For a great, hassle-free workout, you don't need a dedicated home gym — or even a lot of square feet.
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"All you need is about an arm's length of space in all directions," says Kelly Cosentino, CPT, a certified personal trainer and director for FitXR a virtual reality fitness app. "Within that space, fit in your favorite pieces of space-efficient equipment and sweat it out."
Most efficient of all: foldable exercise equipment. The fitness equivalent to Murphy beds, collapsible fitness gear is small-space-compliant and help make whatever space you've got work for you.
Including treadmills, bikes and power rigs that accordion, here's your definitive list of the most space-flexible fold-away gym equipment on the market.
1. Best Foldable Indoor Bike: Exerpeutic Upright Bike
- Unfolded: 46" height x 19" width x 15" depth
- Folded: 46" height x 19" width x 31" depth
- Features: heart rate monitoring, adjustable seat and handles
Strengthening your quads, hamstrings, calves, core and cardio all in one whoosh — stationary bikes have got it going on. They also tend to take up way more space than you'd think they would.
That's exactly why Cosentino recommends this collapsible bike. It's got the sturdiness you need in your cycling workouts while still being easy to store. It's padded bike seat ensures you won't have to sacrifice your tuckus to your training.
Plus, with a 300-pound weight capacity and seat adjustments for people between 5'3" and 6'1," you can share it with other riders in your home. Sharing is caring!
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $148.51
2. Best Foldable Rower: Amazaya Water Rowing Machine
- Unfolded: 82" height x 22" width x 22" depth
- Folded: 41" height x 22" width x 19" depth
- Features: large display, quiet
"Rowing is one of the most efficient workouts you can do," according to Cosentino, explaining that every single stroke activates the vast majority of muscles in your body.
What's so great about this rowing machine in particular? It doesn't just fold — it folds in half, whittling down to the size of a collapsed beach chair. Bonus: This rower doesn't need an outlet, so it can go anywhere you do, she says.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $489.99
3. Best Foldable Treadmill: NordicTrack T Series 6.5S Treadmill
- Unfolded: 67.5" height × 35.8" width × 73" length
- Folded: 12" height × 35.8" width × 73" length
- Features: 12-month iFit membership, Auxiliary music port, media rack, deck cushioning, self-cooling technology
If you're training for some lengthy miles, Cosentino recommends opting for this top-rated treadmill.
Made by reliable brand NordicTrack, the T Series 6.5S brags an impressive 4.5/5 star rating on Amazon, with nearly 20,000 reviews. What do people love about it? The breadth of its run speeds (up to 10 miles per hour), as well as the fact that it sports amplified speakers, a backlit display and a 12-month free subscription to the iFit virtual workout platform (for all of the treadmill classes you could ever want).
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $649
4. Best Foldable Power Rack: Rogue Monster Lite RML-3WC
- Unfolded: 90" height x 43" width x 41.5" depth
- Folded: 90" height x 43" width x 3" depth
- Features: J-cups for barbell included, can be outfitted with attachable pull-up bar (sold separately)
If you've got a single-car-garage-turned-gym and are looking to pump your peach or pecs, this squat rack is for you.
Manufactured by Rogue, a brand known for their high-quality strength training equipment, this rack is all about user-friendliness. Here's how it works: You screw the "legs" of this rack into the wall. When you're not using it, you can fold the legs in. And when you're ready to pop, lock and drop it, you can fold the legs out. Easy!
"Having the squat rig opens you up to doing some of the most foundational, functional, strength training lifts at home, such as the deadlift, back squat and front squat, bench press, strict press and military press," says Cosentino.
Just keep in mind, a squat rig is not enough on its own, she says. "You will also need to invest in a barbell, plates and clips to make the set complete."
Buy it: Rogue.com; Price: $625
5. Best Foldable Cable Machine: Tonal
- Unfolded: 84" height × 105" width × 5.25" depth
- Folded: 50.9" height × 21.5" width × 5.25" depth
- Features: expert-led workouts, multi-user friendly
The love-child of a mirror, personal trainer and a dual cable machine, Tonal is designed to hang on the wall for maximal space efficiency. Its two arms extend out when you you exercise, and push back in when your workout session is done.
At the heart of the machine is a touch-screen monitor that gives you access to recorded, trainer-led strength workouts. Most of them last between 25 and 45 minutes.
And while Tonal may look different than a traditional free-weight set-up, it lets you lift plenty heavy. Adjust it in 1-pound increments — up to 200 pounds.
Buy it: Tonal.com; Price: $2,995.00
6. Best Foldable Bar System: MaxiGold Portable Bar
- Unfolded: 75" height x 45" width x 15.75" depth
- Folded: 9.5" height x 45" width x 9.5" depth
- Features: quick assembly, storage bag included
Doorway pull-up bars are great, but what if your home workout space doesn't have an entryway or you're renting your space and don't want to sully the frame with screws? A collapsible, portable pull-up bar (or whole bar system) is a good alternative.
The MaxiGold Portable system opens up into a pull-up/dip tower, letting you do pull-ups in small spaces, without requiring that you mess with your doorway.
"You can do all sorts of exercises with this kind of bar," says Cosentino. Think: pull-ups, chin-ups, dead hangs, knee tucks, windshield wipers and hanging leg raises.
"Just make sure to give the bar a jiggle when you put it up to make sure it's secure," she says. "You don't want to fall when you're mid-air." True!
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $159.95
3 Considerations When Shopping for Foldable Exercise Equipment
No matter how cool a piece of foldable workout equipment is, to serve you well, it has to fit your unique goals. After all, even though a high-tech machine be incredible impressive and trendy, if you'll get the most use (aka benefit!) out of a low-tech bar system, opt for the latter.
If you're interested in foldable exercise equipment, odds are it's because your home gym doubles as your office or bedroom. Still, exactly how much of that space you're willing to fill with exercise accessories will vary from person to person and space to- pace.
So measure exactly how much space you have for workout equipment before buying. (Yep, that means whipping out a measuring tape — your eyes won't cut it).
Then, check and double-check the dimensions in the product descriptions to make sure the fold-away gym equipment will fit both when collapsed and expanded, she says.
Ideally, the unfolded exercise machine will be small enough that you'll still have space to easily walk around it, too. When in doubt, get out some masking tape and map out the machine on the floor.
Even if fold-away gym equipment can condense to pocket-size, it doesn't mean every piece will fit your wallet.
Some of these collapsible machines — especially folding treadmills and rowing machines — are on the pricey size.
You move: Only invest in the gym equipment you know you'll use, not the equipment you hope you'll use. For example, if you've never liked biking, don't get an aspirational indoor bike. Instead, opt for a treadmill.
Second, spend some time noodling on what you can realistically afford before handing over your credit card info. To score a deal on exercise equipment, you can also consider buying around holidays when they're most likely to be on sale.
- CDC: "How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?"
- American Heart Association: "Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids"
- Clinical Epidemiology: "Replacing Sedentary Time with Physical Activity: A 15-year Follow-up of Mortality in a National Cohort"
- Arthritis Foundation: "How to Choose Home Exercise Equipment"
- ACE: "What’s the Best Piece of Cardio Equipment to Use?"
- NordickTrack: "Fusion CST"