Maybe the balcony is the last bit of free space you’ve got in your house or maybe you really like to work out outside with a view. There are some good reasons to think about having a home gym on your balcony. But is it feasible and if so what’s the best way to go about it? Let’s find out.
It’s possible to build a home gym on your balcony if it’s large enough. The equipment has to be carefully selected to make sure it can survive outside even if it’s well protected. A set of equipment that can easily be used inside and outside while easily movable is the best option for most people.
See what you the right equipment is and how you can fit it on your balcony below.
Is it possible to have a home gym on your balcony?
What kind of home gym is possible on a balcony?
Balconies come in a lot of shapes and sizes. Size has a big impact on what you can do. If there is enough space, you can place whatever equipment you want. There will be some issues I’ll go into below.
What an effective home gym setup is doesn’t really change whether it’s in a garage or on a balcony. There are different setups that can work for different fitness goals. Different people have different fitness goals. For different goals, you will require a different home gym although there is a lot of overlap in the equipment you can use. The same equipment can be used for different goals if you make changes in your workout.
While the best setup for your goal won’t really change, the limitations of the space you’re going to build your home gym in will change which equipment is possible and/or practical.
A garage can house and handle pretty much all the equipment you could possibly want. A balcony has a few more limitation. That doesn’t mean you can’t create a home gym there, you absolutely can. That said, you have to make some sacrifices depending on your situation.
So, yes, it’s possible to create a home gym on your balcony but there are some things to keep in mind.
First let’s look at the limitations of a balcony gym and then we’ll look at some of the best setups.
Balcony gym problems
While in some ways working out on your balcony sounds amazing, there are also a few problems though.
- Equipment protection: While most balconies (but not all) are covered by the next balcony or a part of the building. However, there is still a big open hole where rain, snow and sunlight gets in. Part of that will get onto your equipment. Water and UV are pretty detrimental to most gym equipment. Water corrodes metal, UV light degrades rubber and paint.
- Load limit: Balconies don’t have as high a load limit as a garage or a basement. For most things you’ll be fine but if you like to lift super heavy, a balcony might not be the best place.
- Space: Most balconies aren’t too big. There will be some space limitations.
- Weather: The weather isn’t always suitable to work out in. That’s why most gyms are indoors in the first place. An indoor gym environment is consistent which means you can always use it. Depending on where you live, there is a large chance that a gym that’s exposed to the elements is not always usable.
- Noise: There are no walls to dampen the noise.
- Privacy: This really depends on your living situation and what kind of workouts you do. Balconies aren’t usually a very private space. You’re more exposed than inside.
Other than that, there isn’t all that much holding you back from building a home gym on your balcony.
Balcony gym solutions
Now we know the biggest challenges with building a home gym on your balcony, let’s look at some solutions.
The choice of equipment is always important for creating a home gym but on a balcony, there is an extra set of challenges.
You want equipment that can survive outside but still create a good combination. Not all equipment is made to be used outside. And you do have to see a balcony as an outdoor space. While there might be some weather protection the equipment is still exposed to most of the elements.
That means anything with electronics is out of the question. No matter how well you cover things up, it’s not worth the risk. Just a little bit of water in the wrong place can severely damage your expensive treadmill or elliptical trainer.
Keep things simple. No matter what you do, equipment will degrade quicker outside than it does inside. So the simpler the equipment, the less things can age and fail. Moving parts can get rusty, dirty or otherwise nasty and that means your fancy equipment doesn’t work properly anymore.
You’ll also have to choose some equipment that’s compact and multifunctional. Balconies are small so to get a full workout, you’ll have to pick stuff that can be used for a lot of exercises.
Quick recap for balcony gym equipment;
- No electronics
- Simple equipment
Use protection. Equipment will last longer if you cover it up. For most equipment you can’t find covers that are made for the purpose but with some imagination you can repurpose a motorcycle or car cover for an exercise bike or treadmill. If you really can’t find anything, a tarp is better than nothing.
There are some UV protection sprays and sealants that can help you protect paint and rubber from the sun. Other chemicals can help prevent corrosion on metal parts. Its’ a good idea to use whatever possible to keep your equipment in good shape as long as possible.
Of course regular cleaning and maintenance also help.
While balconies can certainly handle a decent amount of weight, their load limit will be lower than a garage or basement floor. For people that want to lift very heavy (300 lbs.+) It would be a good idea to ask a certified engineer to tell you if it’s safe to do in your situation.
However, if you’re just looking to do some dumbbell or kettlebell exercises and have a cardio machine on your balcony, don’t worry about it.
If you want more privacy, you’ll have to do something about the way people can look onto your balcony. This might mean mounting a sunscreen, having some plants or covering up with something else. Alternatively you can change your workouts to something you’re less embarrassed about.
A balcony gym is not very comfortable to use when the weather is not suitable. There are two situations that change what you can do;
- You use the balcony because it’s the only place you have left in your house.
- You use the balcony because you want to enjoy working out outside.
In the first situation, you can try to get as much weather protection as possible. This is not always possible because it basically requires to turn your balcony into another room. But things like sunscreens can help a lot.
If you just want to enjoy the atmosphere outside, there isn’t really any point in weather protection because you’re just removing the thing you actually want. Just accept you can’t always use your balcony gym.
The best solution might be a combination of equipment you can use inside and outside.
