No gym? No problem!

April 12, 2017


My best piece of fitness advice ever has been to “find something you love, and DO IT!!” If you love running, then run.  If you love lifting weights, go lift.  If you love team sports, join a team or club that plays for fun and fitness.  Whether it’s swimming, dancing, bowling, golf, roller hockey, cycling, boxing, figure skating, lacrosse, yoga, water aerobics or walking, just get out there and do it.  And keep doing it.

Today I’d like to share with you how I’ve put together a home gym that enables me to work around my excuses and get fit in a frugal way that’s fun!

The first thing you need to do is..

 Designate a Space:

Whether it’s a basement, bonus room, garage or even a section of your own bedroom, you will need to consider a few things in setting up your space.

  • Size: Depending on the type of activity you plan to do, you will need to set aside a certain amount of space.  Personally, my favorite activity in the past has been taking kickboxing classes at my gym.  Since moving a considerable distance away from a gym that offers these classes, I’ve decided to resume my kickboxing via fitness videos online.  This class involves lots of forward and back, side to side movement, so I need to make sure my space allows for plenty of these traveling moves.  It also involves some jump kicks, so I need enough space above me, as to not bonk my head on a hanging light fixture or other obstacles.

The space I chose is the bonus room in our house, which I also share with all my kids’ toys. It’s a big room, though, so it works.

  • Flooring: Be sure that your flooring is of a smooth, non-slip material.   Remove all obstacles that may cause you to trip.
  • Seclusion: Obviously sharing a space with my kids means I need to schedule my workouts for when they’re not also in the bonus room, unless they enjoy listening to my onlne instructor cheering me on and I’m comfortable with that, too.

 Purchase Used Equipment

If you’ve ever looked at the price of new cardio equipment or other specialty items you may have at your gym, you know how much these things can cost!  Fortunately there are other ways around breaking the bank to set up your home gym.   These days finding a good deal on someone else’s gently used gym equipment is as simple as going online. Try https://www.craigslist.com or https://www.offerup.com.   Buying locally means no shipping fees, you can look at it before you buy, it usually comes pre-assembled (a big yay! for me)  AND you get to meet some pretty interesting folks (and their pets!) while you’re at it!  (Trust me, I could write a book about some of the characters I’ve met..)

Here’s the sweet baby I found on Offer Up!

This is a more high-end elliptical machine, very sturdy, like the ones you see in the gym.

My price?  Only $85!!  Ok, actually I paid a total of $100 to get the guy to deliver it in his truck.  I went over to his house in just a standard SUV,  thinking we could fit it in, not realizing what a monster this thing is to carry.

Anyway, now I’m reaping the benefits of this monster!

It tracks miles, calories, heart rate, even has a 3-speed fan on it to keep me cool.

 Another class I miss taking is my “real” boxing class.  The class where we’re taught everything we need to  get in shape through boxing, from how to wrap our hands to throwing  punches and kicks with proper technique and posture for an efficient and safe workout.  That fun gym that’s one  big room of heavy punching bags, lined up side by side like a gigantic maze, ready for the pounding to begin.  I miss that place.

Again, I improvised.  Having been a yard sale queen, dumpster diver and keen eye for thriftiness for years, I am always on the prowl for good deals.  A stroll through a thrift store every now and then, keeping an open mind, is always sure to bring home unexpected treasures.  Call it luck, call it serendipity, call it being in the right place at the right time,  here’s what I found one day at Goodwill:

 A perfectly good heavy punching bag!

This lovely bag of sand cost me a mere $40, and because it was local, not ebay, there was no shipping charge!

Be Resourceful!

My only problem was my laziness.  Sure, I love to raise my heartbeat with a couple rounds of hits now and then, but it’s the tedious chore of wrapping my hands each time that I loathe.  My poor punching bag often sat for days, motionless.   Crying out for some of my hard superman punches to send it swinging again.  It was that silly issue of wrapping my hands up that kept me from going at it.

(For those of you new to boxing, the handwraps are key to protecting your hands, obviously.  Big puffy boxing gloves may absorb much of the impact, but you still need a tight wrap around the fingers, hand and wrist to hold the bones together during those rounds of smashing bags or skulls.  Just like a ballet dancer stuffs lambswool or even paper towels into the box of her pointe shoes to protect her toes from the agony of dancing on pointe.)

My solution:

These great pink Everlast gel hand wraps!  Just slide your hands in, adjust the velcro strap, slip your hands into your boxing gloves, and start jabbing!

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional hand wraps; ask any seasoned boxer and I’m sure they will prefer the long manually-wrapped wraps to these new thangs.  If I go to a boxing gym again, where I’ll be punching for a longer time, why, yes, I would definitely prefer the traditional wraps.  You can customize them more to fit every nook and cranny of your sweet little hands.

But these are cool.

I love these for my short rounds of boxing at home.  I don’t usually spend a long time at the punching bag, maybe only a round or two before moving on to other forms of exercise.  These are much easier to slip on, pull on the velcro strap, slide them inside my standard boxing gloves and I’m good to go!

They also wash up nicely after a sweaty workout.  Just throw them in the washing machine on cold, hang to air-dry.  The “gel” holds up great, they’re just as puffy and cushioning as ever!

Get them here.

So far I’ve got a punching bag, gloves and wraps, an elliptical, and all the internet’s workout videos at my fingertips!   What else could I possibly need?

What about weightlifting?   I used to participate in Body Pump, the weightlifting class by Les Mills that uses a bar and light weights to target all muscle groups of the body.  I really miss those group classes of choreographed lifts, presses, squats and curls set to rockin’ music that made us sweat, grunt and groan together.

Who says I can’t do the same at home? Well, I’ll miss the social aspect, but here’s what I’ve just recently added to my home gym collection..

Living miles and miles from the nearest sports store, I was very grateful to find this barbell on Amazon!   I also ordered the weight plates online, but on Walmart.com, as I found a better deal there.  But the best part was the free delivery!   No lugging these heavy beasts in and out of the car.  Just click, wait a couple days, (thanks, Amazon Prime!!) and the Fed Ex guy dropped it off on my doorstep.

         Now I’m squatting in style again!

Setting up a small home gym just takes a little time, patience and resourcefulness.  Whatever it is you love to do, JUST DO IT.  And if you find yourself making excuses, just be creative.  I love hearing how people make a way, where there seems to be no way, just by using their ingenuity. Have you tried a new form of exercise lately?  Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

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