Best Small Exercise Equipment Review for 2021

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Not a lot of room to work out? No problem.

This review article focuses on over a dozen pieces of space saving exercise equipment that are ideal for apartments & single-room compact home gym setups.

I’ve organized the products I’ve chosen into 3 categories:

  • compact home gym equipment
  • small cardio machines
  • compact home gym accessories

I’ll go into the criteria for how I chose this collection of compact workout equipment in a bit.

Later I’ll also offer suggestions on how you can maximize your fitness results using just a couple of these pieces.

 

 

test tubes orange - heydayDo icon

Science resources included

As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science & medical resources, clinical studies, and nutritional data used in this article.

 

 

Important Note: Buyer Beware

Fitness equipment inventories at Amazon & everywhere else have been blown to smithereens by you-know-what.

In my nearly 40 years of weight training & being around the fitness industry, I have never seen demand for home fitness equipment be this high.

Not even close.

Most best-sellers are either out of stock or go in & out of stock on a daily basis these days.

So if you have a particular product you want and it’s not there today, keep checking on it…that’s just the way it is now.

 

And the resellers on Amazon & Walmart are charging ripoff prices.

I strongly recommend you think twice before buying something off a reseller on one of those “Available From These Sellers” pages. (more details below)

 

 

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Be careful with those resellers

As I said earlier, may I gently suggest you NEVER buy a piece of fitness equipment from those resellers that are on Amazon/Walmart/etc., the ones on the “Available from these sellers” pages.

They likely VOIDED those products’ warranties when they scooped all the fitness equipment off the shelves ahead of you.

 

Most fitness equipment warranties are NON-transferable, belonging to the original purchaser only, who in this case is the reseller.

 

Here’s a list of the products we’ll be looking at in this review.

Detailed product evaluations for each of these recommendations are located down in the article a section or two below this.

 

Compact Home Gym Equipment

Total Gym XLS Home Gym

“Very happy! I have been using it 3-4 times a week. My neglected body is changing and I am so pleased! The design makes exercises low impact and the angle of the glide board makes squats easy on the knees.” – S

Adjustable Dumbbells

PowerBlock Elite Adjustable Dumbbell Set

“I have used every brand of adjustable dumbbell. In short – These are by far the best.” – RK

 

Best Adjustable Kettlebell

Titan Fitness 10-40 lb. Adjustable Kettlebell

“I love the fact I only need one of these to cover so many weights. Love consolidation of equipment. Enjoy yours!” -PM

 

Best Resistance Bands

Bodylastics Resistance Bands

“Take it from someone that has used resistance bands for many years, this is a really great set.” – GK

 

Best Weighted Vest for Women

Aduro Sport Weighted Vest 

“This vest is EXCELLENT!  Once adjusted, it stays in place as you move – even during burpies. Can’t recommend this enough.” – JMR

 

Best Weighted Vest for Men

Cross101 Weighted Vest 

“This vest is really great. Sturdy, easy to put on and off, and adjustable so you can wear it loose or tight.” – LL

 

 

Small Cardio Machines

Compact Stair Stepper

Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster

“8 years – no replacement, daily use, top quality” – S

“I’m happy with this stepper…have it almost 6 years” – JK

“I’ve enjoyed three plus years of HEAVY use with the Xiser…EXCELLENT warranty and service that goes along with it.” – RS

 

Best Folding Treadmill for Small Space

3G Cardio 80i Fold Flat Treadmill

“This Treadmill is awesome but equally awesome is the company’s customer service! I am passionate about running and passionate about my treadmill. I have used this treadmill for about a year and half.” – M

 

Small Treadmill Honorable Mention

Merax Easy Assembly Folding Electric Treadmill

“Recommend to buy. Bought this treadmill and I was really surprised just how good this is for the price! Set up is easy, doesn’t take up too much space. It folds away really slim for storage…” – EW”

 

Compact and Quiet Exercise Bike for Apartment

XTERRA Fitness FB150 Folding Bike

“Exceptional Quality, Highly Recommend for Apartment.” – MB

 

Compact Exercise Bike Honorable Mention

Exerpeutic Gold Foldable Upright Bike

“High quality, quiet, portable bike. Great exercise bike. Quiet and smooth.” – MB

 

Best Compact Rowing Machine

Fitness Reality 1000 Magnetic Rowing Machine

“The quality is good and the seat and pulling action is smooth and quiet. It folds up with little effort and takes up little space, which for me is important since I don’t have a lot of room.” – CW

 

Compact Home Gym Accessories

Foldable Weight Bench

Flybird Fast-Folding Adjustable Weight Bench

“A solid bench that can be folded up for storage, Set up and take down is quick and easy” – H

 

Exercise Equipment Mat

Rubber-Cal Recycled Floor Mat

“Great Workout Mat. I purchased this mat to absorb shock where I work out. There is a noticeable difference when I’m doing cardio, the floor doesn’t shake and it’s not as loud if anyone is downstairs.” – N

 

Adjustable Bed Risers

Home Solutions Adjustable Bed Risers

“Easy & perfect choice. Love that I had a choice in how tall I needed the bed, fits perfect and no assembly required which is even better.” – SP

 

 

Exercise equipment for small spaces

Woman in shoe box - small exercise equipment - heydayDo image

A brief note on how I chose these products for this compact exercise equipment list.

