7 Frugal Ways to Exercise: DIY Home Gym

by Miranda Marquit · 8 comments

For quite a while, I’ve had a gym membership. Mainly, I had it because I enjoy swimming. However, my schedule has filled up recently, and I just don’t have the time to go across town, swim, shower, get dressed (and made up) and then come back across the town. Besides, while the swimming offers great, low-impact cardio, it doesn’t do as much in terms of strength training — especially for the core muscles. While I will miss the swimming, I will still be able to swim when we go to the lake during the summer.

So, to save time and money, I’m dusting off the old equipment I’ve had for a while. You can have a do-it-yourself home gym for a fairly low price. Indeed, if you are just looking for all-around general fitness (which can help you save money on health costs), it’s relatively easy to gather what you need. Here are a few items you can use to create a DIY home gym:

  • Hand weights: At our house, we have 2-pound, 5-pound and 15-pound weights. You can save money buy buying a set with several different weights. Or you can get two-weight sets for between $5 and $20 apiece, depending on the type you buy.
  • Stability ball: You can usually get one of these for less than $10. It is great for a number of exercises. I use mine to help me with squats, as well as to do a chest press, rowing, crunches and other exercises. A stability ball is one of the most useful things you can have in a DIY home gym.
  • Resistance bands: Useful for a number of exercises and cheap, cheap, cheap. A package with three or four different bands (plain, no handles, like what are used in Pilates) can be found for right around $8 – $12. Or you can get resistance tubes for a little more.
  • Step: If you do that sort of thing. I don’t actually have a step. If I decide to do anything that requires a step, I use my stair steps. This is because a basic step can cost $20.
  • Yoga mat: I don’t have one of these, either. I’m fine working out on the carpet — even when I do yoga, as I do most mornings. But if you want one, you can get one for right around $15.
  • Pull up bar: I don’t do this, either, but it works well for those who want one. You can get a basic pull up bar for your doorway for between $10 and $20.
  • Instruction videos: I love instruction videos. I rotate through six (dancing, kickboxing, two different Pilates, and two different fitness yoga) so that I work different parts of my body. You can buy them for anywhere between $5 and $20, or you can rent them free at the library. Additionally, there are several YouTube videos and other sources of free online exercise instruction and routine. I do my belly dancing for fitness using free YouTube videos.

In the end, what you want in your DIY home gym depends on your goals. My DIY home gym consists of the following:

  • 3 sets of handweights: Total cost $15
  • Stability ball: $8
  • Videos: $25 (two came with resistance bands, so those were no additional cost)

That’s it. I get an all-around work out with equipment I spent $48 on more than five years ago. When I want to learn how to tone a certain body part, or get a new exercise routine to vary it up, I just go online and watch a free video to see how it is done with what I have. My DIY home gym is simple, yet effective, and it saves me money.

What do you have in your home gym?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Pete February 4, 2011 at 12:33 pm

We have our own DIY gym at home with a set of free weights, a treadmilll, and workout video games that we use several times a week with the Xbox Kinect. It really doesn’t have to be that expensive to work out!

JML February 6, 2011 at 4:35 am

This was a great article! I have been struggling over whether I should get another gym membership or not (too expensive, and last time I had one, I didn’t use the membership often enough to justify the expense).

You have inspired me! Thanks a million!!

kara February 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I have a home gym. It includes a pair of nikes. I run, do sit ups, push ups, yoga. Exercise does not require equipment. Your own body weight is more than enough to get in shape.

Chichi Kix March 10, 2011 at 7:15 am

Great tools to begin with! I’m a big fan of home workouts and it took me a long time to figure out what works for me (and motivates me at home). Equipment is only half the battle though, lots of people have problems with spacing & motivation (often the same issues people have working from home or studying from home).

Thanks AGAIN! Great post!

neelia February 13, 2012 at 6:14 am

We’ve a life fitness cable machine, bench, barbell, free weights, dip station, swiss ball, pull up bar and home-made sandbag and skipping rope, bicycles and nikes:) All the items apart from the cable machine and swiss ball are easily hidden away. With all this equipment, we definitely have a home gym, but some of my favourite and most intense workouts are when I just use my bodyweight:) The one thing that I do miss about the gym is the observer effect. If there are people around, you do tend to push yourself that bit harder!

Internet Avenger May 14, 2012 at 6:16 am

You’re missing the skipping rope which I’ve recently added, it’s an often overlooked, incredibly good cardio device.

David September 14, 2012 at 2:54 am

Three sets of hand weights ?!?

THAT’S okay for the “girly girl” trainers out there, but those after a serious workout will have a couple of barbell bars and a couple hundred pounds of ‘freeweights’ in there among their exercise gear..

Anything less, and one is simply “going through the motions”.

chimen December 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm

My home gym has a large, soft carpet, hand weights, resistance bands and a bamboo pole! The bamboo is great for all sorts of stretching, balancing and coordinating fluidly several movements into one. Home exercising is not only free, you can do it whenever you have time, in the sloppiest attire, at your own pace [thus avoiding injuries] and because it’s so convenient, you’re more likely to do it.

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