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 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.


7/22/2009 10:40:52 AM

BIGDAD1211's SparkPage
An old bike tire inner tube makes a great resistance band. And plastic milk cartons or water bottles with handles can be good free weights.


7/22/2009 10:38:04 AM

CYNDIMAT's SparkPage
I have most of the equipment! Do not have the money for the treadmill, but I ahve lots of different videos to help me reach my goal!



7/22/2009 10:31:17 AM

ZINNSMOM's SparkPage
I don"t have any of this equipment except the mat. I think my first purchase will be the resistance bands. Money is tight so my only exercise so far has been walking with my dogs. Of course, it is exercise for all of us and quality time, too !


7/22/2009 10:26:53 AM

3XMOMMA's SparkPage
Another thing I think is essential is a full length mirror so you can watch yourself and make sure your form is correct. That has made a difference for me.


7/22/2009 10:18:37 AM

I have most of that, but it is just harder to get motivated to use it, than when I had a gym membership.


7/22/2009 10:02:11 AM

I have most of the equipment at home already also. I do go to he gym about five times a week. I would likes some tips on use the exercise ball.


7/22/2009 10:02:03 AM

Working out at home just doesn't motivate me enough, I like going to the gym because the environment makes me feel like working out and it's an activity in itself to get up, get dressed, and drive to the gym.


7/22/2009 9:38:04 AM

I like the idea of having equipment like the ball & barbells. You can use things that are relatively inexpensive.


7/22/2009 9:37:26 AM

TERFREE's SparkPage
Oy, I have all that and more, I have kazillions DVD's, plus Wii fit, a trampoline a Chuck Norris total gym etc. etc ad nauseum, now I just need to get up and start using them more consistantly. Working 12 hour days on my butt on the computer is not helping!


7/22/2009 9:31:00 AM

CHRIS3215's SparkPage
I have all the above & then some. I love my workout room & look forward to using it everyday. Cardio I love.. I have a treadmill & treadclimber & use both 5 times a week & only one 2 days out of the week. Strenght training 3 times a week with Bowflex.


7/22/2009 8:51:04 AM

MDPOST75's SparkPage
Thanks for the article


7/22/2009 8:35:03 AM

LISABAN1's SparkPage
I have the video tapes of most every type of exercise program that there is, but due to permanent disabilites, and the need for only no impact or very slight impact, most of those no longer are useful to me. I own large and small balls, and have yet to do the large ball due to balance issues, but use the slightly smaller ball to do stationery floor exercises. My staples are the Gazelle, elliptical, and some times, the treadmill, I dabble with a few exercises on my Total Gym, and sometimes with my bands, and I need to hype up my strength training, as I already get a decent amount of cardio (30 mins to 60 mins, 6 days a week), but dedicate little time to strength.

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