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If you’ve recently decided you want to get into better shape and improve your health, you may have considered joining a gym. For many people, gyms can be a great choice because they provide all the things you need for getting in shape – the weights, the cardio equipment, the loud music, and the personal trainers.

But you know what can be not-so-great about gyms? They aren’t always open when you want to work out. Or they are but the time you want to work out happens to be when everyone else wants to work out, too so you end up waiting for equipment, or slap-fighting another mom for the last spin bike. Or the gym you belong to is far enough away from your house that you have to muster quite a bit of motivation to get there as often as you’d like.

If you find yourself in these scenarios, here are some great reasons to create your own home gym space:

– Convenience

Do your workout on your schedule, not the gym’s! Want to workout at 3 am? 11 pm? Whenever you feel like getting it done, your home gym is available. No driving, no packing a bag, no worrying about how you look. Just slap on whatever you’re comfortable in and get to it! This is great for people who work late shifts or early mornings, parents who fit workouts in around nap time and car line, or just don’t want to deal with driving all the way to a gym for the same results they can get at home!

– Privacy

Maybe you really don’t like working out in front of other people? If you’re new to working out or self-conscious about doing exercises with an audience, a home gym can be the perfect solution. If you’re feeling a little unconfident because you think people will be looking at you then do it at home where you can grunt and groan and curse your heart out as you push out that last rep!

– Affordability

While you will have some upfront costs for a few pieces of equipment, there aren’t any monthly payments to consider. Aside from upgrading equipment as you get stronger, or adding items to vary your workouts, you can create a home gym on a pretty slim budget and save yourself those monthly gym fees!

Setting Up Your Home Gym

As you are setting up your home space thing about where you should put it inside your home. You’ll want to have enough room to move around without kicking over a lamp or punching a wall. You’ll want it to be out of the way of normal household traffic. A spare bedroom or basement is a good place because you won’t be tripping over your equipment or have to worry that the kids will get into it.

The other consideration for your home gym space is cost. I understand wanting to cheap out on equipment if your thought right now is “What if I set it up and don’t use it?”. Sure, you don’t want to spend a ton and then find it collecting dust in a couple of months because you just don’t get around to using it like you thought you would. But then you also don’t want to cheap out and have things break on you within your first few workouts.

I recommend going with mid-priced equipment. Start with mid-priced options and then upgrade in a few months if you find you’re getting a lot of use out of this space.

Here are the basic items you’ll need to set up your home gym:


1.  A Supportive Floor Mat

A good home workout is probably going to involve a lot of bodyweight exercises that will require you to get on the floor. A good mat protects your joints when you’re doing floor work. They’re not too cushiony – you don’t want to sink in when you’re doing push ups but you want there to be something soft between you and the floor.

2. A Set of Adjustable Dumbbells

Before you run out to buy a set of pink dumbbells, read this carefully – to build strength and drop fat, you need to be lifting weights. You need real resistance. If you want to do a fast, effective workout, you need to be lifting a weight that fatigues the muscle in 8 reps or less. So unless you are brand spanking new to lifting, you’re going to need a weight set that will challenge you AND grow with you. Before you run out and buy a set of individual weights, consider a set of adjustable weights. These are great because they save space AND money!

2 (still). Resistance Bands

While weights are great, I realize these aren’t the best option for everyone. Resistance bands can also be very effective in building muscle AND they’re great for travel! So if you’re on the road a lot and you find yourself somewhere without a gym – your hotel, the airport, wherever….you can toss a set of bands in your suitcase and still be able to stick to your workout program.

 3. A Bosu or balance ball

As your fitness advances, you’ll need to progress your workouts. A balance or a Bosu ball is a great way to increase the difficulty of so many exercises without having to add more weight or increase the risk of injury. Working to maintain your balance during an exercise engages all those little stabilizer muscles and takes your workout up a notch! They’re also great for core workouts!

4. A Targeted Workout Program

Here’s another place people are faced with overwhelming options and sometimes make the right choice, but sometimes not.

Free workout plans are a dime a dozen. You can find them on Pinterest, in magazines, online – really there is no shortage of workout plans. The problem with this is that how do you know you’re doing the right workout for you? One that is geared specifically towards YOUR goals?

As an ACE-certified personal trainer, I tailor workouts specifically to my clients’ goals, taking into consideration their preferences, medical history, and current fitness level. Instead of cookie-cutter workouts that don’t take your individual needs into account, a custom workout focuses on your specific goal, whatever that may be (fat loss, increased endurance, greater strength).

I have an online fitness coaching program, which is significantly less expensive than an in-person trainer would be (you can read about it here).

5. Fitness Tracker/Heart Rate Monitor

I don’t think you can throw a rock these days and not hit someone wearing a Fitbit or other fitness tracker. Because we tend to overestimate how active we are, fitness trackers are a great way to get a good idea of your overall activity level. They come in all styles, colors, and price points. Features range from counting your steps, track your workouts, to tell you how active you are throughout the day. You can sync them to your phone using Bluetooth and upload your data regularly to see trends and monitor your progress.

You may want one with a heart rate monitor for your HIIT workouts or something simpler that just tracks your steps and motivates you to move a little more than you do now.

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