Affordable Fitness: How to Work Out at Home

By Lynn Bode

Spend just a few minutes watching late night infomercials and you may be convinced that in order to workout at home you must empty your purse to buy expensive equipment. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Getting and staying fit doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment nor a membership to your local gym.

For an effective home gym, all that is required is a little bit of planning. To avoid having a basement filled with expensive dust-collecting equipment, keep these points in mind when making a purchase:

What are your fitness goals?

How often will you use it?

What fitness level do you expect to be at in 3, 6, 9 months?

Will the equipment meet your needs as you get more fit?

Does the equipment offer enough variations in use to prevent your body from hitting a plateau?

Will you quickly grow bored of the exercises?

 And, of course how much can you afford? 

Once you have answered all of the above questions then you are ready to make some purchasing decisions. Of course, how much you can afford to spend may dictate what you can actually purchase.  Don’t get discouraged. For as little as $50, you can have everything you need to get fit in the privacy of your home. 

Regardless of what your fitness goals are, there are a plethora of equipment options to consider. So, answering the previously mentioned questions is very important. 

Also, keep in mind that while it is tempting to focus on what you consider your trouble areas, spot reducing should be confined to the laundry. Buying the latest ab gadget for a flat stomach or thigh pusher to get rid of saddlebags isn’t realistic. No matter where you might carry extra weight, all women need to focus on the major principles of fitness: cardiovascular, strength training, flexibility and nutrition. All of these areas can be properly addressed with little to no equipment. 

For effective cardiovascular workouts traditional equipment such as treadmills and elliptical trainers certainly are beneficial, but necessary. Today many other options are available. 

Weather and safety permitting, you can walk, jog, bike, and skate outside. A ready-to-use indoor option can be found with a flight of stairs. Plus, very inexpensive home equipment options include a jump rope, stability ball, and even fitness DVDs. 

Effective home strength training workouts also do not require major investments. This type of training often is overlooked by women for multiple reasons (including the myth that it will bulk you up), but it is critical to overall fitness. It not only aids in weight loss, but also increases bone density and helps reduce muscle loss. 

Today there are a huge number of ways to strength train. Traditional options include dumbbells, weight machines and barbells. More recent equipment choices include medicine balls, resistance bands, fitness balls, kettlebells and more. Plus, don’t forget that using free household items and good old body weight can be all that is needed. 

Here are some suggestions for creating your own home gym based on your individual budget: 

Bare Bones Budget 

For cardio workouts combine stair climbing (if stairs are accessible) and library DVD’s you can checkout for free 

Great strength training exercises can be accomplished with cans and jugs found around your house plus body weight (think knee push-ups, squats and dips) 

Flexibility – grab a towel and stretch it out on the floor 

$100 Budget 

Grab a jump rope for a challenging cardio workout.

Try a $20 stability ball for stretching and strength training.

For variety, get two to three different dumbbell sizes plus a set of resistance bands. 

$1000+ Budget 

If you are going to splurge on cardio equipment, consider a treadmill. It can be used for running, walking, and even some leg strength training. Plus, workouts can continually be varied based on speed, incline, and even direction.

Stability ball

Dumbbell set: 5 to 25 pounds

Resistance bands

BOSU for another option for cardio, strength training and stretching 

On any size budget you can make a wise purchase that will be invaluable in helping you get more fit and healthy. And, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of working out at home. 

What are the benefits of working out at home? Here are some highlights:

No wasted time driving to and from a fitness club

No waiting in line to use the equipment

Workout on your schedule, not the health club’s

No expensive monthly membership fees or long-term contracts

Motivation to workout as you pass by the equipment every day 


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