There are different types of people and personalities out there, but I will be the first to say that if I have to leave my house for my workout and it’s not a group class like boxing, fencing, or dance, you won’t see me there. It is just not a place that motivates me, personally, or at least maybe I have not found the right gym. So, I decided to remove the barrier and start building myself a home gym while I was in grad school. You’d think on a grad school budget, that would have been a NIGHTMARE, but honestly with a little flexibility, this was actually a very reasonable thing to do!
Let’s first talk about the absolute must haves for a home gym to get a rounded workout: a form of exercise you enjoy for cardio, something to allow resistance training throughout your entire body, and a little open space! Not actually too bad right?
Now above I listed several types of exercise that I enjoy, a couple of which can be performed in the home already! With that small amount of open space I mentioned (we clear our coffee table and couch off to the side in our living room) I train fencing and boxing drills like lunges, quick retreats, shadow strikes, and hops, as well as drill through dance steps! And boy is it exhausting! If those aren’t your speed, look for exercise videos both online and in stores that strike your type of cardio of choice. You don’t need a treadmill or a spin bike to get a great workout, especially when a jump rope is a more efficient caloric burn anyway, and at the price of $5! Aerobic steps are tried, true, and affordable. Zumba, shadow boxing, and aerobics videos are another classic and effective method of getting your heart rate up, and you can often try and free sample on YouTube to see what type of exercise and which instructors suit your space and interests! Maybe a $20 investment for the cardio stage so far, not too bad right? And that’s just for people who don’t have any interest in running already, for you fine folks it’s just about finding the right playlist!
But how about resistance training? Do we need to get a full power rack, set of dumbbells, or cable machine to get in good rounded training? Absolutely not! The most important piece of my home gym equipment fits in a small bag, and it’s called a “suspension trainer.” While name brands like TRX can run you a hefty price, generic suspension trainers are plenty robust for a single family to use regularly, mine is YEARS old and hasn’t worn down yet, and still only ran me about $30. With my suspension device I can run through arms, shoulders, chest, back, legs, and core with a variety of modifications for challenge levels. I use these in clinic with clients and patients literally every day as well, because the resistance level is so easy to modify that anyone from a beginning exerciser to a high level athlete can find some form of modification to target every muscle group that gives them the right fit for them! Best of all, my particular model has a doorway anchor, so when we bag it up and put it away, none of our house guests even know it’s there! Unobtrusive, affordable, and versatile, if you are on a budget or just looking to advance your available workout variety, suspension trainers are my absolute must have option for someone building a home gym.
Now, none of this is to say that if you have the space and the free budget that you cannot get a spin bike or a power rack to really make your home gym feel fully fleshed out, but it does mean that you can still build a great quality home workout environment without spending all that cash as well!
Written By: Dr. Alec Martinez