I set a couple of conditions that the equipment had to satisfy in order to qualify for this article.

 

Working out in close quarters with limited room

One requirement for the exercise equipment was that it had to be able to be used in an apartment or in a single-room living arrangement, such as sharing a place with other people.

Two realities often exist in both of those situations: space is at a premium, and excess noise is not well-tolerated by others.

 

No dedicated workout space

Another consideration in these living setups is that the workout area is often only temporarily available.

The rest of the time that particular space is needed for day-to-day living.

This means that even small exercise equipment that’s being used for working out will have to be put away after home gym time is over.

And this simple act of stashing the cardio machine or workout gear is important.

Why? Because if it’s a hassle no one’s going to feel real motivated to work out as often as they could.

 

 

Compact home exercise equipment criteria

Given this somewhat challenging workout scenario, our best compact exercise equipment options are therefore:

*small cardio machines & apartment-friendly strength training equipment

*quiet enough to avoid disturbing neighbors, roommates, spouses, sleeping kids, etc.

*easily put away – portable enough to quickly move anywhere, compact enough to stash in a corner or closet, or slim enough to slide under the bed

 

All of the products reviewed in this article meet these criteria of mine.

 

By the same token, some of the superstars in the fitness equipment arena didn’t make the team that’s featured in this article.

They’re either too big, too noisy, or they’re not really a piece of portable exercise equipment (even if their marketing material says “easily folded for storage”).

No problem, here are some very good fitness equipment choices that are perfect for workouts in small spaces.

 

Compact Home Gym Equipment

Top Picks by Category

 

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You can click on their pics or their names to check current prices & read reviews on Amazon.

 

All In One Gym

Total Gym XLS Home Gym

A great lightweight compact home gym machine that is representative of what small exercise equipment for apartments or small spaces can be.

 

It’s portable exercise equipment

No wheels, but folds easily & it’s not too hard to slide it off somewhere, since it weighs around 80 lb.

 

It’s apartment-size exercise equipment too

You’ll need 8’ of floor to handle the XLS’s length; it’s dimensions are 19″ W x 90″ L x 43″ H.

 

It is stored easily

The Total Gym XLS quickly folds down to 19″ wide by 51″ long by 9” high, which means it can be slid under many beds.

 

(Later in this article I talk about adjustable bed risers. They’re heavy-duty with over 1000 lb. capacity if you have 4 legs or more. And they’re dirt cheap. You can raise your bed 3”, 5”, or even 8” in height if you want more storage space.)

 

It’s quiet enough for apartment use

The Total Gym XLS should work fine in all but the most sensitive situations.

But you need to be sure to put a heavy-duty rubber exercise equipment mat underneath it, like the Rubber-Cal model I review later in this article.

 

(Get the ⅜” thick mat in the appropriate length. High-quality rubber mats like this one do a very good job of absorbing exercise machine noise. In the case of this Total Gym XLS, that would be the noise of the bench sliding along the metal frame while you’re using it.)

 

Total Gym XLS is good for lightweight strength training

The Total Gym XLS is a great choice for beginners & people who aren’t in top physical shape but want to start building muscle.

It’s an ideal total-body compact workout machine for those situations.

 

Not for intense workouts

It’s not built for the hardcore strength trainers among us, in my opinion.

The real fit folk are better-suited going for the FID bench + adjustable dumbbells or resistance bands I mention later in this article.

 

What I like:

Excellent owner satisfaction rating

4.8  96% 5- & 4-stars,  5,000+ online owner reviews

 

Total Gym XLS Accessories

The Total Gym XLS comes with an extensive line of Total Gym accessories designed to enhance your Total Gym XLS Trainer at-home workout routines:

  • Ribbed Squat Stand
  • Wing Attachment
  • Leg Pull Accessory and 2 Ankle Cuffs
  • Total Gym Exercise Wall Chart – simple at-a-glance poster with 35 Total Gym exercises
  • Total Gym Training Deck – Your Personal Training System
  • Dan Isaacson’s Nutritional Program & Meal Plan

See reviews & current price on Amazon

Check price on Total Gym’s website  <— (they’re often discounted a hundred bucks or more below Amazon’s price 😉)

 

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Best Adjustable Dumbbells

PowerBlock Elite Adjustable Dumbbell Set

My favorite company out of the top-rated adjustable dumbbell manufacturers.

