Best Portable Home Gym of 2021
Top 10 Products
Best Portable Home Gym
Gonex Portable Home Gym
If you're searching for a compact set of home exercise equipment that still lets you get full-body workouts, the Gonex Portable Home Gym is our top choice. This kit includes tons of components to maximize the number and types of movements available, including some less-frequently included bits like a post landmine sleeve and an extra segment to elongate the bar for wider stance exercises like squats. The large, solidly built board has all its anchor points on the top for easy swapping between components. Fabric-covered resistance bands add extra protection and a detailed booklet helps you choose what muscles to push and gives useful pointers on proper form.
On the other hand, if you're hoping to travel with your new gym in tow, the Gonex is the largest and heaviest model we tested. The baseboard folds in half but doesn't fit into the bulky carrying case that contains the other pieces that make this gym so versatile. And if you're hoping to find a progression of resistance bands that let you add more as you gain strength, you'll have to find third-party options, as Gonex doesn't currently make any add-ons for this gym. This gym is also a bit on the expensive side among models we tested, but we're huge fans of the wide variety of exercises people of many sizes can perform and think it's worth the price for frequent users.
Best Bang for Your Buck
Gymwell Portable Home Gym
If you're willing to forego a baseboard and instead use your feet and ankles to anchor your bands, the Gymwell Portable Home Gym is not only an excellent price but also our favorite kit of this type. It includes numerous components that offer multiple uses, making this setup far more convenient to use than many. The ankle/foot straps are one of our favorites, combining the convenience and comfort of padded ankle straps with the security of an under-foot stirrup, as well as multiple anchor points to allow you to perform tons of exercises without having to switch pieces as often. This system has one of the longer bars among our contenders, making it a better fit for wide-stance movements. This set also includes posters of exercises as well as two thick stacks of exercise cards on rings, helping you find the perfect movements — and proper form, described in detail on the back of each card — for whatever muscle group you're working on. The entire set also packs up easily into an impressively compact bag, making it more portable than most.
Though the set comes with two lengths and two options for resistance levels, Gymwell doesn't currently make any extra bands. So if you're seeking an incremental step program rather than a consistent level, you'll need to look into bands from other manufacturers. Oddly, though it includes both long and short bands, only the long ones come in two possible resistance strengths. These minor inconveniences aside, we love the versatility, included ideas and instructions, and portability of this less expensive home gym.
Baseboard on a Budget
Fusion Motion Portable Gym
If your heart is set on having a baseboard to anchor straps and push-up handles, but you don't want to spend so much of your hard-earned money, the Fusion Motion is a pretty good compromise. Though it doesn't have quite as many components as the super-versatile Gonex, it still has a lot to offer in a lighter, slightly more compact package. A detailed instruction booklet helps inspire new ideas and offers pointers on form. By winding the resistance bands in different configurations through the maze underneath, you can achieve a broader range of lengths and resistance levels than many other models with singular anchor points. The bands are covered with a protective fabric exterior, and this gym kit comes with some of the best quality carabiners of any set we tested.
However, the Fusion Motion includes just three carabiners, making switching between components all the more time-consuming as you have to move the carabiners around. Additionally, while we like the added versatility of winding resistance bands to achieve the perfect length and strength, it takes significant time to get it right and requires you to flip the board over repeatedly to perform this tedious task in the middle of your sweat session. When it comes to bar exercises, this is one of the shortest we tested, which we found to be rather restrictive both for wide-set motions (i.e., squats) and regular motions by broad-shouldered individuals. There is also no indication of how much resistance the bands have to offer, and no additional components are available to add on later. All in all, though it's a bit more time-consuming to adjust, and on the narrow side, the Fusion Motion is still a pretty solid deal for what you get.
Smooth and Consistent
OYO Personal Gym
Hate the uneven feeling of working out with giant rubber bands, aka resistance bands? If so, then the OYO Personal Gym may be what you're looking for. Made using the same technology popularized by Bowflex, the OYO is smooth and consistent due to a crisscrossing cable and pulley systems. These cables are also more durable than any latex band, and because they are never under massive tension, they can be counted on not to snap back at your face during a workout. This futuristic-looking unit is also impressively compact and portable, requiring far less setup and component changing during use than just about any other model we tested. The icing on the (low carb) cake? We found OYO's website filled with tons of extra information, exercise videos, and multi-week plans available for free.
