Another project that I'm evaluating with the upcoming new home is building a home gym in the basement instead of paying our monthly gym membership fees.  What kind of equipment and materials are required to build a decent home gym?  Here is what I am considering (from Spartan Athletic Products):

  • Rubber Floor Mats: $65 (4'x6') x 6 = $390 (the room is 12'x12')
  • 4×6 mirror: $75
  • Dumbbell Set:  Power Block Elite 2-50lbs $400
  • 2 x 45 Olympic plates:$0.80/lb = $72
  • 2 x 35 Olympic plates: $56
  • 2 x 25 Olympic plates: $40
  • 4 x 10 Olympic plates: $32
  • 4 x 5 Olympic plates: $16
  • Adjustable Bench: $350
  • Power Rack: $999
  • Olympic bar: $119
  • EZ Curl Bar: $60
  • Weight clips: $22
  • Treadmill: $1200
  • Total: $3,831 + tax = $4367.34

Our current membership combined costs around $85/month.  This means that this home gym should pay for itself in around 52 months or 4.3 years.  The negatives about the home gym is that it's not as motivational as going to the gym itself and a pain in the behind if we decide to move again.  On the upside however, it's much more convenient than lugging myself to the gym.  

Do any of you have extensive home gyms? 

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  1. boby on January 7, 2008 at 5:33 am

    You also have to take into account the transportation cost to and from the gym and chance for gym fee increases

  2. FinancialJungle on January 7, 2008 at 5:47 am

    [i]Do any of you have extensive home gyms? i]

    I had one for 3 years, but sold it for next to nothing when we moved. The opportunity cost of having a home gym is real estate. Since we “reserved” the best rooms for other activities in the house, we were never motivated to visit our dreaded gym room; it’s dark; it’s quiet; it’s suffocating. If you move the gym to the best room in the house, then you may blog in a dark, quiet and suffocating room.

    Today, we’re fortunate enough to have a common gym at work and at home at no extra costs. Having others “overlooking” my exercise routines serve as an effective motivation.

    You might compromise by buying small and portable equipments so you can roam around the house to enjoy different sceneries each time.

  3. The Financial Blogger on January 7, 2008 at 9:16 am

    It’s funny that you wrote this post as we just bought an elliptical machine last weekend. My wife cannot really go to the gym unless she do it at night once the kids are at bed. It is not very convenient.

    We were actually discussing building a home gym but we realized that we would need another room. My computer and my TV room are still more important ;-) However, they won’t contribute to lose weight!

  4. FrugalTrader on January 7, 2008 at 10:08 am

    That’s another big factor in building the home gym. It really doesn’t add any value to the house, and like I mentioned in the post, it’s a pain to move the equipment.

  5. George on January 7, 2008 at 11:17 am

    The biggest problem with a home gym is that it’s an entirely sunk cost – you pay for it whether you use it or not.

    If you break a leg (literally) and can’t work out for a few months, you should be able to cancel or suspend a gym membership. If you’ve purchased a home gym the money’s already spent and you’ve got a large number of paperweights.

    A home gym can be a great investment if it gets used, but honestly there’s no reason to buy brand-new equipment. There’s PLENTY of used stuff out there, and most of it is essentially brand new. Many people buy exercise equipment and then never use it, and sell it years later for pennies on the dollar, just to get rid of it.

  6. Telly on January 7, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Great timing again FT! While a huge number of people will be joining gyms this week, I’m planning to cancel my membership.

    I’ve been working out in one of our (very small) spare bedrooms for the past 6 weeks and so far so good. I use a Swiss ball and dumbbells and that’s pretty much it. I wanted to see how consistent I could be at home (I’ve been a gym rat for years) before I cancelled my membership and splurged on cardio equipment. So last week, my husband agreed that I could splurge on a indoor Spinner bike. So I’ve put the skipping rope away for now. :)

    My advice is, start simple and see how much you actually like working out at home before you commit to purchasing expensive home gyms.

    I have lots of great exercise tips / recommendations with just a Swiss ball & db’s if you need them…and they’ll help improve balance as well. :)

  7. Len Johnson on January 7, 2008 at 11:36 am

    I have an extensive home gym and have purchased many pieces of quality equipment used. Check out Craigs List and Kijiji for online deals. If you live in the GTA Boomerang Fitness and Dotmar both have lots of good used equipment for sale.

  8. on January 7, 2008 at 11:50 am

    P90X – the 12 part DVD series. All you require is a pull up bar and a good set of adjustable dumb-bells. And dedication.

    It’s something like $150 – maybe $300 after getting all the necessary equipment. The routines cover yoga, stretching and muscle resistance.

