Whether you’ve got $50, $25,000 or any amount in between, there are fitness options to create a home gym to chisel you down to the sexy, shapely you that was trapped inside the person wearing your name badge at the last class reunion.

Before jumping in, know that you’ll need motivation and space in your place. No matter how much money you invest in equipment, using your elliptical machine as a clothes hanger won’t raise your buns.

Ideas for $50

Space requirement: 6’ x 6’ space for performing exercise. This equipment will store easily in a closet or under a bed.


Audio trainers. Becky’s Fitness Company offers audio workouts downloadable into your MP3 player ($7.99 to $11.99). Each personal trainer audio file comes with an exercise list and video showing proper form. Add handheld weights and a yoga mat.



Jillian Michaels: 30 Day Shred DVD. You’ll curse her name but your body will look great naked ($10). You’ll need five, eight and 10-pound handheld weights ($30) and a yoga mat ($10).



GoFit Kettlebells. It’s a hot new training tool promising an intense workout in half the time with twice the results. Celebrities including Lance Armstrong, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Biel and Matthew McConaughey use kettlebells to put muscle in their routines. GoFit includes an instructional DVD (prices start at $29.99).


These workouts provide great cardio and use either light weights or your body weight to sculpt a toned, lean body. Done consistently, you will get stellar results.

Ideas for $100

Space requirement: 6’ x 6’ for performing exercise.


Five Factor workout. Trainer Harley Pasternak developed this workout and is credited with whipping Halle Berry into shape for Catwoman. Enough said. You’ll need the Five Factor Fitness book ($5.98 on Amazon.com), 10 and 15-pound handheld weights, a weight bench ($69.99 at Dick’s Sporting Goods) and a yoga mat.


Rebounding workout. The urban rebounder, created by practicing martial artist J.B. Berns, offers a nonstop abdominal workout to melt fat and inches, strengthen your core and improve balance and coordination. It’s a total body workout named one of the Top 100 products of 2008 by Consumer Reports ($89.95).



Physique 57TM workout. Physique 57 offers three DVDs: a 57-minute (KILLER) full-body workout, a 30-minute express version and a 30-minute arm and ab booster ($49.95). You’ll need a playground ball ($2.99), handheld weights ($30), a yoga mat ($9.95) and a chair.


These workouts reshape your body—they’ll taper your back, raise your buns and add shape to your hamstrings and quads in about six weeks.

Ideas for $500

Space requirement: 10’ x 10’ furniture-free space to create a dedicated home gym.


Mini resistance gym. Try a BodyFormTM Total Fitness Platform with 10 resistance settings for each exercise it performs. It stores flat under a bed or desk ($200 at Brookstone). Add a yoga mat ($10), Swiss ball ($30), BOSU ball ($99) and handheld weights to vary workouts.


Mini free weight gym. This requires more dedicated space because it uses a weight rack, handheld weights (around $300 on www.amazon.com) and a bench ($70). Add an Aerobic Twisting Stepper for cardio to work major thigh muscles and glutes ($100 Brookstone).


Boxing gym. This is a high-impact home gym with a boxing bag, gloves, hand wraps, jump rope and timer ($300). Add handheld weights and a yoga mat for additional strength and core work. 

Virtual gym. Wii Fit gives you choices of exer-games like Wii Fit, Wii Yoga and Wii Active to work out at any level. You’ll need the Nintendo Wii Console ($199), the Wii Balance Board ($85) and Wii Fitness Games ($20 to $40).

If you get bored easily with routine, the following workouts offer variety while still helping you craft a killer body.

Ideas for $2,000 – $3,000

Space requirements: 8’ x 8’ hard-surface, dedicated space.


Cardio gym. Smooth just launched a new elliptical that is more versatile and ergonomic than its competitors. The DMT-X1 transforms from a traditional elliptical pattern to Agile mode (lima bean shaped motion vs. egg) for a greater range of motion, increased heart rate and muscle recruitment. It provides upper and lower body movement, conditions cardiovascular and major muscle groups simultaneously without stress on joints and recruits glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles to a greater degree than traditional elliptical movements ($2,099). Add a weight rack, handheld weights and a yoga mat for strength training.



Cross training gym.The CTX Functional Cross Trainer is a light commercial piece. Its quality blows anything in the traditional “home” category away. Plus, it has a lifetime warranty. It takes a dedicated space but gives you a total body workout with over 100 exercises. Add a weight bench for additional exercise options ($2,699).



Exercise station gym.These stations give you the option to do bench press work, freemotion arm exercises, low pulleys for rows, abductors and adductors, high pulleys for lat pull downs, leg extensions, curls and leg press exercises. The appeal is performing hundreds of strength training exercises on one piece of equipment. Don’t go low-end. You want it to last and deliver a fluid workout ($1,300 – $3,000).

Ideas for $5,000 – $8,000

If you are planning a major investment, give yourself a space that makes you feel good (include a window and professional gym flooring). Add mounted full-length mirrors to watch your form. Though you’ll never have all of the equipment you’d find in a Lifetime, Lifestyle or Urban Active, you can build your workout around your body’s needs. So buy versatile, sturdy equipment to vary workouts and include resistance, strength and cardio training. Include a weight tree (vertical trees are real space savers) with a full rack of weights, a flat/incline/decline weight bench, an elliptical, a CTX Functional Cross Trainer and mounted flat screen TV and DVD player. Prices vary so shop around and ask for discounts when buying multiple pieces of equipment from one vendor. Some vendors (like Fitness and Leisure in Cincinnati) design the gym space for you to help you get the most use out of each piece—they even deliver and set up your equipment.

Ideas for $25,000 and above

If you’re seriously into fitness, make this investment knowing that you’ll use your home gym as often as your living room or bedroom. Dedicate ample space, perhaps 20’ x 20’, and add professional gym flooring and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. And, make sure you add flattering lighting so you can look into those full-length mirrors and still feel good about yourself. You’ll probably need carpenters or remodelers for your ultimate home gym but the results are worth it. The equipment combination is endless. For instance, if you train your lower body, include a leg press/back machine, leg extension, roman chair/back hyper extension, weight rack and full weight set, weight tree for plate weights, flat/incline/decline weight bench and glute machine. If you concentrate more on upper body, substitute the glute machine for a chin/dip or a rear delt/pec fly. To any gym, add a wall-mounted flat screen TV, DVD player, playground balls, yoga mat, jump rope, BOSU and Swiss balls for infinite options. And, though you’ll find everything on the Internet, you’ll have a more functional and versatile gym designed for your body if you work with a vendor. Plus, you have warranties if anything goes wrong.

Mobile Health:


The Mobile Meditator is a crescent-shaped cushion designed for meditation and quiet reflection on the road ($24.95).



If you have access to a TV and DVD player, with workout clothes you can do the NikkiFitness Fit Travel Workout DVD. Shot in China, Italy, Mexico, Florida and Chicago, it’s doable anywhere your travels take you ($19.99).


In the end, it’s not your budget that makes your body – it’s your dedication to showing up, giving it all you’ve got and coming back the next day for more because your investment in fitness is an investment in you. The reward is both short and long-term – a killer body, more energy and better health – every day.



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  2. Michelle Moore says:

    Thanks! I try to provide a healthy, well-researched, TESTED perspective. I appreciate you reading it. Take care!

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