My minimalist, mobile, multi-use home gym

Last week, I was surprised at how excited I was to show off my little home gym set-up to a good buddy as we were catching up over FaceTime. As someone who 1) consistently moves house or apartment quite a bit and 2) was tired of driving to the gym after being able to walk to work, I decided to put together a home gym a couple months before the COVID-19 pandemic. Lucky timing. Some of the items here will be difficult to find but I’m sure worth the search and the wait. With a home gym, I can more train more consistently, especially when I am stuck late at the hospital. Life will likely become even busier during residency and when I start a family, so I am hoping that building a strong home training habit now will one day let me show the value of fitness to my kids on a daily basis in a familiar setting, rather than just tell them that exercise is important and let them use their imagination. With a well-rounded variety of low-weight equipment, I can train multiple areas of fitness, including strength, endurance, and explosiveness. With this combination and some creativity, I never feel like I am missing out on any of the equipment at the typical gym. However, I do miss the camaraderie of group classes, but with the pandemic continuing, I’ll look forward to reconnecting with workout classmates at the yoga studio and the MMA gym down the road.

I always thought that there would be a health-related element to my posts on this site, so this is a good start. I am not being paid by anyone to discuss any product, these are just things I have bought and use. No affiliate links, although maybe I should look into that. Anyway, here are the 7 B’s of my home gym:

  1. Bar: 1 x pull-up bar for vertical pulling movements. I think mine is from P90X, but these are pretty standard.
  2. Belt: 1x cloth jiu-jitsu belt with 1-inch hashes along the length marked in Sharpie. Besides completing the uniform for when I roll in a gi, I suspend a dumbbell for weighted exercises on the pull-up bar and use the hash marks for two-arm exercises as part of one-arm pull-up progression routine.
  3. Bells: 2 x adjustable dumbbells weighing about 200 lbs total. Only complaint is the silver paint tends to flake off slowly.
  4. Bands: 6 x elastic bands that help add weight to my lifts. Especially helpful for movements better suited for the barbell, relative to dumbbells. I also put some stock into Jeff Cavalier’s explanation of how bands improve strength curves.
  5. Block: 1 x foam yoga block, essential for yoga practice and getting a good plantarflexion stretch during calf raises. I used to use an old cutting board I planned to give away, but thanks to Kelly Stamps’ February 2021 video tour of her minimalist apartment, I was inspired to downsize and find more than one use for a piece of equipment I already own.
  6. Balls: 3 x baseballs for practicing juggling on my rest day or playing catch when the weather is nice. Shout out to The Bioneer for the idea of improving hand-eye coordination!
  7. Bench: 1 x way to level up. I just bought a cheap adjustable workout bench online, and it works fine. Huge benefit for bench press, single-arm bent rows, pull-overs, dragon flags, and more.
  8. Bed: 1 x place where the real magic happens. Of course, sex may be a great workout, but what I’m really talking about here is good, consistent sleep. Rest and rebuilding are essential for improving fitness and athletic performance.

Bonus: I also like having a yoga mat and jump rope, these are the items I could probably most easily do without. The yoga mat is most helpful for hot yoga classes.

Do you have a home gym? How was putting it together during the pandemic, if that has been the case? Anything that I am missing or probably do not need?

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