Lots of people are trying to work out at home… and for many, it’s a lot harder than they thought it’d be.
Maybe you are used to going to a dedicated space or a gym, but find yourself needing to make the most out of your space at home.
And you might be running into a few problems, such as a limited area to work with, family or roommates, or even less-than-stellar flooring.
No matter what it is you feel is holding you back, you can make it work. All it takes is a bit of creativity, a solid plan, and a dedication to moving regardless of your circumstances.
We’ll show you living proof of people who are making it work in small spaces, and we’ll show you how to make the most of your own personal space.
Constraints Force Creativity: Movement in Any Space
Alright, you might be thinking that your space is too small and restrictive to do anything substantial with. But we know better. There are thousands of GMB clients using less-than-ideal space to practice their movement using our programs.
You can too and here’s how.
First, you want to get creative and look at what you have to work with. Are you in a house, a shoebox-sized apartment, a small garage space? What’s taking up this space? Can you move anything aside? Can you use anything in your space to aid in your movement practice?
There are many ways you can make the most of your space. And you’re only limited by your imagination.
Do you have a doorway? If so, you could hang a portable chin-up bar.
Couch or chair nearby? You can prop your feet up to make those push-ups harder.
One thing we want to mention is while you may see Ryan performing all the movement demos in a big space, it’s only because it’s less distracting and way more valuable for you. In the videos, you see Ryan, the floor, and not much else. This is to help you focus on him and the movements, not the furniture, or the dog and kids running around.
If you have a small space and feel it’s limited, this is a bonus for you because you now have to operate under a constraint.
And that constraint will mean you’ll have to be creative. It also means you’ll have to be much more focused on the movements you’re doing.
Maybe you can’t roll around much. Okay, what else can you do?
Maybe you can’t do lots of locomotor movements (like bear crawls and froggers). Great, what can you do in place?
Whatever your situation, you can make it work. In fact, you can get a lot of work done in about the space a yoga mat provides.
The trick here is to think creatively. How can you make the most of your space?
For example, if you have a hallway, you could practice the locomotion movements. Here’s GMB trainer Rebecca Jennifer Rashkin doing a high frogger and backwards bear:
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What if you have a limited space to move, such as your living room floor with furniture all around you?
GMB trainer Verity Bradford is doing some free flow in a tight space. Her favorite GMB program is Elements.
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Have an empty wall you can use? Work on your handstand.
Making Use of Multiple Spaces
You can and should make use of multiple spaces if possible. You might have a small area on the floor to work on your stretching and strength work. But it might not be best for locomotion.
So once you’re done with your strength movements, mosey on over to the hallway and get to work on your froggers and bear crawls. Then head over to the doorway for your pull-up practice.
This can all be as simple as you need it to be.
Here’s GMB client Gardner Burg making use of his small patio outside his apartment.
He’s getting a lot done with very little.
Your biggest ally is your own creativity and willingness to explore your own space to make the most of it. But it’s not just about being creative…
Here are some more ideas to help you really nail down your movement practice.
If You Don’t Plan, You Plan to Fail
It’s an overused cliché, but it’s true.
Without a plan, you are guessing. And when you don’t make the time and plan your workouts, they don’t always get done.
If you know you want to work out regularly at home, it’s best to put it in the schedule. Remember, things that don’t get planned tend to never get done.
If your workout takes 40 minutes from start to finish, block off the time in your calendar and make it sacred.
This may seem simple at first, but it’s powerful when done regularly. You’ll soon look back over weeks and months of consistent training, and experience the benefits that come from your effort.
But you have to do the work. You can plan your workouts and fumble through GMB tutorials for days or weeks but none of it will help you if you don’t get started with your training. It’s better to get started and adjust your plan later, than waste time searching for the perfect way to get started.
Remove Roadblocks Ahead of Time
One thing about working out at home is that you are likely to share this space with others. If you used to work out at a gym or a dedicated space, chances are you were by yourself and away from family. And that allowed you all the time to yourself to get an effective session in.
Working out from home can come with its own set of problems but they’re easy to fix. For instance, have a talk with your significant other about your goal to work out regularly at home.