I chose this PowerBlock Elite set because it costs less than many of their other products, but it definitely gets the job done.

Available in a variety of max weight/dumbbell sizes starting at 5 lb. per hand on up to 90 lb. per hand, and the incremental adjustments are 2 ½ lb.

Between a pair of these and a FID bench that can slide under your bed…man, the strength training side of your 1-room compact home gym is set.

 

PowerBlock envy

I’ve used them several times but I don’t have a pair of PowerBlock dumbbells.

What I do have is PowerBlock envy, courtesy of athletic friends of mine who all own pairs of different PowerBlock dumbbells.

Why don’t I buy them if I love ‘em so much?

I have close to 20 pairs of dumbbells I’ve collected over the years…

Greg's rack

My dumbbell pairs range from 70 lb. down to 1 pounders. I’m pretty sure I still have a few that pre-date the internet.

 

What I like about PowerBlock dumbbells:

They tick ALL of the boxes for my 1-room compact home gym setup:

✅ Portable exercise equipment – easy to move wherever you need to

✅ Easy to store out of the way – quite unlike my 700 lb. of iron I showed you earlier

✅ Space saver exercise equipment – each dumbbell is only about the size of a giant shoebox

✅ Quiet exercise equipment – as long as you don’t make gorilla noises, we’re all good in here

Excellent owner satisfaction rating – 92% (4.5 stars, over 1,000 online reviews)

Outstanding warranty – 10 years for home users like us

Made in the USA 

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 


 

 

 

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Best Adjustable Kettlebell

Titan Fitness Adjustable Kettlebell

If you’re considering starting a workout routine with kettlebells, a space-saving alternative is this well-regarded adjustable kettlebell from Titan Fitness.

This single kettlebell takes the place of 7 fixed-weight kettlebells weighing 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, & 40 lb.

I found the switching of my desired weight to be fast & easy.

 

Full-body kettlebell workouts

There are a lot of fun full-body kettlebell workouts available all over the internet.

Here are a couple that one of my Kettle-bella friends recommended I pass along:

 

 

Occasional maintenance may be required

There is a small amount of minor maintenance required on occasion if you end up using it heavily.

Just be aware that there’s a screw that holds the handle in place.

Over time with regular usage, that screw may start to loosen and the handle would then feel looser as a result.

Remove the plates and use a Phillips screwdriver to re-tighten.

 

What I like:

High owner satisfaction rating – 90% (4.5 stars, 100+ online reviews)

Very good example of compact home gym equipment

  • It’s portable
  • It’s easy to store
  • It doesn’t make any noise at all
  • Easily works in any apartment size

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

 

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Best Resistance Bands

Bodylastics Resistance Bands Set

Program note on Bodylastics:

COVID has caused a lot of Amazon’s high-quality fitness products to sell out quickly, and Bodylastics’ resistance bands fall into this category.

If you visit their Amazon page on the links I provided and you see “Currently Unavailable”,  just check back in a day or two. 😉

 

 

Well-made resistance bands can provide an excellent strength training workout just about anywhere on the planet and IMHO, Bodylastics makes the best resistance bands available.

I’ve had Bodylastics here in my home for quite awhile.

They travel very well and are ready to work anywhere I go.

 

Well, except for when I’m out in the middle of the ocean paddling on a surfboard…but they work on a boat. 😎

 

Anyone who tells you that you can’t build muscle or get in excellent fitness shape with resistance bands…

…let me kindly suggest that they just don’t know what they’re talking about.

 

How effective are resistance bands? Very.

I researched the sports science evidence comparing the muscle building ability of resistance bands and free weights.

I wrote an article about that which you can read hereand bottom line, resistance bands are proven to be effective.

 

Lil Boji and his Bodylastics

(I use ’em, he chews ’em…)

 

Bodylastics are unquestionably the pioneers in developing bands that provide high levels of resistance with maximum user safety always accounted for.

Any other brand you look at is a copycat chasing this frontrunner IMHO.

 

What I like:

Excellent owner satisfaction rating – 97% (4.8 stars, 3,000+ online reviews)

Lifetime guarantee – now there’s a fitness company that believes in its product

They tick all of our Small Exercise Equipment boxes:

✅ Portable exercise equipment – heck, they fit in my wife’s shoulder bag/purse thingy

✅ Apartment size exercise equipment – see above

✅ Quiet compact home gym equipment – when using them, you’re the only thing making noise

✅ Easy to store – as easy as my flip-flops I reckon

✅ Resources galore – the Bodylastics site has a boatload of free workout resources for you to inspire & challenge you. Or if you’re a beginner, they have excellent videos to help you get going the right way

✅ Safe & secure under pressure – Patented designs insure user safety no matter the level of resistance being used

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

 

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Best Weighted Vest for Women

Aduro Sport Weighted Vest

Excellent weighted vest for women & men with smart design features built-in that allow it to fit a wide variety of sizes.

