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Exercise Equipment for the Home Gym

Updated on June 1, 2013

A 2010 study shows that only about 31% of people do enough regular leisure-time physical activity to get health benefits — that is, moderate exercise for 30 minutes five times a week or vigorous activity for 20 minutes three times a week.

One of the reasons people don’t work out is the cost of a gym membership. But with an initial investment of about $150, you can start buying exercise equipment to build your own home gym.

It all began in Mississippi

I started working out when my older son, now 28, was just a toddler. We lived in Mississippi at the time while my husband was stationed at Gulfport with the Seabees. When he was deployed, I had plenty of time on my hands. One morning, I turned on the television and happened to catch an exercise program.

Bodies in Motion, led by Gilad Janklowicz was the first fitness show to air on ESPN, where it enjoyed an eleven-year run from 1985 to 1996. As of 2002, the show has been airing on Discovery’s new fitness channel Fit TV and as of 2011, it is the longest running fitness show in the US. Shortly after that, I came across Denise Austin on another tv show.

It was about that time that I discovered Kathy Smith and her aerobics videos. Those were the days of big hair, leg warmers and high-impact workouts. In the late 1980s, she came out with a Step video and I’ve been doing Step ever since.

Step is great for getting in a cardio workout but if you don’t like Step or don't want to buy the bench, a cheap alternative is a jump rope.

The rest of this hub is based on the fitness equipment I have in my own home that I have accumulated over the many years I’ve been working out.

There are so many different exercise videos that you are sure to find something to fit your needs.
There are so many different exercise videos that you are sure to find something to fit your needs. | Source
It's a good idea to have a variety of weights in your home gym.
It's a good idea to have a variety of weights in your home gym. | Source

Building a home gym, piece by piece

One of the most common types of exercise equipment people buy for a home gym isn’t really what I would call “hardware” at all. They are exercise videos (ok, DVDs nowadays) and there are tons of them out there. One of my favorite sources is Collage Video. You can search their online catalog by instructor, type of workout and by type of fitness equipment. There are videos for STEP, yoga, aerobics, specific muscle groups, biking, walking -- just about anything you can think of.

There are a number of reasons why videos are so nice to have in your home gym:

  • The class comes to you - you don't have to drive anywhere
  • You get the feeling of being in a group with some sense of competition
  • There’s an instructor to motivate and encourage you
  • There’s usually one person on the program who demonstrates a modified version of the exercise so you can adjust it to your level

Dumb bells or hand weights are standard in any gym, home or otherwise. Free weights range from 1 pound up to 100 pounds. Most women will likely stick to the 5-35 pound or so range. And it’s good to have a variety of weights on hand. A punch, which uses the smaller shoulder muscles, calls for a lighter weight than, say, an overhead press.

Stability and medicine balls both are good for working the abs.
Stability and medicine balls both are good for working the abs. | Source

A stability ball is a useful piece of fitness equipment to have at home. The most obvious exercises it is used for are to work the abdominal muscles, the “abs.” But it can also substitute as a workout bench. In fact, doing so will force your body to do “double duty.”

For instance, if you use it as a bench to perform a press, you’ll have your shoulders on the ball with your knees at a right angle so your body forms a bridge parallel to the floor. The act of keeping your balance is going to give your abs a workout (hint, tightening your abs and butt will help). Meanwhile, you’ll work your pectoralis major and the anterior deltoids. The “pecs” are chest muscles; the deltoids are on the shoulder cap.

Medicine balls come with or without a grip and are good for all sorts of exercises ranging from ab work and learning to throw to added weight while doing squats and lunges. The first medicine ball I purchased was by Danskin and I regretted it because it is soft-sided with a weight inside. The other ball I have is more like a basketball -- solid throughout. A soft-side medicine ball makes it nearly impossible for some exercises, such as pushups. One variation of a pushup using the medicine ball is to put your right hand on the ball, your left on the floor and do your reps. Then, switch so your left hand is on the ball and your right is on the floor. The uneveness of your hands will make you work harder.

Muscle confusion and variable resistance

Muscles benefit from variety, whether it is in your routine or in the equipment you use.

Variable resistance training is usually performed with resistance bands. When you are lifting a heavy dumb bell, you have to overcome the force of gravity to get the weight moving. Say you are doing a bench press with 30-pound weights, a bit heavier than you normally use. Executing that first lift can be the hardest. If you have someone spotting you, that person can help. Once the first one is complete, you can finish the rest on your own until you reach failure.

With a resistance band, the movement starts easy and increases in difficulty as you get to the end where the band is being stretched more. (Think of a bicep curl with a weight versus a band.)

There are a couple nice things about resistance bands. They often come with interchangeable bands, so you can start out easy and work your way up to difficult. Plus, they are great for traveling so there is no excuse for not working out when you’re away from home.

One of the advantages of going to an exercise class is that you don’t have to worry about coming up with your own routines. It isn’t good to do the same exercises over and over because then your muscles get used to them. You have to practice “muscle confusion.” One quick way you can do this without sitting down to chart out a multi-week routine is by using a Fit Deck.

I purchased several of these: two Bodyweight decks, one for me and one for my older son who is in the service; and two Yoga decks, one for me and one for younger son who has back issues. I’ve been working on getting him to practice yoga because it would really help strengthen his core.

The neat thing about these decks is the built-in variety. You can shuffle the deck, randomly pull out a card and do the exercise listed. Or you can create a sequence by pulling cards from different groups. For instance, the Bodyweight deck has cards grouped into upper, middle, lower and full body. By doing several from each, in a sequence, you’ve created a circuit.

