Fitness Experts on How to Create a Kick-Ass Home Gym—No Equipment Necessary

Fitness Experts on How to Create a Kick-Ass Home Gym—No Equipment Necessary

By Olivia Cohen
These expert-recommended tips, routines, and exercises will get you breaking a sweat at home.

While COVID-19 keeps us home, finding the right workout routine— and space— is more important than ever. Four fitness experts gave us a peek into their home workout space and reminded us that the only thing you need for an effective home gym is the motivation to start moving.

Traci Copeland

Nike master trainer, dancer, and yoga instructor Traci Copeland pushes a coffee table aside to set up her daily workout space in the light-filled living room of her Seattle home. With spatial restrictions and ongoing conference calls in a nearby room, Copeland explains, "You have to be more mindful in your space." But, these restrictions don’t keep her from a strong workout: "You’re in charge of the energy that you bring to the room and [the space] can be easily transformed into whatever you want it to be. The one thing we do have control over right now is our fitness. You can control how much you want to move today." 

Traci Copeland stretches what’s possible by making the most of her space and resources.

Copeland sees this time as an opportunity to learn and grow not just physically, but also mentally and creatively. For her, that’s meant learning to play the guitar and finding new methods she can add to her clients’ and her own training. "We’re realizing all the things we can do with what we already have," she says. "Hopefully it empowers us all to pick up something new and focus on slightly different things than before corona life happened." 

Jules Bakshi

Jules Bakshi, founder of Brooklyn-based dance and mindful fitness studio GOOD MOVE, finds herself dancing in the living room of her 1.5-bedroom apartment because of its natural light and floor space. "You don’t need props or fancy equipment to get a great workout; you just have to know the body well," she says. "The best thing you can do for your fitness is to find a way of moving that makes you feel good, and use that as a starting point for a dialogue. The body has a lot to say, and will tell you exactly what it needs if you're listening!" If there were ever a time to tune into our minds and bodies, it’s now. 

Jules Bakshi allows her body to take up space, have fun, and enjoy movement among the house plants.

Bakshi wants to inspire others to have fun in the space they have: "Clear some floor space for yourself—a yoga mat’s width is all you need to do most exercises worth doing, and two mats’ width will give you plenty of room to dance. Try not to be hard on yourself about the how or where, just start moving your body. It will be so very grateful!" 

She adds, "If you have a solid enough bed frame, jump on the bed! Seriously, [there’s] no better cardio, and you simply cannot stay stressed or upset for very long when you’re jumping on the bed. Don't be afraid to get creative!"

Jeremiah Maestre

As our days now begin and end in our homes, finding spatial separation is critical to routine and motivation. Spatial separation doesn’t necessarily mean an upheaval of your physical space. Nuanced, subtle changes made throughout the day can transform the energy of a space and signal a shift to the body and mind. 

Rumble boxing instructor and personal trainer Jeremiah Maestre uses sensory signals to define his routine and shift between daily life and exercise. The smell of pour-over coffee fuels his morning, lighting shifts and clothes change as he mentally readies to work out, and when it’s time to wind down, lavender diffuses throughout the two-bedroom, open-concept Brooklyn apartment that he shares with his wife and 9-month-old son. 

Overlooking the East River, Jeremiah Maestre's living room is ready to host a virtual training session.

"I never thought I’d miss a dirty, grungy boxing gym so much," says Maestre, who’s adjusted from the boxing ring to a makeshift studio in his living room. Constructing a new routine has helped Maestre maintain his motivation. "Treating an at-home workout like you would a class can create structure and relax the mind," he advises. "Schedule it on your calendar. Get ready for your workout like you would for a regular class. Maybe make a smoothie after. Keeping the space clean is really important, too." 

For those who want to get into boxing for the first time, Maestre recommends watching a tutorial and starting with the basic movements. "In class, you may be distracted with music and people, so now is a good time to get back to basics. The better your technique, the more you’ll execute with energy and intensity, so you’ll get more out of the movements."

Krissy Jones

SKY TING founder and yoga teacher Krissy Jones says it’s the perfect time to get creative and try something new. In relocating from the yoga studio to a Montauk home, Jones and SKY TING cofounder/quarantine partner Chloe Kernaghan rearranged furniture, rolled up a rug, and oriented their practice toward windows that overlook the Atlantic Ocean. 

Krissy Jones relocated her workout space from SKY TING's airy studios to a light and bright Montauk home.

Fewer resources and less space inspire ingenuity. "It’s a time to use what you have," says Jones. "You don’t even need a mat. There are so many substitutions—like a bathrobe tie or belt for a yoga strap, a shoebox or book for a yoga block, stainless-steel water bottles filled with water for small weights, a couch pillow for a bolster, a towel or couch blanket for a yoga blanket," or a backpack filled with weights for a kettlebell. 

To replicate the collective energy of a group class, Jones Zooms friends on a laptop while livestreaming classes on a phone. "Doing the workout together allows us to motivate each other, recreates the energy of the studio, and is way more fun," she says. Her final piece of advice: "This is a time to try new things. You have the advantage of not being around people or feeling self conscious, so if you want to try a new type of workout program, this is a great time." 

Online Exercises and Classes

Here’s a list of streaming resources mentioned by our fitness experts that will have you breaking a sweat and feeling better in no time.

ClassPass
Get free classes with membership (the entry level is currently free). Members can also use credits to sign up for studio-specific classes and support local studios. You can sign-up via the website or app.

Dryft
For $5 a class, you can work out directly with Dryft trainers.

Fitness Blender
Fitness Blender’s strength training varies in length, difficulty, and necessary equipment—and can be streamed for free via the website or YouTube.

GOOD MOVE
Bakshi’s GOOD MOVE TV offers a variety of dance, cardio, pilates, and deep stretch classes for $25/month or $250/year.

Nike Training Club
Copeland and fellow Nike master trainers host virtual classes of all types via the Nike Training app. Nike has made premium features available for free until further notice. You can also stream free NTC Community Workouts live via Nike’s YouTube channel. 

Rumble
Maestre and fellow Rumble trainers are hosting sweat-inducing, boxing-inspired classes via Instagram Live. 

SKY TING
Jones and Kernaghan’s SKY TING TV offers streamable yoga for every level for $20/month, with a free 7-day trial. SKY TING is also offering donation-based classes, streaming live daily, to support their community. Live stream times are announced via the website and email newsletter. 

the be.come project 
Bethany C. Meyers’ the be.come project is an accessible, 25-minute routine that gets your body moving and reminds you to treat yourself with self love. Try the first 10 days free; then it’s $35/month via the app.

Headspace
The mindful meditation app is offering a free collection of guided meditations titled Weathering the Storm during the pandemic.

Forme Life

From designer Yves Behar (of August’s smart lock and Samsung’s The Frame) comes Forme Life, a full-length mirror with resistance training equipment and a touch-screen experience offering mind and body workouts. Membership is $149/month for 39 months, and $39/month after that. The website goes live May 1—enter your email to stay updated.

Related Reading: Here’s How to Survive Working From Home With a Partner or Roommates

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