Their unique shaped front helps the weight avoid pressing down on a women’s chest like other vests do. “Definite boost in comfort”, I’ve been told.

 

I bought one for my wife quite awhile ago and she loves it.

She uses it to burn more calories during her morning walk, and also to get the weighted vest benefit of slowing her bone loss.

And the vest fits a wide range of body sizes too: my wife wears one & she’s 5’5” 130 lb., and it fits me at 6’2″ 185 lb.

What I like:

Happy owners – High owner satisfaction rating  of 4.3⭐, 1,200+ reviews

Well-made & affordable weighted vest – It’s a well-made vest at a great price

Smart design choices – that keep the weight from pressing down on a woman’s chest like other vests can

Nice weight choices offered – Available in several weights

It’s comfortable – Very good weight distribution makes the extra load hardly noticeable except for the higher workout intensity it provides you

Easy to use – Very easy to get on & off, and very easy to secure

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

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Best Weighted Vest for Men

I think this Rogue Fitness TacTec Plate Carrier is at the top of the food chain when it comes to weighted vests.

Rogue Fitness TacTec plate carrier copy copy

 

Cross101 Weighted Vest


If you want a cheap vest, I encourage you to give this one a look.

A tough & inexpensive vest that’s ideal for adding extra intensity to walking, running, & bodyweight exercises.

It’s also great for boosting your calorie burn while you’re doing household chores or yard work.

I bought one of these quite awhile ago and it still performs & looks like it did the day I got it.

author greg simon in his cross 101 weighted vest - heydayDo image

 

 

I did an in-depth review of it and other weighted vests here on heydayDo.

 

What I like:

Happy owners – Owner satisfaction rating of 91% – 4.6⭐, 900+ online reviews

Well-made: simple & built to last, the Cross101 is a durable adjustable weighted vest

Fits real good: weight is distributed evenly & is held securely

Very easy to use – and very easy to remove & add weights

Pockets – Has a holder for a 16 oz. water bottle and a pocket for your phone, mp3, earbuds, etc.

Shipping free on Amazon

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

 

Small Cardio Machines

Top Picks by Category

green exercise bike - heydayDo icon

 

Compact Stair Stepper

Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster

The Xiser can handle any intense workout you want with it.

I bought one a couple of years ago to help with my rehab after my latest heart surgery.

It continues to work perfectly without issue.

I perform my “on land” HIIT cardio on it.

The Xiser is used by over 30 American professional sports teams in the NFL, NHL, NBA, & MLB – as well as by collegiate teams and the US Navy Seals –  for non-impact cardio & physical rehab training.

I have a more in-depth review of it here.

 

What I like:

Lasts for years – Multiple owner reports of the Xiser working perfectly for 5+ years, some are over 10

Noiseless – very quiet, perfect for an apartment. If the pistons ever squeak use silicone lubricant; NEVER use WD-40

Very light & small – also great for an apartment at only 14 lb. Easily flattens to just a few inches tall

Outstanding warranty – at 5 years, the Xiser warranty’s the best among compact cardio machines

Easy to assemble – Assembly & disassembly is easy & quick (like 10 seconds) if you want to travel with it

American made – Built in the USA, both parts & labor

Solid company – Xiser’s been making these for over 40 years

Great company support – Excellent customer service & technical support should you need it

Best weight capacity –Highest weight capacity (400 lb.) of any portable stepper

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

silhouette icon of girl running on treadmill

 

Best Folding Treadmill for Small Space

3G Cardio 80i Fold Flat Treadmill

The best compact treadmill with under bed storage ability, this 3G Cardio is well-built by a company with excellent customer service.

It’s a small treadmill but it’s a stout treadmill, weighing at around 200 lb.

 

Heavy is good (for treadmills)

As I go into detail about it in my article on heavy duty treadmills, the weight of the treadmill has a great deal to do with its long-term durability prospects.

The cheap treadmill I offer below as an inexpensive alternative to this 3G Cardio model weighs only 75-80 lb. by contrast.

 

The 3G Cardio 80i comes with a strong 3 HP motor, surprising to see in a small treadmill. This makes it an excellent choice for runners who have limited living space.

Its weight, this powerful motor, an excellent warranty, and outstanding customer service reports from several owners – all this points to a long-lasting product.

This 3G Cardio 80i is a high-quality compact exercise machine in every sense of the word. No kidding.

 

Potential issues for some:

It’s not cheap – Quality almost always comes at a price, and this top-rated small treadmill is no exception – it’s well over a thousand bucks.

That’s not overpriced by any means.

A 200 lb. treadmill with a 3 HP engine and a lifetime frame/10 years on parts/1 year free labor warranty will cost into the 4 figures.

