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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8/27/2015 11:33:34 AM

The machine is too expensive and takes up too much space. No place to put a stability ball. The rest, I agree.


8/26/2015 11:57:53 PM

MJMENDEL956's SparkPage
I have 4/6 and still don't make time to exercise . I need some extreme motivation because I'm tired of feeling lazy! Fyi: I'm a mother of 4 kids with a full time job, so maybe lazy isn't the right word choice, but I do need to make exercise a priority!


8/26/2015 11:56:13 PM

MJMENDEL956's SparkPage
I have 5/8 and still don't make time to exercise . I need some extreme motivation because I'm tired of feeling lazy! Fyi: I'm a mother of 4 kids with a full time job, so maybe lazy isn't the right word choice, but I do need to make exercise a priority!


8/26/2015 8:32:30 PM

Sounds expensive.


8/26/2015 8:08:20 PM

Try a membership at a good gym! - More variety, classes, informed instructors that make sure you are doing it right. The best deal as far as I am concerned is the Y.


8/26/2015 3:49:53 PM

HAN130155's SparkPage
Free weights. Use soda bottles or food cans.
Walk machines. Prefer fresh air and a nice view to relax the spirit as well as exercise


8/26/2015 9:20:28 AM

RLLG12's SparkPage
I would rather walk or swim or use a video


8/26/2015 9:08:21 AM

73SUPER's SparkPage
Exercise ball? Would rather have a real bench.. Wouldn't lift weights off of it. Agree with most of the items tho'.


8/26/2015 6:50:13 AM

How much does all this cost?


8/26/2015 12:19:29 AM

All you need is your body and possibly some stairs. Maybe a kettle bell if you're ambitious


3/8/2015 8:59:02 PM

AMBUDMAN's SparkPage
Foam roller is great to have.


3/8/2015 7:58:42 PM

I would also add a foam roller. Best thing ever!!!


3/8/2015 7:57:17 PM

HEALTHYMOM1979's SparkPage
I just bought a shed so I can have enough room for my gym. I have all the items that they recommend and then some. I am so glad that I have the proper place to get fit in.


3/8/2015 2:24:37 PM

I have all of those things plus more. I am a huge fan of Cathe Friedrich and she uses a lot of different equipment. I also have a weight bench, steps, and heavy bag. I love the variety so I can mix things up a bit.


3/8/2015 12:06:06 PM

Our home gym has a treadmill, total gym, small hand weights, a step, assorted dvd's. I walk out-side a couple of times a day to walk the dog and get fresh air. I love using dvd's in the morning. M-W-F is cardio and strength training, T-T is cardio step. Every day two or three 15-30 minute walks out side. On the weekend usually a leisurely walk with the kids, husband and/or dog. The more I do, the more I want to do!

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