Equipment necessities for a home gym
Young woman stretching at home

Whether you’ve made a resolution to get back into your exercise regimen or are finally hoping start one, a home gym may be a good way to make good on your wellness ambitions. Here in Canada, where regular outdoor exercise isn’t an option for most of us through the winter months, staying in shape means either working out at home or joining a gym. While gyms and fitness clubs offer the benefits of group classes, in-house trainers, and amenities like saunas and pools, the time commitment and motivation required to get out the door for a workout often means these memberships go underutilized.

While the cost of setting up a home gym is probably greater than the cost of a year’s gym membership, it may be a better deal in the long run. For one thing, it’s far easier and quicker to work out at home (it doesn’t require packing a gym bag and spending time commuting), making you more likely to stick to your fitness plan. Furthermore, if you amortize the cost of your home gym equipment over several years, it will eventually make more financial sense than a seldom-used gym membership.

If you have the space and the inclination to set up your own home gym, here’s everything you need to get started – and stick to your fitness resolutions this year and beyond.

The space

Every home gym begins with a physical space, be it a garage, a spare bedroom, or a corner of the basement rec room. Where your gym is located and how much square footage you have to work with will be deciding factors in terms of what equipment you can bring in. If you are working with a smaller space, for instance, a folding rower may make more sense than a bulky elliptical machine. Or, if your gym is in an upstairs room, slam balls and a full rack of weights may not be an option. Once you have a sense of how much space you have, you can go to work selecting the best equipment to fill it.

The budget

While fancy equipment like internet-enabled spin bikes and high-end dumbbells may look nice, you don’t have to spend a fortune to outfit your home gym. Plus, with no guarantee that you’ll end up using this stuff regularly, it’s best to start small and get a few basic items before splurging on the fancy stuff. Look for sales on gym equipment throughout the year (spring is usually a great time for these) or better yet, buy it used. Secondhand equipment costs a fraction of what you’ll pay at retail and is often in barely-used condition.

The cardio machine 

Cardio exercises like running, rowing and cycling are an essential part of every workout, so plan on including a stationary bike, elliptical machine, or a rower in your gym. Each of these has different benefits and targets different muscle groups, so take that into consideration. For example, if you have had knee problems in the past, a bike or rower might be a better fit than a treadmill. It’s also advisable to try working out on a few different machines to see what you like before making a decision. After all, if you don’t find a machine comfortable, you’re much less likely to make a habit of using it.

The weights

Strength training is another important part of any well-rounded fitness routine. Whether it’s a set of dumbbells, a weight bar and a set of plates, or a full weightlifting rack, a set of weights is a must for any serious training regimen. If you’re new to weights, you can start small with a couple of kettlebells, or a set of adjustable dumbbells and a weight bench. From there, you can upgrade to a more elaborate setup when you’re ready. 

Other essentials

There’s no limit to the additional items you can add to your gym from here, but the best rule is always to start small with a few essentials and build from there. A gym mat for stretching is a good idea, as are accessories like weightlifting gloves and an oscillating fan. Other popular additions include resistance bands, an ab roller, a step platform, inflatable exercise balls, and a jump rope. Then it’s up to you to put in the work.

Jeremy Freed is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. His writing about fashion, travel, food and design appears in Sharp, Harry and re:Porter magazines, among many others.

Jeremy Freed is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.
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