Just look at these top-rated treadmills.

So its price tag may be out of the budget for anyone that’s not a dedicated runner who needs the horsepower & durability this 3G small treadmill offers.

 

It’s under 10” when folded, so it fits under the bed, but…

Due to its heavy weight plus the fact that the wheels only point straight, it could be a chore for some to put under their bed every day– depending on your room setup.

 

It’s not whisper quiet – What treadmill is, come to think of it? Between the motor and the belt continually moving around the rollers, mechanical noise is a certainty.

With any treadmill, most of the noise and impact shock vibrations are from the runner/walker and their feet.

I highly recommend the Rubber-Cal Recycled Floor Mat featured in this article to help assist with the treadmill noise.

 

What I like:

Very high owner satisfaction rating – 95% (4.5 stars, ~100 reviews online)

Excellent product warranty – lifetime on frame, 10 years parts, 1 year free labor

Folds & fits under most beds – It folds down under 10”, has wheels too

Built for runners – 3 HP motor and a max speed of 11 mph

High user weight capacity – 325 lb.

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

 

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Best small treadmill honorable mention

Merax Easy Assembly Folding Electric Treadmill

I picked this as an inexpensive small treadmill option, if the 3G Cardio model I just reviewed is out of someone’s price range.

Never forgetting my mantra that a cheap treadmill is cheap for a reason, this Merax folding treadmill has a few nice qualities that make it easily worth its bargain-basement price (for a treadmill, anything under $300 like this one is is dirt cheap).

 

This small treadmill could work well for a smaller person, or a bigger person who’s only using it for walking.

The deck is narrow & short.

At 43″, this is nearly a foot & a half shorter than the running surface on the 3G Cardio model mentioned in this review.

43″ is real short in treadmill deck length, and I think that the only people who’ll be able to run on it are very small ones.

Tall people with a decent stride length will likely have to stick to slow jog speed.

 

The Merax is a small treadmill built for lightweight use

Its not heavy duty by any means. Just compare it to the previous 3G Cardio 80i:

*Motor – 1.5 HP vs. 3 HP on the 3G

*Treadmill weight –  78 lbs vs. 200 lbs for the 3G

*Warranty – 1 year limited vs. lifetime frame / 10 years parts / 1 year free labor

I think it’s best-suited for a person who weighs well under this small treadmill’s user weight capacity of 240 lbs.

I also highly recommend getting a rubber exercise equipment mat like the Rubber-Cal model I review in this article.

It will reduce impact vibrations & mechanical noise.

 

What I like:

Folds to a small 2′ x 2′ floor space footprint – compact treadmill? Check, sorta. It can’t fit under the bed though.

Easy to move – portable exercise equipment? Check. Only weighs 75-80 lb. and has wheels

Noise level OK – It’s pretty quiet but it’s still a treadmill. And a cheaply-built one at that. There’s no cushioning under the deck to soften your foot shock impact. It ought to work in some apartments but like I suggested, definitely get a good mat

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

 

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Compact Quiet Exercise Bike for Apartment

XTERRA Fitness FB150 Folding Bike

This very affordable folding exercise bike ticks all of our boxes to qualify as a space-saving compact exercise machine:

Quiet enough for apartments? Check.

Apartment-size exercise equipment? Check.

Portable & easy to store? Check.

 

This is a bare-bones cheap exercise bike that folds very easily & is simple to use.

It takes up very little floor space when folded (17” x 18”), but it won’t fit under a bed.

Still, it’s an ideal size for parking in a corner or in a closet.

 

The Xterra Fitness FB150 is a lightweight exercise bike

This is a bike for someone who only wants a light to moderate non-impact cardio workout.

It is definitely not a bike built for the physically fit person looking for a little intensity in their cardio routine.

Heavier people take note: max user weight capacity is only 225 lb.

I included a high weight capacity folding exercise bike down below just in case…

 

What I like:

High owner satisfaction rating – 91% (4.6 stars, 750+ online owner reviews)

It’s very quiet- good for apartments

It’s a very compact exercise bike – also good for apartments

Portable & easy to store 

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

recumbent bike green - heydayDo icon

 

Compact Exercise Bike honorable mention

Exerpeutic Gold 500 XLS Foldable Upright Bike

Since the Xterra compact folding bike only supports users up to 225 lb. (and in my opinion that’s a stretch, considering how cheap it is), I’m also including this high weight capacity folding exercise bike from Exerpeutic.

It supports users up to 400 lb., yet is still lightweight enough to be considered portable.

It folds down to a compact 2’ x 2’ floor space footprint, which is nice since it can’t fit under the bed.

Also, the Exerpeutic Gold 500 XLS is quiet thanks to its belt-drive & magnetic resistance.

