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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8/26/2015 12:19:29 AM

All you need is your body and possibly some stairs. Maybe a kettle bell if you're ambitious


3/8/2015 8:59:02 PM

AMBUDMAN's SparkPage
Foam roller is great to have.


3/8/2015 7:58:42 PM

I would also add a foam roller. Best thing ever!!!


3/8/2015 7:57:17 PM

HEALTHYMOM1979's SparkPage
I just bought a shed so I can have enough room for my gym. I have all the items that they recommend and then some. I am so glad that I have the proper place to get fit in.


3/8/2015 2:24:37 PM

I have all of those things plus more. I am a huge fan of Cathe Friedrich and she uses a lot of different equipment. I also have a weight bench, steps, and heavy bag. I love the variety so I can mix things up a bit.


3/8/2015 12:06:06 PM

Our home gym has a treadmill, total gym, small hand weights, a step, assorted dvd's. I walk out-side a couple of times a day to walk the dog and get fresh air. I love using dvd's in the morning. M-W-F is cardio and strength training, T-T is cardio step. Every day two or three 15-30 minute walks out side. On the weekend usually a leisurely walk with the kids, husband and/or dog. The more I do, the more I want to do!


3/8/2015 11:39:51 AM

I have everything but cardio machines. Just no room. But there is a school with a great track field not from my home. Also have a medicine ball.


3/8/2015 10:40:48 AM

I have all of the items recommended - except the stability ball...my yellow lab would think of it as a toy for him to play with...been there done that! Thought about getting a BOSU instead.


3/8/2015 8:40:51 AM

NORAB52GOOD's SparkPage
I have everything and use them all except the jump rope cause that makes me pee myself!


8/19/2014 6:05:43 PM

I like this very much and thanks.


8/19/2014 3:56:23 PM

Yep - done that but you forgot the following:
TV and DVD Player for watching shows/music or doing exercise vids/ spin classes
Ventilation - at least a window to crack open and a ceiling fan if room high enough.
Spin bike with two sided pedals for straps and cleats is great.
Pull Up bar useful also.
We use our front sunken living room so the gym is on main floor behind frosted glass doors. By having it on main floor we see it, we use it. If in the basement it will likely gather dust eventually.
If you travel - a portable DVD, videos and resistance bands are really handy.


8/19/2014 3:56:12 PM

Treadmill, elliptical, dumbbells, kettlebell, resistance bands, mat, and a ton of DVDs for every mood. From calm and simple yoga and walking, to Jillian Michaels up through Shaun T's T25.

I'm good to go! (though my living room is a bit crowded, lol)


8/19/2014 8:48:39 AM

I live in a studio apartment in New York City. I have 2 sets of dumbbells, 2 mats (one thin, one thick), and 2 sets of resistance bands (different resistances). That's all I have room for in my apartment. I make it work - I roll up my rug, move my table, and create my workout space in front of my TV.

It would be nice to have a home gym with a treadmill and an exercise ball if I had the room, but anyone can make their space work - if I can do it within a small apartment, anyone can do it!


8/19/2014 2:18:11 AM

Two weeks ago I have started exercising
I saw my nutritionist last week, and had lost 5.5Lbs. I go back on 09/08/14. Hopefully I should lost 5lbs more. Will keep you posted.


1/16/2014 11:32:05 PM

Kettlebells are my strength "machines"! My cardio machine is my mini-trampoline/rebounder!


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