Mireille's Journey To Health


Building An Effective Apartment Gym

When we got orders to our current duty station, we decided that we were going to live in an apartment.  We have 3 kids, but they’re small and there are actually some pretty spacious apartments.  We didn’t want to commit to buying a house because when the army says it’s time to move again, we may or may not have time to sell.  We also didn’t want to rent a house from a private landlord in the case that the upkeep was inadequate.  What can I say, we’re a military that have learned some tough lessons.

I was determined to find an apartment that had a gym, and I did my homework just to be sure.  I researched online and found an apartment complex in the area we wanted to live that had a gym.  Unfortunately, when we arrived, they did not have an apartment available for us.  There was only one other apartment complex in the area that had 3 bedroom apartments.  Unfortunately, that apartment complex did not have a gym.  Well, not having a gym beats not having a home, so we took it.

Our apartment came with a 9’x11′ den, in addition to the 3 bedrooms.  The boys keep all of their toys in their rooms, so I didn’t feel bad taking it over.  I began organizing my gym equipment, and slowly adding small things here and there to make it the best workout space possible for me.  It’s evolved quite a bit since we moved in, but allow me to take you on a tour and hopefully inspire you with some of your own ideas.  Oh, and by the way, I’d love to see pics of your home gyms and ideas you have that could help me or any of my readers with their home gyms.

mirror corner

This is one corner of my gym.  You can see I have a full-length mirror.  That is something I bought after we moved in.  I like to see what I’m doing when I’m working out.  This allows me to see my form.   I’m able to see my muscles at work.  It’s also very motivating to see yourself accomplish something.  I almost can’t stand to workout without a mirror now.  I feel lost without it.  This mirror was about $14 at Wal-Mart.  You can also see some photos around the mirror.  I have a couple of pictures of my oldest son doing gymnastics, a signed picture of Gene Fullmer, the boxer, and I have a few more pictures I need to add.  It’s progressive, so the picture on the floor is waiting on hardware to be mounted.  I also have pictures from my bikini competition, waiting on frames to go up, and pictures of Paul Hamm, the gymnast, as well.  All of these pictures motivate me.  I love the pictures of my little guy working hard in his gymnastics the most.  I know sometimes he has to do things that put him outside of his comfort zone, and if he can, then I can, too.  I also have an exercise ball in the corner of this picture.  I use it for stability/balance exercises, including various ab and glute workouts.  It’s also my bench at the moment for chest presses and flies.  I’ve done pushups on it.  Sometimes, I’ll put a knee on it while doing bent over rows or tricep kickbacks.  I’ve sat on it for shoulder presses.  Honestly, the list can go on and on.  There’s a pull up bar resting in that corner that can fit onto a doorway.  We used to keep it in the doorway, but as the boys would forget and shut the door, it’d come down and bop them in the head.  It’s no big deal, as it can be easily mounted and removed for a workout.  Also in that corner are my yoga mats.  I love my yoga practices, as they stretch my sore muscles and provide such amazing relief.

treadmill cornerIn this picture you can see my treadmill.  It’s a really good quality treadmill.  I got it from a place that supplies gyms.  They sometimes have a few used pieces of commercial quality equipment.  I got lucky and they happened to have a treadmill on hand when I was checking them out.  Next to the treadmill, you can see some colorful things hanging on my wall.  I have a large hook there.  On the hook, I hang my weightlifting belt and a variety of resistance bands, some circular and some with handles.  I also hang my jump ropes on the hook.  In the very corner, you can see I have a TV.  Eventually, this TV will be wall-mounted for better visibility.  This will make cardio on the treadmill a little more enjoyable, and I’ll be able to plug my ipad into it to play my yoga videos.  I’ve got a closer up picture of the white shelves, so I’ll cover that following that picture.  Moving along, you can see I have a wedge mat.  This mat, as well as the mini trampoline, and the beam (the goofy thing resting up against the trampoline) were all originally for the kiddos to work on their gymnastics.  Occasionally, they still pull them out, but I’m the primary user or all 3 pieces of equipment, now.  I’ve used the wedge mat as a decline bench for ab work, as well as for chest presses and chest flies.  The trampoline is a fun piece of equipment to mix in.  I like to do rebounds with it.  I use the beam to work my calves.  A lot of people who work their calves at home use their stairs.  In an apartment, I don’t have stairs.  I put the beam right in front of the mirror.  I like to see the muscles working.

weightsHere’s the bottom shelf of those white shelves.  You can see I keep my weights here.  I have sets of 2lb, 3lb, 5lb, 10lb, 15 lb, and 25lb.  The 2’s and 3’s are primarily used by the kiddos, but occasionally they come in handy after a hardcore drop set.  A great way to buy dumbbells is through yard sales and Craig’s List.  Brand new, they run about $1/1lb, but if you score used dumbbells you can really save some money.


This black crate sits on the top shelf of the white shelves.  It holds a weight vest, wrist weights, ankle weights, lifting gloves, boxing gloves, ab straps that can connect to the pull up bar, and push up handles.


This picture shows the rest of the top shelf of the white shelves.  Wow!  That sounds confusing.  No matter.  You don’t really need to know where it’s at in my gym.  Let’s focus on what it is.  I have an ab wheel, which is such an awesome, inexpensive piece of equipment, and ab mat, medicine ball, and two 15lb kettlebells.

punching bag

This picture shows my punching bag.  I can’t tell you what a fun workout boxing can be.  It’s a great way to mix things up.  I take kickboxing classes with heavy bags, but this is great when I want to practice and get it in while at home.  You can also see some posters on the wall.  Sometimes, when I get new workout equipment, it comes with a poster of exercises that can be done with the equipment.  I like to stick these papers up in my gym.  Sometimes, I have a day where I’m dragging and don’t know what I want to do.  These posters can guide me through a workout when I’m lacking the motivation to guide myself.

There are plenty of other options for apartment gyms.  This is what I have so far, and it’s taken me years to accumulate all of this.  On my wish list are a legit bench, weight bar, some weight plates, and heavier ankle weights.  Building your own gym is a process.  Hopefully, I’ve been able to show you that it’s doable, even in an apartment.  For some frugal ideas to get started, check out my post on DIY and super frugal gym equipment, here.


2 comments on “Building An Effective Apartment Gym

  1. ranu802
    September 14, 2015

    You seem to be well-equipped with your gym stuff,WOW!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mireillesjourneytohealth
      September 14, 2015

      Yes, but I must reiterate, we started accumulating workout gear years ago. It’s a slow process. This year’s addition was the treadmill. That’s been the biggest addition to date.


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This entry was posted on September 13, 2015 by in Fitness and tagged , , , , .
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