After the learning curve of figuring out how to use this unique piece of gear, we found it relatively straightforward to use. The only complaint we have about this unusual portable gym is that the cables are rather short, limiting its range of motion even among our smaller testers. Compact resistance packs snap on and off for quick changing between motions yet offer very little range and no way to extend it. In fact, the unit tops out at just 25 pounds of resistance, making this model better for users who prefer more reps at a lower weight. One tester mused that her senior citizen-aged relatives would love the OYO, while another suggested it as a great option to take to the office and do small workouts during short breaks.
Best Exercise Bow
Gorilla Bow Portable Home Gym
While we were excited to test some exercise bows alongside more traditional home gym models, in comparison, we're not convinced they're worth the hype. However, if you're sold on the interesting and surprisingly versatile usage of an exercise bow, the Gorilla Bow is our pick. It's one of the very few gym kits we tested that comes with a good range of resistance bands and has plenty of extra options that allow for incremental increases if you're working on progression in your strength and movements. You can purchase additional bands separately to increase resistance considerably — Gorilla Bow sells kits that go up to 340 pounds. The bow itself is highly durable, and even the simple, uncovered resistance bands are stronger than most others we tested. The Gorilla Bow is also extremely simple to set up, thereby cutting down the time spent swapping various pieces in the middle of your routine.
Of course, with limited components comes a somewhat limited range of possible exercises. The bent "bar" of the bow adds a layer of awkwardness to smaller motions like chest presses and is a bit too heavy and long for many single-handed motions. There are still plenty of things you can do with the Gorilla Bow, though, so if you love the concept, this one could be right for you.
Why You Should Trust Us
This review is lead by Senior Review Editor, Maggie Brandenburg. Even before the restrictions of the COVID pandemic set in, Maggie was an at-home fitness enthusiast. She has made it a priority to incorporate a wide variety of exercises into her routine — none of which involve a gym membership. From running several days a week and practicing yoga in her office to lifting free weights and doing calisthenics in her garage, she's always on the move. For this review, she also enlisted the help of several of her friends and family members to test the range and options of each model. Maggie has been testing gear and home goods for GearLab since 2017.
We began the testing process with hours of research to find the most promising portable home gyms options. After selecting our contenders, we purchased them all for side-by-side comparison and testing. We then spent weeks trying out their myriad of uses, configurations, and available ranges. We performed hundreds of exercises to test door anchors, ankle straps, and resistance bands. Our testing team included both men and women, ranging in height from 5'4" to 6'1" and representing various fitness goals and strategies. We're not here to tell you how to exercise, but we can help you find the right tools for your home workout regimen, whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out.
Analysis and Test Results
Not everyone wants the same thing from their workout — some of us want to get stronger, while others are focused on maintaining overall health or challenging themself to work toward a specific new goal. When it comes to your personal fitness, as long as safety is your number one concern, any goal can be a good goal for you. With this wide variety of possible reasons for purchasing a portable home gym in mind, we set out to test each of these products in its full capacity so that you understand which is best for your unique goals. We divided our testing into four overarching metrics that, when combined, give an overall picture of each portable gym. To learn more about our testing process and which models perform best in specific areas, read on.
There is no shortage of exercise equipment on the market for you to spend your money on, but figuring out which system will give you the workout you want for the cash you're willing to spend is another story. While all of the portable home gyms we tested will give you plenty of options, some offer a greater diversity of use than others.
The Gymwell is our top choice when it comes to the most bang for your buck. It comes with a plethora of anchors, straps, bars, and different levels of resistance bands, as well as super helpful instructions to make the most of a surprisingly compact exercise set. If your heart is set on a gym with a baseboard so you can have the extra attachments and anchors, the Fusion Motion is the best value in that arena. Sometimes, however, some extra cash does get you a significant upgrade that's worth the investment — such is the case with the Gonex. It's more expensive but includes a ton of extras and some unique components not found on any other home gym we tested.