    My friend bought it and lost 10 lbs in the 90 days – but that was probably 15 lbs of fat loss and 5 lbs muscle gain – amazing transformation. He used to be a really fit guy, worked out extensively, jogged at 5:30am in the morning – his take: can’t be beat if you are serious. He had a strong background in fitness – so I value his opinion on it – I was skeptical when I saw the commercials.

    Commercials are a bit hokey, but the principles are sound – muscle confusion (and dedication).

    Personally, I don’t have the dedication anymore – not enough time. I will probably join a gym again (I like the social aspect and feel bad when the staff notice I haven’t been in for a while – makes me motivated not to skip so I save face – hey, whatever works!). I haven’t worked out for a year due to poor health, but I’ve turned the corner so it’s time to get back into shape.

    I used to work out 1.5 hours M-F from 5:30am – 7am in my former life when I was trying to go professional as an athlete.

    Oh how the times have changed… :(

    Now I’m very sedentary with work – nothing very physical about my line of work.

    I’ve just convinced myself to join a gym this week as I’ve typed this and felt sorry for myself – thanks… I think.


  9. guinness416 on January 7, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I think Telly’s advice about seeing whether you like lifting at home is good. There is an awful LOT of abandoned and dusty gym equipment sitting in basements and spare bedrooms all over the country! I like our gym, and am not convinced I’d be as diligent at home.

    The only item I personally wouldn’t buy is a treadmill – we run a fair bit and I’ve always found the difference in quality between gym and home treadmills is pretty significant. I would rather just run outdoors, or skip or something.

    Have you used powerblocks before? I have and don’t like them at all; is there any reason you don’t just get regular dumbell bars and collars, and use them with the other weights you’re buying? Powerblocks might have a low resale value.

    Do you have craigslist or equivalent out your way? You can pick up very cheap benches/weights all the time here in TO, and weights are one thing that don’t really age.

  10. TKO from Ontario on January 7, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Cheers to your Physical and Financial Health,

    Home gyms are great for the trully dedicated, but if you’re having any motivation issues it’s best to stick to a gym membership. Just like a PF Blog it’s about accountability.

    I greatly value the financial advice you dispence through MDJ. Here’s my chance to pay back. I may not have your financial savy, but I’m stonger than 99% of people you’ll meet at Walmart.

    Treadmills and Weight Racks are great, for hanging stuff on and gathering dust. Especially in a 12′ x 12′ room. You are not a hamster, don’t cage yourself.

    The colder the weather the more calories you’ll burn walking outside. Man up and bundle up.

    If you still want to build your own gym, forget new equipment, but used. People sell it dirt cheap, check Kijiji. Especially weights, what could go wrong with used iron plates? You’re only getting 315 lbs total? How much fun are you gonna have with that?

    Initial cost of home gym is huge, and the risk of failing to utilize it is unjustified. Why not stick with the membership and invest the remainer of funds.

    Check out for great advice on how to best take care of your body.

    Ps. Home gym or not, set some SMART Fittness goals and keep us posted on your progress.


    TKO from Ontario

  11. Mike on January 7, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Here’s my 2 cents…

    Buy used when ever you can but don’t buy cheap quality equipment. You won’t use it or worse will get hurt.

    Buy hex or similar one piece dumbbells. Having to constantly adjust / add / remove plates is not worth the time or savings.

    Start small and see if you are actually going to like working out at home.

    Do not buy a treadmill. The home versions are very expensive and no where near the quality of ones at the gym. Buy a stationary bike if you are set on indoor cardio but jogging outside is your best bet for results (and it is free).

  12. Warren on January 7, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    I’ll 2nd some of Mike’s comments, buying used can be good (although we didn’t). Get something quality if you are going with a treadmill or any other piece of moving equipment. We got a deal but still went with a top quality elliptical a year ago, and I think it’s been a good investment so far.

    You do need the right space for everything. Put a TV in your gym to encourage use. :)

  13. FourPillars on January 7, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I have some good friends who have a great home gym and use it a lot (and they just moved last year). They have a very large house however which makes it a bit easier.

    If both of you like working out and you have a kid – a home gym might be the way to go since you are not going to get a babysitter everytime you want to go to the gym. Your only option will be to go at different times.

    As George said – buy used. I’ll second Telly too – take your time – you don’t have to build it all overnight.

  14. FrugalTrader on January 7, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Great comments there guys.

    To answer a few questions, Yes, I agree that “used” is the way to go. The only issue is that the used home gym equipment market in Newfoundland is very limited. However, I can see how getting used in Toronto can be a good deal.