 

A cheap folding exercise bike for light cardio workouts

Like the Xterra reviewed before it, it’s very inexpensive & has the short warranty to prove it. 🙂

Given all that, I can’t recommend the Exerpeutic Gold 500 for anyone who’s in good shape, or who wants a compact exercise machine built for HIIT or similarly intensive cardio workouts.

You folks would wear it out just as you would the Xterra model.

This bike is a better fit for casual exercisers, seniors who aren’t in great shape, and those looking for a light to moderate daily dose of cardio exercise.

 

What I like:

Good owner satisfaction rating – 85% 4.4 stars (800+ online owner reviews)

Compact exercise equipment – ✅folds up to an approx. 2’ x 2’ floor footprint

Portable exercise equipment – ✅ The Exerpeutic Gold 500 only weighs 50 lb. or so, and has wheels

Quiet apartment exercise equipment – ✅ this folding exercise bike uses magnetic resistance and a belt drive, both of which help keep its noise to a minimum

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

 

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Best Compact Rowing Machine

Fitness Reality 1000 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Small rowing machine that’s inexpensive with a few nice features.

This is a fairly new product from Fitness Reality, who make some decent pieces of home exercise equipment that I’ve tested & reviewed a number of times.

It ticks the compact home gym boxes for portability and for being quiet enough for an apartment.

It doesn’t fold flat, so no under bed stash-ability.

Then again, no rowers fold totally flat.

But it only needs about 3 ½’ x 2’ worth of floor space after folding, so it may work for someone who wants to row for their cardio.

 

(Note: I hemmed & hawed over including any rowers in this review actually.

The real small hydraulic ones are just junk, and everything besides this Fitness Reality is too big & bulky to genuinely qualify as a “compact exercise machine”.)

 

What I like:

Portable exercise equipment for small spaces? ✅ This magnetic rower has decent wheels and isn’t too heavy

Quiet apartment exercise equipment ?- ✅ A magnetic rowing machine like this Fitness Reality 1000 is a good choice for apartment dwellers. Its magnetic resistance keeps the rower’s noise to a minimum

Compact exercise equipment – ❓Can I go with almost? Depends what we consider “compact”.

It’s short of my “compact exercise equipment for apartments” definition I outlined earlier in the article. But it’s close. After folding, it’s a compact rowing machine for sure.

Multiple resistance levels –  14 to be exact

Bluetooth compatibility – track your workout stats with their free MyCloudFitness app. Heart rate monitoring apps will work with it too

Happy owners – High owner satisfaction rating of 90% (4.5 stars)

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

 

Compact Home Gym Accessories

Top Picks by Category

brown weight bench

Foldable Weight Bench

Flybird Fast-Folding Adjustable Weight Bench

Great example of what the best exercise equipment for small spaces can be.

This Flybird model quickly & easily folds down to 9″ high and only 30″ L x 16″ W, ready to slide under the bed or put just about anywhere.

It’s a snap to put back up, as it only weighs 28 lb. yet boasts a max weight capacity of 620 lb.

It’s a classic FID** bench us lifters love.

(** – if you’re unfamiliar with the term FID, it stands for a bench that can adjust to flat-incline-decline).

 

What I like:

High owner satisfaction – 89% (4.5 stars with nearly 10,000 online reviews)

Portable exercise equipment – folds flat easily & is very light for a heavy-duty bench

Warranty – 1 year on frame

Very high weight capacity – 620 lb. (!)

Almost no assembly required

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

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Exercise Equipment Mat

Rubber-Cal Recycled Floor Mat

An excellent exercise equipment mat for vibration & shock impact absorption.

Rubber is THE way to go when reducing impact noise is important – way better than PVC.

Use under cardio machines, or use it under your own feet when lifting dumbbells, kettlebells, or when doing bodyweight exercises or cardio.

Use it to create an absorbing barrier between your feet & the floor; it’ll be a big help in an apartment or other shared-space living situation.

In my article evaluating exercise equipment mats, I voted this Rubber-Cal floor mat the best mat for reducing noise.

 

What I like:

Made of rubber – rubber is a great material for absorbing shock and reducing vibrations & noise

It’s a green American product –  made from US car & truck tires

Available in ⅜” thickness – ⅜” is a good minimum thickness for heavy use

It doesn’t smell – may have a slight car tire smell at the beginning. Air it out a little and that smell’s gone

It’s 4 feet wide and is available in various lengths –  from 3’ to 10’

High customer satisfaction rating – over 90% 4 ½ stars, 200+ online reviews

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

 

Adjustable Bed Risers

People looking for small exercise equipment space under bed - heydayDo

 

Home Solutions Premium Adjustable Bed Risers

Sometimes the space under the bed is just a hair or two too short to accommodate a piece of exercise equipment.

These heavy duty adjustable bed risers provide extra storage room instantly.

