Working Out at Home

Building a Basic Home Gym with Less than $200

Exercising at home is a really popular and convenient way to stay in great shape. A basic home gym does not need to be filled with expensive equipment costing thousands of dollars. All you really need are a few pieces that can get tucked away neatly in the corner of your basement, home office or bedroom closet.

After you get the general equipment, add on piece-by-piece catering to your exercise needs. Below is a “getting started” list of eight (8) pieces of equipment that I think everyone should have to get in a good workout. I’m affiliated with these companies and recommend them because I’ve used each of the specific products in my own training, or while training clients. They’re also fairly affordable – which is a huge plus.

Refer to any of my No Excuses workouts, and you’ll see how these pieces of equipment can be easily used – creating a happy, healthy body.

Medicine Balls
$40 – 60 (cost varies depending on weight)
I think medicine balls should be a staple in everyone exercise arsenal. They’re great for doing core work, stability work, and they also make for a fun partner workout. I tend to refer to medicine balls often in my workouts because they’re so versatile and convenient. I recommend First Place medicine balls because they’re really durable and will last! Weight recommendation: Anywhere from 6 to 12 pounds. You can get more info on medicine balls here.

Dumbbells $24 – 60 per pair (cost varies depending on weight)
They’re small, practical and can really help fight off ‘lunch lady arms.’ More often than not, dumbbells can be used interchangeably with barbells (see The Body Bar below). It’s always a good idea to get a couple sets of dumbbells – small muscles need less weight, larger muscles need more. It’s hard to say who should start with what weight. Generally speaking, most of my clients will start with five pounds for the lighter weight, and ten to 12 for the heavier weight. Basic vinyl weights will do just fine! Here is the info:

Stability Balls $29 – 45 (cost varies depending on size)
Stability balls are great for a variety of abdominal work as well as leg work. You’d be amazed what one of these balls can do. Perform Better suggests the following sizing in determining what size ball you should buy: Up to 5'1" tall use 45cm, 5'1" to 5'6" use 55cm, 5'7" to 6'1" use 65cm, over 6'1" use 75cm. You can find more info here about the stability balls I recommend:

Body Bars $36 – 90 (cost varies depending on weight)
Without playing favors, I would have to say The Body Bar, which can easily replace a barbell, is my favorite piece of at-home equipment next to my yoga mat and my foam roller. Squats, lunges, balance, upper body work…you name it, this weighted bar can help you do it. Love this product. You should have one. If you’re just starting out, 9 to 12 pounds (max) should be good. If you’ve been doing plenty of upper body work, 15 to 30 pounds should challenge you. Here is how you can get it:

Jump Rope $22
This jump ropes means business. Heavy and extremely durable, the Super Jump Ropes are a great complement to any of my workouts that incorporate a jump rope, or a workout that requires some sort of cardio warm up. Here is how you can get the Super Jump Rope:

Resistance Bands $10 - 12
These bands can are great for upper and lower body work. I generally recommend people get medium to heavy resistance. Popular exercises done with resistance bands include: chest press, shoulder press, bicep curls, rows...and the list goes on and on. They're an easy, inexpensive addition to any home gym.

Foam Roller $10 – 20 (cost varies depending on size)
Many sore muscles have been rolled out using foam rollers. I like the PB Elite foam roller because it holds it shape much better than other brands and is a really reasonable price. I generally use my foam roller after a workout. It does a great job massaging tight muscles. The size I recommend is the 3’ long, 6” round roller. You can get more info on the foam roller here.

Yoga Mat $10+
Even if you don’t practice yoga, a yoga mat provides the perfect surface for a variety of exercises from planks to push ups. Mats differ in grip, cushion and visual alignment. If you’re just looking for a comfortable surface to do crunches, a basic mat will do. Yoga mats are everywhere, but if you don’t know of a convenient place to pick one up, MatsMatsMats has a good selection. Check out what they have here.

Do you need ALL of this?
This basic equipment will allow you to hit the ground running, keeping up with my workouts without a problem. But if you don't want to buy all of this right away, I would suggest starting with a comfortable yoga mat,  body bar (so versatile) and foam roller (your muscles and back will thank you!).

Anything Else?
If you've been working out for a while, and want a challenge and something new, I would highly recommend getting a TRX suspension system. I have one mounted in my home office, right in front of me...and I love it. The TRX Pro Kit has everything you need, including a DVD that will take you through the workouts.  It retails right around $200, so it definitely increases the price of your home gym, but as your commitment to fitness grows, the TRX is a perfect addition. Get more info here:

What exercise equipment do you like to use - and how? I'm always up for hearing how people use different pieces of portable equipment! Want more fitness-related tips? Need a trainer - I'm here for that, too. Connect with me on Facebook or  subscribe to my blog.