An easy and affordable way to set up your home gym

Wait! Are you going back to your gym?

Many of us after almost a year of lock down are still not ready to go back to a gym and may never go back. Do you remember getting lots of colds or those guys grunting and spewing on you as they worked out next to you? Well, those germs are not going away when the gyms open and those guys will return spewing. The staff will do their best, but having worked in a big box gym I know it’s difficult to keep the equipment clean.

You can still set up that great affordable gym in your home with just a few items

You can still set up your home gym in an easy and affordable fashion. Even if you are venturing back to your gym, you may opt for a hybrid model. Home gym and big gym. Are you staying put or venturing back to the gym, or both? It’s totally up to you and your preferences.

We kept thinking that the pandemic will end. Yes, it will. Will you be ready to go back into the gym in the same way you worked out in 2019? If you have been doing virtual classes, you may want to continue them.  As an instructor, I love being able to walk down the hall to my classes and I hear from my clients that they enjoy rolling out of bed and being inches from their gym, too.

The big question

Here’s a corner of my garage that is my gym

Can you develop and sustain a home workout that will give you just as much fitness as going to the gym. I believe the answer is yes! You don’t need much equipment to get a good workout, but if you’re planning to workout at home there are a few must have items that will give you the best workouts possible. And to be honest, those who are 60 and beyond – are you really lifting the 50 pound weights?

Start With the Basics

The first thing is your body. That is your key piece of equipment. So much can be done just with using just your body weight. Know your limitations, but don’t be afraid to push yourself. Safety is the first concern.  I have seen people fly off treadmills and get injured because the cranked up the speed or didn’t know how to work the equipment.

Know your equipment, the space around you and even be aware and alert if pets or other obstacles may trip you up. Riley and Holly (my two goldens) are always big fans of floor work. That is to say MY floor work. Crunches and bridges are their excuse to come and lay on me. That could be a new exercise, almost like baby Yoga.

Think of your workout effort on a scale of 1-10

Always think about your workout effort on a scale of 1-10. One is way too easy and ten is way too hard. You want to be in the 5-7 range to maximize your workout. Of course if you experience pain, difficulty breathing or feeling it’s too much, stop and reassess. Also, if you haven’t seen your healthcare provider, please do so and make sure that everything is OK for you to have a great workout.

Schedule it in

Schedule time for your workout. That’s why a set class time or time with a personal trainer works. You have committed to the time, you have paid and and you generally show up. I like to write down my workout times on my calendar. If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. Does that sound familiar?

Your work out space “your gym”

  • Your Workout Space
    • Actual Space. Do you have enough room to move around?  How is the ventilation?  I love to have a flat wall because there are a variety of options you can do with just a wall. Think wall pushups.
    • Floor Surface. What is the floor surface where you are going to work out. If it hard, be sure you have a mat, if you are on carpet, get a stiffer mat so you can mimic a hard surface for stability. Carpet may trip you up if you are wearing sneakers. I like to work out in my bare feet or socks. It allows your toes and ankles to get a workout as well.
    • Audio and Video. Are you taking an online class?  Is it real time or prerecorded?  If it is real time, it is great for the instructor to be able to see you (if it’s a small class) to provide either adaptations to what you or doing or better cues so you can follow along without injury. Make sure where you are when the video is turned on – you never know what the class may see (from ceilings to your undies). Check it out please! Your instructor would be so thankful.

Equipment basics

  • Equipment basics
Note the various resistances
  • Resistance Bands: I like both small bands and the straight therabands (the large yellow and green on the chair) or large bands with handles. 
    • The small loop bands are great for activation exercises — I love monster walks paired with  squats, bridges, and clam shells.
    • I like the larger bands (like therabands) with or without handles. These will allow you to work on your arms, shoulders, back, chest. I recommend getting at least two bands that are light and medium resistance. You will be surprised how you can use them.
  • Dumbbells:  If you are still using cans and water bottles, maybe it’s time to make a small investment in dumbbells. Dumbbells are a classic addition to your home gym, but you don’t need a  whole set right off the bat if you’re on a budget, have limited room, or just plain don’t need a ton of weights. Three to five pairs is a great place to start; as you add strength, you can add to your collection if you choose. I tend to do more reps with lighter weights and the lighter weights can last you and your workout a long time. Men typically can purchase weights in 5 to 10-pound increments; women usually find 2 to 5-pound increments better. You can try a set of adjustable dumbbells. I like using weights for the usual weight lifting exercises, but also I use them to protect my wrists when I do push ups. I hold the handles to keeps my wrist straight. I also use the bands for bicep and tricep workouts, so if you don’t have weights you can still get some good workouts in.
These are my weights that I use. Not too heavy
  • Sturdy Chair: Sounds silly, right? Having a sturdy chair with a back that won’t tip over is handy for both exercises and to put your towel or bands so you are ready for your workout. Think chair pushups, sit to stands, etc.

  • Small Step Up Box: I would love to see you have a small plyobox or step up box.  Step ups are so great, particularly as we age. Walking up and down stairs is part of life and we do need that leg strength (remember, walking stairs is a single leg sport). We could do the class on the stairs, but that gets complicated.

Things you can add to your gym

Here is some of my gym equipment. The penalty box flat and folded (top pics). I can do lots with this little guy (and it pretty inexpensive). My TRX, box, medicine ball (bottom left) and of course my mirrors to check form. My Bosu ball and foam pad are great to do balance and stability work. The foam pad also helps when I’m doing things on my knees.

Jump Rope: Jump ropes are an inexpensive, simple and space-saving way to get a cardio workout done at home. You may have to go outside to do this if you don’t have a ceiling high enough or you are working out on a carpeted surface. If you don’t have one, PRETEND! Almost as good.

TRX: These can be adapted to hang from a door. Mine hangs from a pull up bar. You can do push up/pull up motions and lots more depending on your fitness level. I have even taken mine on log trips to get a workout in the hotel. The TRX is very versatile and great for small spaces. It also allow you to work in multiple planes. Life is 3D, so should your works be 3D.

Plyo Box or Exercise Step: If you didn’t get one before, this may be the time. Even a strong wooden box will do the trick. These have a have a variety of uses, including performing step-ups and box jumps.

Penalty Box: I love my penalty box as it allow me to do exercises both with my feet and hands. It’s great for coordination.

Bosu Ball: This is a balance and stability favorite and can really help you with your balance. If you don’t want a Bosu ball, get a foam square. It is great to do stability work on, useful for doing exercises where you are on your knees and stores away nicely.

Sliders: You can perform many diverse  movements with these simple items. Sliders are great for lunges in all directions, mountain climbers and some great ab work. If you aren’t so good with floor activities, you might put these at the bottom of your list. Remember your floor surface and will they slide on the floor.

Kettlebell: I like using this for Farmer Walks as well as swings. Mine is heavy enough that I can do both.

Medicine Ball: I use these for Russian Twists. Great waist workout. If I had a workout client we would do a variety of passes and throws with it as well.

Below are various links for the equipment I mentioned. I don’t endorse any particular products, but these links will help you determine the price points and what you think will work for you.

As always, feel free to comment on this site, or follow me on Instagram @sandifeaster for more fitness and movement tips. The bottom line, is do something and MOVE. Movement is the most cost effective medicine you can get, and the price is right! Enjoy!

As always, if you want to join my classes or see if they’re right for you, head over to the classes tab and check them out. We’d love to have you join us. First week is on me.


Resistance bands


TRX training

Penalty Box

Sandi Feaster