These won’t work for some people who have those IKEA-type beds with the wood planks on the bottom instead of regular bed legs.

Also if you’re interested in these, make sure the feet or casters of your bed can fit inside the 2 ⅞” riser cup.

 

What I like:

Happy owners – high owner satisfaction rating of 93% (4.7 stars with 1,500+ online owner reviews)

Pick your additional height – A single riser set offers 3 sizes to pick from: 3”, 5”, or 8”

Heavy duty – Each individual riser has a 300 lb capacity. With 4 or 6 legs per bed, the risers provide well over a thousand pounds of support

Very inexpensive – considering how much benefit they instantly provide, it’s a steal

Company backs its product – 100% money back guarantee if the risers don’t work out for you

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

 

Small Exercise Equipment Buyer’s Guide

 

Compact gym equipment & great workouts

Solid workouts yielding excellent results are still easily possible with space saver exercise equipment, despite any of the living situation limitations we looked at earlier.

Now I’ll share how I’d go about getting the right pieces of small exercise equipment to set up a jammin’ compact home gym.

Tailor it your own fitness aspirations*.

 

(* – I’m aware & respectful of the fact that we all have our own goals regarding our respective workout programs, and that mine could easily be a lot different than yours.) 

 

Me? I have to cover my cardio AND my strength training needs

This means that grabbing one of the small exercise machines out there just won’t cut it by itself.

The success of my workout routine over the past 37 years has depended on strength training plus cardio.

More specifically, I need HIIT cardio & strength training.

So any compact gym equipment I buy has to cover my cardio workouts and my resistance training too.

And in the living scenario we’ve been discussing, this equipment has to also satisfy our requirements regarding:

  1. its size
  2. its sounds
  3. how quick & easy it is to put away.

 

#1: Apartment size exercise equipment

I have a couple of ideas to gently suggest here with regards to your available space.

no space in a cluttered room

 

Keep these in mind before you buy anything, so you can make the best purchasing decision for your situation.

 

Consider the size of both your workout space and your storage space

Here I’m following the hypothetical idea that any small home exercise equipment you have has to be put away after you work out.

 

Allow extra room on all sides

This is to insure proper range of motion & form of any exercise you might perform.

Also allow enough room for yourself to easily get around your equipment.

 

Example of not apartment-friendly: The Concept2 Model D rower

This is is one of my 2 favorite pieces of cardio exercise equipment.

It’s likely the best home rower in the world. 

But for a single-room compact home gym setup? No way.

The machine itself has a floor footprint of 8’ x 2’, so we’ll need 10’ x 4’ of floor space available just to use it safely. 

And we haven’t even gotten to that little issue known as noise yet.

All that air you’re pulling through that big fan? It’s not as bad as a helicopter in your house, but it’s a distant relative.

 

And when the workout’s over – 

1) After separating its 2 big pieces, it’ll need about 3’ x 3’ of floor space in your room or closet for it to be stored on end. 

2) It is too big to fit under the bed.

3) It’s taking up all this space but it only takes care of the cardio portion of my workout; I still need some strength training equipment.

 

#2: Quiet apartment exercise equipment

Here are a couple of thoughts on having an amazing & intense workout routine without causing any friction between you & other nearby humans.

apartment workouts - noisy neighbor metaphor

 

Quiet resistance training is easy

Over on the strength training side, it’s pretty simple to keep it quiet:

1)Don’t drop anything heavy, & use a rubber mat to absorb the impact vibrations of any equipment you’re gently setting back onto the floor between sets.

2)Leave the primate mating ritual grunts to those annoying dudes at the gym.

 

Quiet cardio needs a little management

Over on the compact cardio equipment side however, there are a couple of potential noise issues to avoid.

 

#1 Footstep sound travels

From either walking or running, your feet send vibrations directly into the surface your feet are in contact with.

For example, if you’re simply running in place or doing a step aerobics class, you’re sending impact shock waves right into the floor.

And those sounds will travel, since hard surfaces like floors & walls help transmit them.

 

Footstep sounds on treadmills travel too

Same thing happens even on a treadmill, because the impact of your feet on the treadmill deck travels down through the treadmill’s feet directly into the floor.

Obviously running is louder than walking, and heavier footsteps are worse than lighter ones.

 

No-impact compact cardio machine

Besides treadmills, the other types of cardio equipment offer no-impact exercise.

If there’s noise, it won’t be from your foot impacts coming down on the floor or onto your treadmill.

These are the bikes, rowing machines, stepper machines, elliptical machines, & vertical climbers.

 

Bottom line on your foot impact noise

Know how well your floors & walls transmit noise and impact vibration from your footsteps into the ears of everyone who lives with you, next door to you, or below you.

Choose your compact cardio equipment accordingly.

