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My family and I are in the process of moving to another apartment, and we are thinking through how to design it to promote active living for us and our children.  Both at work and at home, we’re trying to make it as easy and natural as possible for people to raise their fitness level while going about their daily life.  At ff Venture Capital, we’ve done this with our “fitness office”, which has received great reviews.

A lot of the ideas that we drew from for the fitness office are immediately applicable at home. I’ve listed some of the ideas we’ve collected below in roughly declining order of Return on Investment.

Other ideas we are playing with are more distinct to an informal home environment (or some tech startups with a very informal office); I’ve also listed these in roughly declining order of Return on Investment.

  • a shoe shelf at the entrance where people can remove their shoes; this reduces dirt and germs brought in from outside, and also gets people acclimated to going shoeless/wearing minimal shoes
  • buying regularly from Plated (ffVC company), which makes fresh-cooked meals dramatically easier
  • a serving island in the middle of the kitchen, suitable for standing group meals
  • to promote healthy elimination, a Squatty Potty toilet stool, or for those more willing to be nonconformist, a squat toilet.  A lot of people laugh, but squatting while eliminating is the norm in much of Asia.  The cheap option is just to choose to squat on a Western conventional toilet, although that may bother some other users of a common bathroom.
  • balance board or wobble board , for core strength
  • Fitbit Aria smart scale
  • a sprung dance floor; better, a gymnastics mat; best, a Tumbl-Trak where you can practice gymnastics moves
  • Indow Windows, to black out light and noise in the bedroom and promote healthy sleep
  • MIR weighted vest, which I use sometimes while typing/walking around the apartment
  • SensaCalm weighted blankets, which for some people promote solid sleep while keeping body temperature cool
  • An inclined bed, i.e., a mattress that is slightly elevated with the head above the feet, promoting better digestion; we had a bed custom-made with a tilt (at a trivial extra cost) at a foam mattress store
  • Monkey bars in the ceiling
  • Founder and traceur Zachary Cohn suggests a scaffolding cage around your bed to let you get in and out of bed “in the most efficient way possible”, but that’s only for hardcore enthusiasts who are fully functional early in the morning…which I’m not.

Of course, we still live in New York, which means we have to use every square foot wisely.  We’re taking some inspiration for our new residence from some micro-apartment designs; see these models from a NYC architectural competition; Paris; Madrid; and the Museum of the City of New York. Bob Vila’s site has a detailed post on the design issues to consider in a home gym.

We haven’t made many commitments yet in planning the new apartment.  What other ideas do you think we should consider?

Further reading:

Hilton’s new Five Feet to Fitness guestroom concept
Is your home making you sick?
No-Gym Workout Methods to Get in Peak Shape
Your room can be as bright as the outdoors

Thanks to Wes Cole; Michael Gold, Founder & CEO at; Jeff Tarr, Founder, Tarr Technology consulting, and Jake Koenig of FitYourSpace for thoughtful comments!

Photo credit:  Wikipedia

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