How To Build The Ultimate Home Gym When You’re Short On Space (And Cash)

HealthyWay Senior Editor Taylor shares what’s in her home gym and how she maintains a motivating and minimalist space.

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The great gym debate was my daily struggle throughout the first two years of my professional career. Each evening during my commute I would ask myself: Should I force myself to go to the gym when all I want to do is beat traffic and get home to my fur babe? Do I race home only to find myself sitting on the couch filled with regret that I hadn’t just sucked it up and prioritized physical exercise? Is the money I’m spending on this gym membership each month actually worth it if I don’t attend daily? Now you may be wondering, Why doesn’t this chick wake up earlier and work out before she goes to the office? And that, my fellow boss babes, is a valid question. I have, however, attempted the early-riser workout multiple times during my lifetime, and it has a success rate of zero for me since I am not my true self in the morning but instead a crabby toddler trapped inside of a grown woman’s body. Since I’ve learned through trial and error that evening workouts are what works best for my schedule and body, I was initially drawn to the idea of a gym membership, especially one that offered access to various fitness classes later in the day. Despite this enticing group class atmosphere, I still found myself rushing home after a long day at work and avoiding the gym entirely. As I calculated the cost of my gym membership in my head ($20 per month x 12 = $240 each year), it dawned on me that I could remove this daily source of stress and guilt by creating my own home gym!

Home Sweet Home

Shortly after this realization, I decided to cancel my gym membership and began seeking free ways to keep my body moving after work such as plogging and began repurposing my gym membership money into funds for equipment for my home gym. Fortunately for me, my house has a small extra bedroom (8 x 10) that my fiancé and I use as an office that I knew would be the ideal place to create my gym. Although this room isn’t particularly large, it does offer a lot of natural light, which I find comforting after a long day at the office staring at a computer monitor (or three). As I began to brainstorm what items I would need for my home gym, I knew that I wanted to keep the space both minimalistic and motivating since—let’s face it—I’m 26 and short on time and cash, so I want to make my home workout efforts count. To create my ideal workout sanctuary, I prioritized finding versatile, compact fitness equipment that could be easily stored in a corner of the office/home gym room.

So what’s in my home gym, you ask?

  • Resistance bands: These different colored natural latex bands are associated with varying levels of resistance so that you can increase the level of difficulty as you become more experienced. I was drawn to this particular set because they came with a compact storage bag and a workout instruction guide. Looking for some full-body resistance band exercises to try? Look no further, sis. HealthyWay HQ has you covered, just click here.
  • Adjustable kettlebell: Some people choose to buy a kettlebell set (typically with three individual kettlebells of varying weights), and that is totally fine, but I personally love the portability of this adjustable kettlebell. You can easily adjust this kettlebell from 5 lbs to 8 lbs and up to 12 lbs with a simple click and twist motion. Kettlebell workouts are a wonderful option for a full-body workout and are my go-to if I’m feeling anxious, so this adjustable kettlebell was a must-have item for my home gym.  
  • Jump rope: Ah, the trusty jump rope! This workout staple is not only compact and easy to transport, but jumping rope also has some impressive cardio benefits. (If you aren’t blessed with high ceilings like I am, you might need to take this part of your home workout into the yard.) Though I’m no jump rope queen like Janine Delaney, I do find jumping rope a great way to warm up my body before starting a bodyweight workout circuit. Want to try the HealthyWay jump-rope workout challenge? Start here.  
  • Dumbbells: Dumbbells were another item that I knew I wanted to have in my home gym. When I went to local sporting goods stores to buy new dumbbells, however, I was a bit startled by the prices, so I began scouring local garage and estate sales in the hopes of finding a more budget-friendly dumbbell set. About two months later, I purchased a pair of 10 lb dumbbells for $3 from an elderly man who was moving to Florida to retire. Although he refused to take me to the beach with him, he did give me a great deal on these gently used dumbbells! If you’re trying to save some cheddar while designing your home gym space, I strongly recommend exploring what your local garage salers have to offer. If Amazon shopping is more your thing, these cast-iron and rubber dumbbells are a great place to start your search.

