Creating a Home Gym for Pennies

I've had gym memberships before, but my membership card sat unused in my wallet as I threw money down the toilet each month. That's because I'm a homebody and an introvert, so trying to get enthusiastic about going to the gym felt like trying to get excited about going to the dentist. It wasn't going to happen, so I quit wasting my money on a gym.

However, I still wanted to exercise, but I needed some options. Georgia summers can be brutal, so walking outside isn't always an option. I also didn't have a ton of money to spend, so I came up with several inexpensive things I could do at home:

  • Jump Rope. A jump rope is very low-cost and can be an effective tool for getting in shape. Just be sure to start slow! After only five minutes of jumping, my calves were sore the next day!
  • Hand weights. I purchased several inexpensive hand weights -- five and eight pounds (I'm starting small) -- that I use for strength training. It can be done even more frugally by using items you have on hand, like bottles of water or cans of food as weights.
  • Walking Shoes. When it's not too hot outside (i.e. during the winter), my husband and I go walking on hiking trails near our house. A good pair of shoes is vital. And walking is otherwise free!
  • Exercise Videos. I love exercise videos -- they're easy, inexpensive, and if you build up a library of them, you won't get bored with them. I especially like 10-minute workouts, belly dancing, and yoga workouts. I find inexpensive DVDs at Ross, Wal-Mart, and online at I also check them out free from my local library. Another good place is (it's free to sign up). SparkPeople has several workouts you can watch free directly online.
  • Family Togetherness. We look for free ways to exercise together as a family. We put on music and dance, take walks together, play dodgeball and other games. It's free, good for us physically, and brings us together as a family.
  • Daily routines. It's easy to park further away from the grocery store or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Look for small ways during the day to move more.
  • Exercise Bike (or Elliptical or Treadmill). I got mine free from a friend, but there are several ways to get one for cheap. Craigslist should have exercise equipment for sale in your area. Check out a used sports equipment store or your local thrift stores.
  • Dance, Dance, Revolution. If you have a PlayStation already, it's fairly inexpensive to buy the Dance, Dance, Revolution (DDR) game and a dance pad or two. And even still, a PlayStation II is pretty inexpensive now. If you don't know what DDR is, you're missing out on a fun game that can also get you in shape! You follow the arrows on the screen by moving your feet in the correct spot on the mats, which gets you dancing and ultimately exercising. It's fun for kids and adults!

That's what I have in my house to help me exercise without getting bored (and without leaving my house if I don't want to!) What do you use for exercise?

Related Posts:
The Magic Bullet - Exercise


Megan B. said...

Jumping rope - now THAT sounds like fun! Especially if I can get a good calf workout in (which I've been wanting to do). I should try that!
Other at-home, free exercises:
- push-ups (tough, but totally worth the sleek arms you'll get after just one month of doing them every other day)
- walking lunges (these are GREAT for pumping up flat behinds in a hurry)

Holli Jo said...

Megan -- I've also done push-ups and lunges in the past, with great results. I'm still trying to get back into exercise, so I'm dragging my feet on resistance training.

Oh, and jumping rope IS fun, but it's a lot harder than I remember it being in elementary school!

Thanks for the comment.

East of Eden said...

Have you ever tried Denise Austin's videos? They are great, she is so positive and happy. I relly like the fact that she has a wide range of subjects--cardio, yoga, pilates etc.

cassidy said...

I know it's super 90's, but I love step aerobics! You can do it at home as long as you get one of those step-bench things. My favorite video is one with Cher as the host and a really buff Australian lady as the trainer.

Holli Jo said...

Eden: I like Denise Austin also. Her routines are simple and fun.

Cassidy: Oh yes! Cher in her lacy black teddy/aerobics outfit! Always a classic. But I do like step aerobics - I just need to get a bench.