Setting up a home gym so you can workout in the comfort of your own house is a great idea. It can involve an entire room dedicated to workout gear or simply a small area where you can complete daily exercises. A home gym can include large machinery or consist of just a mat, some weights, and other exercise gear along with a screen of some sort to follow a routine.
But how do you get started? There are various categories of fitness and health products from which to choose to set up home gyms of all kinds, whether you want to focus on cardio, weight training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or a variety of other exercises. And there are lots of subscription-based services like Fitbit Premium, iFit, and JRNY that you can use with devices to enhance the experience and give you that push you need to reach your goals.
Whether you are looking to get fit, shed pounds, build muscle, de-stress, or just ensure you live an overall healthier lifestyle, getting the daily steps and exercise you need to maintain good health, a home gym is a smart investment.
Here’s a look at the kinds of equipment that will come in handy once you’re ready to set up a gym at home.
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Fitness equipment for a home gym
Fitness equipment can range from cardio machines like treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical machines, and rowing machines to strength training gear, boxing and martial arts equipment, yoga and pilates gear, and more.
Treadmills are pretty popular nowadays, allowing you to go for a walk, run, or intense sprint without ever having to leave the house. Sometimes, all you want to do is get those recommended 10,000 steps in, but maybe you aren’t keen on trudging through the snow to get it done during the winter, when it’s raining, or if it’s super humid.
They offer various levels and speeds as well as inclines so you can even simulate going uphill. And the latest models come with built-in screens or have holders for your tablet or smartphone so you can follow along with a running workout, including live or on-demand classes (some even come with trial subscriptions), enjoy a virtual scenic route so you feel like you’re running on a trail or in the big city, or even so you can watch the news or an episode or two of your favourite show while you get 30-60 minutes of brisk walking done. They are also ideal if you have limited time to spare to workout, like on your work-from-home lunch break, or if you have babies or kids at home and don’t have time to head to the gym or go out in the neighbourhood for a run.
There are even foldable treadmills like the Bowflex 10 folding treadmill, perfect for those who don’t have a ton of room in the house. It folds up for storage and even comes with a one-year JRNY subscription for access to virtual workouts you can follow along from the included touchscreen. Fold it out, walk while you watch TV, read a book, or listen to a podcast, then fold it back up when you’re done. Have a leisurely walk while making those important client phone calls, and when you’re ready for a more intense workout, kick the speed up a notch and get some jogging or running in.
There are also walking pads like the SuperFit Folding Under-Desk Walking Pad, which you can easily fold up to store in a closet or corner or slide under the bed or couch when you aren’t using it.
Exercise bikes are in high demand as well, especially ones that come with screens so you can follow along with live or on-demand workouts taking place virtually. The NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle Exercise Bike is one such model, which comes with a large 22-inch HD screen and 30-day iFit membership for access to a variety of virtual workouts. The neat Automatic Trainer Control feature adjusts the resistance and incline for you to help maximize results and keep you focused on the session.
A bike like the Schwinn IC4 Spin Bike has a small screen to show your stats, but it can also work with your own mobile device, and even comes with a one-year subscription to JRNY, which provides access to virtual workouts with a trainer. The service offers a variety of video workouts, including on-demand classes and real-time coaching, suited to everyone from beginners to professionals and spanning every type of training from yoga to HIIT. The bike also comes with 3 lb. dumbbells so you can work on your upper body at the same time as your legs and lower body.
Don’t need something so elaborate? There’s also the Costway Magnetic Fly-wheel Stationary Cycle Exercise Bike that doesn’t have a screen either but it does offer a nearly silent ride so you won’t wake the baby or disturb other family members if you decide to get a midnight or early morning work-out in while everyone is asleep. There are four grip positions on the handlebar so everyone can get a workout in and it does have a small LCD that displays your speed, time, distance, calorie burn, and heart rate.
If strength training is your goal, you can get larger equipment like home gyms that help you work out every part of your body from one versatile machine. Keep in mind that as with fitness equipment like an exercise bike, you will need to have the room to accommodate one of these. But it could easily be set up in a corner of a basement or even garage if you aren’t quite ready to convert your guest room to a home gym.
Fitness gear for a home gym
A great way to exercise at home is to follow exercises from a video or animation, either displayed on a screen in front of you or even on a tiny smartwatch screen (more on both later). In many cases, these exercises require that you have some gear on hand in order to fully participate, or you can intensify a workout by complementing it with additional gear.