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  • Yoga mat + towel: Despite the fact that hot yoga is my practice of choice, I still enjoy rolling out my mat at home for a 20-30 minute vinyasa flow at least once each week. This reversible lululemon yoga mat and towel was definitely a splurge, but since I use these items multiple times per week (at home and in a studio setting), this was an investment that I could justify.
  • Soccer ball: My athletic career began at the age of three when my father gave me my first soccer ball. A select soccer career and Junior Olympics championship later, I still always keep a soccer ball handy (although my footwork and cardio are nowhere near what they used to be). A soccer ball is a relatively cheap investment that can last for years. Once a week I’ll juggle the soccer ball or do various exercises in my home gym, using household items like mason jars in place of cones. These exercises keep my mind focused and heart rate elevated as I challenge myself with different patterns to put my footwork to the test. Plus, this is a great way for me to switch up my workout routine that brings back happy memories. For full disclosure: I have had the same size 5 soccer ball for the past five years, so this wasn’t something that I needed to buy for my home gym. I am personally a fan of adidas soccer balls, but it is really a matter of personal preference. Most quality soccer balls will cost between $20 to $45 on average.
  • Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes: I’m admittedly a bit of a germaphobe, so I like to keep these natural surface cleaning wipes handy in my home gym to wipe down any equipment (aside from my yoga mat—but for ways to clean your yoga mat, we’ve got you covered here) after use. It also makes me feel good to take care of my home gym items so that I can ideally extend the life of these purchases and make my investments last for years to come.

[products ids=’1007066,1007070,1007072,1007075′ type=full] By making conscious product selections, I was able to acquire all of the equipment that I needed for my home gym for less than I would’ve spent on a one-year gym membership. If my calculations are correct *pushes up glasses*, these items cost around $160 (we can call it $180 if I had purchased a new soccer ball), so I’ve already saved $60 by making this switch.   Aside from the cost aspect, one of the things I love most about my home gym is that I no longer have to worry about the great gym debate during my commute after work because my gym is within my home. With these few items, I now have the ability to do cardio workouts, kettlebell exercises, bodyweight workouts, yoga flows, and so much more—all from the comfort of my home! When I’m feeling uninspired, I simply turn to YouTube and watch workout videos from Blogilates or listen to a HealthyWay Collective playlist for a motivation boost. Speaking of motivation—that is the final important element of my home gym space. To remind me why I began my fitness journey in the first place, I’ve hung various positive affirmations and images of women who inspire me on the walls and try to keep the room as clutter-free as possible. To achieve this, I keep my yoga mat and towel in a slender, hand-me-down basket from my mom, use a homemade wooden wall mount for my jump rope and resistance bands, and keep the remainder of my exercise equipment in a small storage box that was once collecting dust in my basement.   With a little bit of space, a few repurposed items, and some lucky Amazon steals and garage sale finds, you too can create your ultimate home gym for less than what you would spend on a gym membership. With that being said, I want to conclude by pointing out that my intent is to show that you can create an epic home gym for less than what you would spend on a gym membership…but that doesn’t mean you should. If the gym is your happy place—go to the gym and get your sweat on, girl! Each one of us has our own unique fitness journey and sources of motivation, so do what works best for you. If you create your own home gym space, I’d love to see! Be sure to post your pics in the HealthyWay Collective Facebook group or tag @itsthehealthyway on Instagram.

Taylor Geiger
Taylor Geiger is a writer, self-proclaimed book nerd, hockey fanatic, and dedicated plant mama. She is passionate about all things related to food and fitness. When she’s not writing (or trying new workout classes) she enjoys hiking with her Weimaraner, Mayzee, throughout the Midwest.