A Healthy Pause: Turn Your NYC Apartment into a Home Gym

Brooklyn-based trainer and nutritionist Michael Feigin with tips and tricks on how to work out with little time and space:

As New Yorkers, we're used to having everything at our finger tips. In the mood for Indian food at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday? Guaranteed you can find it somewhere in this town.

But we don't have a lot of time or space. Sure, we have great parks and running paths. But if it's rainy or cold, or if you simply don't like the idea of getting active in public, the parks aren't going to do you a lot of good.

And for a lot of people, gyms are a waste: you pay your initiation fee up front, so excited to get exercising, then discover that after the excitement falls by the wayside, the gym is still making automatic withdrawals from your checking account for the next year. Money down the drain.

So what about working out at home? Well, again, most of us in this city don't have a lot of space, so you have to be smart. With that, here are some ideas for putting together a home gym.

First, DON'T. Don't go running out and buy yourself a big piece of equipment like a treadmill or elliptical machine unless you are absolutely, positively sure you are going to use it. The treadmill has to be the secret love of your life. Otherwise -- and trust me on this -- it is going to become a giant clothes hanger with lots of pretty lights and buttons on it. If you decide you do want to make that investment, try a number of different machines before you make your final decision.


  • Explore the Internet for video resources that can help you put together a program. Look for videos that give specific instruction that you enjoy. Based on your research, go shopping for equipment.
  • Yoga: If yoga is what captures your spirit, because you want to work on your flexibility, all you need are simple tool like a yoga mat, yoga blocks and a yoga strap (you could even substitute a towel or belt for the strap and save a few dollars). Check out Hugger Mugger for some great yoga tools.
  • Strength Training: Rather than buy six or seven pair of hand weights, check out Power Block. This is one piece of equipment that will adjust to the weight you want to work with, anywhere from three pounds all the way up to ninety. These are very economical, as they will last a lifetime and they can slide under your bed or into your closet when your done. Gym Source is great place to find the Power Block and other inexpensive tools and they will work with you to create an effective package.
  • TRX: This great little gizmo, created by Fitness Anywhere and designed by Navy SEALs, lets you use your own body weight for resistance. You can purchase an attachment that will fit in any door jam in your apartment and you're good to go. When you're finished, it bundles up into a little bag and you can slip it in a drawer.
  • Video games: It's not just about killing aliens anymore. A whole new crop of activity- and exercise-based games have hit the market and they can be a very powerful tool to help you get in shape and stay in shape. From dancing around like a lunatic in the privacy of your own apartment to running a cyber-obstacle course, this is one resource that you should definitely investigate. You'll be shocked by the results.

At the end of the day, remember our greatest resource in this city is the abundance of people. Create a fitness community for yourself so that you have people to rely on, to motivate, challenge and celebrate with you.

If you have any ideas for other at-home fitness answers, let me know! And, as always, if you have any questions, shoot me an email at michael@fitnessgurunyc.com. For more tips and answers, check out the web site at The Fitness Guru. Rock on!

Michael Feigin, MS, CSCS, is the owner of The Fitness Guru, a DUMBO, Brooklyn-based health and fitness company. For the last 25 years, Michael has helped thousands of New Yorkers (and folks from other parts of the world) achieve their health and fitness dreams.

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