Building your home gym is the best way to ensure nothing gets in the way of a great workout. A minimalist home gym will be a perfect fit, no matter where you live or the type of exercise you prefer. Investing in the right equipment is vital to having an enjoyable workout routine that you’ll look forward to, and it doesn’t have to be complicated.
This article highlights the essential items every home gym should have, whether you’re a novice or a long-time fitness enthusiast. You won’t have to remodel your home to make enough space or spend thousands on equipment. When used effectively, these eight pieces of gym equipment are all you need to achieve incredible sustained results.
After following this guide and establishing a consistent routine with the bare essentials, it can be fun to add additional equipment to help you stay engaged and excited to hone your fitness in new ways. Keep your eyes peeled, or consider signing up for my alerts for future home gym equipment recommendations.
The following items are the most critical pieces of home gym equipment and accessories every minimalist home gym needs to ensure you’re off to a healthy, comfortable, and impactful start.
1. Exercise Mat
An exercise mat is the MVP of minimalist home gym equipment. It is essential for safety, support, and sanitation. It may be the least exciting piece of gym equipment, but anyone who’s spent a decent amount of time working out knows just how valuable a quality mat can be. After we go over why mats are essential and the things worth considering when selecting your perfect mat, we have recommendations for the type and size you’ll want that meet the criteria.
A mat aids personal safety by providing extra grip. It can help prevent you from slipping on a drop of sweat the way you might on a hard floor or sliding the way you might on a carpeted floor during a range of exercises. Mat’s will also help protect your floor from wear and tear from your movements and any other equipment you may have.
Support is important for knees, elbows, and palms during all the bodyweight movements you’re likely doing. Without the extra cushion of a mat, it’s difficult and even detrimental to perform simple exercises like push-ups, lunges, hip bridges, or planks.
The last critical reason to invest in a quality gym mat is sanitation. Having a mat you can lay on when you’re covered in sweat is much easier to wipe off and clean up than having to mop or steam clean the floor after every workout. It helps contain the yuck to a more specific area. Although, thoroughly cleaning the gym area from top to bottom occasionally is still a good idea.
Different Types of Minimalist Home Gym Mats & Their Benefits
Depending on the frequency and types of exercises you gravitate towards, there are two styles of exercise mats worth exploring.
First is a jumbo-sized mat that would likely cover most of your exercise space. These mats are great because you can switch movements or directions without going off your mat or skipping a beat. They also provide additional protection to your floors from other home gym equipment like kettlebells or free weights.
Jumbo mats, like the Gorilla Mat, are made of a slightly firmer, more durable material than your typical yoga mat. This means you can securely place lighter-weight equipment on them, such as stationary bikes or free-weight sets. However, if you have particularly sensitive joints, you may still want a softer yoga mat to place on top for added comfort. Alternatively, a folded towel also works well and picks up extra sweat.
The second mat recommendation comes as no surprise. It’s a typical but quality yoga mat. You may work out in your gym space, and sometimes, you may choose to do a class from your TV in the living room or even head to the yoga studio. Owning a mat that’s easy to transport is great and offers many of the same benefits as the mat listed above, just in a smaller footprint. The only drawback is a yoga mat won’t really protect your floors and will require a little more intention behind your movements.
Bottom line: Find a mat you love that suits your activity style and supports your body.
2. Full-Length Mirror(s)
If your space allows for it, the more mirrors, the better. Of course, you’ll enjoy checking out your fantastic physique, but more importantly, you will receive constant feedback on your form while doing each exercise.
There has been some recent conversation about the use of mirrors in fitness settings, so I think it’s important to point out that body positivity is a state of mind that includes looking at yourself in the mirror exactly as you are and finding at least one thing you love regardless of your shape or size.
It’s understandable in a public setting that excess mirrors allow for unwanted attention from across the gym, but it’s a different story at home. This is all the more reason to set up your minimalist home gym ASAP. A mirror should be treated just like any other piece of equipment. It is there to aid and support your efforts.
Some exercises are just challenging to get right, and without a mirror to check your form, you risk wasting your time by failing to get proper muscle engagement or, more importantly, causing an injury by putting undue stress on a joint or tendon.
3. Sweat Towel
Believe it or not, sweat towels are not created equally. I was given a sweat towel for free once, and it has quickly become my towel of desperation. This means that all the others are dirty, and I need to do laundry badly, so I am forced to use the free towel. What makes it a not-so-great towel? The fact that the fabric does not breathe and is not very absorbent. So when you’re mid-swipe and gasping for air, you nearly suffocate yourself if the towel comes near your nose or mouth. Not fun.
