Build Your Own Home Gym For Under $100 Looking to cut costs? Working out at home isn’t as pricey as you might think. A home mini-gym can be an inexpensive way to exercise and keep up muscle strength. [CR Health]


Edit Your Comment

  1. t-r0y says:

    Damn, I thought the it said: Build Your Own Home Gun For Under $100

  2. Ratty says:

    Or, if you’re a renter in an apartment, see if your complex has any gym facilities. They can be hit or miss, but sometimes they hit well.

    Old complex: broken treadmill with non-working display, completely dead stationary bike, 4 weight machines that didn’t work because all their pins were stolen, an adjoined bathroom with no door.

    Current complex: 2 very nice treadmills, 2 nice ellipticals, 1 stationary bike, 12 weight/training machines, and a load of free weights. oh, and separated gender washrooms that also have showers.

    it’s always worth looking into.

  3. Chongo says:

    Another Chicagocentric comment:

    I just discovered the park district gyms. Cost me 45 bucks for 4 months of access to a full featured gym. Granted, it looks like its from 1987, but its empty and clean and 3 mins walk from my house.

    go the the chicago park district web site to find one near you!

  4. soloudinhere says:

    Also, check local universitites, many have top notch fitness facilities and will sell you access for a cheap rate (my university charges $100 per semester for unlimited access to fitness classes, less if you just want the gym, which is free for students).

    That said, the bosu ball is the single best invention ever in terms of exercising affordably. A bosu and some small hand weights and you’re in business. Great for small living spaces too.

  5. jmndos says:

    Craigs list and 5 finger discounts….like robbing a gym when its closed….

  6. ohnoes says:

    Or sandbags; sand is cheap and you have fifty pounds of weight for less than 20 bucks. The only thing then is to find strong sandbags, which if you’re in the States shouldn’t be a problem.

  7. mantari says:

    Yes, but then I’d completely lose my motivation to work out. What fun is working out if you’re not surrounded by hot men to motivate you to be there in the first place?

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @mantari: For me it’s the opposite. I’m unlikely to venture anywhere near a gym. I’d have to work out for years to feel like I had a body I could walk into one of those places with.

      • XTC46 says:

        @David Brodbeck: It depends on the gym, Ive noticed places like 24 hour fitness are full of average people like myself trying to better them selves, where as places like golds gym are filled with steroid pumped body builders. And then there are the executive clubs which just have business men and women in average shape.

        I like 24 hour fitness. Its clean, roomy (in most places) and have decent equipment. And there are good looking girls there.

        • Bye says:

          @xtc46: I guess YMMV, but my local Gold’s is also filled with the pumped (steroid and not) body builders but they are almost all extremely cool and friendly.

          The other gym I belong to is a 24 Hour Fitness (in Hollywood) and many people are just unfriendly. Plus it’s so abysmally unclean that I feel I need a Silkwood shower after working out in there. Even though I got a decent deal to join, avoiding MRSA or any other nasty bugs is my incentive to stay away. I just wish I hadn’t so hastily joined without thoroughly inspecting the place, but I didn’t think I’d need to since another 24 Fitness I’ve been to was pretty clean.

      • CocktimusPrime says:

        @David Brodbeck: For what it’s worth, all those fit/toned people at the gym started somewhere. I know when I started I felt ridiculous walking into the gym. Now, I’m definitely one of those people who made me feel bad when I started. And, maybe I’m different, but I never judge people who look like they are starting out. In fact, I give them credit. I’m much more impressed with someone who isn’t in shape actually making it to the gym than the overweight person walking out of a McDonald’s with a Big Mac stuffed in their face.

        On top of all that, I think you’d find most people at the gym would be willing to help you out. I’ve had people ask me what I do when I work out, and I have no problem telling them my general routine/diet. I know how much happier I am now that I’m in better shape, and I have no issues helping anyone else realize similar goals.

  8. Blueskylaw says:

    I believe when he was younger, Arnold Schwarzenegger used to lift truck axles. One day during a fierce blizzard in Austria when the gym was closed, he broke in through a window just to get his workout.

