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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7/22/2009 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.


7/22/2009 7:53:43 PM

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.


7/22/2009 6:26:33 PM

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.


7/22/2009 4:19:11 PM

Summer's here so I am deffinately getting out and doing more exercise.



7/22/2009 4:04:00 PM

for me I do the exercing in the early am. I have a healthy but light breakfast then i head downstairs while the laundry is under way. There are many days i dont want to but 6 days a week for 20 to 45 min. are doable. I am ready for the rest of the day.


7/22/2009 3:07:24 PM

MRS.DOYLE's SparkPage
I have the resistance bands, dumbbells and mini exercise bike. I also have a mini-trampoline that I think should be included in this list because it is really useful for jogging etc.


7/22/2009 2:50:07 PM

I have the stability ball, resistance bands & dumbells, Just read you can burn 140 calories in 10 mins. That will definately be my next purchase.


7/22/2009 1:17:55 PM

SUELA2's SparkPage
I have an enclosed area in the basement just for my equipment. I feel more motivated to work out down there when I am doing the laundry, otherwise I use the Wii Personal Trainer game....it is great.


7/22/2009 1:17:14 PM

LLCURTS's SparkPage
I have a stability ball and dumbbells which I use most of the time - also resistance bands which I use some - the cardio machines I get at the gym. I would rather do strength at home - but occasionally do it at the gym as well. WE get outdoors through the week on our bikes and walk as much as possible...


7/22/2009 12:36:16 PM

I have a bowflex 5 lb dumb bells too. Not to mention videos.


7/22/2009 12:18:27 PM

GREENBEAR1's SparkPage
I need to find time in my schedule to exercise. I have sears version of the bowflex, a treadmill, a stationary bike and a 10 speed. I just don't have the time.....


7/22/2009 12:14:38 PM

PRECANGL53's SparkPage
I have everything except the treadmill, plus many more items. Just need to get it in gear. Also trying to get into yoga, pilates and meditation


7/22/2009 11:13:38 AM

Check out your local Craigslist or newspaper for home gym equipment, cheap. There are always really good deals out there.


7/22/2009 11:04:24 AM

SEJ116's SparkPage
I have a treadmill that I now use every day. It sat and gathered dust for about 5 yrs, but for the past couple of weeks I've been using it again. I also recently bought a Total Gym, which I have used a few times, but I really feel I need to drop some lbs before I can use it without hurting myself. I will be going to my storage facility to get my Gazelle and bring it home this weekend. I really miss that thing! I also have the bands, and a 6 Second Abs machine, neither of which I've ever had much success with, so they're put up somewhere!


7/22/2009 10:54:02 AM

LAG1212's SparkPage
I have no equipment but i walk 2 miles every morning at 5am. I'm also doing aerobics twice a week. In the future I'll look into getting some equipment.

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