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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7/22/2010 10:23:51 AM

I am just getting started, school is around the corner for me but I am lucky, the lunchroom always has a great salad bar for teachers. Got a treadmill and eliptical already, just need to get a mat for floor stretches. With a disc missing between L5 and L6, I am only 50% on the left leg. But I can walk, just with a limp. Best exercise for me is my horse, I am starting today on a 10 day vacation with hubby and horse. I get a great workout when I ride, grooming and tacking takes lots of energy, but I don't feel it as I am enjoying myself. I plan on getting into a workout plan, dragging hubby along with me.


7/22/2010 10:14:58 AM

LJANDURA's SparkPage
Not enough room for a treadmill. Got one of those little step machines at Target for under $30, but I usually end up going to the Y.

You didn't mention a pedometer, and I just ordered one. I think that will be really helpful in motivating me to walk more.


7/22/2010 9:59:55 AM

I have weights that are about 5 pounds each and one of those exercise balls. I also have several workout videos that I like.


7/22/2010 9:59:42 AM

I have a Bosu also, and found that there is alot of exercises that can be incorporated into use with that to work the core and balance.


7/22/2010 9:42:45 AM

I have a nautalis (sp?) machine and two benches - one for doing leg curls, etc. Also have 5,8,10, 12, 15 lb weights, a medicine ball and physio ball. Would like to get resistance bands to attach to the nautalis machine. Am working on strengthening my core muscles.


7/22/2010 9:41:16 AM

PATIRCE55's SparkPage
I have a treadmill which I don't use anymore due to hip and 1&2 pound weights plus the bands. I don't know if the wrap around sauna belts are considered equipment but I do use that also.


7/22/2010 9:40:36 AM

I have all of these tools and incorporate them into my strength training program.


7/22/2010 9:28:49 AM

SKONZEN's SparkPage
Thanks for the suggestions


7/22/2010 9:16:13 AM

Variety is the key to working out. It's easy to get bored. I power walk around the local track, and have the weights and mat and resistance bands. I must admit I pay to do a water aerobics class, but that is my "treat" to myself. I have found it to be awesome! I am 51 years old, and the key for me to stay slim is diet. I follow the principles of the South Beach diet...I don't eat products with white flour or with sugar. The SB diet really worked for me. I went from 135 to 108 pounds on the South Beach diet but realized that 108 was just too thin. My ideal weight is 115. I had kept my weight at 115-118 for about 6 years, until I moved to Europe and got "addicted" to the bread. My weight went up to 127, so I had to go back on the SB diet. I like this web site for all the great information.


7/22/2010 8:35:17 AM

VONNIE17's SparkPage
I have ball,resistant band ,and stationary bicycle


7/22/2010 8:18:34 AM

PHILFAN1's SparkPage
I'm unemployed and looking for work, but in the mean time, I've been able to lose 74 lbs. I've been able to qualify for food stamps, so I only buy healthy foods. I have also been going to thrift stores for my exercise equipment and workout videos, some as low as 50 cents a pop!! Who cares if they are used before. I found a weight machine for $20.00, can you believe it? Faith Farm and Garage Sale Depot are my best friends!!!


7/15/2010 5:08:34 PM

EDWARDSC393's SparkPage
I have resistance bands, ball, dumbells. Due to bad ankles and knees don,t jump rope. I do light jogging, and pwr walking. I know how to use the bands. DON,T LET YOURSELF GET BORED With the same thing. Somedays lighter work-outs, other days heavier work-outs. My belly still gets in the way, but I still modify What I can. Have fun!


2/28/2010 3:43:39 AM

FATHINSN's SparkPage
I have everything but I use jump rope mostly, dumbbells' second. You can jump rope anywhere as long as you don't hit the lamp that hang low from ceiling. It does feel burn everywhere and sweating like crazy for newbies like me but gosh, it also very fun! I think the best machine to have at home is elliptical machine - everyone at any age can use it! Though, right now my machine is starting to have this creaking noise, maybe I need someone to have a look or buy new one, haha.


2/16/2010 9:34:43 AM

SUZYMARC's SparkPage
My husband got the family a Bowflex that someone at his work no longer wanted. I am the only person to use it. I did try to follow the Bowflex diet and workout plan without the promised results and I followed it to the "T". Can someone tell me if there is a place in the Sparkspeople site that recommends Bowflex workouts and how I can incorporate into my fitness plan. Would it go under my "strength training" or "cardio".
Also is there any recommendations through the site on what kind of treadmill is best to invest in? Is it better health wise to buy a treadmill or ecliptic machine? My husband wants to try to workout and I need some suggestions since he will not go outside like myself and do walk/jogs. I appreciate any help someone can lend me.


11/9/2009 2:54:12 PM

I'm am so glad to see that I'm not the only who has used a paint can for weights. Although I have gym membership, there are so many things around your house you can use to stay in shape!

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