When gyms closed during the pandemic, many people found that sweating in the comfort of their living rooms could be as effective as going to a studio — along with saving time and money. In fact, a recent survey found that 60 percent fewer people think that gyms, health clubs and group exercise classes provide the best options for staying fit.
But if you’re thinking of making home workouts a permanent fixture of your exercise routine, chances are there will be some upfront costs involved. Before you go out and splurge on a home gym makeover, here are some tips that can help you make sure you’re getting the best home workout gear for your money.
CHOOSE MULTI-PURPOSE EQUIPMENT
Items that serve many purposes can help you avoid overspending.
"When it comes to home workout equipment that's worth the money based on ease of use and value, hands down, adjustable dumbbells are a good investment," says fitness expert and certified personal trainer Sarah Bowmar. "You can get at least five different weights out of one set and they take up minimal room."
Bowmar suggests this set, which costs just under $400 and allows you to adjust from 10 pounds to 90 pounds. Having different weights not only allows you to change up your workout, it also enables couples or families to share their gear.
And for people who will continue to work from home indefinitely and can’t always get out for a walk or run, consider a treadmill desk. You can even find versions that fold up for easy storage when not in use.
DO A TRIAL RUN
What comes first, the equipment or the workout program? With so many options for digital classes and fitness apps, it's important to find one you'll stick with before investing in a paid subscription or any of the gear required (especially for certain specialty workouts).
Sign up for a free trial — nearly every fitness app offers one — and modify your workouts by using everyday items first, such as soup cans instead of light weights or a pillow instead of a Pilates ball. This way, you can see how committed you'll be to a particular program before spending money on it.
"I think finding someone who is certified in what they are doing is key," Bowmar says. "When it comes to gear, you can have the best equipment in the world but if you don't know what to do with it, it will just collect dust."
PAY FOR WHAT YOU WANT, AND NOT WHAT YOU DON’T
Think about the workouts you're drawn to and ask yourself: Where’s the value for me? Is it the instructors themselves, the uniqueness of the workout or the community aspect? This can help you determine what parts to invest in and what you can hack for cheaper.
For instance, many Peloton users find the hefty price tag of the exercise bike or treadmill plus the monthly membership worth the money because it motivates them to exercise more often. "It helps you be more accountable when you are competing against people around the world during a ride," Bowmar says.
But for others who just want the instruction, buying the name-brand bike may not be necessary. You might find you prefer subscribing to the app only and using your own stationary bike (this highly rated model is often touted by Peloton app users).
So it’s worth doing some research with other fitness enthusiasts to see if you really need to invest in all aspects of the workout, or if there are hidden ways to save.
FOCUS ON QUALITY OVER QUANTITY FOR YOUR WORKOUT WARDROBE
Having the right exercise clothing keeps you comfortable when you're breaking a sweat, but you don't need a closet full of outfits to have an effective workout. “High quality shoes and a few pairs of cute leggings and tops go a long way when it comes to staying consistent at home,” Bowmar says.
Exercise fabric should allow you to easily stretch and move and should fit your body right now. If you know there are certain characteristics you want in your clothing, like moisture-wicking fabrics, it might be worth paying the premium for those since you’re more likely to wear them. That way you can focus on your workout, not on readjusting your clothing.