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While the cost of some gym memberships can be more expensive than your rent, creating a workout space or gym at home is easier and more affordable than you might think. Contrary to what you might believe, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a comfortable and effective environment to get your sweat on. By combining a small investment with a little creativity, you can easily transform a home space into a functional gym with numerous benefits.
For starters, you have wonderful amenities at home that you may not experience at a gym, such as a clean, private shower you don’t have to wait in line for. Secondly, you will save the money otherwise spent on monthly membership fees as well as the initiation fees just for signing a contract. That money could easily be invested over time to create the home gym you have always wanted.
At Ally, we don’t just care about your finances — we care about you. That’s why we’ve dug deeper into what it means to be financially fit. Just like physical fitness, there are different ways to be financially fit. Your training program depends on what you want to accomplish, and you should approach your financial routine the same way. Find out what kind of financially fit you are with our financial fitness quiz.
Lastly, time is a precious commodity these days. Many of us don’t have the time it takes to commute to and from the gym, plus do the workout. Your 30-minute workout could easily morph into 90 minutes, and that can impact your schedule so much that you forgo the workout. By making your gym more accessible, you increase your ability to get in a quick workout when time is tight. Here are some ideas that will fit any budget as you create your own gym at home. This list also shows you how, over time, you can invest in larger pieces of equipment or more specialized items.
KEY EQUIPMENT UNDER $25
- Resistance bands ($9) are versatile pieces of equipment that take up very little space. You can use them to add resistance to exercises such as bicep curls, overhead tricep extensions, standing rows and squats.
- A jump rope ($5–$6) is an inexpensive way to get a great cardiorespiratory workout in a short period of time. It can be easily incorporated into any workout by adding one-minute bursts of jumping rope to increase your heart rate.
- A yoga mat ($10) is a multiuse and functional addition to any home gym. You can use it for stretching, yoga or body-weight exercises, such as planks, supermans and pushups.
ADD THIS KEY EQUIPMENT TO SPEND $200 OR LESS
- Dumbbells ($10-$100) are great for strength exercises and are very versatile, allowing you to work most muscle groups. Get a lower-body workout by doing exercises such as weighted squats, lunges, deadlifts or step-ups. Target your arms and upper body with bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest presses, bent-over rows, overhead presses and reverse flyes. We recommend getting two pairs to start out: a lighter set for upper body and a heavier set for lower-body exercises.
- A stability ball ($26.95) adds an element of instability and can be used for core, balance and strength exercises. Intensify classic exercises like chest presses, planks and crunches by doing them on a stability ball.
- Your workout is only as effective as your recovery, and using a foam roller ($14) can help you care for your muscles pre- and post-workout. The foam roller is used for self-myofascial release and is a popular method used by athletes to aid recovery.
ADD THIS EQUIPMENT TO SPEND $500 OR LESS
- A suspension trainer, such as the TRX system ($129), can be attached to a door or other anchor point to add endless body-weight exercises. You can work on core stability, strength and power, and it comes with an easy-to-follow brochure and DVD.
- Add instability and balance training to your workout by incorporating a balance trainer, such as the BOSU ($119). The half-dome BOSU can be used for cardio and power exercises as well as balance and core work.
- Depending on your space, medicine balls can add another dimension to your workouts: throwing, tossing, slamming and rotating (but watch out for the windows!). With nine weight options, Dynamax Balls ($80–$125) are a fun, functional way to develop strength and power. Try medicine ball slams, situp throws, chest throws and side-to-side slams.
KEY EQUIPMENT TO SPEND $1,000 OR LESS
- Adding a stationary bike is a space-saving way to add a cardiorespiratory element to your workout. You can choose an option with a console for digital feedback, like this Schwinn Bike ($325), or a spin bike ($360) similar to options you’ll find at a gym.
- Ramp up your workout with plyo (short for plyometrics) boxes, which can be used for strength and power exercises. Foam Rogue plyo boxes ($225-$400) are best for jumping, while Power Systems Plyo Boxes ($150–$330) have anti-slip surfaces and are good for both stepping and jumping. A few plyo box exercises include weighted step-ups, single leg step-ups and box jumps.
ADD THIS KEY EQUIPMENT TO SPEND $1,000 OR MORE
- Kettlebells ($12–$80) have been around for a long time, yet they are still unfamiliar to many people. Kettlebells are used for dynamic, explosive movements to yield improvements in strength and power. Proper technique is paramount, but once mastered, kettlebells will enhance your workout with efficient conditioning. Try adding kettlebell swings, cleans and Turkish getups.
- Depending on your space, a multiuse pulley or cable system can be a great tool for strength and resistance exercises. It can take the place of multiple pieces of equipment and reduce clutter in your home gym. A functional trainer ($3,000) is a total-body gym, or if you want to focus more on a pulley system, try the dual cable cross ($4,000).
- If space permits, add a treadmill ($1,300) with incline capability to your home gym. Jogging or lower impact walking (with or without incline) can create diverse cardiorespiratory workouts to improve your heart health.
- A multifunction rack ($2,800) can support heavy resistance and weight-training workouts that require weight plates and bars. This piece of equipment is best-suited for traditional strength training, such as squats, cleans, deadlifts, chest press and pullups. The rack would need to be accompanied with the accessories below.
- You’ll need a barbell of some sort to perform most exercises on the multifunction rack. An Olympic bar ($165) is standard for lifting, but a short Olympic bar ($120) may be better if you have a small space at home.
- Weight plates ($30-$200) are another must for the rack and can be purchased based on how light or heavy you intend to lift.
Written by Shane Barnard, a NASM-, ACE-, AFAA- and USATF-certified trainer and the founder of the Urbankick format and instructor certifications. She is also the co-founder of Urbanplay, a non-profit health and fitness education program for youth.
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