Hybrid home gym
You could try to find solutions for all the potential problems on the balcony. That does disregard an option that’s probably the best for most situations;
Create a home gym setup you can use both indoors and outdoors. What would that look like? You have a room with a balcony. You have a setup that’s usable inside and when the weather is nice, it’s easy to move outside.
Most equipment is perfectly suited to use both inside and outside as long as the weather is nice. Moving all the equipment could be a bit difficult if it’s heavy and/or you have a normal sized door to access the balcony.
Ideally you would have large sliding doors so it’s easy to move equipment around. That still requires you to have equipment that is relatively easy to move around. This means heavy weightlifting equipment is not going to be the best setup because it is a workout in itself to move it around.
While this is an ideal situation, that doesn’t mean it’s always possible. The room that’s connected to the balcony is often too valuable as another space to convert into a home gym. Most people don’t want gym equipment in their living room or bedroom. If you aren’t bothered by it and there is enough space, go for it.
Of course there are some types of equipment that are relatively easy to move around and still very effective if combined correctly;
A bench and adjustable kettlebells can provide some free weight training and both of those are pretty easy to move. Just a single pair of dumbbells is one trip from inside to outside. You can pick a bench that’s not too heavy and preferably has little wheels to make moving easier.
Kettlebells alone can provide a complete workout but if you combine them with a rubber mat (yoga mat) and some resistance bands, you can train your whole body with equipment that’s pretty easy to carry from inside to outside and vice versa.
Cardio equipment is a bit more difficult. At the same time I completely understand that doing your cardio outside is awesome when possible. If you want to move it around, the machine can’t be very big and/or heavy. It’s just too cumbersome to make moving it onto the balcony practical.
The best option is a spin bike. These are often designed to be easily moved around for group classes so it’s not too difficult to get it onto your balcony. Of course you’ll have to roll it so you can’t have too high a doorstep.
Treadmills, rowers and elliptical trainers are just too big and heavy to move regularly.
How big does your balcony have to be for a gym?
As said above, one of the most common problems with creating a home gym in the limited space. It’s an important problem that does require a bit more explanation than a single paragraph.
If you’re in the lucky position where you have a large balcony, awesome, you can take inspiration from some of the other posts in the “floor plans” category. Most balconies don’t have the same shape or size as the examples shown there though.
Balconies tend to be relatively long and narrow compared to other rooms. That means we’re going to have to be creative with our setups to make something fully functional. Check below for some examples.
There are a few minimum requirements though. If all you want is a cardio machine on there, it just has to fit and you need a little space to get on it. However, if you want to do other movements, it’s necessary to think about the space you need to move properly.
For full movement in all directions you need a balcony of at least 6’ x 6’ (if you’re under 6’ tall). It’s possible to reduce one of those dimensions to about 4’ but that’s the absolute minimum you need to have enough room to do the movement necessary for a workout. With 4’ of width you’re already pushing it.
Balcony gym example setups
Let’s pull everything together and look at some suitable balcony gym setups for a few different goals. The setups are imaged on a pretty common size of balcony
For people that want to lift weights, this is a setup you can use and will fit many balconies. You still need a reasonably large one though. You need a space of at least 6’ x 7’ to use this equipment. That’s on the large side for most balconies.
- Squat rack
- Weight plates
- Optional: Adjustable dumbbells
If you don’t really want to lift free weights, this setup is a bit more suitable for you. It’s still focused on exercising your muscles but if you have enough space, you can add an exercise bike for cardio workouts. The best thing about this setup is that it’s all pretty easily movable. Except the exercise bike, it’s all equipment you can lift and move.
That means you can also use it indoors when the weather is bad.
- Adjustable dumbbells
- Resistance bands
- Optional: Pull up bar
- Optional: Exercise bike
These things do require you to have a space of about 5’ x6’ at minimum to do a full workout. Balconies tend to be quite narrow. That doesn’t mean you can’t use this setup but it does mean the exercises you do are somewhat limited. Especially exercises where you stretch out your arms next to your body.
If you can work around this (by only doing one arm at a time for example) You can get away with a narrower space. You still want to be able to bend over and lay down so 4’ by 6’ is an absolute minimum.
If you want a pull up bar and/or exercise bike in addition to this equipment, you’re going to need a lot more length.
Cardio + Bodyweight
For people that want to focus on cardio exercise, the cardio machine should come first. If you have any space left over, you can add more gym equipment.
For most cardio machines you already need quite a bit of space but if you have enough space left, you can easily put down a yoga mat to do bodyweight exercises as well. And if you can fit a yoga mat, you have enough space for some kettlebell exercises as well.
Both a yoga mat and kettlebell are easily picked up and taken inside.
- Exercise bike
- Yoga mat
Favorite home gym tools
Many people often forget a few important pieces of their home gym that isn’t directly gym equipment. Here are my favorite home gym tools.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and all types of other workouts, the GymNext Flex is easily the best and easiest to use.
- Mirrors: Fab & Glass (Amazon link) makes the best large mirror sheets so you can see your exercise form.
- Flooring: American Floor Mats gym flooring (Amazon) or equipment mats make your gym quieter, easier to clean and keeps your floor and equipment safe.
- Fan: The Rowenta VU5670 (Amazon) is a great way to stay cool while working out.