Let them know that you want that time to yourself, so as not to interrupt you. If you have young kids, you can ask your partner to keep them occupied, or find a way to include them in your movement practice.
Rituals and Routines Set You Up for Success
If your work schedule has been affected by COVID-19 and you find yourself at home instead of the office, you might not be used to taking the time to work out.
This is where creating some rituals throughout the day can keep you committed to your movement.
You can even set a reminder in your phone to keep you accountable.
For instance, when you wake up, you have a ritual of some sort that you’ve been doing for decades. Brushing your teeth, showering, having coffee, whatever it is you do on a daily basis.
The same thing needs to happen with your movement practice. Let’s say you want to work out at the end of the day.
Something you could do is go change your clothes into something you’d normally work out in… even if you’re still wearing the t-shirt and shorts you slept in the night before.
Because it mentally preps you for what you’re about to do… which is to exert your body and move it on purpose in a way that challenges you.
It doesn’t have to be much. It could be as simple as filling your water bottle. And that could be the cue that starts the process, which gets your mind focused on the training you’re about to engage in.
Another way to get into the groove could be moving the furniture around to suit your space and prep it for your practice.
Here’s GMB Lead Trainer Edith Maria playing around in the laundry room. 😄
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Move Better by Cutting Out the Noise
We’re bombarded with tons of distractions on a daily basis. Push notifications from your phone. Constant email checking. Letting the TV run in the background while you work.
When you’re moving your body, you want 100% of your focus and energy on what you’re doing. This is especially true when you’re working in a tight space. It could be the difference between calmly holding that handstand and toppling over when you get that text notification.
More importantly, when you let these distractions run in the background, it takes away from your ability to be mindful and to pay attention to what’s going on with your body. Let’s face it… you can’t fully engage in your movement with reruns of Lost playing in the background.
Small Space FAQ’s
Do I need a special mat?
No. You’ve probably seen Ryan on a white puzzle mat in the video demos but a rug or carpet is plenty of padding for most people. Ryan also does demonstrations on the hardwood floor, so that is fine too.
What equipment do I need?
You don’t need any equipment to do our programs. However, in Integral Strength, we use a pull-up tower for chin-ups and pull-ups.
Can I replace gym movements?
In short, no. You can’t really replace a gym movement you might do with a barbell, dumbbell, or machine with a bodyweight alternative. But you can choose bodyweight movements that work similar muscle groups and push yourself to make progress with those.
I want to do full locomotions/crawling but I don't have enough space. Can I make it work?
It would be best to have at least 20 feet of space to do the full locomotions, but it’s a false choice to do either that or nothing at all. You can cut things short and reverse direction, and add a hop to the side when needed. Use the videos above for inspiration. The space you have is what you have and doing what you can isn’t just “better than nothing”, it will help you more than you think!
Do I have to change my program completely?
Not at all, but you might have to change it somewhat to fit your space. This might mean working on certain aspects of the program (like stretching) in one space and doing other movements (like locomotion) in a separate space.
What's the best program to do if I have very little space?
If you’re very limited in space and need to be in one area only, we recommend starting with Mobility and Integral Strength.
How can I keep myself accountable to your programs at home?
When you join the GMB community, we’re here to help. All of our programs are easy to follow, detailed, and structured to keep you focused. Also, we’re always here to help, so you can ask questions whenever you need help.
Create the Space That Returns the Favor
You will always get out what you put in. And creating a space that enhances your ability to move in the way you want while pushing yourself will take you much further than any special program or piece of equipment could.
So think about it… how can you make the most of what you have access to right now? One of the benefits of our programs is that they can all be adjusted and adapted for what you have at home. And since our programs are progressive, you can be sure to start in a place that’s best for you.
Physical autonomy is our highest value here at GMB. We build everything we do around the idea that you can do this work virtually anywhere. All you need is your body, a little space, and your enthusiasm. That’s it.
Get Big Results in Small Spaces
Elements is an 8-week online training program that uses locomotive exercises and targeted mobility work to build your strength, flexibility, and motor control.