The Home Gym That Costs Less Than Your Annual Gym Membership
According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, the average person spends $54 per month on a gym membership. In urban centers like New York, Chicago, DC, and San Francisco, that number might be as high as ten percent of a person’s monthly income. But fitness doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It’s easy to create a home gym you can use for years for less than the cost of your annual gym dues.
Using the lower figure, $648, for annual gym dues, we’ve pulled together ten items you can buy to build out a full-body workout experience in your home.
The first item on the list? The TRX Suspension Trainer. This is your head-to-toe solution for home workouts. Because the Suspension Trainer uses your bodyweight as your “load” for exercise, it’s easily adaptable for every fitness level. There are no plates to change, no pins, and no guesswork: just take a step forward or back to change the difficulty of your exercise.
The TRX Home2 System comes with both the Suspension Trainer and a workout app with dozens of programmed workouts from work class coaches, so you get equipment and expert training for under $200.
If you have hard floors in your home, a mat will go a long way to making your workout more comfortable. While not completely necessary—some people just use a towel—it can soften the impact of barefoot jumping exercises, and protect your knee caps and spine from pressure from your floor. If you’re going to be doing bodyweight core work like bicycle crunches or forearm planks, do yourself a favor and spend the money.
So you like Pilates, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money on Pilates classes. Get a set of gliding discs, also known as sliders. These are frequently used for core exercises, but they’re also good for glute and adductor work. Gliding discs usually cost about $8-$15, depending on the manufacturer. Look for a set that works on both carpet and hard surfaces.
You don’t have to pump iron in the traditional sense—with dumbbells and barbells—to incorporate weight into your workout: just buy a kettlebell. Much like the TRX Suspension Trainer, a kettlebell is a limitless tools. Search for kettlebell exercises, and you’ll find hundreds of terms like Turkish get-up, snatch, swing, twist, and farmer carry. You can even download workouts!
If you’re new to strength training, start with a light kettlebell, around 12 or 15 pounds, and remember that kettlebell pricing increases with weight. For this article, we chose an 8 kg kettlebell, (a little over 17 lbs) as a starting point.
Kettlebells are fantastic for swing and press workouts, but if you want to toss weight, you'll need a medicine ball or wall ball. (A medicine ball is usually slighter smaller and lighter than a wall ball.) You can use a weighted ball for wall ball tosses, ball slams, torso twists, weighted squats and lunges, sit-ups with shoulder presses, and more. Weighted balls also work well into partner exercises.
Like kettlebells, medicine balls and wall balls are priced according to their weight. Consider starting with one that’s slightly lighter than your kettlebell. For this article, we chose a 14-pound wall ball.
Wall ball: $99.95
Remaining budget: $269.12
Before you can add weight to a bicep curl or chest press, you need to buy weights. But you don’t need to replicate the weight rack from the local gym in your home. Start with a set of adjustable dumbbells that allow you to load and unload plates according to your fitness level. In addition to bicep curls and chest presses, you can use your dumbbells with squats, tricep extensions, squats, and lunges.
For this article, we based the price on a 40-lb adjustable dumbbell set.
Remaining budget: $221.37
If you decide to invest in dumbbells—or you already have a set at home—a stability ball can stand in for a weight bench to support your upper body while you do chest presses. It’s also a handy tool on its own. Use it for core-toning exercises like bridges, pikes, and planks, or for stretching and mobility work.
Stability ball: $34.95
Remaining budget: $186.42
Have a hallway, garage, or basement with room for a serious cardio-blast? You need a battle rope. From heart-pumping and core-engaging slams, waves, jacks, throws and pulls, a battle rope will work your entire body. There are dozens of battle rope exercise plans online, so you’ll enjoy lots of variety.
Adductors—those muscles through the side of your legs—are frequently overlooked, but mini-resistance bands will ensure they get the attention they deserve. These small, stretchy bands safely increase the intensity of an exercise without the need for extra weights. They’re effective, and really inexpensive.
Strength bands are another way to shake up your workout. Larger and heavier than the mini-bands, you can use them for anything from rehabilitation, stretching, mobility and resistance training, to power-lifting, weightlifting and pull-up assistance. For this article, we based pricing on a medium strength band.
Strength band: $34.95
Remaining budget: $6.57
Altogether, that's ten fitness tools for your home gym—and thousands of exercise options—for less than an annual gym membership. If you're tired of driving to fitness clubs and waiting for weights and equipment, consider bringing the gym home.