Sometimes it just makes sense to workout at home. Even though I’m a regular at the gym and have a detailed schedule that I try to follow, sometimes things can get completely thrown off. Whether it’s a kid getting sick, an unexpected appointment or just not enough time in the day to get it all done… life happens! Having a room setup exclusively for training would be ideal, but for many of us that’s simply not an option.
So what’s a girl to do? Start by listing the specific exercises that you want to accomplish at home. Many exercises can be done just as effectively by using your body weight; but if you want even more options or to add a degree of difficulty, you’ll need to invest in some at home fitness equipment.
The good news is that there are a lot of options that won’t require a loan application or an entire room in your house to setup and store. You can do muscle burning, heart pounding exercises with just a few compact and long-lasting pieces of affordable home exercise equipment.
1.) Home Exercise Mats
Many of the exercises you can do at home begin on the floor. A dense piece of carpet may do the trick, but an exercise mat made specifically for this purpose will provide better grip and padding for intense floor training. If you have a space that is designated for exercise, choose a mat that adequately fits the area, otherwise find one that you can easily roll up and store away when not in use. An exercise mat is an essential piece of affordable home fitness equipment that everyone should consider – and they can start as low as $15 to $20.
The thickness of mats vary depending on their usage. General fitness mats are thick to absorb impact and provide cushioning; yoga mats are thinner and a bit tacky; while Pilates mats are also thin but firmer, smoother and not sticky. You may want to consider using more than one type of fitness mat, if you’re like me and practice a variety of types of training.
2.) Resistance Bands & Loops
Often used interchangeably, resistance bands and loops allow for a wide variety of exercises for beginner to advanced athletes. Resistance loops are approximately six inch wide, flat pieces of latex; resistance bands (tubes) are lengths of rubber tubing. Compact and easy to stow away when you’re done, they offer many ways to challenge your muscles and increase the difficulty of your workout. Designed to effectively build muscle strength and tone the body, there are specific resistance bands designed to target specific muscle groups. And they’re affordable too! You can get a decent set for $10 to $20.
Both bands and loops use colors to denote the level of resistance – x-light, light, medium, heavy and x-heavy. Generally, the darker the color the more difficult the band or tube will be to stretch. Anchoring one end of a resistance device and varying the angle of your body increases/decreases the range of motion, stretch or challenge to targeted muscle group.
3.) Home Dumbbell Set
Dumbbells bring the weight to home weight training and are an essential piece of home fitness equipment. Both free weights and weight machines build muscle, endurance and strength; however, keeping with the theme of affordable exercise equipment for your home, hand held weights are the best way to go. Plus they offer an advantage over machines; namely, they don’t restrict movement. This will help you to develop better balance and more functional strength.
You can get a used set online for practically nothing or pay as little as $1 per pound for individual dumbbells (more for vinyl coated). If you’re just starting out, one pair of 3 and 5 pound weights should be good to start. Add 8, 10, 12 pounds and upwards as you progress. A decent starter set won’t cost much, here’s an affordable home dumbbell set for just $25.
4.) Stability / Exercise Ball
Every home should have an exercise (Swiss) ball. Not only does it help with balance and tone and strengthen your body, it’s just plain fun. The unstable surface activates your stabilizer muscles to help maintain equilibrium. Standard exercises performed on an exercise ball also increase core strength. Spend time just sitting on one and you will be engaging a dozen different muscles without breaking a sweat.
It’s important that you choose the right size ball for your frame. Like sitting in a chair that’s too large / small, the wrong size can cause muscle strain and soreness. Look for the users’ height chart to find the proper diameter ball that fits your body. Exercise balls typically range from $10 to $20.
5.) Jump Rope
One jump at a time will build endurance, strength, balance and agility! Jumping rope is a high-intensity cardio workout that would benefit (and could involve) the whole family. Jump ropes are inexpensive, easy to carry and use anytime and anywhere as part of a circuit or as a complete workout. One of the most affordable home fitness equipment options – get one for $10 or less.
6.) Step-Up Box or Platform
Step up boxes are excellent for beginner and advanced athletes, as they build explosive power and quickness, agility and lower body strength. You can build your own box or buy a stepping platform that can be adjusted higher as you progress. They can be used both aerobically or for non-jumping moves like squats and dips and are a perfect, low cost addition to any home fitness area. Depending on how serious you are, prices vary from $20 to $100.
7.) Home Fitness Videos
Sometimes we could all use someone to motivate and push us harder. That’s when a workout video can be your best friend. No judgment here, just simple instructions and encouragement. Fitness DVDs and online video options are endless. YouTube is great for checking out instructors to find one that works for you before you invest in a streaming or home exercise video series.
What Else Do I Need?
There’s an endless array of home fitness equipment to fill your home gym; but if you’re trying to stick to a budget… these are some of the essentials. Along with having the right equipment, consider the lighting and sound. A dark basement can work surprisingly well by adding daylight bulbs, artwork and fitness posters. Consider a light, bright-colored paint to give your fitness area a pop of color. Plug in some hip-hop or electronic music – or anything that will inspire and motivate you to get moving!
Working out at home doesn’t have to be dreadful burden – financially or emotionally. By starting with some basic, affordable home exercise equipment and adding a few personal touches, your home can become a welcome escape from your daily grind at the gym.