Break a Sweat with These Small Space Workouts

By Amanda Wowk

March 31, 2020

Work projects. Side gigs. Virtual happy hours. Sometimes getting a workout in—even when your gear is staring you in the face—is the last priority on your to-do list. We get it. The good news is a workout doesn’t have to be lengthy to be effective. And, a single workout can have significant positive effects on mood and cognitive function. For instance, a 20-minute HIIT workout helps get more oxygen to your brain, boosts creativity, and releases endorphins. And who doesn’t need a lift right now? 

So, whether you’re working from home or pushing aside furniture in a hotel room, here are some ways to get your heart rate up when you can’t get to a gym. 

Small space? Stream this.

While at-home fitness equipment is nothing new (I can still hear the swishing of my dad’s NordicTrack Skier circa the early 90’s), livestream workouts have only recently gone mainstream. Indeed, the timing couldn’t be better. With many of us making at-home workouts a part of our daily routine, fitness brands are offering free or low-cost trials to try their streaming services. Not sure where to start? Here are six that will help you break a sweat.


Peloton workouts aren’t just designed for a stationary bike anymore. Members can choose from a variety of workouts, including running, bootcamp, yoga, and more. Peloton also partners with select hotels to provide in-room bikes to guests during their stay—an ideal scenario for the space- and time-crunched business traveler.

Cost: Right now you can sign up for a free 90-day trial of Peloton Digital. After the intro period, access to the app costs $13/month. Or, if you want to make the investment in a Peloton bike, it retails for $2,245, plus an All-Access membership for $39/month. 


It’s hard to beat the total body workout CITYROW indoor rowing classes provide. If you can’t get to a studio (or haven’t splurged for an at-home rower yet), we have good news: CITYROW trainers are currently sharing daily equipment-free, at-home workouts to their Instagram

Cost: Workouts posted to IG are free. CITYROW GO membership costs $22.42/month plus $1,395.00 for your own WaterRower.

Orangetheory Fitness

Miss earning your Splat points? Same. Thankfully, Orangetheory is sharing a modified version of their studio workouts each day. Most of the exercises rely solely on body weight or incorporate household items that can act as your weights. 

Cost: Free. You can stream the videos via the Orangetheory app or their website.

Exhale On Demand

Looking to slow things down? Exhale On Demand offers classes like gentle yoga, meditation, and mindful barre. New videos arrive each week. 

Cost: Free 30-day trial. Then it’s $20/month or $200/year.


The popular workout app that lets you bounce from studio to studio now has livestream and on-demand options. Simply download the ClassPass app to get started. 

Cost: On-demand classes are free. Livestream class prices vary based on the number of credits needed. 

Tone It Up

The Tone It Up app offers at-home workouts, ranging from 10 to 40 minute videos. Download the app to access unlimited, on-demand workouts in yoga, weight training, HIIT, cardio, barre, boxing, kettlebell, strength, and more.

Cost: Free classes until April 22, 2020. Monthly membership starts at $12.99. 

Build a workout that works for you

Prefer to create your own workout? Done! Push the furniture aside and bust out a circuit of body weight exercises, such as squats, burpees, hip bridges, standing lunges, side lunges, planks, side planks, bird dogs, jumping jacks, or knee-ups. 

Tabata-style workouts are great for small spaces. If your smartphone has a timer feature, set it to 20 seconds for an exercise and 10 seconds for rest. Repeat for the circuit. 

Have mini-bands on hand? Even better. Adding resistance to any of the above exercises just upped the ante. 

Remember to stretch

Post-workout, be sure to spend some time stretching. From a seated position, try a variety of stretches, like ankle and wrist rolls, a hands-over-head stretch, head rolls, and shoulder rolls. You can also engage your core with seated twists. You can also relieve tension and aches with a seated neck stretch. 

Stretching is especially important for those of us who spend most of the day sitting at a desk.  So to start, stand up. Even if you haven’t managed to exercise today, these stretches and exercises can help alleviate some of the stress hours of sitting can cause your body:

  • Hamstring and back stretch: Stand upright with knees slightly bent, feet hip-width apart, hands on hips. With your core engaged, bend forward from the hip keeping the back/spine straight until you feel the hamstring taut, and hold for three seconds. Slowly move back up and repeat a few times.
  • Squats: Stand up tall, core engaged, feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips or straight out in front of you. Hinge from the hips and sit back into a squat. Knees should be in line with your toes. Stand back up. Repeat this move 10-15 times.
  • Calf raises: Stand up straight with your core engaged and feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips or straight out in front of you. Raise your heels and stand on the balls of your feet, pause for five seconds, then lower your heels back down. Repeat 10-15 times. 
  • Shoulder stretch: Grasp your hands behind your back, stand up straight. Pull your hands down while opening up your chest, feeling the shoulder and chest stretch.

Still not feeling motivated? A number of studies show that adults who exercise have greater brain volume in the areas of reasoning and executive functioning. Exercise also supports brain health as we age. So while squeezing in a 20-minute workout in between calls—on your living room floor—might not seem like much, the work you put in now will benefit you in the long run.