  9. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    My condo complex gym is amazing. Three treadmills, two ellipticals, a rowing machine, two types of bicycles, a full set of weights, two kinds of pulling/nordictrak type machines. And a set of cubby holes where you can put stuff when you come in.

  10. GuinevereRucker says:

    Heh, I hate working out. It’s so boring! I’d rather play sports or something that doesn’t involve any mention of the word “reps”.

    That said, I’ve been doing 20 pushups, 20 situps, and 5-10 pullups every night for the past year or so. Nothing major, and not aerobic (we go to karate for that), but it’s a simple way to exercise. And it’s FREE.

    Gyms are weird things. I’d rather play a pick up game of frisbee in a field for free than walk in one.

    • XTC46 says:

      @GuinevereRucker: Gyms allow for routine, which force me to go and work out. Its easy to not find a pickup game, its a bit harder to make up an excuse to not go to the gym, for me atleast.

  11. lpranal says:

    The only real problem I have with these “DIY Home gyms” is that they usually say ” a couple 5 / 10 lb. dumbells”. That’s really an almost insignificant amount for serious resistance training.

    I have a small weight bench in my apartment (it’s a small 1 bedroom apartment too) w/ freeweights, all used equipment, I spent well under $100 on. I did splurge on a nice weight tree ($30) to keep it organized though.

    • jimconsumer says:

      @lpranal: Nautilus SelectTech dumbbells. OK, kind of defeats the purpose of being cheap, but I picked these up brand new at Costco a few years back for several hundred bucks off retail. I love ’em. A full set of dumbbells adjustable from 5-52.5lbs in 2.5lb increments, looks great, fits in a corner, and are “neat” enough to me that I actually use them. :)

      • ncboxer says:

        @jimconsumer: I looked hard at the different dumbbells where you dial in the weight, but the price was just too high and it maxes out at 52. I think there is another one that maxes out more, but it cost a whole lot more too. In the end, I just bought single weights to clamp on dumbbells. It takes time to change them and they are more awkward then the single weight dumbbells, but they cost the least and are very flexible.

        • XTC46 says:

          @ncboxer: for most people lifting weights, 50lbs is more than enough if what you want is to be toned. If you are a bigger guy like me (6’3 290lbs) , then youll go past that, but for the average person getting an average work out, its plenty.

  12. c_c says:

    I bought some dumbbells w/ removable weights at play-it-again sports for ~20 bucks; you can get pretty much a full body workout with them, and combined with running, situps, pushups are about all I need.

    • Juliekins says:

      @cc82: I miss PIAS so bad! We used to have one here. Sadly, it went out of business two or three years ago. All of my dumbbells came from there. They were easily the best deal on boring old iron hex dumbbells in town.

      Another great cheap exercise is pull-ups, which I think has already been mentioned. I got a Door Gym from Amazon for around $20. Those “perfect pull-up” doohickeys come with some nice extras but I think they’re a little on the pricey side. If you can’t do pull-ups, you can still do negatives (start at the top of the movement, slowly let yourself down) and see big gains in strength.

      I know everyone here hates Wal-Mart, but the Gold’s Gym and Danskin lines of workout doo-dads (tubing, med balls, etc) are pretty nice and not too expensive.

  13. trustsatan says:

    Looking to cut costs? Try not to pay for things that can generally be obtained for free: water, idle entertainment, a mechanism by which to raise your heart rate and possibly break down muscle tissue…

    Try running in the park or up and down the stairs. Sex is my favorite free workout. I honestly don’t understand how the subscription-model gyms stay in business…

    • CocktimusPrime says:

      @trustsatan: “I honestly don’t understand how the subscription-model gyms stay in business…”

      Easy, it’s expensive to put them together yourself. I’ll give you cardio is free (I’d much rather run/bike outside) – but this becomes harder in the dead of winter (if you live where it snows).