There are other pieces of exercise equipment you can buy for your home gym – kettle bells, a Bosu ball, weighted vests, sandbags and ropes….

Building a home gym doesn’t have to take a lot of money. What it does take is determination to be part of the 31% of Americans who are actively working to take care of their health.

Do you work out on a regular basis?

See results

What is the piece of equipment you work out with the most?

See results

Below is the equipment mentioned in this hub and their average cost. You can purchase your fitness equipment from many stores, including Target,,, Sports Authority, Iron Company and

Jump rope
$5 - $20
Resistance bands
Average $20, ranging $10 to $72
Free weights
$329 – set of 5 dumb bells, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25
Stability ball
Medicine ball
Fit deck
$10 - $15


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    • Danette Watt profile imageAUTHOR

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      Great! Glad you found some ideas. I'll be watching for a hub on your progress. :)

    • thejeffriestube profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      This article gave me some great ideas. I just started a diet and am ready to add exercise and this is exactly the info I was looking for.

    • Danette Watt profile imageAUTHOR

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      Hi Tracy, No, I don't remember ever seeing a bird! Thanks for reading and commenting/voting. Glad to hear someone else is knows about these two.

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 

      7 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Wow, I can't believe that you mentioned Gilad. I haven't heard of him is so long. Do you remember his parrot? Denise Austin always had the greatest fitness outfits. Working out at home and building a home gym is a great idea since it is so convenient. Voted up and useful.

    • Danette Watt profile imageAUTHOR

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      Hello Jacqi Hall, thanks for dropping by to read and comment on my hub. I appreciate the tips.

    • profile image

      Jacqi hall 

      7 years ago

      You can get A Billy Blank's DVD if you have Cable and try it and see if you like it also their is Jackie's work out that I Just Bought today at Target But do not Do heavy Exerscise's after Eatting let your stoumick settle First!

      also they do Have Dance DVD's for Exerscise

      but sitting around is not ! Exerscise Not at all

    • Danette Watt profile imageAUTHOR

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      thanks for stopping by to read and comment, andrewwilliams63.

    • andrewwilliams63 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great hub, thanks very much

    • Danette Watt profile imageAUTHOR

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      @ Denise -- Consistency is the key and I'm glad you are getting into the routine of it.

      @Thoughtforce - thanks for reading and the vote up.

      @AliciaC - The medicine ball puts another spin on your workouts and can be a nice addition.

      @mkmanoj3964 - thanks for reading and commenting.

      @TheSenior - I too like to push myself, which is why I joined the boot camp class where I can use heavier weights than I have at home and use a few other pieces of equipment I'm not able to afford or have room for at home. While doing a video at home a couple times a week is nice, I also like the social aspect of the class - I'm fairly competitive and one of the 2 or 3 oldest participants, so I challenge myself against those young whippersnappers! LOL

    • TheSenior profile image


      7 years ago

      Danette - I think my main reason for not having a home gym is the expense of the equip that I would want. I also feel that my thrust is not only keeping fit and inshape, But also getting stronger which requires bigger/heavier weights.

      I understand where you are coming from and it's ok, but for me I like to 'push' myself with safety to the next level. You are absolutely right on one thing and that is that We feel Sooo much better.

    • mkmanoj3964 profile image


      7 years ago from Jhajjar ,Haryana ,India


    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This hub is filled with useful information, Danette. I use some of the exercise equipment that you describe, but not all of it. I love my stability ball, but I'd like to get a medicine ball too. The Fit Deck sounds like a great idea.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      I love to have a home gym where I can do work out in my own tempo and do it in solitude. I can confirm that the things you listed here is enough to do work out on your own with variation:) This is a hub with great information for anyone planning to set up a home gym and it doesn't cost a fortune either!

      Voted up!


    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Danette-you've always been an inspiration for me re: your dedication to your fitness. And, you've been a huge help with your support, encouragement and tips. BTW-I feel great now that it has been consistent: energy and strength.

      Well organized info and cute poll. Voted up and across

    • Danette Watt profile imageAUTHOR

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      @HBN - thanks for reading. It can be hard to keep to a routine and once out of it, tough to get back in. Thanks for reading.

      @TheSenior - try to workout at home a couple days a week, but my main workout is in a boot camp class which I've been taking for several years.

      @kubth - I'd love to have a pull up bar at home. We do pull ups in my boot camp class and I thought of getting one for home but I'm not sure if I have the room for it.

      @Europewalker - I can relate to it being too hot even at 6 a.m. It's in the triple digits here as well.

      @Husky1970 - Thanks for the votes. Wish I could get my husband to see how important this subject is.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Terrific hub. The information you provide is extremely useful and shows how economical and feasible it can be to work out at home. Thanks for bringing attention to a very important subject. Voted up and useful.

    • europewalker profile image


      7 years ago

      Informative hub. I work out at home with weights and exercise videos I get on cable for free. I love to walk outside, but I can't stand this 102 degree weather. Even when I try to walk at 6:00 in the morning it is already 80 degrees with high humidity. I have to get rid of this muffin top before the holidays!

    • kubth profile image


      7 years ago from UK

      Nice hub. One thing I always recommend for any home gym is a pull up bar, so quick to install/remove and such a good workout for the back and upper body.

    • TheSenior profile image


      7 years ago

      Although I completely agree with your assement of having a home gym, I still prefer going to a gym - being a senior I get the discount and have all the equip that I need.

      Take a look at my profile and site about senior strength. Having gone thru open heart surgery and pre-diabetes, me thinks am doing quite good.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Great hub with lots of useful, well organized tips.

      I used to use exercise videos but alas, have gotten out of the habit (with the exception of a yoga video).

      Am voting this hub up, useful and interesting.


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