 

Example: Treadmills & the thin-walled, thin-ceiling apartment

I have both witnessed and read several owner accounts where the sound of someone walking or running miles on a just-purchased treadmill irritated a neighbor, a roommate, or it woke the sleeping baby.

In several of these cases, the treadmill was described as “quiet” by its manufacturer or in other owner reviews.

Is somebody lying?

Probably not, especially considering that all of these noise complaints occurred in apartments that were likely built with paper-thin walls, floors, & ceilings.

The person on the treadmill – or more precisely, their foot impact – was the culprit causing the noise.

And the cheap construction of the apartment building helped too.

 

treadmill red - heydayDo icon

 

#2 Cardio machine noise travels

The other potential noise issue to avoid are the unwanted sounds that come from the compact exercise machine you’re buying.

 

Thin walls? Avoid loud cardio machines

Some of the potential noise complaint problems can be avoided by simply not buying a known noisemaker.

Air Rower & Air Bike

 

Air rowers

For example, air rowers deliver the best cardio workout of any of rowing machines’ 4 resistance types.

But they’re the noisiest too.

They won’t go over well in a thin-walled living situation at all.

So we avoid air rowers.

 

Air bikes

For the same reasons, we’ll stay away from air bikes too.

The good ones deliver a fantastic workout, but all that air being drawn into those big fans is just too dang loud for thin walls.

Air bikes aren’t apartment-friendly, so we avoid those too.

 

Treadmills 

With regards to noise, tread lightly when looking at treadmills as your go-to small exercise machine.

This is aside from the footstep-generated noise we already looked at.

Treadmills generally get cheaper in price the smaller their size.

Compact treadmills like the ones that are the right size for our compact home gym usually cost a lot less than the big commercial ones you see at the gym.

 

Cheap is as cheap does

There’s a reason cheap equipment is cheap.

The small treadmill is cheap because it was built cheap using cheap materials & low-budg manufacturing methods.

Lots of cutting corners in order to:

  1. make a small treadmill, and
  2. make it so it can be sold for a cheap price.

And many of the available cheap treadmills aren’t the quietest because of these cost-cutting decisions.

 

Other types of small cardio machines are usually OK

The other types of cardio machines – stepper machines, exercise bikes, magnetic rowing machines, etc., are generally quiet enough for apartment use.

They don’t have a motor like an electric treadmill that’s grinding away, since you’re using your own effort to move.

And their moving parts aren’t in contact with each other as much as a treadmill’s, where the large running deck is rotating around & around several plastic rollers underneath your weight.

 

#3 Portable exercise equipment storage

We’ve dialed in our single room or apartment-size exercise equipment in terms of our available workout space & storage space, and in relation to how much noise we can or can’t get away with.

The last product criteria I want to look at is how quick & easy it is for us to put a particular piece of equipment away.

And when I say away, I mean it’s in a place where it won’t get in the way.

 

This article’s about compact cardio machines

I excluded several very good fitness equipment products because they either:

*can’t be put away because they’re too big – these guys don’t fit in a corner or a closet, and they’re too bulky to fit under the bed

*are a hassle to disassemble & re-assemble every time we want to use it, or

*not easy to move – it isn’t really a piece of portable exercise equipment (even if the manufacturer is bragging up the little plastic wheels that come with it).

 

A few good…small exercise machines

The thing with cardio machines – as I mentioned earlier – is that as they get smaller, many brands really start cutting corners regarding quality.

So for me anyways, it’s kind of slim pickings looking for top-quality but small cardio machines for my one room compact home gym plan.

There aren’t a lot of candidates for best exercise equipment for small spaces on the cardio side of things.

The Xiser I reviewed earlier is the obvious exception.

Greg and his Xiser b:w

 

Compact home gym strength training

By contrast, it’s pretty easy to find truly portable small exercise equipment for home use for our strength training workout.

This article features some of the better-quality resistance training products available, and they can all slide under your bed.

 

 

dumbbell green - heydayDo icon

 

Wrapping up

I hope my product research & review information in this article is useful to you, and that the compact home gym buying guide section is helpful too.

I wish you well on your fitness journey; let’s go.

– greg

January 2021

 

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About heydayDo

heydayDo author Greg Simon
Hi I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. Organic food & wine grower. Surfer. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far). Read more…
heydayDo is my “fitness after 50” website that’s about embracing the physically active lifestyle as we get older.
 
I write about the fitness and health research I’ve found concerning the quality of life benefits that exercise and good nutrition provide.
 
When I get curious about something, I’ll dig into whatever sports science & medical facts there are on the topic to learn what’s real & what’s only hype. I also post my experiences product-testing & evaluating home gym equipment & fitness supplements.
 
 It’s an information-sharing, personal opinion blog of mine.
 
So if you’re looking for medical or nutritional advice, please consult with your doctor or health professional for that, since heydayDo does not provide medical advice.