Finance

How to Build a Cheap Home Gym for Less Than $100

The reasons not to go to the gym are endless: It’s really cold outside. Panting in a workout class with 15 strangers in the middle of flu season doesn’t sound very fun. Maybe you just don’t feel like going.

If the gym just isn’t your thing but you’re still looking for an exercise outlet, it could be time to consider a home gym.

Creating a home gym will not only help you stay in shape but could also save you money in the long run, considering the high cost of gym memberships and boutique fitness classes that can cost more than $20 for a single hour.

But for less than $100, it’s “absolutely” possible to get enough equipment at home to make a difference in your health, said personal trainer Chrisi Moutopoulos. She’s a regional manager in Long Island for GYMGUYZ, the first in-home mobile personal training franchise company. She became a personal trainer seven years ago, after going through her own weight loss journey.

“You can always get fit on a small budget or no budget,” Moutopoulos said.

How to Build a Home Gym for Less Than a Benjamin

If $100 still seems pricey to you, keep in mind: You might spend that for just four Pure Barre classes or a few months of a gym membership. That doesn’t count activation fees or the gas you’ll spend getting there and back.

Once you stock your home gym, it’s yours to keep — no membership renewal necessary.

For anyone getting started, Moutopoulos recommends consulting with both a doctor and with a trainer. They’re experts in the field and can help customize a plan that works within your restrictions and your goals. It’s a potential up-front cost, but worth it to make sure you’re being smart.

After that, here’s what you need to start your own workout room and how to use all that new equipment.

Resistance Bands

Cost: $10+

Exercises: Clamshells, leg lifts, almost any bodyweight exercise

You can amp up nearly every classic exercise you can think of by adding extra resistance.

The cheapest way to do that? Resistance bands.

While you can find the equipment on this list in any sports store or online, Moutopoulos said stores like Five Below have an affordable selection of decent fitness equipment.

Resistance bands can cost less than $10. They usually come in a set of different tensile strengths, so you can customize your workout.

Balance Ball

Cost: $15+

Exercises: Jackknife, plank (not actually just for men, despite the video!), bridge, back extension

Ah, the stability ball. Turns out it’s good for more than just replacing your office chair and making your colleagues feel lazy!

It has a reputation for core work, but you’ll find you can use it for everything from glutes to arms. Tons of full-body workouts require nothing but a properly sized stability ball.

Plus, they’re dirt cheap — starting at about $16 and going up to about $30, depending on the size and brand.

Dumbbells

This photo illustration shows a woman holding a dumbbell.
Getty Images

Cost: Around $20 apiece, depending on weight

Exercises: Bicep curls, shoulder press, overhead triceps extension, flyes, deadlifts, the works!

Full disclosure: This is the most expensive item on the list. Dumbbells can go for $10 or more each — and yes, that means a single dumbbell, not a set of two.

That said, dumbbells are awesome. They’re one of the most versatile and long-lived pieces of equipment you can add to your home gym.

This popular version costs about $20 for the 10 lb. version, with the cost increasing or decreasing based on the weight.

If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure where you stand — or squat, as the case may be — you might consider snapping up a more costly set of several dumbbells, or an adjustable version. That way, you’ll have a few options to choose from, and you can scale in either direction if things prove to be too heavy or too light.

You can also find them (and anything else on the list!) pre-owned on Facebook Marketplace to cut your costs even further.

Other Home Gym Odds and Ends

Although you can craft an effective workout with any of the home gym equipment listed above, there are other odds and ends that you may want to consider, depending on your preferred routine.

Yoga is a good way to round out intense training, and stretching is always a must. You can get a yoga mat for as cheap as $20 or get fancy — Manduka mats are pretty expensive, but they do offer a lifetime guarantee!

If you have the right space in your home for it, a doorway chin-up bar can be a great addition to a home gym. They typically cost between $30 and $50 and work way more body parts than just your arms: core, back, shoulders — you name it.

Staying Fit Might Be Hard, but It Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

A white woman runs along a path that has trees and water behind her.
Caitlin Constantine supplements her at-home workouts with a strenuous training program involving long runs, swims and bike rides. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

It’s easy to overthink fitness. But the most important thing is to start moving.

You don’t even have to wait for your dumbbells to ship: You can hold a stack of books to get more out of your squats. You can use a chair for dips and pushups. Your home is already a treasure trove of DIY gym equipment, if you’re creative.

Exercising doesn’t have to be intense or unpleasant — in fact, it should be fun! Dancing in your underwear or chasing your toddler around the backyard both count.

Ideally, you’ll get your heart rate up, do some weight-bearing exercises to keep your muscles strong and stretch enough to maintain your flexibility. But it doesn’t have to be complex — or expensive.

“Fitness should be accessible and attainable for everybody,” Moutopoulos said.

Jamie Cattanach and Cassidy Alexander are contributors to The Penny Hoarder. Former editor Sushil Cheema contributed to this post.


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Makes Noise is a blog where you can find all the juicy details on a variety of topics including health and fitness, technology, lifestyle, entertainment, love and relationships, beauty and makeup, sports and so much more. The blog is updated regularly to make sure you have all the latest and greatest information on the topics that matter most to you.

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