Ask any fitness expert, and they’ll all agree: having a designated place to work out is key to developing a sustainable fitness routine. Anyone striving to work out regularly is going to have a tough time sticking to their workouts if it’s a constant challenge to determine where they’ll get their workout done for the day.
A dedicated workout spot could be a gym or boutique fitness studio, but it doesn’t have to be. And even if you have a gym membership, there will be days when you know it will be hard to make the trek there, when you just don’t feel like waiting for space to clear up in the weight room, or when you simply don’t want to be around other people.
Here’s the good news: You don’t need a gym membership to work out, and you don’t have to work out at a gym even if you do have a gym membership.
With minimal investment and just enough space at home, you can create a very simple home gym to ensure you always have a place to get a workout in, no matter what life throws at you in a given day to threaten your routine.
Step 1: Claim Your Home Workout Space
When choosing your home workout space, you’ll want room for your equipment to be out and accessible, as well as space for a mat (especially on hard floors), and room to move as each exercise deems necessary.
Some great options for an in-home gym or workout area are a spare bedroom, a basement (or at least a part of a basement), a section of the garage, or a portion of a living room — assuming you can claim the space for working out without disrupting anyone else living under the same roof.
Try to choose a space with minimal distractions. If you’re set up in the living room, but the rest of the family is trying to watch TV or play video games, you’re more likely to get pulled away from exercise. The same goes for having a TV or computer up in the same space. If you are easily distracted by the show on TV or the work chat happening on your computer, there’s a good chance you’ll lose the motivation to finish that workout.
If you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated workout space that’s always set up and ready for action, it’s also important that setting up the space can be done quickly and easily. Ideally, you should be able to walk into your workout space and start exercising within a minute or so; otherwise you’re bound to lose momentum as you collect and set up all your equipment from disparate parts of the house.
Ideally, you’ll also want this space to be temperature controlled as well, so that being too hot or too cold doesn’t make your workouts unbearable.
Step 2: Gather Your Workout Gear and Get Your Space Situated
Once you have your space identified, you’ll want to audit what exercise equipment you already have and get any other essentials you think you’ll need to get started depending on the types of workouts you plan to do. If you aren’t sure where to get started with a workout regimen or want custom-tailored workouts, online trainer apps like Trainiac are an excellent option to get expert guidance and completely personalized workouts designed around your goals and available equipment.
Whether you’re brand new to exercise or just looking to have more flexibility for where you can work out, getting set up at home can be really simple and inexpensive. You can start at home using nothing but bodyweight, and evolve your home gym to include more equipment as your needs and abilities change.
While large exercise machines like treadmills, exercise bikes, or total gym systems can be nice, they’re often expensive, take up significant space, and aren’t essential if you’re just getting started. Assuming you have decent weather where you live, you could also go for a walk, run, or bike ride outside without needing special in-home machines. If you do have the space but still want to find a big machine on a budget, it’s always worth checking Craigslist, OfferUp, or Facebook marketplace for great deals before you buy brand new.
Budget-Friendly Home Workout Essentials for Any Space
If you don’t have any equipment, here’s a simple $100 home gym setup to get you started.
Create a Home Gym for $100
If you’re looking to get started, without spending a ton, you can get a decent beginner home gym for about the same price as two months of an average gym membership (and it’s yours forever!). This setup will work for a wide range of dynamic exercises, especially if you’re willing to get creative.
- Yoga or Exercise Mat ($17) - If you’re working out on hard tile or wood floors, having a padded surface for your feet can make a huge difference in your comfort. If your space has carpeting or a rug, adding a thinner mat can provide added grip without sacrificing stability.
- Resistance Bands ($11) - You can do a ton of different lifting exercises with resistance bands. Getting a set of varying stretch also allows for a wider range of resistance to work different muscle groups.
- Light-Weight Dumbbells ($18) - In addition to having resistance bands, having a pair of small dumbbells can be useful in HIIT-style workouts. They are also useful in doing high-repetition work for toning your upper body.
- Kettlebell ($30) - Picking up a kettlebell in a moderate weight allows you to use it across tons of different exercises. There’s also a huge selection of kettlebell-specific workouts online, meaning you can get a wide variety from a single piece of equipment.