    I’m considering the power blocks b/c i’ve used the other adjustable plate dumbbells before, and they are a pain. Also, the existing plates for the olympic bar are way too big for a dumbbell bar.

    Telly, how do you find the motivation factor in working out at home? Do you find that you cut your workouts shorter than if you were in a gym?

    TKO, 315lbs is plenty of weight for me. But the beauty of plates is that if I need more, they are easy to buy and not that expensive. Thanks for the t-nation link, I used to read their stuff extensively when I first started weight training.

    Preet, what professional sport were you training for?

    Off to Kijiji I go!

  15. Juan Carlos on January 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    If you´re setting up a Gym for that amount of money you may consider having a few friends home to train with you for $20 each. That way, in case you have 5 friends you´ll get your cash back in a year or a year and a half.

    Also your prices may go down by getting a multifunction gym set, less dumbells and olympic plates and only the rubber mats you´ll actually use (you don´t need the whole room) Instead of buying a mirror get one from another room you don´t use very much…

    And one last advice: buy an elliptical trainer, it´s a better exercise than a treadmill and it´s cheaper

    Sorry for the writing, english is not my primary language (writing from Peru, South America)

  16. FrugalTrader on January 7, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Juan, your English is perfect. Thanks for the advice, I was actually thinking of bringing my training partners for a small fee, but I have a hard time taking money from friends. :)

  17. Telly on January 7, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    FT, As I mentioned, it’s been about 6 weeks at home and so far so good so I’m ready to quit the gym. I’m enjoying the home workouts – mostly because they’re shorter and I can do them whenever I feel like it (sometimes in between periods of the hockey game) and don’t have to worry about how cute (or not!) I look in my workout outfit. ;) Though the workouts are shorter, I’m working a lot harder…it’s all about the intensity!

    I’ve worked with 4 different personal trainers for 6-12 week stints in the past just to change things up once in a while. I tried to track down my favourite (his gym since closed) and I found some of his websites. I’m now using his “Fit Chic” workouts which I highly recommend ( He has a similar program for guys as well ( You can download 4 weeks for free. It’s effective and only takes 10-20 minutes a day.

    I’m not trying to plug, I just think (know!) he’s great at what he does. :)

  18. Juan Carlos on January 7, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    FT, consider your friends will like to have a nice time working out altogether while getting the cheapest gym fee ever…

  19. FourPillars on January 7, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    FT – one other suggestion is maybe to place a “wanted to buy” ad in kijiji – one of your neighbours might have some good equipment gathering dust which might not cost you much.


  20. on January 7, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Hi FT: Auto-racing. I got up to Formula 2000 which is a form of “open-wheel” racing. Unfortunately I started too late in life and had to “retire” at 24. The budget for the next season would have been $125,000ish, and it would’ve been futile to get sponsorship being “so old”.

    My health problems have precluded me from any seat time this year at all – have some vertigo and inner ear problems. I tell you – it’s pretty unnerving hitting the brakes in a straight line and feeling like you’re turning left! It would rate about 9 out of 10 on the sphincter-pucker factor…

    I had a “10” moment once – it was in qualifying for one of my last races – I hit the brakes and the front shock busted and actually fell into my lap! Luckily it was a low speed section. The next section was 197km/h with a hard braking zone and 90 degree turn – had the shock gone then, the car would’ve skidded on the undertray – right into a concrete wall.

    Perhaps it was an omen… :P

  21. Jeff on January 7, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Why such an extensive gym? This is a huge investment especially since the motivation factor of physically going to the gym is lost.

    I know that when I am going to the gym regularly and am seeing the same people day-in-day-out you notice who is skipping. Also there is the huge added benefit of having trainers walking around with nothing to do when you have a question about if you are doing something right or for some quick advice.

    I would suggest going online to some of the classified sites that others mentioned and get a couple of pieces of cheap gear, not Olympic, and give it a try. After a month or so if you are still using it and not panging for the gym start upgrading to the “good stuff”.

    And if re-sale value is important, gym equipment is like buying a car. The value is in the use, not the resale, either in the equipment itself or the property that it located.

  22. FrugalTrader on January 7, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Preet, race car driver turned successful stock broker. Sounds like a book in the works!

    Good points Jeff. It is extremely expensive to build a quality home gym. The reason why I would want to build a good home gym is b/c I would want to do the same type of exercises that I do at my gym. Squats, bench press, pullups, deadlifts etc.

