June 24, 2018

Building a (Cheap, Fun) Home Gym

I mean to get to the gym much more often than I actually do, which I suspect, just based on anecdotal evidence, is a pretty common thing. Actually, evidence extends beyond the anecdotal: Economists have shown that we are overly optimistic about how frequently we’ll go to the gym, to the point where we’ll lose a good chunk of change in membership fees. A great 2014 episode of the podcast Planet Money discussed the phenomenon of gyms that have “built their business model around us not showing up.” Hindrances to getting to the gym run the gamut from low energy to distance—typically, the farther the gym, the less frequent the attendance.

So why not make your gym as close as physically possible, or supplement your gym membership with some at-home routines? Over the years, my work space at home has transformed into a dual-purpose office-gym, with a selection of compact pieces of equipment that have made it so much easier to get a workout in. Here are a few items that can make working out less of a chore, and maybe even—dare I say?—fun. (None of the following is paid advertising, at all; I just love these products.)

​Stationary bike with a laptop holder.

​This has been the real game changer for me, allowing me to exercise while writing, catching up on emails, talking on the phone (a bit breathlessly, but still), and other miscellaneous day-to-day tasks. Or if I need a break from being productive, it’s not Microsoft Word but Netflix that I’ll be staring at while biking.

Cheap bikes are available on Amazon. Here’s the one I have. It’s self-assembly, but not hard to put together.

​Mini stepper.

This equipment will kick your butt, and make it look good. It’s small and doesn’t take up much space at all, but it’s really effective, working out both your butt and, because of its resistance bands, your arms.

​The flying saucer.

Not the actual name of this gadget, but if it looks like a flying saucer and somehow moves around the house in mysterious ways, it earns the name. The balance board is good for more than just practicing balance. You can also do really challenging exercises, like planks and, if you’re one of those people who does them, pushups. It’s obscenely hard, but it’ll make you stronger.

​Free weights.

You can buy cheap weights at fitness stores or places like Walmart. It’s important to know how to use them to avoid injury, so do some research before getting started.

​YouTube videos.

Some free and truly fantastic workout videos are available on YouTube. I love XHIT’s ab workouts and Fitness Blender’s butt and thigh workouts. I use a yoga mat during floor ab workouts, and if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I’ll add a free weight during butt workouts.

​Workout apps and programs.

​There are also some excellent low-cost workout apps, such as Streaks and Nike Training Club. Finally, the New York Times has a great guide on short high-intensity interval training workouts that you can do at home.

​About the Author

​Grace is an Albuquerque-based writer and editor with a background in book publishing. She loves musicals, bar trivia, and breakfast burritos.

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