6 Ways to Create a Great Home Gym For Less
If your New Year’s Resolutions involve exercising a bit more, you’re not alone. While the fitness industry won’t see as big a boom as they are used to this year, there’s still lots of money to be made. Before you sign up for the next big fitness trend, consider checking out these six ways to buff up at home for less.
Use Your Television – Personal trainers come and go (and cost a pretty penny, too!) If you have a little self-discipline, and love the variety that fitness videos offer, you can use the tube as your instructor! I personally use the Roku Netflix Viewing Box (highly recommended) to access dozens of unique and inspiring fitness videos through my Netflix account. For the $99 it costs for the Roku box (which plays Starz movies and will soon also have access to Amazon Unbox VOD) plus the $9 or so I’m spending on my Netflix account anyway, I get to work out a hundred different ways in the comfort of my own home. My favorites include 10-minute Dance Cardio Blast, the yoga selections, and the Salsa dance videos. (My daughter enjoys it too – we sometimes use them for home school physical education activities.)
Use Your Body – Natural resistance training is perhaps one of the most effective (and affordable) methods of getting in better physical shape. By using your own body and some affordable resistance bands or small free weights, you can get quite a workout. (Not to mention the amazing effects that it can have on a woman’s bone density.) For the beginner, or a small gal like me, a few hand weights and a resistance band will cost you no more than $20-30 (less if you hit the clearance rack or second-hand shops.) Many health clinics give out the bands for free! An inflatable exercise ball is another good way to build strength through this training, and they can be picked up at a retailer for around $10-15.
Use Your Realtor – This may sound a bit predatory, but with all the foreclosed homes in our area, many people we know have been offered more than their share of free to low-cost exercise equipment. When home owners are pressured to leave quickly, they often can’t take their bulky weight machines or treadmills with them. This leaves you with an opportunity to help them out and benefit, too! If you are aware of the hardship that exercise equipment can cause, offer a fair price for the equipment (many times fitness machines have also been given as payment for moving services.) By buying it directly from the homeowner, they are getting a better deal than if they sold it to a second-hand exercise shop, and you will pay far less, as well. You can also talk to realtors and “stagers” in your area, as they often use equipment in walk-throughs and model homes. Once they no longer need it, however, it often gets thrown away or put into storage for a lofty fee.
Use Craigslist – Many of these same homeowners use Craigslist for listing their equipment. Others times, avid New Year Resolution makers find that their newly-purchased $1000 equipment investment has not been worth it, and they try to dump it on Craigslist. Watch for items that you really want, and don’t be afraid to make a lower offer. If something sits there long enough, you may get your price! (And don’t forget to check the “free” section for last-minute “you pick up” items.)
Use the Internet – I wrote awhile back about how much I liked the Food Pyramid website, and how it can save money over club programs that require weekly meetings or weigh-ins. My new favorite tool, however, is About.com’ CalorieCount. It’s totally free, pretty accurate, and completely motivating. (Plus it’s web-based, so you can use it at home or at work with no software installation.) I can enter all the information for my body type, desired weight, and activity level (among other factors) and watch my calorie intake against my burn level. The best part of the program is the recipe feature. If I’m not sure how many calories are in a meal I’ve made, I just cut and paste the recipe into the form, and it tells me! I’ve avoided so many “empty calories” by using this program, and I’ve resisted the urge to spend money buying popular diet guides or “points” calculators online. (You can also find support groups here, as well.)
Use Your Insurance – Are you aware of all of the health programs available to you under your health insurance plan? Maybe you are eligible for an employer-specific initiative designed to give you access to health tools and fitness discounts. If you’re not already taking advantage of these resources, you may be missing out. Many insurance plans offer free perks like smoking-cessation prescriptions and programs, gym equipment rentals, and discounts on active wear and vitamins. While the savings may not be great, it could help you make that initial investment into your own home gym. And don’t forget the most valuable service of all – the annual physical exam. Knowing that you’re healthy enough to begin a diet or exercise program is the best first step in getting fit, and for many plans, its not subject to a co-pay or deductible.
If money’s been holding you back from your health goals, get creative and get moving!