      However, I do a lot of free weight exercises, and I like to increase and decrease resistance when I do. So, I pretty much need a set of dumbbells from about 20-135 lbs in 5 pound increments (and hopefully higher than 135 some day). A decent set of dumbbells will run at least $2 per pound (good sets run closer to $4, but I’m sure gyms get them cheaper). So, for my needs, I would require nearly $7,500 in dumbbells alone. I know I’m certainly not the average person when it comes to lifting, but there are plenty more like me out there. With that in mind, ~$25/month membership is a lot easier to come by then buying the weights myself (not to mention I don’t even have anywhere to put them).

  14. ncboxer says:

    Elastic bands are great. I’ve worked out with ones for over a year and they definitely can help tone and work your core muscles. One thing I would add to the list is a pullup bar to fit in the doorway. I good one cost about $30. Though I do have one expensive piece of equipment- a treadmill I got about 6 years ago. I run on that several times a week. It doesn’t matter if it is too dark, too cold, too hot, etc, I can run on the treadmill anytime- it is just more boring than running outside.

  15. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Here’s a question: Do public universities offer affordable gym memberships to community members? I know some of them will let you sign up with their libraries, so I thought it might be worth asking.

    My husband works at a private college that allows staff family members to use the gym for free, which is nice. It’s also possible that some employee health plans might offer a discount.

    • Juliekins says:

      @CumaeanSibyl: I work at a university and they do notf offer memberships to members of the community. I am sure that kind of thing varies from school to school, though.

      Our rec center is pretty nice, but because its construction was funded by student fees, it’s only free for students. Faculty and staff pay $250/year for a membership. That fee doesn’t include group fitness, either. I’m a member right now, but once this year is up I’m thinking of switching to a gym in another part of town that’s a teeny bit more expensive but they offer Les Mills classes and other group fitness as part of the package.

      Of course, if the economy stays in the shitter I will probably just stay home and use the considerable amount of exercise equipment I have here. I just like working out with other people!

    • tcolberg says:

      @CumaeanSibyl: Here’s an example of an university allowing community members to use the gym facilities. This is UCLA’s explanation of eligibility for community members: []

  16. fatcop says:

    I have a gym that the department funds with raffles, and whatnot. I’ve been in there twice, and that was to take a leak.

    That said, I am currently in physical therapy after acl replacement, and I get my ass kicked 3 times a week doing basic exercises I could easily do at home.

    * Squats against a wall using that big ball between you and the wall.

    * Using a loop of those bands, put them around your legs and walk sideways through the room.

    * Using a stool on wheels, walk yourself across the room a few times using one leg then another. Then do it backwards.

    * Use a belt, band, or rope and lay down and stretch your hamstrings out.

    * Tie something of weight to your ankle and lay down and do leg lifts on back, stomach, right and left sides.

    * Timed one leg balance.

    * Walking lunges holding a 5lb weight out in front of you.

    * Step up and down on a single step stool.

    * Take a piece of 4×4 lay it on the floor and do heel raises off it.

    This is about half of the phys therapy I do 3 times a week and I have yet to leave there not sweating like crazy. Other half is with machines. All the above of course is suited to rehabbing my knee, but you get the picture. All easily done in the home and for next to nothing. After 4 months of this, good leg is like iron, the post-op one is well on the way.

  17. Rob Weddle says:

    Two words: Bodyweight Exercise.

    For less than $30, pick up a copy of “Never Gymless” at your favorite bookstore, and then cancel your gym membership. Your book pays for itself in the first month, and you’ll never go back. Well, I didn’t anyway.

  18. hellinmyeyes says:

    Kettlebells and resistance bands are about all you need. Pick up a small kettlebell for weight training and a large one for your swinging and squats. Easy home workouts.

  19. Saboth says:

    Darn and I just spent 3,000 on a home gym, including a new gym quality treadmill, a rack of dumbbells up to 65 lbs, 300 lbs of weight, a universal machine, a total gym, a bench and power rack. I think I’ll stick with my gym, as it does 95% of what I could do in a real gym.

  20. suburbancowboy says:

    As much as I generally loathe infomercials, the P90x workouts are brutal, and they only use dumbbells or resistance bands, a chin up bar, a chair and a yoga mat (optional).