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Setting up a Home Gym

Getting started.  10 Home Gym Must Haves

(most are around or below $20 each)

I’m not a gym rat.  Don’t get me wrong… I love going to a class and I appreciate the convenience of belonging to a gym for the variety of equipment that I cannot afford to buy or have room to store in my home.  However, for more than 10 years I’ve worked out primarily at home.  I like the convenience.  I love that I don’t have to leave the house, meaning I don’t have to look presentable.  I love that I can truly learn and try new things without worrying anyone is looking at or judging me. In each home we’ve owned, I’ve upgraded my in-house gym to create a more dedicated space to fitness.


Current home gym

But you don’t need a separate room or state-of-the-art equipment. You just need a corner, a flat surface, and a few pieces of simple, and inexpensive equipment.

If you’re just getting started on a fitness journey or you are looking for additional items for your home gym, check out my 10 Home Gym Must Haves.

  1. Resistance bands. These are a necessity if you travel and want to work out in your hotel room. They are lightweight, fit easily into a suitcase or carry on and will keep you on track with your upper body work. I love using them at home too…keeps my muscles challenged. You can get them in different resistance levels so be sure to try them out before buying.  I hurt my shoulder using a band with too much resistance.  You can get them anywhere…I have both Target Champion brand and ones I bought through Beachbody. With the BB kit, you get 3 bands for different levels of resistance.

  2. Weighted hand gloves. These gloves might be my favorite accessory. These are great for any cardio workout.  Just adds enough resistance to help tone and sculpt arms.  These, you cannot find everywhere…at least not in my experience with fitness shopping.  The ones I use stay securely in place and aren’t too bulky.

  1. Yoga mat. Even if you don’t like yoga you need a high-quality mat of some sort to do floor ab work, planks or as a cushion for push ups. Trust me.  Your backside, wrists, knees, etc. will thank you.  Carpet doesn’t work for me and I’d rather sweat all over a mat.  Some of the best yoga mats I’ve ever owned came from TJMaxx or Marshalls.  No joke.  In expensive and high quality.

  2. Balance ball. These have been around forever but typically end up as a toy for the kids in the backyard. If you have one hiding in the basement or a playroom, go get it, add some air and start using it.  It’s not just for crunches.  I do upper body weight training on it sometimes to challenge my core and work on balance.  I use it to stretch after a tough workout or when I feel like my back is tight.  These are found at most Target, Wal-Mart, and sporting goods stores.  Of course, I got mine here.

  3. Foam roller. I’m new to the foam roller but I love it.  It stretches tight muscles and feels like a massage. I’m not always the best post-workout stretcher because I feel like it takes too much time and I just want to go shower.  However, a foam roller has made me stop and appreciate the stretch.

  4. A set of free weights (start with 5 and 10 lbs). If you couldn’t tell, most of my Must Haves are resistance/strength training accessories. Muscle burns more fat and protects our bones and bodies as we age.  If you don’t have a basic set of free weights, this should be one of the FIRST things you buy.  Start small – a set of 5 and 10 lb. weights.  Maybe 20 and 30 lb. for guys. Again, these are an item you can get just about anywhere. I just upgraded to SelecTec weights and love them but that’s an investment I’ve been planning for a few years. My recommendation is to go to Target and get your starter set.

  5. Lower body sculpting bands. Like the resistance bands, these weightless, simple looking bands travel well and will kick your booty. Literally.  Put ‘em on and do side leg lifts, quad extensions, squats, lunges, plyo moves, and so much more.  They also come in different resistance levels so you can build up strength. At $9 each, they are also one of the most affordable fitness accessories.

  6. Strength slides. I’ve seen videos on YouTube where people use paper plates in this same way and I tried that. It doesn’t work as well and I felt like I had no control. 


slides provide another lower body strength and cardio option.  I use them to do mountain climbers, speed skaters and other moves that combine strength and cardio. I use mine in a PiYo workout too. If you love Yoga and Pilates, check out PiYo.

9.  Weighted resistance ball (aka medicine ball). Doesn’t have to be super heavy but enough to challenge you. And if you’re wondering what workouts you can do with a medicine ball, check out these moves.

  1. Online workout subscription. Finally, if you’re going to work out at home, no one can run on the treadmill, cycle or go ‘round and ‘round on an elliptical every day. I like to change it up and have access to programs that are fun, challenging and keep my interest.  There are lots of services out there and I subscribe to Beachody on Demand.  There are literally hundreds of workouts, a cooking show, meal plans, etc. And it has some of the best-known programs like Insanity, P90X and 21 Day Fix.  You can check it out for free for 30 days here (after that it’s only about $13 a month):

So, there you have it.  My basic home gym equipment.  Eventually, you may want to add a weight bench or a chin up bar or other pieces that require some more investment and dedicated space.  Until then, these will get you started on your road to living healthier!

Live well, friends.


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