Forking over a monthly fee, sharing equipment with sweaty strangers and squeezing in the time to get your spandex-clad butt there and back—let’s face it, a gym membership can not only be a time and money suck, at times, it can just plain suck. It’s no wonder that more and more exercise enthusiasts are opting to skip the commute and sweat it out at home instead. Besides freeing up more time and funds, the convenience of a home gym also means no excuses. Here’s all the must-have, budget-friendly gear you’ll need to get a gym-worthy workout at home:
1. Yoga/Exercise Mat
These rubbery, non-slip mats aren’t just for getting your downward dog on. Available in a variety of bright, cheery colours and thicknesses, exercise mats help add cushioning and support to stiff, hardwood floors, are shock absorbent and make your exercises and stretches that much safer, and easier on your bones and joints.
2. Free Weights
We know, you don’t want to end up looking like the Incredible Hulk, but adding a pair of lightweight dumbbells to your routine can help you develop some lean, mean metabolism-boosting muscle. Besides giving you a sexy, toned look, you can thank your free weights for a stronger core, and calorie burning power that lasts long after you cool down. Depending on your fitness level, you can start out with a lighter pair (think 1 – 5 pounds), and move up (think 8 to 10 pounds) as your strength improves.
3. Resistance Bands
Much like free weights, these rubber band-like tools can amp up your workout and help improve your overall strength while building long, lean muscle. Perfect for the exercise aficionado or novice alike, these stretchy bands come in different sizes, lengths and resistance levels. Turn up the burn by simply keeping a band taut between your hands, or use furniture or your feet as an anchor.
4. Stability Ball
While it may look like it belongs on the beach, an exercise ball is the secret behind a muffin top-free midsection, killer posture and a healthy spine. Challenge your core by adding a stability ball to your ab workouts. To reap all the upper body rewards, make sure you choose the right fit for your height.
5. Skipping Rope
Great for pre-workout warm ups, or to add bursts of cardio during circuit training, a jumping rope is a home gym essential. Whether you’re skipping indoors or out, this compact little tool takes up next to no space in storage and packs a mighty calorie-crushing punch.
6. Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Get the ultimate fitness feedback, and keep tabs on your time and progress with this heart rate reading and calorie counting little gadget. Thanks to an adjustable strap worn beneath your bust, all your fat-burning info is delivered wirelessly to a matching wristwatch. This invaluable tool can help you to take the reins of your workout, feel more motivated and prevent injury by keeping track of where you are at all times.
7. Workout DVDs
Whether you enjoy an old-school aerobics session, interval training, channeling your inner ballerina with a barre workout, or just want to master your zen with yoga, there are countless DVDs on the market to suit every taste and fitness need. Just make sure you pick up one that matches your abilities before cashing out (as in, don’t choose “Advanced,” if you’re a total newbie).
We recommend: Trying to mix it up as much as possible with different types of workouts with varying intensities so both you and your body never get bored.
Here are some of our favourite Fitness DVDs: