When you think "home gym," do you picture a state-of-the-art setup filled with gleaming machines…and the bank you'd have to rob to get it? Or does your mind go to this sad place: a dusty ThighMaster, a laundry-draped stationary bike — and a heap of buyer's remorse? Our workout whizzes are here to change all that, with gyms that can squeeze into any space, cost less than a month's groceries, and (hello!) offer so much fun you'll never fall off the exercise wagon.
The formula for success is surprisingly simple, says Holly Perkins, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and author of Lift to Get Lean. Just fuse cardio, strength, and flexibility moves. Grab a pair of cross-training kicks, a trusty set of dumbbells, and a resistance band, and you've pretty much covered the bases. From there, you can tack on all kinds of cool gear, depending on your budget, home, and fitness goals.
Perkins and other pros helped us come up with three possibilities, ranging from microsize to a full-room affair. Each concept builds on the last, but as long as you remember the basics, you can play around with gear until you find the combo that suits you best.
Before You Get Started
There's one more thing you need: a routine you'll actually do. Borrow ideas from our staff-vetted workout videos below, and consider hooking up with a personal trainer to develop a program, says Anthony Wall, the director of professional education for the American Council of Exercise. (An hour-long session sets you back only $30 to $60 on average, and some trainers will even consult with you over Skype.) In fact, it's not a bad idea to check in with an expert a few times a year, for safety's sake: She can help correct your form, which reduces your risk of injury from repeated mistakes.
Once you've nailed down a plan, make it calendar official — and don't be afraid to be loud and proud, says L.A.-based celeb trainer Lacey Stone. "A note in your planner is good, but a phone alarm blasting 'Eye of the Tiger'? So much better."
Gym in a... Box
Everything you need is here. Stash it out of sight (just not out of mind) under the bed, or try New York-based trainer Anna Kaiser's box of choice — a decor-friendly storage ottoman.
- Work your muscles with this elastic band. TheraBand ($17, performancehealth.com)
- Cute towel! eQua Hand Towel ($16, manduka.com)
- Fab sneaks. Minimus 20v5 Trainer ($100, newbalance.com)
- Close this gizmo into a doorjamb (disk on the outside), and thread a resistance band through the other end for chest presses. TheraBand Door Anchor ($6, amazon.com)
- Massage muscles with this tiny marvel. Restore Compact Foam Roller ($20, gaiam.com)
- Power up squats, lunges, and more with an easy-to-hold weighted ball. Dual Grip Medicine Ball ($30, sportsmith.net)
- Inner-kid cardio. Wooden Handle Jump Rope ($15, titleboxing.com)
- Perfect for ab-blasting exercises. Core Coasters (from $22, corecoaster.com)
Gym in a... Corner
An empty nook is a mini home gym waiting to happen. Use the extra space to build onto your box of essentials (sneaks, bands, roller, and jump rope info along the side of this page). Then add flair: When you turn it into something personalized and special, your gym motivates you, says Kaiser.
- "A mirror is great for understanding your body's placement," says Perkins. And Kaiser likes this one's cork frame: "Use it as an inspiration board. It's fun to refresh, and it'll keep you engaged with your workout area." Decorate it with get-moving mantras, a workout-tracking calendar, and pages from your fave magazine (hint, hint). Cork-Framed Mirror ($169, pbteen.com)
- Hop on and off this sturdy stepper to torch cals. Zon Aerobic Step ($37, sportchalet.com)
- Score! A compact trio of dumbbells that comes with a stand for easy storage. Tone Fitness 20-lb Dumbbell Weight Set ($42, overstock.com)
Gym in a... Room
Got space to spare? Spring for scaled-up gear, get creative with storage solutions, and consider a cardio machine.
- Hooping burns cals and builds core strength. Empower Cardio Core & More Hoop ($30, target.com)
- Handled tubes are an easy-to-grip take on resistance bands. Stackable Resistance Band Set ($33, blackmountainproducts.com)
- Hang everything on a ladder. Hub Ladder ($80, umbra.com)
- Work this ball into core-strengthening exercises like push-ups and crunches. Total Body Balance Ball Kit ($18, gaiam.com)
- A squishy ball functions as a weight and more. Ugi Ball ($129, ugifit.com)
- So pretty yoga mat. Combo Mat ($68, yogadesignlab.com)
- Kettlebells tone arms and abs. Fitness Gear 23-lb Kettlebell Set ($50, dickssportinggoods.com)
Never-Boring Workouts to Make the Most of Your Home Gym
For resistance-band inspiration: Try Holly Perkins's band exercises here.
For a quick class in kettlebells: Check out Lacey Stone Fitness.
For a cardio-licious step session: Click on Fitness Blender. (Have a sweat-swiping towel ready before you start!)
For a foam-rolling routine that strengthens and soothes muscles: Go to AKT InMotion.
For belly-blasting exercises you won't hate: Grab two Core Coasters and check out Core Coaster.
For happy hooping: Visit Empower Fitness for their cardio and strength hoop circuit.
For stability ball exercises that work your core: Watch how-to clips on ACE.
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This story originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.
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