Building a Home Gym for Seniors

Certified Senior Fitness Specialist Lori Michiel details how seniors can create a gym at home and improve their physical and mental health.

If you’re ready to cancel your gym membership and have started thinking about alternatives, consider exercising at home. You won’t need to invest a lot of money. What you will need is a little ingenuity and creativity.

How do I get started building a gym at home?

You can start by carving out space in your home or apartment and make it into a haven, a place where you can go to get away from it all.  

  • You’ll be rewarded for your efforts and the return on your investment will be well worth the time, commitment, and expenses you put into this project.

  • You’ll improve your health and feel better both physically and mentally.

  • Your wallet will also thank you, as you won’t be paying for an expensive gym membership every month.

When creating a home gym, I recommend buying equipment in increments and not everything at once.

Compare plans today.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent


You need to choose wisely: equipment can be very pricey, so choose from general, inexpensive list vs. bonus equipment.

Many pieces of equipment have multiple uses. For example, resistance straps and bands can be used for upper and lower body, for your arms, shoulders, legs, core, etc., in addition to cardio and floor exercises.

Also remember, you do not need to exercise the same muscles every day.

Working out muscles like your biceps, triceps, chest, shoulders, back and legs can be done two times a week. Cardio exercise should be done at least three times a week, so keep that in mind when purchasing pricy equipment.

Any equipment you purchase, make sure you can also use it outdoors for variety, or if you need to move it to another place. Being able to move your exercise station outdoors will allow you to work out on that beautiful sunny day and get some fresh air. That’s something most gyms will not be able to offer you.

What is the best exercise equipment for seniors?

Here is a list of equipment to help you get started building a home gym for seniors:

General Equipment

Chair with armrests
Make sure it is sturdy and not on rollers. You can find a variety of chair exercises on YouTube or the internet. 

These workouts are effective to develop full-body strength. They're also especially great for seniors with limited mobility

Use towels that are both thick and long. You’re going to want a towel for obvious reasons, like clearing off sweat. However, purchase some additional towels, as you can use them in your workout and they’re a great way to build stabilizer muscles.  

Besides, thicker towels can be used in place of a yoga mat.

Light hand weights
These are great for the following upper body workouts:

  • Bicep curls - Palms face forward as you lift towards your shoulders, without touching your shoulders and return to a straight arm

  • Tricep extensions - Palms face inward at your hips, bend and straighten your elbows as you lift the weights alongside your hips returning to your hips

  • Lateral lifts - Palms face inward at your hips, elbows slightly bent, lift your arms moving slightly forward instead of directly to the side for less stress on the shoulder joint

  • Overhead lifts - Palms face inward, elbows bent, and resting at your waist. Push overhead as you maintain a slight bend in your elbow, then return

Ankle weights
Purchase the kind with removable weights for you lower body.

Step laterally making sure not to drag your feet, walk-in place being sure to keep your body is steady and not bent over or try kickbacks, pretending to get the mud off the bottom of your shoes. 

Resistance straps
TRX is one example of resistance straps, but your straps don't have to be a name brand. You can do plenty of bodyweight exercises and diversify your workout.

It’s easy to set up by securing it on a door, and you also have the option to hang from the ceiling. You’ll find a ton of great workouts on the internet and Youtube.

Purchase long and short bands as alternatives to weights that also take up less space. They’ll act as a substitute for multiple weight training exercises.

You can get weighted or unweighted workout balls, preferably in different sizes.

If you do not have someone you can throw to you underhanded, overhead, or sideways (rotation), bounce it off a wall or the floor in front of you.

A good cardio workout can include throwing the ball the retrieving it each time. Larger balls can be used for seated balance or similar techniques as smaller balls. 

Bonus Equipment

Yoga mat
Yoga mats are good if you do not want to use a towel for lying down to do floor exercises.

Massage table
Consider a table with height adjustment for an alternative to lying on the floor

To check your form, consider using the type of mirror you might place on the back of a closet door.

Treadmill or Recumbent bike
For aerobic/cardio workouts, you can purchase a treadmill or recumbent bike. You need to consider the space required for the machines.

Stability ball
You can use a large over-sized ball for a variety of exercises, both standing and lying down.

Exercise ladders
You can use special exercise ladders for agility training and basic movement fundamentals such as sidestepping, cadence speed, and step length.

Bosu trainer
Bosu trainers can be used for balance, core and more.

Consider getting a disk for balance and core exercises.

Foam rollers and tennis balls
Use rollers and tennis balls to increase blood flow to the muscles and decrease stiffness.


This information is intended for reference only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Before participating in any exercise program or activity, it is recommended that you seek the advice of your physician. For questions, comments and further information, please contact Lori Michiel Fitness.


About the author

Lori Michiel is the owner of Lori Michiel Fitness, Inc.,™ which focuses on safe, adaptive exercises for seniors in their homes. She is certified as a Senior Fitness Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and certified by the Arthritis Foundation. 

She serves seniors in Southern California including Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties. 

Lori is determined to enhance well-being and quality of life for seniors and has been doing so since 2006.



LinkedIn: Lori Michiel and Lori Michiel Fitness

Facebook: Lori Michiel Fitness

Twitter: @LoriMichielFit

YouTube: Lori Michiel Fitness