A home gym sounds pretty cool until you realize that you live in a one bedroom apartment. Realistically, there’s only so much space you can devote to all of that exercise equipment before it starts getting in the way. In addition to that, dumbbells and treadmills aren’t exactly the most aesthetically pleasing items to decorate your home with—unless your social circle is entirely made up of bodybuilders.
If you have a lot of workout gear and you’re considering storing some of it, or you’ve decided to totally abandon your fitness goals and store all of it, we’re not here to judge; we’re just here to make sure you know exactly how to store each piece of exercise equipment right.
The main thing you want to consider when storing weights is the material they’re made out of. Weights made of steel, iron or chrome can rust when not properly cared for, but all weights (even rubber ones) need to be cleaned.
The process is easy: Simply mix warm water with a little bit of dish soap and wipe the weights clean. Towel dry or air dry afterwards. You can also apply WD-40 to chrome weights if you’d like.
The best way to store weights in your storage unit is on a weight rack. Unlike traditional shelving, these are designed to hold hundreds of pounds, so you don’t have to worry about them collapsing. If you choose to store weights in boxes, be sure to label and avoid storing too many weights in one box. Putting too many weights in one box will not only compromise the integrity of the container but will also make the boxes too heavy for you to move when it comes time to take them out of storage (unless you’re super jacked, in which case, do whatever the heck you want).
If you’ve spent a lot of time in yoga studios, you’re familiar with the particular funky smell that often follows a strenuous class. You definitely don’t want your yoga mat—or your storage unit—to smell like that.
Prevent the funk by cleaning your yoga mat after each use. This is especially important if you practice hot yoga, or if you’re just a sweaty person (we prefer the word “dewy”). You can buy a mat cleaner or DIY your own with a spray bottle, water, some witch hazel and essential oils like tea tree oil and eucalyptus.
In addition to daily upkeep, deep clean your yoga mat before storing it. Remove dirt and smudges with a gentle cloth and mild soap. If your yoga mat is machine washable (most are), toss it in the washing machine with a small amount of detergent. Only do this if you have a top-loading machine as a front-loading machine won’t be as gentle. Afterwards, lay the yoga mat flat to dry.
When storing your yoga mat, go against your intuition and hang it instead of rolling it. A freestanding towel rack in your storage unit will do the trick.
Oh, stability balls. They’re mystifying pieces of exercise equipment, not just because most of us don’t know how to use them (guilty) but because they seem almost impossible to store thanks to their size, shape and inability to stay in one place.
Wipe your stability ball clean with water before storing, but don’t overdo it.
Because a stability ball is filled with air, temperature and humidity play a big role in storing one. Choose a storage unit with climate control to prevent damage. Avoid storing the stability ball near anything sharp and cover it with a cloth to prevent dust and to stop it from rolling around. If you’re storing it long term, deflate it, fold it and then place it in a pillowcase or cotton bag. Just make sure you have a way to inflate it when it’s time to start working on your six pack again.
All exercise equipment is potentially dangerous when damaged, but this is especially true when it comes to resistance bands. If yours are scratched or showing signs of tearing, don’t store them; toss them.
It’s also important not to overthink cleaning your resistance bands. Wipe them with a damp cloth but don’t use any soap or chemicals.
Resistance bands are adversely affected by heat and harsh light. Fortunately, a storage unit takes care of the latter, but if you’re living somewhere hot or you’re storing over the summer, go the extra mile by getting a climate controlled unit.
You can purchase a resistance band storage rack that mounts on the wall, but if this is too much work, or your storage facility hasn’t given you the go-ahead on mounting something on the wall inside your storage unit, store the resistance bands loosely in a box so that they’re able to maintain their elasticity.
Nothing takes up space in your home quite like a treadmill. If you’re dying to get yours into storage, don’t let your eagerness get in the way of taking the time to store it right.
Unplug the treadmill and lubricate the underside of the belt (the part that actually rubs against the running deck). Use a spray-on treadmill specific lubricant and avoid spraying it on the part of the treadmill where your feet go. The implications of spraying something super slippery on an area where you run should be pretty obvious, but if not, here’s a video for reference.
Check to make sure the treadmill is running properly before storing it. If it makes a screeching sound or other weird noise, there may be an issue with your belt or motor.
Clean the motor of your treadmill according to the directions in your owner’s manual. This area can collect dust and debris. Your owner’s manual should also tell you whether or not your treadmill can be folded. If so, follow these instructions to fold your treadmill. This will save you a lot of space in your storage unit.
Get a storage unit with climate control and cover your treadmill with a blanket to protect it from dust. Don’t place anything on top of the treadmill in storage.
If any of these steps sound too complicated, refer to your warranty (if you have one) or consult a professional. It’s better to pay someone else to perform maintenance and repairs than to do it yourself and end up doing more harm than good.
Overall, the best advice for storing any workout equipment is to avoid storing it for too long. Following these steps is a great start but taking your exercise equipment out of your storage unit after a while is even better. Just think of it as even more motivation to get back to tackling your workout goals.