By Jesse Silkoff
A home gym may be great for your fitness routine, but it can be a real drain on your wallet. A dumbbell and plate weight set costs between $300 to $1000 alone, plus another $100 or so for a weight bench. Want to add cardio to your workout? Plan on factoring in another $300 to $5000 for a treadmill. However, your body is generally pretty ignorant of your financial situation—and it needs to be worked out regardless of what’s on your bank statement. Having a gym at home makes the whole process that much simpler: no drive to make, no bag to pack, no communal showers to negotiate. Plus, you never have to wait in line for a free treadmill or feel weird about working out in front of strangers!
But exercising at home doesn’t need to be a luxury reserved exclusively for those with a lot of expendable cash. With some workout smarts, you can have the whole thing set up in a matter of weeks—without emptying out your kid’s college fund first. Here are some of the best tips we’ve seen from practical-minded fitness addicts for a home workout station that’s affordable enough for almost any financial situation.
1. Buy Used
Sure, a lot of stuff is better new, but the way some people go through fitness fads, you can definitely score some cutthroat deals on equipment if you take the time to look. Craiglist and eBay are the obvious sites to hit, of course, but you can also check out local sites like Freecyle.com and the app Next Door. Ask around, too, you never know which family member or office acquaintance is trying to find a home for a barely used elliptical. Garage sales often feature lightly used equipment, as well—you can save some serious green if you’re willing to spend a few weekends driving around your neighborhood.
2. Find Space Where There Is None
Working out definitely feels easier when you can get away from roommates and family members for a while you do it, especially if you’re just starting out and getting used to your routine. If you don’t have a spare bedroom or garage to house your home gym, consider blocking off part of the living room or dining area for your workouts. Install casters on heavy furniture so that you can push it out of the way when it’s time to hit the weights, bonus if you can hang a mirror on a nearby wall so that you can keep track of your form while you work out.
Still feeling the space crunch inside? Consider taking your workout outdoors into your backyard or a shared park space. It may feel a little strange being in the outdoors at first, but the breeze will feel nice once you get moving!
3. Invest in Multi-functional Pieces
You work hard on your body, so your equipment should pull its weight too. Specifically, you’ll get the most out of your hard-earned dollars if you opt for pieces that can be adjusted to accommodate several exercises. For instance, an adjustable weight bench lets you integrate ab exercises, presses, deadlifts, rowing, and hammer curls. Similarly, you can do a lot with a dumbbell set, and where space is an issue, a set of adjustable dumbbells lets you change weights using small adjustable plates that take up much less room than a full set. If you have a few hundred dollars to spare, multi-use equipment can be a good investment, although these pieces aren’t required to get in a good workout.
4. Look for the Best Bang-for-Your-Buck Equipment
If you’re on the ramen and canned soup diet, then that kind of equipment may be too rich for your blood. Luckily, there are still affordable options out there to help you transition to an at-home fitness routine. For instance, stability balls cost less than $20, and allow you to integrate a range of highly effective moves, such as supported squats, lunges, and push ups. You can get a set of resistance bands for even less than that—use them to target your back, arms, abs, legs, and literally almost any muscle group in the body. Likewise, a jump rope still offers some of the best cardio around, and you can get one for less than you’d spend on Starbucks. Get yourself a mat and a few videos (try taking a look at those you can find online!) and you’ll have a pretty full lineup on your hands.
5. Try Body Weight Training
Cheap is nice, but free is even better. Body weight training, which uses gravity and your own weight to achieve resistance, are free and accessible—and can be done virtually anywhere. In fact, you’re probably already familiar with some of the more popular body weight exercises: the old fitness standbys, the push up and the pull up. But more advanced options include mountain climbers, planks, and burpees, just to name a few. Use them to add strength, toning, and cardio into your at-home workouts. You’d be amazed at all the versatility you can get without picking up a single weight.
6. Consider Hiring a Personal Trainer
Trainers don’t come free, of course, but they’re one investment that’s definitely worth the money. After all, fitness isn’t really about the equipment you have, it’s about how you use it. That’s where a personal trainer comes in. They can teach you how to get the most out of the equipment you do have, and correct your form and routine so that you’re exercising safely, reducing your risk of injury. Plus if you’re interested in alternative weight training exercises like resistance band workouts or body weight training, hiring a trainer gives you access to tons of moves you might not have thought of on your own. Trainers will come to your home so you can still keep your workout local. Imagine, everything you need for a full body workout, right down the hallway!
Have you always wanted an at-home gym? Comment below on what you’d include in it!
Jesse Silkoff is an avid runner and tennis player. He currently resides in Austin, TX where he works as the President and Co-Founder of FitnessTrainer, the leading online marketplace to find a local personal trainer that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals.