Perfect Home Gym on a Budget

Whether you’re on a lean budget or you’re a heavyweight spender, there’s no place like home for a great workout

Going to the gym is intimidating, inconvenient, expensive — blah, blah, blah. Mike Walker, personal fitness trainer and owner of Mike Walker Fitness in Lynn Haven, has heard every excuse in the book.

Working out at home is a viable option for those who want to save time and long-term expense, Walker says. And the convenience of a home fitness routine means you don’t have to fight anyone for the treadmill or fret over someone else’s germs on your exercise mat.

Though Walker trains his clients at Mike Walker Fitness using a wide variety of the best equipment available, he says you can still get a good workout at home. We asked him for three at-home solutions to fitness that can be met on any budget — ranging from $50 to $5,000. These multipurpose items will allow you to target several muscle groups so you get your money’s worth.



MAT: An exercise mat relieves joint pain when doing floor exercises such as planks and other yoga stances.

DUMBBELLS OR RESISTANCE BANDS: These simple tools are versatile, allowing you to work every major muscle group to strengthen and tone. Though the weight will vary depending on your fitness level, a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell set is a good start for most people. Stretchy resistance bands are an alternative to dumbbells. Use a band with heavy resistance for squats, one with lighter resistance for shoulder presses.

MEDICINE BALL: A popular resistance tool. Hold this while doing abdominal twists and you’ll definitely feel the burn.

ANKLE/WRIST WEIGHTS: Get a set that works for both your wrists and ankles to get more use out of them. While not recommended for running, you can wear them while doing inner and outer thigh motions and boxing.

STABILITY BALL: The ball requires you to balance several muscle groups at one time, making working out more challenging and efficient.



BOSU BALL: You’ll perfect yoga stances in no time with this balancing device. Its versatility allows you to work out your whole body. For a challenge, use the Bosu ball for any exercises you would normally do on the ground, such as a simple pushup.

EXERCISE STEPPER: Step maneuvers can add a cardio twist to resistance training when dumbbells are partnered with them. You can combine stepping up and down while doing bicep curls to get a greater calorie burn.

MULTIPURPOSE BENCH: This dynamic bench is a must for training with free weights. Adjust it to incline, lie flat or decline to target specific body parts and change the difficulty level.

OLYMPIC BARBELL AND PLATE SET: The standard 300-pound set comes with the whole package: bar bell, safety clips and weights ranging from 2.5 to 45 pounds. Your home gym isn’t complete without this weightlifting bundle.



CABLE CROSSOVER: This is the No. 1-ranking machine because it allows you to do most exercises. You can spend weeks on end using a cable crossover and not repeat the same maneuvers, and it’s a safer alternative to free weights.

SMITH MACHINE: An important item for resistance training. The mounted barbell allows technical or dangerous types of exercises such as squats to be performed effectively, since the weights can only go up and down. It’s great for weightlifting beginners.

TREADMILL OR ELIPTICAL MACHINE: Both are terrific pieces of cardiovascular equipment. If your knees hurt from the high impact of running, use the treadmill for walking flat or at an incline, or go with the low-impact elliptical machine.

BICYCLE: Choose from recumbent, stationary or spin bikes. The spin bike mimics a road bike, so it offers a smooth ride and will most closely match an outdoor pedal-pusher.

BOXING STAND AND TRAINING GLOVES: Punching anything is a great stress reliever, and you’ll be getting both cardiovascular and resistance training. Just make sure to get the standard 12-ounce gloves, which have just enough padding.

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