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 8:31:06 AM

HEATLW's SparkPage
I have everything but the resistance bands and cardio machine - but I do have a Curves membership which covers the cardio. If you purchase these things in stages you don't notice the amount of money you are spending - took me about 6 months.


7/22/2009 8:18:07 AM

LORI815's SparkPage
For me I find that I have all the tools and non of the will! I have a bike, weight bench, wii, workout ball with resistance bands and more work out videos (everything from sweating to the oldies to tae bo) I just find that they collect dust or become and extra hanging rod for clothes! I need to get motivated to actually USE the stuff for more than two weeks. LOL!


7/22/2009 8:16:40 AM

Love them all--just need to use them. They use to have a saying use it or lose it.

It should be use it to lose it.


7/22/2009 7:48:59 AM

KELLI9001's SparkPage
I have the jump rope, ball, mat, treadmill and hand weights. Would like to get a small trampoline in order to do more jumping exercise.


7/22/2009 7:46:54 AM

I goto the gym and use the bands, weights and ball


7/22/2009 7:46:54 AM

I goto the gym and use the bands, weights and ball


7/22/2009 7:45:20 AM

TISSWEET's SparkPage
I need cardio equipment and the ball, then I gotta make sure I use them!


7/22/2009 7:43:40 AM

Good to know.


7/22/2009 7:35:37 AM

I have the bands - walk with Leslie - urban work out - sweat to the oldies. My need is to use them more often! at present only 2 times a week for the most...sometimes 3 times...


7/22/2009 6:11:26 AM

At this time, I have a pair of 3 pair weights, yoga mat and a treadmill.
I may add bands later. I bought a pedometer, but haven't figured out how to use it correctly.


7/22/2009 4:53:08 AM

Hi. I have a treadmill, weights, ankle weights, a legmatic, twister and one of those bars you fit into a door frame. I try to do an hour a day plus walking. Have a nice day everyone!


7/22/2009 4:40:33 AM

NOORZAZA's SparkPage
i have all but the cardio machine, i walk outside


6/21/2009 2:05:27 PM

I have a treadmill and a totoal gym and a jump rope at home for my exercising and also an mp3 player with some good upbeat tunes to exercise with that is what really gets me going.


6/3/2009 7:57:05 AM

B-NANA's SparkPage
I have 6 of 7. Don't have/need a mat. I also use a hula hoop, mini-tramp., ankle wts, Gazelle, videos, pedometer, and chasing /walking my 2 dogs. I enjoyed this article because it reminded me of some items I haven't used in a while.


6/1/2009 12:16:08 AM

I have a Elliptical Trainer, a yoga mat, a stability ball, 5 pound weights, ankle weights, a handful of dvd aerobics tapes.. all the Biggest Loser tapes or Jillian Michaels or Leslie Sansone.. great stuff.. resistance bands are great too.. I use them in the car at stop lights.. too.. now I do a tape in the morning either yoga or one of the aerobics.. I use the elliptical throughout the day and then I do my gardening or take a walk or something to get outside everyday.... I find having a variety of workouts keeps things interesting and I love having those trainers in my living room.. I've come to enjoy exercising.. and the machine is nice when just getting into a show.. like the Biggest Loser and Survivor.. :)

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