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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ALISHAC3

7/25/2009 9:05:23 PM

ALISHAC3's SparkPage
i just have to say...i have lost 80.5 lbs, so many inches i cant keep track and i dont have the treadmill nor the "Bowflex"!!! ive just been faithful to my Biggest Loser dvds (and others)! Trust me, my legs are flawless, and my arms are all most there, butt is great and i feel AMAZING!!! dont waste the money or the space!!

K9CLAUDIA

7/25/2009 5:24:21 PM

K9CLAUDIA's SparkPage
If you don't have any dumbbells, you can make your own. Take empty milk containers, either 1/2 gallon or gallon size, half probably works better, and fill with water, sand, or small stones. Cap or tape securely the opening, and there you have a homemade, but functional set of dumbbells. I have used this before and it does work. 1 gal water=3 lbs

K9CLAUDIA

7/25/2009 4:04:23 PM

K9CLAUDIA's SparkPage
If you don't have any dumbbells, you can make your own. Take empty milk containers, either 1/2 gallon or gallon size, half probably works better, and fill with water, sand, or small stones. Cap or tape securely the opening, and there you have a homemade, but functional set of dumbbells. I have used this before and it does work. 1 gal water=3 lbs

BEVERLY-L

7/24/2009 11:43:10 AM

BEVERLY-L's SparkPage
hmmm, that reminds me, there's a jump rope around here somewhere that I bought a couple of years ago. I remember there were some coordination issues with using it, I'd forgotten the trick since growing up! I wonder where it is now...

NEEVEWILLOWS

7/24/2009 1:51:56 AM

NEEVEWILLOWS's SparkPage
I have a mini-trampoline, execise bands, mat, yoga balls, but need to get a stability ball

JANETW4

7/23/2009 5:05:31 PM

JANETW4's SparkPage
What about pushup handles? A cardio machine can be a huge expense and in this economy, how about some more wallet-friendly solutions. The website over at perfectpushup.com has some links to some educational content, some of it a bit "out of the box" ... love the jump rope idea!

CHKAL1029

7/23/2009 2:31:37 PM

CHKAL1029's SparkPage
I have a cardio machine, but no place to put it in my tiny place.. Trying to find a place...

MOSSIE7

7/23/2009 2:13:02 PM

Jump rope? maybe later, still too many jiggles! x-D

PARANAS

7/23/2009 12:29:40 PM

PARANAS's SparkPage
Hey, I have all these things. Now, if I could only get to exercising! Time to set up the gym and get to it.

HAPPYWHENTHIN

7/23/2009 9:00:12 AM

HAPPYWHENTHIN's SparkPage
This is very encouraging to me. I already have the treadmill, the bands, and the ball. Next I will get a TV to play my videos.

DOCDRH

7/23/2009 8:12:58 AM

DOCDRH's SparkPage
I have yet to workout with them, but I hear that they are the best workout items out there.

LIDDY38

7/22/2009 10:10:30 PM

LIDDY38's SparkPage
Funny I just received my Pilate Fitness Band in the mail today liddy2

RKA2THUS

7/22/2009 9:42:10 PM

I do not have anything fancy for excercise equipment and so untilize my daily housecleaning and gardening routine as excercise. Probably not the best, but it is what I have and do.

PATTIBEATLE

7/22/2009 7:53:43 PM

PATTIBEATLE's SparkPage
I have recently started using a Wii Fit at home with my daughter. Not only is it great exercise - it is great fun too!!
I also go to a gym twice a week with a friend. It really does make a difference if you are not on your own.

SUNNYARIZONA

7/22/2009 6:26:33 PM

SUNNYARIZONA's SparkPage
Good article. Belonging to LA Fitness, I already have my "gym" set up!

But for home, I do have my Stability ball (need to use it!)
I have an AIR stepper, and use my resistance bands when doing that exercise.
Jump rope....? Heavens, I am almost 65, don't ASK me to do such a thing.
HOWEVER, I DO have my hula hoop, and I CAN do that safely.

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