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Home gym: how to personalize your own

No matter your fitness goal, working out at home is a great way to get fit without the expense of a gym membership. 

But before you run out to buy free weights, a yoga mat and a treadmill, take some time consider what kinds of exercises you want to do. Then figure out how much space and what kinds of equipment you need to accomplish them.

Ready to create your own home gym? Here are tips to get started.

Work with the space you have

I once lived in a tiny studio apartment where doing yoga meant pushing the couch into the bedroom area every single time. Suffice to say, my main workout was running around my neighborhood.

If you have plenty of extra space for a gym, you have lots of options. But when space is limited, the key is to pick workouts that don’t need a lot of it. 

Classic exercises, like push ups, sit ups, squats and lunges, don’t require a ton of room and still produce results. For cardio at home, try jump roping. It’s great for getting your blood pumping and also doesn’t need much space.

Another option is to pick up some space-saving workout equipment, like a TRX system or a door-mounted pull up bar.

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Essential equipment for a home gym

I know it’s tempting to buy a Peloton treadmill or Bowflex, but put the credit card down and start with the basic equipment every home gym should have.

To get started, pick up simple, multipurpose equipment. Start with:

  • A yoga mat, for yoga, pilates and stretching
  • Resistance bands, for strength training and stretching
  • A kettlebell or two, for weight lifting and to add resistance to body weight workouts

If you already have the basics and want more, consider adding the items below:

  • Dumbbells, for upper body work
  • Medicine balls for strength training
  • foam roller, for stretching and massaging tight muscles

And of course, you should always tailor the equipment you get to your specific workouts.

Build a home gym on a budget

Gym equipment can range from cheap to thousands of dollars. Keep costs low by starting with the list above, and adding new items one at a time.

Find a bargain

A great place to start is buy hitting up an off-price department store such as Marshall’s, Ross or TJ Maxx (aka TK Maxx in the UK and Australia). You’ll usually find yoga mats, kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance bands and other workout accessories.

The same goes for big-box stores. They might not have a huge variety of equipment, but you can get the essentials at places like Target, often for less than at sporting goods store.

Go secondhand for bigger items

A great place to find exercise equipment, and save a few dollars, is Craigslist. You can find listing after listing for treadmills, dumbbells, barbells, exercise bikes, benches, pull up bars and much more — though the selection will vary based on where you live of course.

Exercise for free

If you’re just starting to workout at home, consider forgoing equipment at first and use bodyweight workouts, which are completely free. Despite what any fitness infomercial might tell you, you can get fit without buying anything.

Avoid exercise gimmicks

Speaking of infomercials, those cheesy exercise tools (I see you, Shake Weight) are totally not worth getting. 

All of these products make lofty claims and promise super-fast results, but most are either too expensive for what they are, or aren’t versatile enough to exercise your entire body.

Make the most of your home gym

If you stash away your exercise equipment in the closet or under your bed, how likely are you to dig it out each time to work out? Even if you are short on space, find a dedicated space for your gear where you can see it — doing that will encourage you to use it.

Stock this area with towels, a water bottle, a Bluetooth speaker and anything else you use during your workouts. Also consider bringing in a TV or tablet to watch fitness videos, or to catch up on your Netflix queue.

Invest in advanced equipment

If you’ve already been working out at home and are ready to add more equipment to your home gym, start by learning about the latest fitness tech. 

We’ve reviewed the hottest products out there — Peloton Tread, Peloton Bike, Mirror and ClassPass Live — to see what’s worth the price.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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