Create An Economical And Effective Home Gym

Creating a home gym, if you go the low-tech route, is an affordable fitness option for both beginners and more experienced exercisers.

Although going to a gym can be motivating, allows us to exercise on the latest equipment, and socialize while we sweat it’s not always convenient, economical, and not everyone’s cuppa tea.

A home gym can easily be set up for $100 to $300—even less for savvy shoppers. By gathering enough equipment to address cardio, core, and strength training needs we can get a full body workout in our garage, bedroom, or den.

Cardio Training

For variety, consider having at least two types of cardio equipment available:

  • Jump ropes and hula hoops will get your pulse rate going, and they're only $5 to $15 each.
  • An aerobic step platform ($25 to $75) is a great cardio workout tool. Many come with a workout DVD; if not, you may want to purchase a couple, or search YouTube for step aerobic routines.
  • A mini cycle (or pedal exerciser, $30 to $70), or a mini elliptical trainer ($40 to $175) takes up much less space than full-size models. They especially suit beginners, moderate exercisers, and will likely work well for those with sensitive feet owed to neuropathy.
  • There are hundreds of aerobic DVDs available (e.g., walking in place, dance aerobics, flow yoga) for all fitness levels, as well as online sources to download or stream.

If there is no TV-DVD setup in your designated workout area, consider including a portable DVD player in your home gym budget.

Core Training

We can strengthen our midsection and burn belly fat by doing crunches or sit-ups, but a few pieces of equipment can add variety to our exercise regimen:

  • Ab rollers and balance balls are about $10 to $40 each, and there are plenty of DVD routines incorporating balance balls.
  • Various abdominal machines, or ab trainers run about $40 to $80.
  • Pilates targets our core strength, and there's an abundance of DVDs and online Pilates workouts available.
  • Sliders ($10 to $15) are flat discs (about 7 inches in diameter) that allow people to glide across carpets or any hard floor. Doing a variety of exercises with them strengthens core muscles.

A strong core is so important for good balance, and supports our everyday movements: walking, reaching, bending, twisting, standing, and lifting.

Strength Training

While an all-in-one home gym machine might be ideal, it can take up a lot of space and carry a hefty price tag. Fortunately, we can target our major muscle groups using:

  • Resistance bands ($10 to $150); beginners might start with a 20-pound set of bands.
  • Dumbbells ($20 to $80); beginners might start with a 40-pound dumbbell set. Even more economical: some people lift bottles of water, or cans or soup.
  • Kettlebells ($10 to $80) are a great way to address all muscle groups. Many people enjoy the swinging motion involved in kettlebell workouts, which also provide some cardio and stability/balance benefit.

To use this equipment safely and effectively, consider having at least one session with a fitness trainer. Or, watch some expert how-to videos online. If possible, have a full length mirror in your workout area–it can help with utilizing proper technique, and motivation.

A Few More Tips

Depending on needs and personal preference, a home gym might also have a radio or CD player for music, yoga or exercise mats, a countdown timer, a resident water bottle, workout log, motivational posters, an essential oil diffuser, and towels.

For those who enjoy the hunt - or love a bargain - yard sales, ebay, craigslist, and Amazon are good places to find used workout equipment. Someone’s cast-off ab-rocker might turn out to be your favorite core strengthener. Finally, if possible, choose a home gym space that accommodates two. It can be fun and motivating to exercise with a friend or family member.

Sources: Forbes; A Measured Life
Photo credit: Isle of Man Government

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