Some such items include dumbbells and weights, stability balls to help workout your core, and resistance bands. It might not look like there’s much to resistance bands but try one set of stretches with one around your arms or legs and you’ll quickly realize their benefits and how much you can do with them.
Whatever you get, it’s a smart idea to start with a pilates or yoga mat that can grip to the floor, especially if it’s hardwood or concrete, on which you can complete your exercises. There are exercise mats specifically designed to be placed under a treadmill, exercise bike, or other large machinery to protect your floor and keep it positioned properly. For working out, you’ll want a nice, non-slip and thick mat that you can comfortably get down on your hands and knees on and do everything from push-ups to sit-ups, and leg curls. If you have the room, go bigger, especially if you might work out with a friend or family member from time to time.
Don’t discount the need for a device to help soothe your aching muscles once your workout is done, especially for beginners or those who suffer from muscle pain. Massagers can become your best friend, along with other fitness recovery devices like foam rollers, especially as you begin to work on muscles you hadn’t worked in years. The EZ-X Premium Percussion Massage Gun has 20 speed levels and six massage heads, so you can use it to get some deep tissue therapy after a strenuous workout.
Smartwatches and activity trackers
A perfect companion device to a home gym is a smartwatch or fitness tracker you can wear around your wrist to keep track of workouts, heart rate, daily steps, and other information pertinent to your health and wellness.
The Apple Watch Series 7 smartwatch is a great option for workouts at home, especially given its tight integration with Apple Fitness+. You can monitor all your stats as your workout with that subscription service or by simply manually selecting your exercise, from an outdoor run to swimming, rowing, treadmill, and more. It even has new features specific to cyclers. Plus, it tracks other important data, including sleep, stress, heart rate, and even ECG.
The Fitbit Sense is one of the company’s most feature-rich options in the space, and it can track everything under the sun, from your daily steps to specific workouts, calories burned, and even detailed sleep patterns (an important but often forgotten part of your health) as well as stress management, blood oxygen variation, and even skin temperature. All of this data provides a holistic picture into your health and wellness. For something sleeker and smaller, the Fitbit Charge 5 is a good option worth considering as well.
Along with joining the community of Fitbit users to compare stats and even compete with friends and family on daily or weekly challenges, you can also tap into Fitbit Premium to get even more from the Sense and other compatible Fitbit devices. From the perspective of working out, this includes access to tons of guided workout sessions you can follow from an animated display on the watch face itself (there are some free ones as well) along with advanced analysis of your sleep score and other health metrics.
Apple’s Fitness+ subscription-based service works with the latest Apple Watch models, including the Series 7. With it, you can follow along with various studio-style workouts that intelligently communicate with the Watch to provide a personalized experience, including new workout types like pilates. You can also play music from Apple Music, in whatever genre you prefer, to get your juices flowing. The subscription can be shared with up to six family members, so everyone can use the home gym to do their own specially curated workouts.
Beyond Fitbit and Apple, there are tons of other smartwatch and fitness trackers available to help you keep track of your home workouts and progress over time.
Truly wireless headphones
Speaking of music, no workout is complete without music to help get you into a groove. And if you’re working out at home and don’t want to disturb the rest of the family, a good pair of truly wireless headphones make sense. These are also handy when you want to take the workouts outdoors, whether it’s to go for a morning run or a lunch-time power walk.
You’ll want a pair that’s sports-friendly, like the Jabra Elite 85t In-Ear Advanced Active Noise Cancelling Truly Wireless Headphones that are both water- and dust-resistant so it won’t matter how much you sweat, and fit securely into each ear so they won’t fall out, no matter how rigorous your workout. There’s also the obvious advantage of not having to worry about wires getting tangled as you move your arms and legs about. These boast an impressive seven-hour battery life and come with a charging case that ups that to 31, so you can easily go a month, working out an hour a day, without having to recharge. Plus, one-touch access to voice controls means you can skip music tracks or call up a favourite podcast while in the middle of sweating it out on the elliptical without having to stop or pause your workout.
