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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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.. :)


5/30/2009 1:59:42 AM

I have DVD's, a stability ball, some hand weights, and resistance bands. Now if I could just use them. I do well for awhile and then I slack off. My husband says that I go all out in the beginning and then get worn out.


5/28/2009 4:53:03 PM

I have worked out for the past 3 mos. and I've lost 11 lbs. I feel good about myself and I want to lose more. I have a treadmill, mp3 player,dumbells,jump rope and streach bands, I even have stability ball and I try to walk every morning and when I can not I know my body needs to rest. I have started to dance along with the walking and that will make up for 20 to 30 mins. when I can at least 4 days a wk of exercise.


5/1/2009 8:52:25 PM

love my treadmill so I have no more excuses as to why I cannot work out each day...
I have lost 40 pounds in 1 year so a combination of eating healthy and moving my body seems to do the trick!!


4/30/2009 7:55:56 PM

I have everything,but using them is another story.


4/30/2009 7:12:55 PM



4/30/2009 4:05:42 PM

CHRIS3215's SparkPage
I also have my own workout room.. Go see mypage & my pic's!! Bowflex(two different machines), mini trampoline & my beloved treadmill!!..Love my favorite room in the house!!


4/30/2009 3:07:36 PM

I enjoy working out at home!! We don't have a big house , but I do have my own workout room. In it includes a treadmill, elliptical, trampoline, stability ball, weight machine, ab lounger, aerobic step, jump rope and free weights.


4/30/2009 2:15:57 PM

I have items 1 through 6. Sadly, none of them get used as often as they should. Dang gym membership. :~) OTOH, when people come over I LOOK like I do a lot at home. LOL


4/30/2009 2:02:38 PM

I work out at home as that works best for me. I alternate between the ball, leslie sansone and 30 day shred.


4/30/2009 8:59:13 AM

My husband and I just purchased a home and are working on making a room in the basement into a gym....What perfect timing ot find this information! We currently have a treadmill, a heavy bag, jump rope, and free weights. I just added a ball, exercise mat, and resistance bands to my shopping list!


4/30/2009 2:34:38 AM

Hey HAZELNUTBROWN! I got my floor mat from overstock.com. I would think any place that you buy a machine big enough to damage the floor would sell the floor mats.
Try your phone book and make some calls before driving around. (That last part is not an in your face order, just something I always think of).
Hope you find one soon! De Dopey


4/29/2009 6:35:18 PM

JIBBIE49's SparkPage
Love this.

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