Toronto designer Jane Lockhart on how to optimize your space for the perfect at-home workout area

Jane Lockhart is an award-winning designer, TV personality and author. She is also the principal designer of the Toronto firm she founded in 1997, Jane Lockhart Interior Design.

As life continues to roll forward and our world copes with a new normal, for many of us this means daily activities will remain at home. Even if you haven’t been a gym-loving, yoga-worshipping participant in the past, the desire for physical activity has increased with too many weeks cooped up. Added to this, oncoming nice weather has moved some of us to reconsider the concept of exercise at home.

I live in a condo apartment, where space is limited. But, some forms of workout in your house or apartment don’t require a big space despite the prevalence of massive big box gyms on nearly every corner. If you have space for a treadmill or Peloton bike that’s definitely a plus. As it turns out making a quiet space for simple movement using body weight, dumb bells or stretching is pretty simple. 

To begin, this compact workout space can be created in a corner of a main room if you live in a smaller space, or if you are fortunate, in a dedicated room. You only require about six square feet when working out or stretching, maybe a tad more if taller. 


A workout station would fit nicely on the right-hand side of this living room

Most gym or yoga items are compact or fold up–even a hula hoop comes in parts that you assemble. Find a drawer in a dresser or shelf in a closet where you can store your items for use when you need them. If this isn’t available you can order larger decorative boxes online into which you can keep small weights, straps, bands, even a weighted medicine ball. These boxes can be added to décor within a room while they hide your stash of workout gear when not in use.

Yoga mats are pretty easy to manage if you purchase a bag that has a shoulder strap as it can be hung up and stored anywhere in the house. When you need the mat you can pull it out and return it at the end of your session. I would recommend using a small portable stand for an iPad/iPhone so you can view YouTube videos while working out or stretching. Small devices are portable so they don’t have to give away your workout nook. I like having a small fan nearby as well. Mine is a vintage style from Sunbeam with a retro look and black base so it fits my décor and remains out even when I’m not using it.

Some great exercises requires a hard armless chair and surprisingly many people don’t have one as dining rooms have disappeared from the condo environments. Consider purchasing a small foldable chair from IKEA or Staples and stash it under the sofa. 

Free weights can be rolled under the sofa, too or racked if you prefer.  Tossing a well-placed throw over the weights when not in use can actually disguise them quite well. An ottoman with interior storage on wheels is also an ideal place to store free weights. It’s not too difficult to add wheels to ottomans if the one you have doesn’t have them, but they are important for moving the ottoman when its loaded with your equipment.

Creating a space to work out or stretch really can be fairly simple and doesn’t require much overall area if you keep it simple. Creative hiding spots allow even small space living rooms to be the hub for not only binge watching, but activity at the same time!  

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