If you don’t want to get rid of wires entirely, there are sports wireless headphones like the Bose SoundSport in-ear wireless headphones. They do have a small cord, but it sits neatly behind your neck so if you want to pop the earbuds out of your ears to reply to someone in the house or while taking a two-minute water break, the buds will neatly fall to your shoulders. They are designed specifically for wearing while working out (though there’s no reason you couldn’t wear them other times, too) with StayHear+ tips that stay in place, six-hour battery life, sweat- and weather-resistance, and an inline mic so you don’t have to skip a beat while working out if you want to skip tracks, raise or lower the volume, or answer an incoming call.
Small appliances for healthy cooking
Depending on how elaborate your home gym set-up is, you might have an area to plug in a small appliance nearby, like a juicer or blender, to refuel as needed with healthy juices, shakes, and snacks. Or, more realistically, you might just keep these small appliances in the kitchen and head upstairs or over to that room to get your pre- or post-workout drink or snack.
A device like the Breville Juice Fountain Cold Centrifugal Juicer is a great way to make sure you’re getting your daily servings of those all-important fruits and vegetables. Using cold spin technology and with no heat transfer that could impact the vitamins and minerals you get from produce, pop in a selection of your favourites and you’ll get delicious fresh juice. You can make a batch ahead using the 2-litre Seal and Store Juice jug then just keep it in the fridge to pour a glass after every workout. If you don’t need such a big machine and jug, you can alternatively opt for a machine like the Breville Juice Fountain Plus Centrifugal Juicer that comes with a 1L juice pitcher.
If nutritious smoothies after a good workout or for breakfast in the morning are more your thing, consider a blender. Vitamix is a leading brand when it comes to smoothies and the Vitamix A3500 1.9L 1500-watt Stand Blender is the perfect option for making everything from healthy smoothies to blending homemade healthy dips to eat with your vegetable snacks or homemade and filling healthy soups. It even has a Pulse feature that can chop ingredients like nuts and knead dough. And with Variable Speed, you can do everything from get silky smooth smoothies to chunky homemade salsa. If you don’t need something so elaborate, consider an alternative like the Vitamix E310 Explorian or the Blendtech Total Blender, which has 10 manual speeds, pre-programmed settings, and a powerful enough motor to blend frozen fruit and ice.
One of the latest trends in home cooking is air fryers, which allow you to indulge in the fried foods you love in a much healthier way, using little to no oil.
The Insignia Air Fryer has a 5L capacity so you can make delicious homemade French fries or fried chicken for the whole family without all of the guilt. And because it has a non-stick coating, it’s easy to clean. With the alarm reminder, you can set and forget, complete your workout, then come back to dinner or a snack that isn’t overcooked.
Smart home gear for a home gym
How do smart home devices fit into your home gym? A great one to consider would be an air purifier, which can keep the area clean of germs, viruses, and bacteria, and smelling fresh despite your sweaty workout.
The JS Flo 2.0 has a HEPA filter and works to both purify the air and eliminate odours. Ideal for small-to-medium-sized rooms, like a home gym area, the newest version works with a mobile app so you can remotely turn it on or off and create automatic schedules that kick in right after your weekly workouts.
For a larger area, there are devices like the Honeywell Allergen Remover Air Purifier with HEPA Filter, which has a HEPA filter and can cover an area as large as 465 square feet in size. It’s quiet so it won’t disturb you, even if running while you workout. And you can set it to automatically shut off after 2, 4, or 8 hours.
If you want to rock out to tunes in a dedicated room, you can also go the route of using a smart speaker instead of truly wireless headphones. With a smart speaker like the Google Nest Hub Smart Display, you can not only work out to your favourite playlist, all controlled by voice, but also leverage the screen to watch YouTube workout videos, video call a friend to do a workout together, or just stream an episode of a television series to help the time pass while you complete 30 minutes of light cardio.
Alternatively, if you’re really serious about working out or set up your home gym in a room that already has a TV or will also double as a den or activity room, like your basement, you can cast your workouts from a mobile device to a smart TV. You might be fine with a smaller TV, like the 43″ Samsung 4K UHD LED Tizen Smart TV, which you can use to play workouts, or watch TV or music videos while getting your daily exercise in. Ideally, you’d mount it at eye level so you can watch with ease. Before you know it, that hour of running on the treadmill will be done!
Take the next step
A home gym doesn’t have to mean redoing an entire room of your home with tons of exercise equipment. It can be a simple bike at the side of your den or living room, or even a mat and some weights you can tuck away when you’re not using them.
Ready to start setting up your own home gym? Check out the health and fitness gear at bestbuy.ca