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Megan Best
Megan Best

RDN, CPT

How we built our home gym

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I was pleasantly surprised that so many of you wanted me to write this blog! I wasn’t sure if people are thinking of doing this too, so hopefully all the info in today’s blog is helpful for any of you considering building a space in your home to get your fitness on.  I’m going to start with the basics and walk you through what I think you need to do some effective workouts at home with minimal equipment.  Then I’ll tell you how we built on our basics and basically converted our entire basement into a functional fitness space.

I think it’s really important to note that during the initial lockdown, we had pretty minimal equipment.  We were very lucky that we had purchased a rower for $300 from one of my clients in the fall of 2019.  My job had also been getting rid of some equipment that didn’t look “like new” (plastic covers on the weights were peeling, airex pads that had cracks in them) so my frugal butt had volunteered to take some home before they all went to the dumpster.  Because of this, we had a pretty good setup of weight sets from 3 to 20 pounds, the rower, and some dumbbells my old roommate left behind a couple years ago. Plus I had some bands that I purchased to use with clients at the gym and a Swiss Ball from who knows when.  This was and still is pretty much all that I use with my at home workout class that I teach over Zoom three times a week. 

Here’s the breakdown for a super basic at home gym setup:

Tube Bands or Long Bands: $23.99
Mini Bands: $8.95
Stability Ball: $16.99
Light Dumbbells: $33.98 for two 10# weights*
think upper body- anything from 5-15# usually works for beginners
Heavier Dumbbells: $63.98 for two 20# weights*
think lower body- I usually recommend 12-20# for beginners
Rower (optional): varies, try looking on facebook marketplace for deals!

Total Cost: $147.89

I know you might be thinking, “that is expensive!” but I’ll challenge you to ask yourself what you spend on weekly starbucks, a night out to dinner (when we all used to do that) or a case of wine. This could be an investment that lasts you months AND improves your health!

Optional Adds:

Foam Roller
Yoga Mat
Whiteboard for writing workouts
Gliders (great for core work)

As of mid November we started to consider what we might want for a more extensive at home setup.  Let me preface this by saying: building a gym can get very expensive, but there are certainly ways to cut costs.  Either way, if you want something with barbells and bumper plates, I would expect to pay over $1,000 unless you can find some REALLY good deals somewhere like Facebook marketplace (which is also a great place to search for dumbbells by the way!) but we didn’t find anything stellar, plus Tyler isn’t big on driving far to get second hand stuff.  We decided to start this whole project because of COVID cases rising and wanting to be able to continue to see our families and keep them safe. We miss our gym community a lot- it’s not just about a place to workout for us, we truly do love all of the people there.  But this is a good solution for now, and we hope to be back sometime in the Spring. 

Now…time for the fun stuff!

We ended up cruising some Black Friday sales and found that Wright Equipment had a bar and plate package (which I think is still listed on their site- click below) for a pretty decent price. We bought two sets of 160 pounds of weight- one with a men’s bar and one with a women’s bar. We also decided to build a platform vs. try to find one- all of the ones we saw listed were smaller than we wanted and cost about $300, so we asked some friends who built one in their house how they did it. 

Tyler also found this helpful video that walks you through it- basically you screw two pieces of plywoods onto two other pieces, then add a fifth “nicer piece” that has stall mats screwed in next to it.  The nicer piece is the platform and the stall mats are where you drop the weights. He added a few coats of polyurethane to it to give it a shinier look and prevent molding.  We were also able to purchase our stall mats from our gym owner, because they had some extra from holding class outside, which saved us money. We even had some pieces of mat leftover to put under my Peleton (coming Jan 12- more on that later)! I’m going to link where we WERE going to get them below though.

We also decided to get a pretty affordable squat rack on amazon (we can only do strict movements on it, no kipping) and some crash pads to further protect our floor for when we drop heavier weights (the platform and stall mats should be enough, but we wanted to be extra cautious).  Finally, we purchased a couple of heavier kettlebells- both in weights we didn’t already have dumbbells in. We use them for anything from swings to goblet squats to single arm presses and rows- they’re super versatile. 

Here are the totals of the items we purchased:

Plywood, Screws, Utility Knife, Polyurethane: $200
Tractor Supply Stall Mats: $93.98
Wright Equipment barbell sets: $1139.75
Squat Rack: $122.53
Titan Fitness Crash Pads: $158.99
Change Plates- 5lb: $25.98
Change Plates- 2.5lb: $17.98
Barbell Collars: $13.59
50lb Kettlebell: $105.99
35lb Kettlebell: $48.99
Bench: $119.99

(we actually had one given to us by a client but this is a decent priced on on amazon)

Total Cost: $2,047.77

I will say that as I search for this stuff on Amazon today, some of the equipment has increased in price (most noticeably the squat rack, which is listed at about $225 right now) so the beginning of January might not be the best time to buy! But I am sure the prices will go down come February/March- so bookmark this blog for the future.

Something I haven’t shown yet because it hasn’t arrived yet is a Peloton bike I ordered. This was definitely not an impulse buy- I’ve been thinking about it for awhile and how I think it will come in handy when we decide to have a baby.   I’ve used their app before, but only on the bikes at my old job, and I pretty much stuck to one instructor so I’m excited for it to come on January 12th.  I do know that Peleton has a referral code, so if you’re thinking of buying it feel free to use my code (26QJJ9) to get $100 off an apparel purchase with the bike or tread (so you can essentially get their spin shoes for $25 vs. $125). Let me know in the comments below if you would be interested to hear a review on the peloton once I get it and have a chance to try some of their different class formats and instructors!

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