- Stability Ball ($25) - Stability balls are essential to a simple home gym setup. They can serve as a spot to sit for doing arm exercises, a bench for chest and shoulder press, and are great for lots of core and ab work. Just be sure to check the size guide to find the right sized ball for you.
With just those 5 things, your total investment is around $101, and you’ll be able to hammer out great workouts for a long time. Best of all, if you’re using Trainiac for one-on-one coaching and weekly workouts, just let your trainer know what you have and they’ll be able to program some awesome upper and lower body workouts, as well as plenty of cardio-driven exercises with this simple setup.
Create a Home Gym for $250
If you have a little more room in your budget and your workout space, you can add the below equipment to what we’ve recommended above — all for a total cost of about $250.
- Medium Dumbbell ($15 - $25 each) - Picking up a 10-20 pound dumbbell (or a pair) is a great addition because of the versatility. They can work for high-rep arm work, dynamic arm or leg movement, and various core exercises.
- Heavy Dumbbell ($35 - $50 each) - A heavier dumbbell (or pair of heavy dumbbells) that are between 25 and 35 pounds rounds out your dumbbell setup by offering enough weight to use in arm, chest, and leg strength lifts. If you plan to do full-body lifts, it’s best to get these in a pair.
- Adjustable Bench ($70) - Having a bench for your workouts offers a stable platform and back support for chest and arm exercises while sitting or lying down.
And voila! For 250 bucks, you’ve got a functional home gym that’ll last you for years. When you’re ready for more versatility, you can always add additional dumbbells, a basic barbell set, or perhaps a TRX suspension training system.
Home Gym Equipment Extras & Helpful Add-Ons
A few other things you might want in your home gym could include:
- Pull-Up Bar: an excellent way to work your arms and back at home without the need for a giant weight cage. You can also loop your resistance bands around the bar for assistance as you build pull-up strength.
- Medicine Ball (not to be confused with a yoga ball): useful for ab and core work, since it can be held in your hands, or between your feet.
- Modular Dumbbell System: another option if you don’t want to piecemeal your dumbbells or don’t have space for a huge line-up of pairs. This allows you to adjust a single dumbbell through a huge range of weights. These are pricier up front, but can end up being more economical in the long run.
- Bluetooth Speaker or Bluetooth Headphones: either option allows you to connect to your smartphone to listen to music and workout cues from the follow-along instructional workout videos in the Trainiac app (or other fitness apps you may use) without having to carry or move it around between exercises.
- Phone/Tablet Stand: great if you’re following guided workouts. These allow you to prop up your device so you can easily see it instead of leaving it on the floor or in your pocket.
- Sport Towel: makes everything a little less slippery when you’re getting a good sweat going.
- Disinfecting Wipes: Even if you’re the only one using your equipment, it’s good to wipe the sweat off after you’re done with your workout to keep bacteria (and odor) at bay.
Step 3: Start Using Your Home Workout Space
Once you have your workout space kitted with the workout gear you need, it’s time to put it to good use. If you’re currently a member of a gym or fitness center, it’s worth trying your typical gym workout at home to see what modifications need to be made.
If you’re seeing a personal trainer, ask for workouts to do at home between your in-person sessions, and make time to get them done. If you’re working with an online trainer through Trainiac, let them know you have new equipment you’d like programmed into the custom workouts they design for you.
If you’re having a hard time making regular exercise a priority and need a little nudge to get moving, give Trainiac a try for professional guidance, accountability, and ongoing encouragement to keep at it.
Step 4: Keep Your Home Gym Sacred
To keep your workout space inviting and primed for repetitive use, treat your workout space as sacred by keeping it clean and organized.
Make sure your space is free of clutter so you have space to exercise freely and without distractions from unnecessary stimuli that could derail your focus on your workout. This means picking up toys, laundry, mail or paperwork, shoes, and anything else that could be neatly tucked away on a shelf or otherwise out of the way. Nothing is worse than finally dedicating 30 minutes to working out, only to spend the majority of that time picking up the mess in your home fitness room.
Keeping it sacred also means making it inviting and comfortable. Try adding posters, different lighting, shelves, or even a mirror (which can make the space appear larger, and offers a way to keep an eye on your form) to make it a place you want to be. If the space isn’t inviting, you’ll subconsciously (or consciously) avoid going there. By making it an intentional space, you’ll likely see more consistent usage, feel more accomplished, and often feel an increased sense of mental focus throughout the rest of the day.