If you’re looking to build out a home gym workout space, we’ve got fitness equipment to get you started that won’t drain your bank account or clutter up your home.  

We picked out some fun exercise equipment essentials to help you maximize your workout. These tools work, whether this is a full-time at-home gym space or a stop gap when you can’t get to your favorite fitness facility. This fitness equipment is perfect for using with workouts such as those mention in this piece with A few of our favorite at-home workouts. 

Bulky, heavy home-gyms are passé

First, it’s worth noting how fast things have changed. About ten to 15 years ago, the word “home gym” evoked this: a giant, all-in-one steel bench press from Inspire or similar brand. These are equivalent to commercial gym weight room equipment. If you’re a professional weightlifter or are in a sport in which you need to be serious about building muscle, you might consider purchasing one of these, but expect to pay upwards of $500 or $1,000, even for used equipment. But, for the average fitness buff these are pricey space hogs. We decided to focus on the simple tools for cardio or strength workouts. 

Our Favorite fitness equipment essentials: 


PRICE: $199.95 + free shipping

Equipment Details: Gorilla Mats are Premium Exercise Mats that come in all different sizes, from yoga mats to mats the size of small carpets. The Extra Large Exercise Mat 7’ x 5’ x ¼” is designed to be an ultra-durable, non-slip, workout mat for home gyms. Gorilla says it’s good for jumping, cardio, mixed martial arts, etc. The mats  are designed to work well on all flooring, from tile and basement concrete to wood and carpeting. 

SLB Takeaway: While no mat can compare to the industrial flooring you might find in a gym, we liked these mats because of their durability and functionality. If you’re working out at home, who wants to get carpet burn from burpees? You really need a mat of some type. They’re also versatile for a small space: When you’re done, just roll them up and store them in your closet. We also love the lifetime warranty: “if your mat gets worn out or damaged, or has any defects, we’ll replace it for FREE.”  This was particularly appealing because some of the other brands of mats, which might have cost $60 less, consumers complained of being flimsy or fraying.

Resistance Bands

PRICE: $21.97

Equipment Details: Resistance Bands Set of 5-Piece Exercise Bands from DMYCO.  These are like giant Bungee Cords to help you build muscles through resistance workouts. Either anchor them into a door or use your body as an anchor. Fitness Insanity says they’re good for working body parts from your arms, legs and chest to back, belly and glutes. They can be stacked for up to 150 lbs. of resistance.

SLB Takeaway: We love the price (and you could actually find other, cheaper brands, but we liked the extra accessories). We also appreciated the fun primary colors (starting with 10 lbs. of resistance on up to 50 lbs.) The set also comes with a nice carrying case and a chart with several dozen exercises. Once you’re bored with those, you can explore their website for more ways to change up your workouts.

Hand Weights

Price: $85.99

Equipment Details: KOOLSEN Adjustable Dumbbell Weights Pair, 2.6 to 11LBs 5 in 1 Adjustable Dumbbell Set with Anti-Slip Handle, Home Office Gym Workout Fitness Exercise Training. The hand weights come in pink or blue and come with a no- slip handle and rubber soft cover. Start with 2.6 lbs, and then unscrew the top of the weight to add steel bars to get 4.9, 7.2, 9.5 on up to 11 lbs. of weight.

SLB Takeaway: Before you balk at the price, recall that you’re getting not one, two or three, but five sets of dumbbells in one! If you’re just starting out with strength training, the 3-weight setting (2.2 lbs, 3.3 lbs. and 4.4 lbs.) weights cost $39.99. So, instead of cluttering up the house with multiple sets of cumbersome weights, you have one. We appreciated the multiple weight feature because it allowed us to switch between exercises such as squats and overhead extensions, which might require lighter weights. We also appreciated the sleek, modern design of the weights. They are not an eyesore, like some old-time steel dumbbells, which is key if your fitness space happens to be in your bedroom and you’re trying not to ruin the design aesthetic.

Hand Grip Strengthener Set

Price: $7

Equipment Details: E-smartinlife Hand Grip Strengtheners. These strengtheners are designed to strengthen your hands, wrist forearm and fingers

SLB Takeaway: Many people forget to work their hand muscles. But as the manufacturer states, using the hand grip strengtheners can “rehabilitate and relieve pain…for conditions such as: arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis.”

 It’s such an easy, multitasking exercise. Try for instance, jumping on the exercise bike and working out your hand muscles for half the ride. Or when you know you’ll be doing another task around the house for 10 minutes that doesn’t require both hands.  Your future self will thank you.

 Jump Rope

Price: $10.89

Equipment Details: The DEGOL Skipping Rope with Ball Bearings is a Rapid Speed Jump Rope Cable with 6” Memory Foam Handles. With a ball bearing system, this jump rope aims to smoothly rotate.  It is also good for any height, adjustable with 9-feet of rope, so children or adults can use it. The rope is made of braided steel wire rope coated with PVC. DEGOL says this design makes it last long and avoids cracking or breaking. The handles are also made of soft memory foam.

SLB Takeaway:  Wow, you’ve come a long way, jump rope! Did you know that 10 minutes of skipping rope is equal to 30 minutes of running? No wonder it’s so popular with time-strapped athletes of all abilities for cardio and muscle tone. This one received over 31,000 reviews, mostly five stars. Reviewers really appreciated the soft, comfortable handles that absorb sweat and moisture. They also liked the light-weight design that made skipping rope enjoyable. We also loved the price!

Ab Roller

Price: $15.99

Equipment Details: Ab Roller from Fitnessery is designed to elevate your Abs Workout. It comes with 2 e-books about abs workouts and nutrition, as well as a knee pad. 

SLB Takeaway: You don’t earn a 4.5 star rating with over 12,000 reviews on Amazon for nothing! For the price, people really dig this exercise tool that many first tried at their gyms and some hail as a wonder gadget when it comes to strengthening your core. It’s not recommended for beginners, as it takes a little practice to slowly roll back and forth with the Ab Roller. But once you’ve worked your way up to a dozen or so push ups, and watched the instructional videos available online, you should be good to go. Looks like a fun way to change up your core workout routine. 

So, if you’ve created an at-home gym, consider investing in a new piece of fitness equipment or two. If you surround yourself with the right tools, and write down your fitness goals for the year, you’ve just improved your odds of achieving those goals.

–Patty Yeager

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