  23. Early Retirement Extreme on January 7, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    My preferred solution:
    Two kettlebells: 2x$100
    One jump rope: $5
    Door pull up grips: $20
    Total cost: $225

    Alternatively and slightly more awesome:
    Large rock: Free
    Sledgehammer: $25
    Used tractor tire: Free

    Total cost: $25

  24. just learnin' on January 7, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    check out the classifieds and you should save a fortune on equipment(depending on where you live.) I’d also spring for a big mirror for help with spotting and good posture, and hook up music and a small tv to help keep the beat and make time fly (or even try out some workout dvds, so you can have a personal trainer at home.) Yor wife will probaby appreciate this too when she is busy with the baby, and can get a bit of exercise while the baby naps or plays. (Not so easy if you are sleep deprived to be fair.) Make room for a yoga mat… if you’ve never tried it before there is nothing like it for reducing stress and keeping you young and focused. And a shelf for books and magazines on the treadmill. I don’t have one on my ten dollar flea market treadmill, and rigged one up… reading can make time on the treadmill melt away before you know it. And you can keep up with all those books on investment and baby care… (-:
    Best of luck. Wish we had an extra room for a home gym. I tend to go with things that can fold away, and move my yoga mat around the house. Once it becomes a habit/addiction motivation will be no problem. Plus no lining up. And they do say that time is money, or at least could mean more time with your new family. (-:

  25. FrugalTrader on January 7, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I hear a lot of women here talking about Yoga, any guys here willing to admit that they do Yoga? I’m asking b/c I could really work on my lack of flexibility.

  26. guinness416 on January 7, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    One of my (male) bosses is a big time yoga evangelist. And he’s a construction guy more usually into multi-hundred-kilometre bike rides. He said his dad is kinda stiff and he doesn’t want to end up like that. Lately he’s raving about hot yoga instead though.

  27. Glen Q on January 7, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Yoga Class is a great place to pick up flexible chicks. Choose wisely though because…

    Lululemon pants work miracles on female butts. Be careful though, they can be very deceiving.

    Kinda like Wonder Bra, when you take it off you wonder where the boobs went.

    All right…

  28. FrugalTrader on January 7, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    LOL @ Glen. I’m married, no picking up chicks for me.

    Guiness: What is hot yoga?

  29. Telly on January 7, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Hot yoga is yoga performed in a (very) hot room…95-100 degrees F. It’s official name is Bikram yoga but I would say it’s more advanced, so probably not something I’d recommend to newbies just looking to gain flexibility. The poses are pretty intense.

    FT, you should definitely try out a beginner yoga class. I am actually only a few hours short of being a Registered Yoga Teacher but haven’t done it in a couple of years unfortunately. :( Just signed up for a class at a local community centre now that I’m quitting the gym though! Although Glen recommends it for different reasons, it will help immensely with your flexibility.

    I know that two of the Montreal Canadiens are heavily into yoga in the offseason and I would dare anyone to tell Mike Komisarek that yoga is for girls. ;)

    • FrugalTrader on January 7, 2008 at 6:13 pm

      Maybe Mike Komisarek is doing it for the girls. :) Seems like an interesting activity. I’m actually in the process of looking into more exercise activities after work.. it’s now between jiu jitsu and yoga. Hmmmm… :)

  30. TKO from Ontario on January 7, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Massive Respect to FrugalTrader on The Big 3 Lifts.

    Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press are the best there is. Basic compound movements offer most bang for your buck. Ever try Hang Cleans?

    Swiss ball will be dead in 5 years, anyone remember step or power slide classes? Silly stuff.

    My personal fittness goal for 2008 is to give Yoga a good old fashioned college try. It’s been around for 5000+ years. TKO to Yoga must Go!

    Preet in Auto Racing, Respect.

    Glen Q, Lululemon Pants (Black Only) should be government mandated for all women to wear.
    No more Barney thighs!!!

  31. TKO from Ontario on January 7, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    My heart is spoken for, but my eyes are still mine. As long as my wife says it’s OK.

  32. FourPillars on January 7, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I did yoga last week for the first time ever. My wife wants to do it more so I did it to get her doing it.

    It’s not a bad workout but definitely not a guy thing since it’s just not violent enough (like lifting) :)


  33. guinness416 on January 7, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    TKO, in addition to being fun to sit on, swiss balls are good for the shorter among us whose little legs don’t reach the ground properly when we lay back on a bench, and don’t always want to stack all the 45-lb plates up to get proper footing :)

    My mum & her friends were big into yoga when I was a kid. So I always associate it in my mind with slightly-chubby Irish women in purple leotards listening to Phil Coulter and talking about lentil burgers.

  34. FrugalTrader on January 7, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    FP, very manly of you to admit that you did Yoga. :) Was it with a class? or at home?

