5 tips for building your home gym on a budget

Geerati/ iStockYou can set up a gym in your home.
  • The average monthly price of gym memberships in the US is $US58.
  • Weather, schedule, or expense might be reasons that you don’t go to the gym.
  • It is completely possible to create an at-home gym on a budget.

Busy work schedules, rising gym membership costs, and unpredictable weather are just some of the things that make squeezing in a daily exercise regimen a challenge. Not to mention, on some days, it could simply be a lack of motivation.

But not having to go to the gym can help with that. That’s where a home gym comes in.

In 2013, the average retail price of a multi-purpose home gym amounted to around $US636 in the United States. The average monthly costs of a gym in the United States is $US58. This translates to $US696 per year, $US2,088 over three years – not including the cost of travel, gym wear, and incidentals such as locker rental.

Building a home gym doesn’t have to break the bank. With a few essential items and some creativity, you can get all of the same benefits of hitting your favourite gym (or workout class) at home.

“When it comes to building a home gym, the most important thing you need to do is be honest with yourself,” said Thomas Boatswain, personal trainer. “Do a ‘needs analysis’ for yourself. Be realistic about your goals and what’s necessary. This will help get you started on what steps need to be taken first.”

So if you’re unsure of where to start when building your own gym, or need recommendations on a few essential tools to maximise home fitness, read on below.


Find a space.

Flickr/dnakA garage can be a great place to get started.

Do you have an at-home office or spare bedroom? Or have you been wanting to renovate your basement? Well, these all make for perfect spaces to transform your home gym. And don’t be intimidated or discouraged if you’re limited on space.

Even your living room or garage can double as a gym when you want to get in a quick workout. When it comes to your at home gym, it’s all about maximizing the things that you do have, instead of buying unnecessary items that you don’t need.


Purchase the essentials.

N3T1O/FlickrA kettlebell is a great place to start.

“The best items to purchase for a home gym are ones that provide multiple uses. A 30lb kettlebell is a great example. You can do deadlifts, squats, overhead presses, curls, and core work with an item that barely takes up any space,” said Boatswain.

Dumbbells are also a necessary addition to your home workout equipment arsenal. And they will run you less than $US20 – ranging in all weights, colours, and styles. You’ll also want to grab resistance bands, which are perfect for at-home use or on the go.

“Monster bands are amazing items to purchase,” Boatswain said. “You can get multiple bands at different levels of resistance for $US50-60. The bands apply greater levels of force the further they’re stretched which can make a workout more challenging. They can be combined with dumbbells, barbells, etc and more importantly, you can store them effortlessly.”

Make sure you’re getting ones that are durable (so they can stand the test of time in your home), such as the TB12 Looped Resistance Band Kit, which can cost on average about $US80 for a beginner kit. Lastly, a good old fashioned jump rope ($US34.99) or medicine ball ($US19.99) won’t cost more than $US50 for a DynaPro Direct, and you can use them both for high intensity or strength training workouts.


Use non-traditional options.

Universal PicturesThere are lots of workout apps.

Don’t worry, there’s also an app for that. There are a plethora of live classes and digital personal trainers who can help lead your workouts without the high cost of fitness equipment. From the TB12 Method app to Gixo to Aaptiv, you can easily tailor an at-home workout to your personal needs.


Make substitutions, if necessary.

heromen30/ShutterstockYou can use cans as a weight alternative.

Of course, for the hardcore runners and cardio lovers, you may want to hit the pavement on a consistent basis. Fine. And while treadmills, elliptical trainers and bicycles can run upwards of thousands and thousands of dollars, there are plenty of other machine options that are much more efficient and cost-effective.

For instance, the WalkingPad is a compact and lightweight treadmill designed to fit where traditional treadmills cannot and can fit under a bed or couch. Or opt for the MaxiClimber, which provides a full-body workout vertical climber that combines weight resistance, muscle toning, and aerobic exercise all in the comfort of your home – for under $US200.

You can even go an even simpler route and use items you already have at home.

Gerald Mayes, a certified fitness trainer with VShred says, “You can do any triceps or biceps exercise at home using cans of soup that you’d do at the gym with dumbbells. To properly gauge the weight, don’t go by the ounces listed on the can – that’s liquid weight. Instead, weigh the cans on your scale to figure out the poundage that’s best for you.”

You can also dig into your closet for inspiration. “Almost any exercise you can do with a resistance band, you can do with old pantyhose or tights,” he said.

For example, sitting on the floor with your legs straight, loop a pair of pantyhose around the balls of your feet and pull back with both hands as if you are using a rowing machine.


Build it up over time.

Stu Forster/Getty ImagesIt doesn’t have to be done right away.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your gym doesn’t need to be either. When mapping out the essential items – and figuring out the muscles you plan to work the most – you’ll discover items that will have the most impact on your workouts on a day-to-day basis. The key to keeping your gym budget friendly starts with a few key pieces and then gradually build up from there. Before you know it, you’ll forget about going elsewhere to get in all your fitness needs.

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