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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7/23/2011 11:04:38 AM

dancing with cans of soup (or anything) will provide cardio and tone at the same time.


7/23/2011 12:31:52 AM

FUNSPIRIT11's SparkPage
Good tips!


7/22/2011 9:10:25 PM

Almost there!! Just missing the rope!! Good luck everyone.


7/22/2011 5:42:38 PM

DSBRIDE's SparkPage
I'm 60 and I just love Leslie Sansone. She's so good for me and I use her DVD's all the time. She's just great for seniors!


7/22/2011 5:16:25 PM

EGRAMMY's SparkPage
Excellent choices


7/22/2011 5:07:10 PM

FEDUP4SURE's SparkPage
Yes, I'd be in the hospital right along beside some of you. I find that walking, walking, walking is just the best. Not strolling, like we did in the 60's! Walk, breath deep, helps with the asthma too. I've been losing right along with this method. Oh, and lots of water.
My Family Doctor told me that he stops at a large box store and takes a couple laps around when it's either too hot, cold or just doesn't want to be out of doors - good security.


7/22/2011 5:03:27 PM

I work from home and I sit at a computer for 101/2 hour stretches. I recently read that standing burns twice as many calories vs sitting, so I have adjusted my monitor so that I can stand while working several times during my shift. I also placed a couple of 5 lb free weights next to my desk and add some arm curls throughout the day. That, along with some desk stretches, a full pitcher of water, and some compression socks...boy, I am feeling much more energetic after my workday!


7/22/2011 4:29:33 PM

Sorry to say but most of these items would land me in the hospital. I wish there were more senior friendly exercise videos on Spark. For instance, exercises aimed for those with spinal fusion, those who have hip replacements, those who have arthritis. How about it, Coach Nicole?


7/22/2011 4:29:33 PM

Sorry to say but most of these items would land me in the hospital. I wish there were more senior friendly exercise videos on Spark. For instance, exercises aimed for those with spinal fusion, those who have hip replacements, those who have arthritis. How about it, Coach Nicole?


7/22/2011 3:46:00 PM

I am a member of the US Dragon Boat team and do many workouts at home. Some of the most productive exercises are.
1. Deadlift - when done correctly will benefit ANYONE looking to improve physique and performance.
2. Chin-ups - excellent upper body exercise working several muscle groups.
3. bench press - works a few muscles that are not worked by the deadlift.
4. Kettlebell swings - also works many muscles and burns calories far better than the treadmill.

All of these require little equipment. I use Powerblock dumbell set that goes all the way to 130 pounds per hand. There is no limit to what can be done with these. If you have a standard set of free-weight plates, you can make a kettlebell type of device that supplements buying several kettlebells.

As for "enjoyment", my pleasure comes in becoming my best for my sport. the pain and sweat of temporary.


7/22/2011 3:11:32 PM

I have been walking with Leslie Sansone and so far have lost a stone. I have about 10 DVD's which use resistence bands and weights. I choose a different one each day and quite enjoy my hour + of sweat.


7/22/2011 2:26:54 PM

I love my ball... you can do sit ups on it, free weights... all while watching TV!! The best though I think is the stretch band... so portable. I take it with me on vacation!!


7/22/2011 2:26:15 PM

Help! I have been looking on Amazon for resistance bands and there are just so many on there! I don't want to spend a lot, but I also don't want to get something that will just fall apart. Can anyone help?

Oh, and SP - this might be a moneymaker for you guys -- why not stock and sell a good, basic set of barbells, and a stability ball, resistance bands, etc.?


7/22/2011 2:14:58 PM

SU1365271's SparkPage
TO AWELLS60 you really don't need machines. you can use anything in your house. I like to use a chair for some exercise. I use my chair for leg lifts and squats. I have to use it to balance myself. I use exercise taps for cardio and I just bought a toning cord from walmart that cost $7.50. I use richard simmons sweating and toning tape. as long as you are moving and and eating healthy you will lose weight and keep it off.

Everyone Keep up the great job. Love and support to everyone.


7/22/2011 1:10:30 PM

I really like my work outs at home.....no excuse of the weather being this or that. I do miss seeing people but that is one of the reasons I like sparks...lots of good people around.

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