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 11:18:54 AM

ZANEITE's SparkPage
I'd much rather go to the gym than stay at home. I'm just not a big fan of at home exercising.


7/22/2010 11:16:23 AM

they really do work


7/22/2010 11:00:54 AM

LJK091354's SparkPage
Home workouts don't work for me. I can't motivate myself to do it alone. I do, however, go to Jazzercise class 5-6 days a week. Have done 3 days a week since 1995 and in March this year I upped my days to 5 or 6. It helps that my daughter owns the franchise and I don't have to pay.


7/22/2010 10:53:48 AM

"Essentials" is a bit of an exaggeration. I get quite good workouts from nothing more than a good pair of sneakers, a set of dumbbells of varying weights, and a DVD player for rainy days. All this junk might be nice for somepeople who like "stuff," but "essential"...no. Personally I prefer my small home and limited storage space uncluttered by stuff and prefer to exercise in the great outdoors.


7/22/2010 10:51:36 AM

I live in a 395 sq. ft. Studio Apartment! Forget the machines. I do have the little things, though. Can't afford a gym, but walking is free!


7/22/2010 10:44:31 AM

Machines are so optional and VERY expensive. When I had an elliptical (had to leave it with my parents when I moved), I never used it. I used everything else more. Right now I'm doing "No More Trouble Zones," setting up my own workouts (Warm Up, Cool Down, and 3-6 minute circuits), and having great success. I also like to incorporate Women's Health Magazine workouts into the mix (they're free on their site).


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.

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