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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7/22/2011 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.


7/22/2011 1:03:04 PM

Great ideas!


7/22/2011 12:52:52 PM

DINNYMO26's SparkPage
I have everything but the ball. I need to get one. I would also love to get a bosu balance board.


7/22/2011 12:42:05 PM

Who wouldn't love to have the space to set up a home gym like the one pictured!!


7/22/2011 12:12:49 PM

Ok. I've been tthinking about getting a wii. Since several of you have mentioned "enjoying" using it during workouts, I'm going to make the investment.



7/22/2011 11:20:42 AM

I also use the Wii. Sometimes while watching TV, I will grab my hands weights and do some quick exercises during the commercial break.


7/22/2011 11:18:25 AM

So what size of stability ball is best for someone who is 5'2 and between the weight of 130 - 150? I have the Bean but haven't used it in quite some time; I'm thinking it should work as good as the stability ball but not sure.


7/22/2011 11:14:06 AM

AANGEL3's SparkPage
I use my Wii in the living room.


7/22/2011 11:10:10 AM

AWELLS60's SparkPage
I would really love to have a gum like in the articel but I have a small trailer and there is not enough room for t he machines. I already have the resistance bands, weights, steps, and weights, though. Be nice to have a special room in a big house.


7/22/2011 10:47:56 AM

I agree, adding some kettlebells would be great. An interval training routine with this equipment would be great. If anyone has any ideas, please post.

P.s. I'm taking a kettlebell class and it is, by far, the most intense workout I've ever had.


7/22/2011 10:20:06 AM

ATGHR10's SparkPage
Wow..I have all of these.


7/22/2011 10:01:28 AM

I have a Curves membership and had been taking full advantage with a 6 day workout weekly - At the momen, t we are remodeling the new home and have stopped going till we are finished here - talk about a workout - I'm sure getting one!!!!!

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