One of the most important aspects of any portable home gym is the number of exercises you can actually do with it. To evaluate this, we considered many factors, including the number of different components each model has and their versatility for different uses targeting various muscles and muscle groups. We evaluated the range of resistance these gyms have to offer, the increments at which they can be changed, and additional pieces that can expand that range. We also considered extras and add-ons, including online videos (from the manufacturer, not just other customers creating videos), subscription services, and additional items to expand your gym.
As with any exercise, whether it's a new routine or one you've been doing for years, be sure to do it safely. Read the directions that come with your home gym and consult the manufacturer's website — and ideally your doctor as well — before beginning to use any new equipment. Ensure that you follow included safety directions and listen to your body's limits to avoid serious injury.
In terms of the sheer numbers of components and the possible exercises they enable, it's tough to beat the Gonex Home Gym. Not only does this gym include a wide baseboard and the typical assortment of ankle straps, foot stirrups, handles, and door anchors, it also features two ab roller wheels, a post landmine sleeve, and an additional segment to elongate and pad the bar for wider-set exercises. They don't stop by just sending you all the gear either, but also include an in-depth booklet full of ideas and instructions to help you tailor your workout to your goals.
Similarly, the Fusion Motion has many of the same components to accompany its slightly narrower baseboard but lacks the second ab roller, post landmine sleeve, and ability to lengthen its bar. However, an intricate system of pegs on the bottom of the board allows minute customizations of the resistance band length and strength by winding it in various patterns. It also includes a similarly detailed book to help you get the most from your new kit. Though it lacks a footboard or ab rollers, the Gymwell system is also impressive in its diversity of offerings. It includes two different strengths of resistance bands, a tree/post anchor, and ankle/foot combination anchors to add options while cutting down the time spent swapping out different components. The Gymwell also comes with our favorite on-paper workout instructions — a set of posters as well as two decks of cards (connected on a ring, for easy flipping) that include very detailed directions to keep your form sharp and your training targeted.
The BodyBoss 2.0 and INNSTAR 3.0 both scored above average here as well. The BodyBoss doesn't have quite as many components as similar models but still includes a baseboard, anchors, and all the right straps to get a full workout. Additional components are available for purchase, allowing you to add on and get more out of this system. The INNSTAR includes numerous components to add to its versatility (like a bar and unique bench press band), but you're forced to purchase a whole new set if you want to change the amount of resistance in your bands.
The OYO Personal Gym is a neat little contraption that we like the idea of but find to be a little bit limited. It has only low resistance options and far fewer add-ons and components than many others — better suited for repetition than building serious muscle.
Another crucial part of any exercise equipment is its usability. To test this, we assessed numerous facets during use. When working out, we checked smoothness, grip comfort, stability, and overall feel. Between exercises, we evaluated the ease of changing and adjusting equipment to various positions and resistance levels. Before and after our sessions, we noted how easy each gym is to set up and put away. And we took note of how intuitive each model is — i.e., do you need the booklet or website every time, or are the exercise options straightforward?
In order to make your workouts both safe and effective, take some time to learn about proper techniques for using your equipment. By practicing consistent, appropriate techniques for every exercise you perform, you'll help yourself twice, both in gains from the movement itself and avoiding injuries often sustained from improper exercise form.
Once again, the Gonex proves itself a step above the rest in terms of usability and adaptability. It's the only model we tested that includes an extra segment to lengthen the bar and a padded sleeve that is exceptionally comfortable to use during squats. With metal anchors on the top of the baseboard, it's quick and easy to change between components without losing your workout momentum. And while it comes with a thorough instruction booklet, we found its components to be quite intuitive to set up and use. The Gymwell system is also impressively useful and versatile, with a longer-than-average bar with firmly attached padded sections that add noticeable comfort. The BodyBoss 2.0 also comes with a longer-than-average bar that's comfortably padded and a very sturdy baseboard with easy-to-use anchors and grips for solid foot placement.
The INNSTAR 3.0 kit is rather easy to use in most respects as well. Its thick, sturdy bands and solid attachments provide clean, smooth movements. The Gorilla Bow is very easy to set up, and its simple design means you don't have to switch out components between routines, and swapping resistance bands when needed is a cinch. It also offers one of the smallest increments of change of any model we tested. The OYO Personal Gym is another that's quite usable in many ways. While at first appearing complicated, the system itself is surprisingly simple, allowing you to perform a wide variety of exercises without having to change anything about the unit's setup. When you do need to change resistance levels, simple round packs can be quickly snapped on or off the center of the frame.
