Written by Kristina Virro, with input from Kai Florence
As someone who has been a regular gym-goer, the pandemic was a hard transition from me. There’s an intentionality behind going to the gym that helps me get into the right headspace to work out, and having a personal trainer in my early twenties gives me the knowledge and confidence to use formerly-intimidating gym equipment.
As such, the idea of using nothing but my own motivation to get myself to work out at home was daunting. And I didn’t own a single piece of workout equipment!
Thankfully, all you need is a bit of space and a few pieces of equipment to create an affordable and effective home gym.
1. Free weights and/or resistance bands with handles
Free weights are incredibly versatile and don’t take up too much space. I have a set of 3 lbs., 5 lbs., 8lbs., 10 lbs,. 15 lbs., and 25 lbs. and they’ve truly been all I need. Buying individual free weights isn’t the cheapest thing, but the upside is that they’ll last forever and you’ll truly get your money’s worth, I promise! Canadian Tire and Walmart are great places to look for affordable free weights.
Not within your budget? Resistance bands are a cheaper alternative that are just as versatile as free weights, though they take up even less space and are far more portable. Get this pack of five bands for just $30 and you’ll have access to intensities as low as 5 lbs. and as high as 150 lbs!
2. Hot Water Rowing Machine
This equipment allows you to effectively carry out aerobic exercises and strengthen the upper and lower body efficiently. Plus, you don’t need a high ceiling to accommodate this piece of equipment, which eliminates a barrier for us taller folks!
The best hot water rowing machine should include a performance monitor, floor stabilizers, transportation wheels, non-slip foot pedals and a wide padded seat for comfort along with hip and back support. A good hot water rowing machine should cost around $280 - $320.
3. Booty bands
Booty bands are fantastic for exercises that target the glutes and legs, such as squats, hip thrusts, and kickbacks! They’re also great for yoga, pilates, stretching, and barre classes, plus they’re extremely portable and simple to use. With nearly 12,000 reviews, these ones are just $20 on Amazon for four bands of different intensities.
4. Workout step
To be honest, whenever I thought of step classes before I tried them out, I pictured people from the 80s wearing fluorescent outfits and doing super cheesy and lame moves (see gif). As it turns out, there are a ton of modern-day step classes to hip hop, R&B, and pop music that give a KILLER cardio workout!!
What I most appreciate about step classes is that they keep my brain entertained and occupied so I don’t get bored, which means that the classes fly by!
In terms of where to find virtual step classes, Phil Weeden is the owner of Xtreme Hip Hop, which has a huge library of videos on his website that’s just $15 a month. If you like hip hop and insanely motivating instructors, he’s the guy for you!
BodyStep with LesMills, which is the same as the step classes you’d get at GoodLife Fitness, is another option and it has a 14-day free trial for virtual classes!
5. TRX Suspension Trainer
At around $190, this is definitely one of the pricier options on the list. However, it’s a total body training system that also comes with a 30-day free trial to their training club, which gives you access to more than 500 on-demand videos so you know how to use this system to its full potential! As someone who has done TRX classes in the past, I can say that it’s very effective and challenging. I was honestly amazed at how many exercises you could do from one simple piece of equipment and I always woke up sore in muscles I didn’t even know existed the next day!
What’s more, the TRX Suspension Trainer is a great option for people who travel frequently as you can pack it up and use it anywhere!
6. Jump Rope
A jump rope is a conditioning and stability gadget that can last a very long time. Aside from jogging, sprinting, and running, a jump rope will increase your endurance and stability. You will find a jump rope anywhere for around $20 - $25, or you can click here to buy one on Amazon.
7. Instructors & videos
I personally need some sort of video to follow when I’m training at home otherwise I feel very bored and lonely! Some affordable options include:
· The Studio by Jamie Kinkeade, which offers a wide range of videos for weight training, dance cardio, step classes, yoga, and more!! Jamie Kinkeade’s dance cardio workouts are the reason I got into home workouts in 2020 and I love her compassionate, non-body-shaming approach to fitness and health. It’s so nice to see people of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds in her videos and her energy is so amazing and contagious! Although she has free videos on YouTube, they come with ads that really kill the mood, plus her annual subscription is just $263 per year! (That’s just $22 a month for a TON of seriously awesome workouts!)
· Even if you don’t have a Peloton bike, you can use their app for just $17 per month to access a bunch of their running, yoga, pilates, strength training, and bike videos so long as you’re okay with not knowing if your resistance precisely matches that of the instructor. I personally love doing their outdoor runs as the instructor cheers me on and gives me tips!
· Caroline Girvan is a personal trainer with different weight training series on YouTube that are completely free! I’m on day 18 of her Epic Workout Series, which includes some of the most challenging yet effective weight training workouts ever! (Seriously, all I do is swear at the TV when I do her workouts, but I love ‘em!)
The Bottom Line
As you can see, it’s possible to create something with just a few pieces of equipment that don’t have to break the bank. What’s more is that many of the items on this list will last a lifetime, meaning that you’ll truly get your money’s worth!
What helps you stay motivated to workout? Let us know in the comments below!