In early 2021, I joined a group of girlfriends to start working out at home. It began with a yoga mat, light dumbbells, a fitness tracker, a TV, and a workout app. Fast forward almost two years, and my single mat and two sets of weights have now expanded to include tons more health and fitness gear.
I have been sticking with it every day since, save for a few much-deserved days off. What really helps motivate me is having the right workout equipment. In exploring different workouts, I have come to learn of great gifts anyone who works out at home, whether they have been doing it for years or are just starting out, will love.
In addition to our home gym buying guide that provides plenty of inspiration, here’s a look at some ideas worth considering.
Large fitness equipment
While they might not have room for a complete at-home gym set-up, they may be able to fit one or two items.
A cardio machine such as an exercise bike, elliptical machine, or treadmill, is the perfect centre point for their home gym. Consider not only the size of the machine but also that they’ll have sufficient space around it. If they love to run, for example, but can’t get outside to do it as often as they’d like, a treadmill is a simple solution for working around those constraints.
Another item they might appreciate is a weight bench. I found a small, foldable weight bench that I set up at home for strength training. When I’m finished with it and I have moved on to something like cardio or boxing, it folds up neatly. I usually tuck in the corner of the room. But it could also fit in a garage or closet.
These are great for exercises while sitting or lying back. But they are also useful for step-ups or holding on to the back or leaning onto the middle for bent over rows.
Most core exercises that would typically be done on the floor can also be done on a bench. This will be especially appealing if you work out in a room with an unfinished cement floor.
The right gear
If you know the person already has a large piece of exercise equipment, get them gear to use with different workouts. Different workouts indeed require different things. They might not initially think these items are necessary, but take it from me: they’ll realize the benefits once they have them.
An exercise mat
The first piece of gear I got was an exercise mat for the hardwood floor in the basement where I work out. Make sure to get one that grips to the floor: there’s nothing worse than a mat that slips and slides as you do speed skaters or jumping lunges, not to mention it can be dangerous.
At the heart of any weighted exercise and strength training are dumbbells. It’s absolutely worthwhile to have a wide selection. A set of small weights is great to start, but you should challenge yourself as you go. Conversely, you might be able to lift heavier weights for some exercises and lighter ones for others. With some moves, for example, you might do a few reps using 15-lb. weights but need to drop to 10s or 12s for the final set.
I have a set of 3s, 5s, 8s, 10s, 12s, 15s, 17.5s, and 20s, along with a single 30-lb. weight for exercises like Sumo Squats. I acquired all of these over the course of a few years. But any set I was missing from the arsenal would have been a welcome gift as I began my journey (and even still today as I continue to build muscle and gain strength). Even better is a nice weight rack to neatly store them and for quick retrieval. You’ll have to get creative with gift wrapping, especially with heavier weights. But it’s a gift that will be appreciated.
One of my favourite types of workouts is shadow boxing, and while you aren’t actually punching anything, wearing a pair provides a more authentic feel.
One of my dream pieces of equipment (space does not allow it in my home, sadly) is a boxing machine that tells you where to punch and when, with sensors on the sides, middle, top, and bottom. But there are other boxing and martial arts equipment you can get for a home gym of a decent size. A freestanding heavy bag, for example, is the perfect way to practice your jabs, crosses, uppercuts, and hooks, as well as kicks if you’re into sports like kickboxing. If the person doesn’t have somewhere they feel comfortable mounting a bag to the ceiling, a freestanding bag is the perfect solution.
Resistance bands are useful for all types of workouts, including core, leg, and arm workouts. They are designed to provide extra resistance to help the muscles work harder. Anyone who works out at home will find use for resistance bands.
I’m not talking about rubber resistance bands with handles to use in place of free weights (though these are great for travel): I’m talking about fabric or stretchy small bands that wrap around your thighs, arms, or legs.
There are both resistance bands and resistance loops. Cloth resistance bands are great for exercises like squats. Rubber and stretchy resistance loops are great for arm workouts, like lateral pulldowns behind your head, or for stretching around the bottom of your foot and pulling up for core finishers. You could use them around your thighs as well, but I find the fabric ones are much more comfortable and stay secure versus folding and twisting up your thighs or legs.
Get a set with different resistance levels (usually labeled as light, medium, heavy, and so on) so they can try different ones and work their way up the levels.
Push up and chin up bars
If they’re working on their arm and core strength, a push up and chin up bar is a simple install in the home. They can use it to get a few minutes of exercise each day.
Consider one that fits in the middle of a doorway so it won’t take up much room and they can install it where they see fit. Some can even be used on the floor for push ups and other lower body exercises.
My best friend, who works out daily as well, swears by her aerobic platform stepper. She uses it for different workouts, including ones that involve dance. The simple stepping up motion might seem like it doesn’t do much, but it enhanced a working. It will especially help if you’re trying to work on glutes.
Some have risers for adjusting the height, and, when collapsed down all the way, can easily slider under a couch or other piece of furniture, or tuck away in a closet.
Cordless jump rope
Corded jump ropes are perfect for use outdoors. But depending on your indoor space, they might not be conducive for a home gym. I have this issue with my workout space, but find that cordless jump ropes provide a similar workout without having to physically skip over a rope that is pulled around your entire body. Instead of ropes on the ends, the handles have cordless balls that simulate the action of skipping as you turn them like you would an actual jump rope. Some cordless jump ropes come with attachable cords as well so you can use them both with and without the cords.
The gift they didn’t even know they wanted
Working out at home might be free compared to a gym membership. But having the right gear is important in helping you reach your fitness goals. Usually, someone working out at home will acquire these items bit by bit, especially if, like me, they are doing different three-, four-, six-, or more week programs. A lot of the items on this list will be useful for, or even help enhance, all types of workouts, from HIIT and cardio to strength training, yoga, Pilates, and more. It might not be the workout they’re doing right now, but it could very well be the next one.
Check out lots of health and fitness gear at Best Buy Online.