6 Budget-Friendly Fitness Items for Your Home

By , Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
Whether you're just getting started with this new healthy lifestyle or you've been at it for a while, it’s easy to convince yourself that you need to buy the latest and greatest in exercise gadgets or gizmos in order to achieve your fitness goals.
Truth is, though, there is no need to spend a ton of money on fancy equipment or even a gym membership to get in an effective workout. In fact, many great workout routines don’t need any equipment at all. If you are looking to distance yourself from the gym, investing in a few essential pieces can help you get fit at home. Versatile and inexpensive, these six items are a great place to start.  

Must-Haves for Your Home Gym


Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Most of the machines you see lining the weight room floor at the gym are unnecessary. There, we said it. Many of the exercises you do on the machines can be improved upon by getting up and using your bodyweight or dumbbells instead.

If you are strength training regularly at home, I recommend investing in one or two sets of dumbbells to take your resistance workouts to the next level. Most dumbbell sets cost less than $20 for the pair. (Some weights are sold individually, so double check before you buy and are surprised with only one weight.) Get one pair of weights that are heavy enough to challenge your larger muscle groups like your legs, chest and back, and one pair light enough to fatigue your smaller muscles, such as those in your arms, shoulders and upper back. (Check out these tips for selecting the right weight for resistance training.) This set by AmazonBasics includes three pairs (two, three and five pounds) that are neoprene coated and even come with their own rack for $24.99. 
Photo courtesy of Amazon

For around $12 or less, you can afford to stock up on one or two resistance bands for your home gym. Loop them around a door knob (or use the door anchor that many bands come with) or stand on them for a myriad of exercise options. One of my favorite things about these Spri bands is they are so portable: Toss one in your purse or in your suitcase when you know you’ll need to sneak in a strength-training workout on the go. Get more tips on working out with resistance bands.
Paper Plates
Photo courtesy of Amazon

Paper plates as exercise equipment? You bet. Paper plates are a fun and inexpensive tool that can amp up your strength moves and offer a low-impact option for many cardio drills. Try placing one under each foot in a full plank position, then bend your knees and slide your feet in, then back out for a challenging abs tuck, or try sliding them under your feet for a lower impact mountain climber. The plates work on most surfaces (just be sure to test out on your flooring first to make sure they don’t scratch). Google "paper plate workout" and you'll find tons of great videos and exercises you can try at home. 
Photo courtesy of Amazon

Sometimes you need a little extra padding on the floor during moves like crunches, kneeling pushups and back extensions, so having a mat at home can be a worthwhile investment. A yoga mat rolls up easily for storage and portability, and you can find a good quality one for less than $15. This one by BalanceFrom comes with its own carrying strap.
Photo courtesy of Amazon

While there are plenty of apps that can help you time your workouts, you won't have to fumble with your phone (or get sweat all over it) with the GYMBOSS wearable interval timer. You can pre-program it to sound and vibrate during specific intervals of your choice (Tabata, anyone?) before clipping it to your waistband or top and it stays put even during high-impact routines, making it easier to focus all of your attention on your workout—not the clock.
Photo courtesy of Amazon

You don't need a $2,000 treadmill to do cardio at home. One of the cheapest pieces of cardio equipment you can buy (most are under $10) is a simple jump rope! Skipping rope is not only fun, it’s also a killer cardio workout that helps build agility and coordination, too. And you don’t only have to use it for jumping—it also doubles as an agility ladder. Lay it flat on the floor in a straight line and practice moving up and down the rope forward and backward in a zig-zag pattern, or try quick steps or bunny hops over and behind it, as shown in this Jump Start Cardio workout video. Get creative with your foot patterns for a cardio workout that builds dexterity.
Don’t forget: Even the nicest, most expensive pieces of workout equipment won’t do you any good if you don’t put them to use. I’m talking about that treadmill in your bedroom that is used as a clothing rack. It’s not about how much you spend on getting fit, it's about the time and effort you put into it. And a happy, healthy and fitter you? Now that is just priceless!
Have you ever invested in a piece of fitness equipment that you wished you hadn’t? What's the best "steal" you've ever gotten on a fitness device you actually use?
About the Author
As someone who struggled to lose weight for years, Jessica found that the key to her own 40-pound weight loss was making small, healthy lifestyle changes that led to big, lasting results. Now, as a certified wellcoach, fitness instructor and personal trainer, she has spent the last 15 years helping students and clients reach their goals in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, and now reaches millions online through her YouTube Channel and home exercise DVD series. Please visit jessicasmithtv.com/shop to learn more about her fun, results driven programs for all levels of exercisers.

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