranty on parts. Issues have been reported with the return spring strap breaking so be sure to assess its quality within the 90-day window.Still, the ATS is a value purchase that can be folded and stored out of the way when not in use. It may be a good option for casual rowers or those that live in smaller spaces.
My Favorite Things:
- 77” L x 18” W x 28” H
- Folds in half
- Light and moves easily on wheels
- Priced under $350
- Easy assembly
- Slide rail is shorter than other rowers’
- Weight capacity is 250 lbs
- Two AA batteries provide power
Generally speaking, rowing machines aren’t really compact. They are around 6 to 7 feet long at minimum. I have one in my home, and thank goodness it stores vertically or else I simply wouldn’t have space for it.
We chose to include the Stamina ATS Rower on our list because it is one of the most compact rowing machines on the market. It folds in half so you can stow it in a corner or even in a closet. The transportation wheels and 56-pound weight means you can easily move the rower around your space to make room when you aren’t using it.
This is a rower that costs less than $350, so it’s not going to have all the features that some of our other favorite rowing machines have, like Hydrow’s interactive programming or a high-quality performance monitor. However, this will still give you a good rowing experience. The LCD screen shows you the basics of time, distance, and calories, and air resistance gives you that smooth feeling of being on the water.
There is an option on Amazon for expert assembly, but you might not need it. The app that comes with the Stamina ATS that shows you how to put the machine together. Personally, I have assembled a number of different rowers. The Stamina ATS is a little more involved than, say, assembling the Concept 2 RowErg, but it’s still manageable for most people.
RELATED: Best Rowing Machine
Best Resistance Bands: Rogue Monster Bands
Good for: People who want versatility in their resistance bands
Best Resistance Bands
Available to order individually, in pairs, or as part of a full set, Rogue Monster Bands are the versatile, go-anywhere accessory for customized resistance training—from mobility work and pull-up assistance to banded squats and bench presses. There are (8) color-coded versions of the natural latex rubber stretch bands to choose from, each measuring 41" in length, but varying in width, thickness, and overall resistance. This makes each band more specialized for certain types of training.The thinnest, lower-resistance Monster Bands are best for pull-up assistance, general conditioning, rehabilitation, jumping, speed training, and beginner / light weight training. Mini bands can safely raise the intensity of a weightlifting movement without adding additional weights to a bar. For the stronger lifter, they will also add considerable resistance to bicep and tricep exercises. - Micro #0 (Orange) - 15LB Resistance - Mini #1 (Red) - 30LB Resistance - Mini #2 (Blue) - 50LB ResistanceThese mid-level bands can be used by stronger benchers, as well as for banded squats and other exercises involving the lower body, calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Our green and black Monster Bands are also good options for mobility and stretching. - #3 (Green) - 65LB Resistance - #4 (Black) - 100LB ResistanceOur highest resistance bands are used for obtaining maximum resistance with squats, deadlifts, leg presses, and shrugs. These are recommended for experienced, high-performance athletes. - Strong #5 (Purple) - 140LB Resistance - Strong #6 (Red) - 170LB Resistance - Super #7 (Silver) - 200LB ResistanceAll Monster Bands are made from a highly durable, natural latex rubber, and include Rogue branding and the roaring “Monster” logo. Customers can order the band or bands best suited to their needs, whether you just want a better way to stretch in your home gym, or to fully equip a large training facility with a variety of bands for multiple uses, including: - Speed and Agility training - Increased Resistance Weight Training (without adding plates) - Pull-up Assistance - Jumping | Plyometrics | Aerobics - Flexibility Exercises | Stretching | General Conditioning - Prehabilitation | RehabilitationRead my full Rogue Monster Band review.
My Favorite Things:
- 41” loop bands between 0.25” and 4” thick
- Available in eight options
- Useful for bodyweight exercises, pull-up assistance, barbell movements and more
- Made of latex, which some people are allergic to
- Will break down over time
- Pricier than similar bands, but worth it for the quality
Quality space-saving exercise equipment is often gear you can use in multiple ways. The Rogue Monster Bands check just about every box.