The NYPOT Bow is nearly as easy to set up as the Gorilla Bow, with the added step of assembling the bow itself, which simply clicks into place with metal buttons. Swapping bands is easy and straightforward. The Bodygym Core System is simple and easy to snap the two ends of the bar together and start using it almost immediately. There aren't any other components to change or adjust, and using this straightforward system is intuitive.
Testing the portability of each gym involved a combination of measurements and perceived exercise value. We weighed and measured every packed-up portable gym and evaluated its compactness when considering travel restrictions. We then assessed the likelihood that we would actually travel with such a thing — whether to the park down the street or on a work trip for a week.
By their very nature, every one of these gym systems is more portable than even the slimmest exercise bike or the most compact free weight set. If your goal in the search for portability is to save space at home and be able to keep your equipment in the closet when not in use, every one of the models we tested fits the bill. On the other hand, if you're hoping to take some fitness gear to use discretely during work breaks or maintain health goals while traveling, some are more conducive to being stuck in a suitcase or duffel bag.
The Bodygym Core System is shockingly lightweight and extremely simple, easily folding into carry-on luggage while adding just over a pound of extra weight. The OYO Personal Gym is also fairly compact and could easily be brought along on vacation. Though a bit bulkier and heavier, the Gymwell, INNSTAR 3.0, and Megoal could all arguably be carted to work or your neighborhood park without too much inconvenience. The BodyBoss 2.0 isn't much larger, and its additional workout options may make it the perfect travel companion.
The Fusion Motion and Gonex are two of the largest, heaviest, and bulkiest baseboard systems we tested. While we enjoy their size and plethora of additions for home use, they're a bit much to travel with and best left in the closet at home. The Gorilla Bow claims to be portable, but the idea of carrying around a solid 4.5-foot bar of metal isn't exactly appealing. The NYPOT Bow breaks down into three sections that fit into a simple carry bag, making it a much better option for true travel ease.
Durability & Safety
This metric combines our own observations of the quality of materials and build of every unit with the relative safety of using each one. We scrutinized and compared every component, using our longtime experience in the field to gauge relative toughness. We then scoured the internet for other outstanding user complaints of equipment failure and considered the safety information that came with each gym (if applicable). From the obvious advice to consult your physician to specific directions on proper form during individual exercises, no element went unobserved.
Many portable home gyms use some form of latex, rubber, or other stretchy bands to create the resistance used in workouts. These bands will degrade over time, offering decreased resistance and potentially cracking, ripping, or even snapping during a workout. It's important that you read the directions for care included with your home gym and follow them to extend the lifespan of your equipment. If you're worried about being snapped by a broken latex strap, consider purchasing a model with fabric-enclosed bands that offer protection in the event of a break.
The OYO Personal Gym is the only system we tested that doesn't rely on breakable resistance bands, opting instead for sturdy cables and a pulley system to minimize stress to the unit during use. It also has fewer pieces to snap on and off, further lowering potential breakable components over prolonged use.
When it comes to resistance band units, the INNSTAR bands are among the sturdiest we tested, further supported by protective fabric sheaths. The Gonex and BodyBoss 2.0 are quite durable as well, with numerous components of metal and thick plastic, and tough resistance bands covered with protective fabric.
The Gorilla Bow is quite durable, with an exceptionally thick metal — same for the NYPOT 3-piece portable bow system. However, we're far more impressed by the Gorilla's latex bands than we are by the weaker NYPOT bands that seemed to attract every stray dog hair nearby. When it comes to safety and instruction, the Gonex, Fusion Motion, and Gymwell all included copious amounts of information on how to use their equipment effectively and safely. The OYO system has abundant extras online for using this unique piece of equipment, including many multi-week challenges and other life tips and fitness advice.
Whether you're trying to save money on a gym membership, stay healthy without leaving home, or just looking for something to add variety to your exercise, there's a portable home gym for you. We sweated it out, testing each one and comparing them together to help you determine which one will guide you toward your fitness goals.
— Maggie Brandenburg
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