All you really need for a decent workout are a few pieces of equipment you can do a lot with, like a box, a ball, a jump rope, something to balance on, and some light weights. "You don't need a 10,000-square-foot facility for gear that challenges your body in real-world ways," says Steve Rast, a strength and conditioning coach for the University of Oregon rugby team. Rast helped us put together a gym with six pieces of equipment that have dozens of applications for just about every muscle group, plus cardio. For a full-body workout, take on three sets of each of the pictured exercises with two minutes of rest between. Then try the other moves mentioned. Mix and match, and you have more than 1,000 combinations with less than $700 worth of equipment that has a footprint roughly equivalent to your gym's bathroom stall.
Vew-Do Flow Balance Board
More than 40 years ago, the balance board, then called the Bongo Board, became popular among surfers as a stability- and core-building exercise on land. Now that workout can be applied to general fitness. Spend five minutes a day standing to challenge your equilibrium. Then try to squat. The board's instability means any workout you do on it – including push-ups, planks, and endurance balances – will engage your core as well as the targeted muscles. [$120; vewdo.com]
DO THIS: Push-ups. With your hands balancing on either end of the board, hold a steady plank. Once you've mastered this, work your way slowly into a push-up. Repeat 10 times.
Credit: Photograph by Justin Steele
• Squats. Hold your arms out in front of you for balance.
• Timed stands. Simply stand on the Vew-Do for 60 seconds. Work your way up to five minutes.
• Ab rolls. Turn the board sideways and position your hands on it. With knees on the floor, roll out until your legs are straight, then roll back in.
• Advanced balance. Jump onto the board, catching your balance when you land.