Let’s face it—gym memberships aren’t for all of us. While it can be nice to socialize with people while getting in shape, it can also get pricey—and it’s sometimes all too easy during a hectic week to justify that we “don’t have time” to make a gym stop.
Staying in shape doesn’t have to be expensive or a hassle. Outfitting a room, or even a corner of space, with fitness equipment is low in cost and still very effective (with the added convenience of proximity). The following pieces of equipment make an excellent start to an at-home fitness center:
An exercise mat is better for stretching than carpet or hardwood floor. It provides better resistance and cushion for joints, and it makes it easier to do exercises like sit-ups and push-ups. It’s also great to have if you plan to do some yoga or pilates.
Price range: $12-$20
Also known as stability balls, Swiss balls provide your core muscles (abs and back) a real workout by keeping them constantly engaged as you stay balanced during various exercises. You can incorporate body weight exercises or use dumbbells.
Price range: $12-$15
Remember all the fun you had jumping on your bed as a kid? Turns out that that type of movement is beneficial as well. Research has indicated that rebounding exercises are good for the lymph system, and it’s also a good aerobic workout. Because you’re not bouncing on a hard surface, it won’t put undue stress on any one joint. Don’t go too hard and aim to stay centered in the trampoline. Go barefoot; socks can be too slippery.
Price range: $35-$40
Dumbbells are one of the least costly fitness apparatuses you can find, and the benefits of resistance training are many. They’re a good substitute for expensive strength training machines, and can provide a greater range of motion for your muscles. Free weights can work out the strength in your back and abs as well as your biceps and triceps. Aim to buy some 5, 7 1/2, and 10 pound weights to start.
Price range: Varies. A pair of 3-pound free weights can start at about as little as $6.
Once you get into the routine of making regular use of your gym, you may consider purchasing bigger equipment such as a treadmill, a stationary bike or an elliptical machine. These items are substantially more expensive and require more maintenance, so ease them into your home routine once you know you’ll use them!
1. Keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many options. You can pick one or two of the items above to kickstart your own mini-gym.
2. Keep it separate. Try to find a separate space for your equipment, even if you have to start out by keeping everything in a closet when you’re not using it. If you can manage to make it work, try setting aside a distinct corner of a room. Do what works for you, but try to keep it somewhere that is not cluttered with the rest of your belongings. Your fitness is a distinct priority, and it deserves a well-defined, easily accessible location in your home.
3. Keep it cool. You’re going to be breaking into a sweat during your workouts. Make sure the space you choose is cool, in close proximity to a fan or AC vents. If room allows, a garage or basement is ideal. Cool temperatures are also better for your equipment’s shelf life.
4. Keep it fun. If you like to keep your mind occupied while you work out, you can keep a TV in your gym, stocked with the latest workout DVDs. A small refrigerator stocked with ice-cold bottles of water can also be a motivator.
5. Keep it safe. Unlike at your local Y, you won’t have the benefit of a personal trainer or spotter. Choose equipment that you’re comfortable using, and talk to a trainer or specialist before buying something that you’ve never tried out before. Also, trade in your equipment for new items once they begin to show signs of wear and tear.
What’s your essential fitness item?