Build Your Home Gym on a Budget

Some of us just aren’t gym people. But every couple of years—usually in January—we think we should be gym people and make it our resolution to “join the gym and actually go this time.” But it never sticks. We may beat ourselves up about it a little bit, but we soon fall into our old habits and accept that the gym just isn’t our scene.

Of course, just because you don’t belong to a gym doesn’t mean you’re not exercising. Many of us have a routine that involves walking, jogging, or doing various 30-day fitness challenges. No special equipment required—just sneakers and something resembling workout clothes.

If you’d like to step up your game this year and add in some weights, resistance training, indoor cardio, whatever—not to worry. You can build your home gym on a budget, even if it’s just a few dollars each payday. Here are some essentials that will work every muscle group in your body and take up almost no space in your home.

Resistance or mobility bands: A set of these can be surprisingly effective in giving you a full-body workout. If you don’t want to spring for an entire set right off the bat, you can start with a couple of the smaller (less resistant) bands, and then add in the bigger (more resistant) ones as your budget allows. If you’re ready to add more resistance before you can afford the bigger bands, simply combine the smaller ones to use at the same time. You can do some research on the various brands out there, but our family really likes SPRI. (Side note: I prefer bands that I don’t need to swap the handles on. The fewer steps involved when I move from my leg muscles to my shoulder muscles, the more likely I’ll be to use them consistently.)

Jump rope: All you need is a jump rope the right size for your height, and you’re good to go for a long time. As your strength and endurance builds, simply add more skips. Extra bonus, you’ll feel like a kid again (at least eventually). If it’s been years since you gripped the handles of a jump rope, you’ll be surprised by what a great cardio workout it is.

Pull-up bar: If you have a spot in your garage or even a walk-in closet where you can install a pull-up bar—and use it regularly—you’ll reap the benefits for life. And there are pull-up bars tailored for every space and budget, whether it’s portable or permanently mounted. If you have enough space, you can even consider a freestanding apparatus, which will often have a spot for doing dips and other exercises. While pull-up bars don’t work every muscle group, they’re fantastic for building upper body strength.

Instructional posters or videos: If you’re starting something new, you can find inexpensive workout posters or free video workouts online to give you some direction and instruction.

For bigger pieces of equipment such as a treadmill or elliptical, you can often find them barely used online. And you’re sure to find some really great deals—especially if you hold off until people are doing their spring cleaning,

See, you don’t have to be a gym person or a big spender to stay in shape. If you’ve been thinking about starting an at-home exercise routine, simple pick an activity you’ve been curious about and go at your own speed whenever your schedule allows. If you need some accountability, reach out to a family member or friend who’d be willing to either check in with you or join in on the fun. And, yes, staying healthy and fit can be fun. :)

Images from iStock/LightFieldStudios (main), Mariakray (post). 

Paula Widish

Paula Widish, author of Trophia: Simple Steps to Everyday Self-Health, is a freelance writer and self-healther. She loves nothing more than sharing tidbits of information she discovers with others. (Actually, she loves her family more than that—and probably bacon too.) Paula has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Relations and is a Certified Professional Life Coach through International Coach Academy.

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