An excellent sweat towel is soft, super absorbent, durable, and breathable. I think we can all agree breathability is essential. Now, on to the other criteria.
Sweat is particularly annoying on the face. When your skin is hot and sweaty, it tends to be more sensitive, especially around the face. Dabbing sweat is not the time to give yourself an exfoliation treatment, so getting soft towels is a must.
You don’t want a towel that needs its own towel halfway through your workout. Look for a mid to thicker microfiber towel that can keep up during your longer endurance workouts.
It doesn’t take long to realize the number of trips to the laundry room these towels will make if you follow a regular 3-5 day workout schedule. Buying towels that won’t fray, fade, or shrink is critical.
- Hopeshine Microfiber Towel – reordered & reliable since 2018
- S & T Microfiber towel – I love the lavender purple option
When working out in a small space, it’s shocking how much body heat raises the temperature. It’s common to fog up the windows or the air to seem stagnant midway through a workout. There’s no better way to get your second wind than by flipping on a fan when you notice this starting to happen. No pun intended.
Honestly, any old fan will do. It comes down to space and your preference. A simple floor model with an oscillation feature will do the trick for most home gyms. A heating and cooling option might be better if you’re setting up in the garage or basement.
Everyone already has a pair or two or more headphones around the house that they can use. However, there are benefits to different types of headphones for various activities. The two main criteria for our headphone recommendations are sound quality and staying power.
Yes, I sometimes work out with my AirPods, and no, they don’t fall out, All thanks to one nifty accessory that costs less than ten dollars. Airpods are great for their sound-canceling feature, allowing you to safely blast the music and focus on your workout. I wouldn’t recommend using this feature for any outdoor activities where cars or other vehicles might be involved. But if you love working out outside, we have an excellent option for that, too.
If, for whatever reason, you need to keep an ear out for dogs, kids, or anything else going on in the house, Consider trying Aftershockz. Miraculously, they don’t compromise sound quality while keeping your ears free to listen and be aware of your surroundings.
It’s almost as if you don’t have headphones on at all. It’s the coolest technology. Aftershockz uses vibration frequency to transmit sound through your cheekbone rather than your ears. It sounds wild because it is. But these headphones are a must if you like outdoor activities that require you to listen for road noise or other people but still want to enjoy your music.
The topic of the best water bottle is so highly debated I hardly wish to throw my hat in the ring other than to say, make sure you have one with you, and it’s full come workout time. Hydration is vital before, during, and after rigorous physical activity.
When picking out your ideal water bottle, look for one that’s easy to take a quick sip from without making a mess, dropping it, or ingesting a lot of air. You’ll be using and refilling it a lot, so ensure it’s easy to keep clean.
Though they can double as a weight in a pinch, the only water bottle that seems a little impractical is the large gallon jug-style water bottle. They can be a hassle to carry and don’t fit in car or gym equipment cupholders. But if that’s what works for you, by all means, keep it up!
When your blood gets pumping, it’s very likely any congestion will spontaneously release. Don’t let that runny nose stop you mid-set! You’ll be so glad to have a box of tissues nearby if, or more likely when, this happens.
We don’t have any specific brand recommendations here. This is more or less a reminder to grab one of those little cubes lying around the house and put it in your gym.
8. Cleaning Wipes for Home Gym Equipment
I know what you’re thinking, towels, tissues, and cleaning wipes?!? Yes! They’re all important, necessary, and serve very different purposes. It is a little funny, though; who knew working out was so messy?
Cleaning wipes are great even if you work out solo, especially if you share your gym with loved ones. Even love has its limits.
Keep it clean, especially during cold and flu season. Plus, these wipes have a great fresh scent that will help prevent any residual smells from building up. If you use the room your gym is in for any other purpose, keeping any smell away is even more crucial.
Note: Be mindful when cleaning your equipment that all surfaces are safe to come in contact with the cleaning wipes. Some screens or other equipment components may require specialty cleaners. Please refer to the owner’s manual in these instances.
Closing Thoughts on Minimalist Home Gym Setups
No matter what you decide to include in your home gym, the most important thing is that it’s a space where you can feel comfortable and motivated to take care of yourself. Exercise is a wonderful method of self-care and self-love.
With these essentials, you’ll be ready to go! So don’t wait; start creating your own personal sanctuary today and work toward achieving your fitness goals!
Marly is a lifestyle writer and creator of simplylivinghappy.com, a site dedicated to helping readers improve their health, wealth, mindset, and overall happiness. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her listening to audiobooks while gardening, visiting with family, or traveling.