6 Essentials for Your Home Gym

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6 Essentials for Your Home Gym

Joining a gym is a great way to get in shape, but it's not the only way. You can get an effective workout without ever leaving the house. Here's what you need and how to set up a gym at home.

Dumbbells (Free weights)

A good set of dumbbells will help you start a strength training routine.  Expect to pay $10-$20 for a pair of 5-pound weights. Prices will increase as the weight goes up. 

Stability Ball

An exercise ball goes by many names (stability, Swiss, physio, etc.) and is extremely versatile. You can use them in place of an exercise bench for many exercises, improving your balance and coordination. The balls come in different sizes (based on your height and weight), and a rainbow of colors, and cost around $25 apiece. 

Exercise Mat

Place a good exercise mat on the floor to stretch comfortably and cushion your body during floor exercises—a must if you do a lot of Pilates or yoga. For about $20 you can get a sticky mat (for Pilates and yoga), which is thin—but better than a hard floor. The price goes up for larger and thicker mats.

Jump Rope

Use a $15 jump rope for a quick and effective cardio workout. Slowly jumping rope burns 120 calories every 10 minutes; jump faster and burn 140 calories in 10 minutes. Opt for a thick cloth rope or a plastic beaded rope; thinner plastic ropes tend to twist easier.

Cardio Machines

Once you have the basics, consider investing in a piece of cardio equipment. Make sure your machine has different resistance levels to allow for workout variety and challenge as you progress. Costs vary, from $400 for a basic stationary bike to over $600 for a good treadmill. 

Setting Up Your Gym

Now that you know what to buy, make sure you have enough space for your gym. If you can't dedicate a room to exercising, set aside a corner of the basement or home office. Choose a room with a high ceiling, and a sturdy, clean floor. Make sure you've got good lighting and ventilation (possibly with a fan). 

Try to set up your gym in a place where you'll have access to a TV so you can watch your favorite workout DVDS or a stereo so you can crank some energetic tunes. Better yet, if you have a laptop computer, you can use it to watch workout DVDs, follow along with SparkPeople videos, or listen to music. You’ve created a gym that you can really enjoy! 

Resistance Bands

Bands or "tubes" are great because they are compact, portable, and allow for a wide range of motion. Resistance bands come in 3-5 different levels of resistance and usually run around $15 for a set. 

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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8/19/2014 6:05:43 PM

I like this very much and thanks.


8/19/2014 3:56:23 PM

Yep - done that but you forgot the following:
TV and DVD Player for watching shows/music or doing exercise vids/ spin classes
Ventilation - at least a window to crack open and a ceiling fan if room high enough.
Spin bike with two sided pedals for straps and cleats is great.
Pull Up bar useful also.
We use our front sunken living room so the gym is on main floor behind frosted glass doors. By having it on main floor we see it, we use it. If in the basement it will likely gather dust eventually.
If you travel - a portable DVD, videos and resistance bands are really handy.


8/19/2014 3:56:12 PM

Treadmill, elliptical, dumbbells, kettlebell, resistance bands, mat, and a ton of DVDs for every mood. From calm and simple yoga and walking, to Jillian Michaels up through Shaun T's T25.

I'm good to go! (though my living room is a bit crowded, lol)


8/19/2014 8:48:39 AM

I live in a studio apartment in New York City. I have 2 sets of dumbbells, 2 mats (one thin, one thick), and 2 sets of resistance bands (different resistances). That's all I have room for in my apartment. I make it work - I roll up my rug, move my table, and create my workout space in front of my TV.

It would be nice to have a home gym with a treadmill and an exercise ball if I had the room, but anyone can make their space work - if I can do it within a small apartment, anyone can do it!


8/19/2014 2:18:11 AM

Two weeks ago I have started exercising
I saw my nutritionist last week, and had lost 5.5Lbs. I go back on 09/08/14. Hopefully I should lost 5lbs more. Will keep you posted.


1/16/2014 11:32:05 PM

Kettlebells are my strength "machines"! My cardio machine is my mini-trampoline/rebounder!



12/4/2013 9:55:52 AM

12NIMUE's SparkPage
Great ideas if you have a ton of room but not practical for many people!


12/23/2012 12:33:41 AM

BARNETMX's SparkPage
Agreed, the title is totally misleading. If you're going to spend that kind of money on a decent treadmill machine, then just join a gym and get "way" better equipment options. Unless you live in the country, why are you not going to a gym or some other exercise facility at the same time going outdoors exercising?


12/22/2012 11:37:02 PM

Love this slideshow but don't think machines are "essential" for your home gym. Body weight exercises can take the place of cardio and strength machines. What should be on there is a Gymboss interval timer (can get on Amazon for ~$25). This little baby can turn your strength routine in to a high intensity interval cardio set no problem. Keep track of all the body weight exercises you come across (magazine, SELF.com, Women's Health, etc.), categorized by muscle group and alternate through 1 of each (up to six) for a total body work out in 20-30 min. Obviously this isn't a full description of how to do this but wanted to get your mind going in the right direction (aka: away from machines) because machines produce artificial movement, while body weight exercises are extremely function...catch my drift!?!?! Have fun!


12/22/2012 8:30:44 PM

I use walk away the pounds with light weights.. Here is Leslie Sansone free youtube link

I have wasted money on expensive home machines, packed away don't use them, no space now after house being downsized to a smaller place, I find youtube is everywhere all one has to do is keep moving.


12/22/2012 6:39:09 PM

A recumbent stationary bike (mine), an upright stationary bike (Sweetie's) with alternating handles, a stability ball, stretchy bands, a mat, and some DVD's. We have a pretty good sized ground floor apartment so there is room. I have a room of my own for my bike, a TV and DVD player, a sewing machine, and a lizard :)


12/22/2012 10:56:25 AM

CRIMPROF1's SparkPage
I have all but the treadmill. Fortunately, I live on an isalnd with little traffic and walking weather year-round --- which is much better than the treadmill IMHO


12/22/2012 4:56:45 AM

Yo ya tengo mi pequeño jimnasio en casa, ademas del gim, y la piscina, en el edificio, con lo cual me es más facil dedicarme tiempo
Gracias, por la información,


12/22/2012 3:01:50 AM

MAGLIGHT's SparkPage
I'm afraid not a great article - all you need is your body & a kettlebell - job done!


8/17/2012 4:48:54 AM

I have most of these, and at the moment am using only treadmill and dumbbells. Difficult to find a place to skip, as upstairs I have light bulbs and downstairs low ceilings. BAlcony is possible, when it's not too hot (30 +) or too cold (down to - 23 last winter)! When it's really cold, I exercise in my bedroom, which has a wall heater. My house was built before it was possible to isolate it, and has thin walls, and I don't have central heating. I do have woodburning stoves, but prefer to exercise before I'm awake enough to object that I don't like it!

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