Even the most seasoned gym-rat can find certain moves or parts of a public gym intimidating. Adjusting to lifting weights in the “Men’s area” at my public gym pre-covid, I still felt uncomfortable doing some movements (Hip thrusts, goodmornings) because it still felt like there were always eyes on me, even if there really wasn’t. And the time spent working out is my time to fully empty my mind of self doubt and remind myself I am a FRIGGIN beast, thanks to some of my fave tunes.
Then, Covid changed everything. Suddenly I couldn’t go to my gym and use the equipment I used for variety across a week of workouts. After a few days of mourning, I started my own home gym from scratch and over the course of a few months, took an area in my house (Midwest living means we ALL have basements so this was easy) I normally hated and transformed it into a space that is 100% MINE, all MINE!
If you follow my Instagram, you’ll frequently see short clips of my daily workouts. One of the most common questions I get is around what to buy/how to use it and workout programs. In this post I’ll focus mostly on the tools/equipment since there’s tons of programs and they are a matter of personal preference. Personally I love small group classes and variety. I’ve used Classpass since launch, and now it’s full of online content with various workouts from yoga to strength for whatever you desire. Lately I’ve used the Peleton app (Add me, I’m “Travelingketo”!) for live workouts especially spin and the treadmill running classes.
I designed this gym space to be very mobile and space-friendly in the event I need to repurpose the space for the bacon bits (If you’re new here, that’s what a good keto friend named my twin girls and it stuck) or take a trip and bring some of it with me.
On to the home gym list & some ways to use them.
Here’s my list of 5 essential items for any home gym that are inexpensive, versatile and don’t take up a lot of space. For shopping, I mostly used Amazon, my local Target for dumb bells when they were on sale in March, and yes, the dreaded Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace. At the bottom, I’ve included item lists.
- Booty Bands! These travel friendly items (Fabric ones) are inexpensive, mobile, and last. They have also become one of my favorite ways to improve my form by keeping the knees apart properly during squats, focusing the tension in my glutes more than the quads.
Booty bands are great for nearly any lower body movement. I suggest buying a set with a few levels of tension to adjust based on the isolation and progression. Fabric bands stay in place instead of rolling down like the less costly thin plastic strips. Scroll to the bottom for suggestions.
- Dumbbells, non adjusting. Unless you plan on going up to very heavy weights needed for a single leg or arm, personally I think the fancy adjustable dumb bells are an over-buy, paying a lot of extra money for only a few weight ranges that’s really needed especially for a new home workout routine. Use these for not just upper body movements like bicep curls or tricep kickbacks to benchpress variations, but also for lower body movements like duck walks, kettlebell swings, hip thrusts, squats, racked squats, and my favorite, banded kickbacks using an aforementioned band.
- Bosu Trainer. It seems like I talk weekly about how much I’ve really fallen for my bosu ball, and that relationship is still going strong. If you can only choose between a bench and a bosu trainer, my vote is for bosu trainer. It provides instability to activate additional muscles, but is versatile enough to be used for incline bench press, single leg lifts, ab crunches, rapid toe taps, and even the dreaded burpees. This thing is also more mobile than a traditional lifting bench, takes up nearly no space and can be stored away neatly against a shelf on the floor. I found mine on ebay in March for around $50 but usually they sell between $70-110 online or retail.
- Slam Ball. Ya’ll. If you don’t want to install a giant punching back so you can kick or punch your frustrations out on something, a slam ball is the cheaper, smaller way to still feel great putting all your might into a movement. I suggest a 10 pound and a 20 pound so you can use them for several additional movements and also progress. This blue one from Amazon is also great for wall balls, a movement I learned in Crossfit where you “Set” the ball like a volleyball at a certain height high on a wall, then do a deep squat as you catch the ball.
- Slam balls are also great for above the shoulder slams but also a good variation for squats and single leg curls. Lay on your back, both legs extended, and dig one heel into the ball and bring it as close to your butt as possible, then slowly extend the leg. Try 20 on each leg to start, focusing on keeping the heel down. BURN TOWN, YO. BURN. TOWN.
- Long Resistance bands. These are useful for deadlifts in place of using a bulky barbell, good mornings, shoulder presses when standing on them, and even flies or pulls if you wrap the band around a wall. Double up on bands to increase and adjust resistance as you go, making these very newbie friendly and even moderate-friendly. You’ll often see me use one of these bands over my back, lifting a kettlebell as a modified deadlift form.
Setting up a home gym doesn’t have to be costly, time consuming, or take up a lot of space. With some planning around just a few pieces of equipment you can easily start, resume, or maintain your fitness goals involving weights and cardio from home. Covid may have changed how we reach our goals, but it can’t stop us! Hang in there.
Looking for more ideas on how to get started or what to buy? Want some lowcarb snacks or cookbooks to go along with your new home routine? Check out my compilation of my faves here.
Anything missing from this list? Where in your home are you working out? Comment below so I can add it on the next round!Top Health and House Sellers List
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