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Earlier this year after having my third baby, I decided it was time to build my very own home gym. We didn't have a lot of extra money to spend (nor did I want to spend a fortune on machines) so I knew I had to figure out a way to do it on the cheap.
As a mom of young kids, it can be really tough to find time to work out. For a while, I tried out a gym membership. They had childcare and classes, so I thought it would be a wonderful break for me during the day.
Unfortunately, it was not as convenient as I had hoped. Loading the kids in their car seats, driving the 10 minutes to the gym, and worrying about the not-so-great care at the gym made the experience less than rejuvenating. I struggled to get the motivation to go to the gym, which means I basically stopped working out.
Now I have a sanctuary in the comfort of my own home. I exercise much more often because I don't need to go anywhere, the kids can hang out with me or play nearby, or I can slip away while my husband is home and get a quick sweat sesh in.
My goal for moms is to make health and wellness simple and accessible. You shouldn't need an advanced degree in nutrition to eat healthily, and you shouldn't need to be a certified personal trainer to get a good workout. In the same way, you shouldn't have to pay hundreds of dollars each month on fitness classes (even though those can be fun, effective, and a good strategy for those who need accountability).
If you have the discipline and desire to exercise at home on your own, let me make some suggestions for setting up an effective home gym for the lowest price possible.
How to Build an Affordable Home Gym
1. Find a dedicated space.
Trust me, I know this feels impossible. We are renters, so we've always lived in small spaces. It's not like we extra rooms just lying around! However, when you have fitness equipment stashed all over the house it can really hamper your efforts. My kids would try to play with the dumbbells and exercise bands and end up losing them. I needed to put everything in one space where I would know exactly where to find it.
This is where you need to get creative. We live in Florida, and it dawned on me that I should be taking advantage of the beautiful weather. I decided to make a corner of our garage our gym space. If you live somewhere where basements are a thing, you could use part of your basement. How about a corner of your living room? Figure out what works best in your home and get it set up.
2. Figure out what kind of workouts you will be doing.
It would be so foolish for me to invest in a big piece of cardio equipment because I rarely do long cardio sessions. I personally prefer quick HIIT workouts or light weight training, which only requires a few smaller accessories.
Be realistic about what kind of exercise you like and will stick to so you can avoid the dreaded shake weights and other trendy equipment that ends up collecting dust.
3. Buy second-hand.
I know it's tempting to raid the shiny equipment at sports stores or the exercise aisle at Target. If you're on a tight budget, though, consider checking Facebook marketplace or Craigslist for used equipment. There are actually tons of great deals on quality items, so keep your eyes peeled.
Don't underestimate the deals on Amazon, too! Just make sure to compare prices so you can get the best bang for your buck.
Basic Gym Equipment: My Top Picks
1. Gym Mat
Since our workout space is in the garage, this is a necessity. I picked a foam mat with interlocking tiles so we can add more if my husband and I want to start working out together (CUTE). If your workout space is carpeted, you might not need these.
2. Dumbbell Set
I like the Amazon Basic set. It's affordable and the bright colors are so fun! I like having 5, 10, and 15 lb dumbbells on hand, but that will change depending on your level of fitness and what kind of weight lifting you like to do. Keep in mind, heavier dumbbells will cost more. My suggestion is to start with 2 or 3 sets of lighter ones, then a few months down the road when you've worked your way up to 20 lb dumbbells (or more!) invest in another pair.
If you want to be really efficient, you could buy a set of adjustable dumbbells. I personally don't find it necessary but my husband loves his! He has this set.
Use for: bicep curls, weighted lunges and squats, deadlifts, tricep extensions, rows, flyes, bench press, shoulder press, and more!
3. Agility Ladder
Expensive cardio machines are for the birds. I like my cardio to be quick and dirty, so the agility ladder is a perfect fit. It's been fun to come up with different workouts and ways to use it. It reminds me of speed training in high school track!
Agility ladders are great for coordination, quickness, and leaving you huffing and puffing in no time! Bonus: my kids love doing agility ladder workouts with me. We blast the music and get to it!
Use for: high-intensity cardio training.
4. Resistance Bands
I originally got my set as part of the MuTu System, but since then I have found so many other uses for them! I use them to add resistance to my bodyweight exercises like squats and glute bridges. You can also use them for upper body exercises like rows and bicep curls. Check out this Daily Burn article for some more creative ways to use resistance bands.
One thing I love about resistance bands is that they are so small, lightweight, and easy to store. If you get into a good routine using them, it makes it much easier to stay fit and healthy when you're traveling because you can throw them in your suitcase and work out anywhere!
Use for: adding resistance to almost any bodyweight exercise!
5. Stability Ball
If you're a mom, you probably already have one of these on hand from when you were pregnant. Stability balls are awesome for preparing for labor AND great for bouncing your baby to sleep when you're exhausted and can't walk around the house anymore.
But anyway, if you're looking to do more engaging and efficient core work, definitely add one of these bad boys to your home gym. Check out these 5 core exercises you can do on a stability ball.
Use for: core work, squats, bench press, basically adding more core work to anything that would require you to lie down.
If you want to go all out with your home gym, consider adding a few of these items (these are Amazon links, but don't forget to also check Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist):
Free Workouts Online
To continue the theme of cheap and simple, here are a few of my favorite FREE workouts online:
If you have diastasis recti I highly recommend checking out the MuTu System for guided workouts, nutrition and encouragement for healing your core and learning about your condition. Read my full review here.
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