Creating Your Best Home Gym: How to Find the Right Equipment for Your Budget and Needs

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You had the best of intentions when joining the gym or fitness studio, but if you’re not using your membership, it may be because it’s not perfectly suited to your needs and lifestyle. Maybe the hours don’t work, there’s no babysitting, or you can’t hop on the machine you want when you want because it’s being used by someone else. It could be too far from your home or office, out of the way, or maybe it’s simply inconvenient!

If all of that sounds about right, then it may be time to consider creating your own perfect home gym based on your unique needs, budget, preferences, and lifestyle. 

Before designing your home gym, it’s important to consider the available space and make sure there’s enough ventilation. The space you choose is crucial because a dark, dingy, or boring space that is cramped and cluttered probably won’t encourage you to work out nearly as well as a brightly lit, uncluttered, and inviting space. In fact, sometimes it’s as simple as taking the equipment you already have and moving it into a different environment for that same equipment to suddenly gain appeal!

With that said, if you’re looking to create a home gym from scratch, here are a few ideas to help get you going.

Bronze Level

While there are a few inexpensive (yet effective pieces) of exercise equipment listed below, you can also get a great workout in with no equipment at all by using your own body weight, some plyometric moves and a sturdy chair or step. A combination of lunges, squats, pushups, and chair dips with some step-ups, explosive jumps, and more are enough to create an intense bootcamp-style workout. But, if you have a few dollars to spend, here are a few pieces of equipment you may want to invest in:

* Free weights: There are literally hundreds of exercises you can do using free weights. Combine the movements carefully with lower body moves like lunges and squats to multitask your workout and amplify your results.

* A stability ball: A stability ball is great for working your core, back, stretching, and so much more.

* Resistance bands: Resistance bands are practically weightless but provide great results because the resistance doesn’t let up throughout the movement, as opposed to free weights, which allow for a bit of “cheating” by using momentum instead of muscle, if you’re not careful. They come in a variety of strengths and they’re also great to keep in your suitcase for a no-excuse exercise plan when traveling.

* Jump rope: If you think they’re just for kids…think again! Jumping rope provides one of the quickest ways to increase your heart rate and is a great option in-between upper body sets to keep your heart rate up, blast calories, and boost metabolism.

* A sturdy chair or bench: From step-up to chair dips, decline pushups, working your abs and more, a chair or bench can be used for exercises to strengthen almost any part of your body.

* DVDs: Based on your unique fitness needs, preferences, and style, you can find DVDs for any type of workout – yoga, Zumba, cardio, and kickboxing, to name a few.

* Magazines, music, and apps: You can find great magazines with fitness routines, downloadable fitness programs, music, and downloadable apps to track your progress and create an endless number of routines.

Silver Level

Have a little more money to spend? All the equipment listed above is still great to have, as well as adding a few of the following items:

* Xiser: Don’t be fooled by this small machine! It’s designed to give you an intense workout in a very short time through high intensity “burst training.”

* Rebounder (mini indoor trampoline): Great for cardio and muscle strengthening, it improves your lymphatic, circulatory, respiratory systems, and more. Special bonus: A rebounder is also great for getting the kids off the couch and jumping while watching TV!

* TRX Suspension Training: A portable training tool that leverages gravity and your bodyweight to enable hundreds of exercises that can be scaled to suit your strength. There are lots of other brands and systems that use the door and bands as well.

* Pull-up bar: Simply hang one from your door for a variety of pull-up variations to build upper-body strength.

* A well-made piece of cardio equipment: treadmill, Stairmaster, elliptical, ArcTrainer, stationary bike, etc. Just make sure you try it first to make sure you like the movement, stride, feel, and built-in programs before purchasing.

Gold Level

For an elaborate home gym, consider everything listed above along with the possibility of a universal gym, another piece of cardio equipment for variety, and investing in sessions with a certified Personal Trainer who can push you while they’re with you, and offer you a variety of programs using your home gym equipment when they’re not.

Remember, a home gym can be as simple as a pair of sneakers or as complex as an elaborate setup, with every level in-between. Just create the right setup for you and enjoy more consistent workouts along with the great body, improved health, and increased energy that come as a result!

 

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July 2012
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