First, let’s talk about space. These bands are 42-inch loop bands that range from a quarter-inch to 4 inches wide, depending on how much resistance you want. They weigh just ounces each and are easily tossed into a drawer or basket, or hung on hooks in your garage.
When it comes to practical use, large-loop tube resistance bands can do a lot:
- Warm-up exercises like pull-aparts
- Strength movements like good mornings, presses and squats
- Assistance for pull-ups and dips
- Mobility work like banded stretches
I won’t pretend like the Monster Bands don’t look like most of the other loop resistance bands on the market. They are color-coded to make it easy to know which band to grab, and they are made of latex, which many of these bands are (and also something to note if you have a latex allergy).
However, if you’re going to go for bands, you should opt for quality and the best resistance bands. All resistance bands have a lifespan that only lasts through so many stretches. We trust Rogue quality time and again, and we have found the Rogue bands to be highly dependable.
Other Compact Exercise Equipment We Researched
There are a lot of great pieces of equipment that didn’t make our list but that we still feel are worth mentioning:
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical: I actually really like this elliptical for people on a budget who also don’t have a lot of space. It’s around $500, has preset workouts and a short stride, which means it won’t take up much room. At this price point, it’s hard to find quality machines. While this isn’t an elliptical that would withstand heavy use, it would be just fine for home workouts.
Sunny Health & Fitness Synergy Magnetic Bike: For a durable, sturdy stationary bike with a small footprint that costs around $500, this is my favorite. Magnetic resistance means it’s quieter than fan bikes, and there is no chain that would require maintenance. There’s also no fancy touchscreen, but there is a device holder you can use if you want to follow an app.
Assault Air Bike: I have one of these at home. While CrossFit has replaced Assault with the Rogue Echo Bike, I still like the OG air bike. It’s incredibly easy to wheel around, and it isn’t much larger than other stationary bikes. Also, nothing destroys your soul quite like sprints on the Assault Air Bike. There are a few pre-programmed workouts, but nothing interactive. The chain definitely needs love from time to time, which is why this didn’t quite make our best-of list.
Tempo Studio: Massive touchscreen, weights included, 3D sensors that give you feedback on your form: Tempo Studio is the complete package. You don’t need much room for this standalone virtual trainer, either. However, it doesn’t include the heavy weights that something like Tonal can provide. Also, Tempo Studio is one of the most expensive home gyms on the market.
Tempo Move: Tempo announced in late 2021 the addition of “Move,” which costs under $500 and gives you a lot of the benefits of the Studio: virtual training, weights included. You do need to have an iPhone XR or later and a TV to use it, however. We haven’t gotten to try it (yet) but are looking forward to it.
NordicTrack Vault: The Vault made our list of the best workout mirrors thanks in part to its slim and sleek design, ideal for people who want to do full body exercises in a small space. It even comes with kettlebells, dumbbells and a mat. This didn’t make the cut on our list simply because we found that the workout equipment doesn’t store quite as nicely as it’s supposed to.
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells: We actually recommend the Bowflex as one of our top picks for adjustable dumbbells. They are shaped like traditional dumbbells, and the weight changes extremely easily. Plus, they are affordable compared to many other similar products. The biggest drawback we see is that they max out at 40 pounds, which might not be heavy enough for many.
NÜOBELL Adjustable Dumbbells: The NÜOBELLs are some of our favorites: They sport a great knurled handle, traditional dumbbell shape, and they adjust weight faster than possibly any other adjustable dumbbell out there. However, they are expensive, and for the price, we think they use too much plastic.
How We Picked and Tested
We have a team of people who use, test, and review equipment. When it comes specifically to evaluating the best compact workout equipment, we had a discussion around what pieces we had used that make sense in small spaces based on a number of factors, such as:
- Footprint: We looked for items that could be used in a space no larger than a living room
- Portability: Products that stood out to us were those that could be moved around with ease
- Stowability: Bonus points to fitness equipment that could be put away easily
- Versatility: Could the product be used in multiple ways for multiple exercises
Many of the items on this list actually live in our own homes and garage gyms. We know what it’s like to interact with them daily. Someone on our team has used each piece of equipment for multiple workouts to assess factors like durability, performance, ease of use and ergonomics.
Benefits of Compact Exercise Equipment
If you have ever lived in a small apartment, shared a small home with multiple people, or simply tried to do a workout in your living room, you know how valuable it is to have space. For many at-home workouts, you don’t need much more than a 7-foot-by-7-foot space (enough room to lie down and move around).
Owning compact exercise equipment enables you to:
- Work out just about anywhere in your home: garage, family room, bedroom, yard, heck, even in the kitchen
- Move equipment to other rooms/spaces for flexibility
- Take your equipment with you when you travel
- Stow gear away when it isn’t in use
What to Look for in Compact Exercise Equipment
If you don’t have a ton of space, then finding fitness equipment with a minimal footprint is key. Here are some key considerations:
Most people looking for space-saving exercise equipment have one main concern: size. A squat rack, barbell, and bumper plates can take up quite a bit of floor space. And cardio machines? Well, they tend to be big, heavy, and overwhelming.
So, measure your space, and compare it with the measurement of the equipment. Also, just because something is big doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a dealbreaker; there are products like folding treadmills and foldable bikes that actually transform the footprint of the workout machine.
If you’re like me, you transform any space in your home into a gym. I’ve even moved my squat rack into the kitchen on occasion, because sometimes a lady likes to snack while she squats.
Before I invest in equipment, I’m often checking to see how easily I can move it around. Some important factors there include:
- Transportation wheels
- Product weight
- Product size
Also, if you travel a lot, find portable gym pieces that can go with you. Maintaining your fitness routine on the road is important. Resistance bands and yoga mats travel well; bumper plates, not so much.
I’m a sucker for equipment that takes up a little space and can be used for a lot of things. I think adjustable dumbbells have got to be one of the most fantastic products out there. You can go heavy for dumbbell deadlifts and squats, or keep it light for accessory and mobility work. All in one product!
Not every piece of equipment will have more than one use, but many on our list do: Cardio equipment that comes with interactive programming often has yoga and strength training classes, and you can get whole-body workouts with home gyms.
RELATED: Best Dumbbell Exercises
It’s always wise to read the fine print. Check out the following for any piece of exercise equipment you are considering:
- Return policy
- Initial trial period
FAQs About Compact Exercise Equipment
What are three things you should do before you buy exercise equipment?
Before investing in exercise equipment, do the following:
1. Assess policies like the warranty, return policy, and if there is a free trial period
2. Read the review, like the ones in our extensive library on Garage Gym Reviews
3. Make sure it aligns with your fitness goals and budget
What basic equipment might you need to start exercising?
We have a list of home gym essentials that serves as a great guide for people just starting to build out their arsenal of workout gear. To be honest, you just need the motivation to start exercising. There are plenty of bodyweight exercises you can do.
However, if you really want to see progress, we recommend having some kind of strength training equipment, such as adjustable dumbbells, kettlebells, or, if you have the space, a barbell and bumper plates. Resistance bands are a great option as well.
What is a disadvantage of home exercise equipment?
The only disadvantage to buying home exercise equipment is that you have to spend money. And to be frank, having a home gym is quite possibly one of the best investments you’ll ever make. You’re investing in your health and wellbeing. Besides, there are plenty of great options for budget home gym equipment out there.
Thanks to technology and sheer innovation, many good things now come in small packages: We wear tiny computers on our wrists (love my Apple Watch), and we geek out over things like portable, foldable, reusable straws (it comes with a case!). The same concepts apply to fitness equipment. Manufacturers recognize the need to accommodate people–like me–who live in small spaces and don’t have room for 300-pound, commercial-sized treadmills and squat racks. » Read more about: The Best Compact Exercise Equipment for Small Spaces (2022) » Read more
The Kabuki Strength Kadillac Bar is the best multi-grip bar we've reviewed. It features high attention to detail on areas that matter, a camber angle borrowed from the ever-popular Duffalo Bar, and a fit and finish that is top-notch. If you want the best and can stomach the price tag, we recommend the Kadillac. Read more
In my Rogue Adjustable Bench 3.0 review, I’ll explain why, despite it being one of the best benches I’ve tried out, it may not be the best choice for everyone’s home gym. Read more