I stopped by a local fitness equipment store the other day to purchase some new resistance bands and upon wandering around I started to dream about the perfect home gym. Unfortunately, my dream vision of the perfect home gym requires more space then my home has and a bigger bank account! Alas, I got my head out of the clouds and started to look at how to create a home gym with basic budget-friendly essentials. I complete my workouts at a commercial gym which is convenient for me and my lifestyle, however there are days when it would be more convenient to do my workout at home.
Convenience is only one benefit to having a home gym, other benefits include saving time and money. Time is a precious commodity for everyone. Being able to take 30 seconds to walk into your home gym and begin your workout, as opposed to driving to and from and dealing with parking, can save a significant amount of time in your day. As for saving money, there will be an initial investment in purchasing equipment, but once you are set up you will be saving money on gym memberships, parking, childcare, and gas. Time & money - two of the biggest excuses people use for not exercising frequently can be solved with a home gym!
Before I get into my recommended equipment essentials, it would be a good idea to take a look at the space that you are thinking of transforming into your own home gym. How much room do you have? This could be a corner of a room, an office or spare room that you want to convert into a home gym, or perhaps an area in your undeveloped basement. You need enough room to be able to move around comfortably throughout your workout program. Are the ceilings high enough for you to use a skipping rope or do a kettlebell swing? Does your room have natural light or a window for fresh air? Does it have a plug-in for a fan (if fresh air isn't an option). What type of flooring does your room have? Do you need to lay down some rubber mats or will a yoga mat suffice? Can you close the room off to have privacy from kids, pets, and significant others? Remember your workout space is your refuge - your space to make yourself a priority. Once you have your space sorted out it is time to purchase the basic equipment essentials.
Basic Equipment Essentials
1. Full length mirror: No, not a typical piece of equipment, but an important addition to your home gym. A mirror will allow you to reduce your risk of injury by watching your exercise technique and form, and you can take all the fitness selfies you want! Check out these options from Walmart or Amazon
2. Dumbbells: These are a staple for any home gym as they are used for upper body, lower body, and core stability exercises. Ideally, you will need dumbbells of varying weights. You can buy individual sets of dumbbells at weights that you will likely use most often, or you can look at purchasing adjustable dumbbells (like these from Amazon). Think about the weight you will need for upper body exercises vs lower body exercises.
For the individual dumbbells I recommend the hexagon shaped dumbbells with the rubber coating on the ends. Check out your local fitness equipment store or these options from Walmart or Amazon or Costco
3. Resistance Bands: Also a staple for any home gym. Resistance bands are extremely versatile, lightweight, and travel well. I recommend having a variety of resistance bands - ones with handles, mini-bands, and longer bands. The ones with handles are great for doing any type of back exercise (rowing and pulling) or chest
4. Stability Ball: Stability balls can be used for not only a variety of core exercises, but can also stand-in for a workout bench for many of your upper body exercises. It is important to buy a ball that is the right size for you and is of good quality. Check out Walmart or Amazon
5. TRX Suspension Trainer: I am a huge fan of the TRX. It's lightweight, portable, travels well, and you can do an almost unlimited number of upper, lower, and core body weight exercises. For setting up in your home gym it is recommended that the TRX be set up between 7-9 feet off the ground and secured to something that is strong enough to hold more than your body weight. Indoor options include over a door, on the ceiling, or suspended from a secure weight machine. You can travel with your TRX and mount it outdoors on playground equipment or even sturdy tree branches. Check out your local fitness store, local buy & sell sites, Amazon or the TRX website
Those would be my top 5 basic essentials for getting started with your home gym. Next are other basic pieces of equipment I recommend for creating a well-rounded, budget-friendly workout space.
6. Yoga Mat: Depending on the type of flooring you have in your home gym, this may be an essential piece of equipment. If you have carpet or rubber flooring you can likely get away without a yoga mat. However, if you are on hardwood, tile, or concrete you will want a mat to provide comfort for any exercises that require you to be on the floor. Here are some options from