    Guiness, that was a very descriptive last paragraph. Made me laugh out loud.

  35. Four Pillars on January 7, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    FP, very manly of you to admit that you did Yoga.

    Yes, it was! :)

    It was just at home. My wife has a yoga video so we did about 20 minutes or so. It’s worth a try but I’d rather go jogging or something since I found it a bit boring.


  36. Tee on January 7, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    You can get away with only dumbbells.

    Try doing a single leg dead lift WITHOUT weights.

    Try doing a “goblet squat” with a 50 lb dumbbell.

    If you can bench 200 lbs with a bar, I guarantee you cannot bench press 2 100 lb dumbbells.

  37. Cannon_fodder on January 7, 2008 at 10:02 pm


    You said OUR gym membership so I presume you are including your wife.

    In our basement we have a variety of equipment which we have added as the years have gone on. We don’t have any rubber mats, but we do have some old rugs. Cost – $0.

    All of the equipment we have we bought new. We have a Bowflex, a set of Nautilus SelectTech dumbbells (the most recent purchase), a Power Tower (pullups, chin ups, dips, leg raises, and deeper push ups), an elliptical machine and the following pieces which no longer are used – a mini trampoline, a ‘glider’ rowing machine (free with a TV MANY years ago) and an incline situp bench.

    I have worked out for a few months each year since I was about 15 (to get ready for the nice weather naturally!). Then I would quit in the fall and not do anything until late spring. Turn the calendar ahead many years and, for my wife and I, it is a lifestyle necessity (i.e. we are getting old enough to be concerned with our health not our looks).

    The number 1 item that gets used is the Bowflex. I don’t use as much of it as I used to (I would love one of those deals at Costco right now where you can safely do bench and squats) but my wife uses it every day. From her perspective (and I’m guessing she is not the only woman who feels this way) it is far less intimidating than free weights.

    The second most used item is the elliptical machine. We both use that every other day for the cardio. I chose it because I hate running, my wife won’t, and I was concerned with the punishment that running/walking would have on my knees. It has been great.

    I use the SelectTech dumbbells (purchased during the Costco deal) every day but my wife only uses them every other day. They are so easy to use and they aren’t long enough to cause any real problems. They were cheaper than a brand new equivalent rack and dumbbell set and are a heck of a lot easier to fit into a room (and move if you ever sell your home). They are also easy enough that my wife took to them immediately.

    She almost never uses the power station. I like the basics of chin ups and dips and the power station gives us that.

    The key is, no matter what you do, find something that you will consistently use or it doesn’t matter how cheap it is, or how nice it looks. And, although my wife and I brought different exercise equipment into our relationship, it was important to me to buy things with not only my needs in mind.

    So, while the BowFlex will be ridiculed by some, it is easy to use and it still gets used 7 days a week by both of us – for over 7 years now. That, to me, is why you purchase exercise equipment. (I freely admit, when I travel and get to use good ol’ free weights, I get a more satisfying workout.)

    I understand the benefits to working in a gym – the motivation, the cameraderie and the ego that push you. But, I also understand that it is easier to find excuses why you don’t want to (can’t!) get over to the gym.

    As someone else has stated, we put a TV and a stereo system (I like the TV, wife prefers the music) and an old mirror down there (which I never catch my wife looking at – so, who is the vain one in OUR house?!), and we get to workout together. We try to alternate it so that the night I do cardio she is doing strength training and vice versa.

    If you have convinced yourself this is not a ‘lose weight’ solution but a life long journey, with no final destination, then you are already ahead.

  38. Gates VP on January 8, 2008 at 5:22 am

    Wow FT, this actually sounds like a big leap… how much exercise are you actually doing in a week? And likewise, how much weight do you need? Are you a bodybuilder, a sports buff, a health nut?

    If you’re a bodybuilder, then the weights will soon be too small and your gym pass won’t matter b/c it’ll be a fraction of the cost of your “protein bill”.

    If you’re a sports buff, then you just need the gym for “training” and the “off-season”. So if you like baseball but only get to play 6 months of the year (dang Canadian winters), then you really only need a pass the other 6 months (which really changes the “break-even” number).

    If you’re a health nut, then you don’t need the whole big rig. Mats, swiss balls (maybe a bosu), light weights, take some yoga/tai-chi classes. Health nuts are often cycling through different exercises b/c one thing is too “boring”. But if they’re not then they’re pretty dedicated to one thing and they spend the extra money on lululemon pants they’ll actually wear 4 workouts/week :)

    Now obviously, there’s a range here amongst the three types, but it’s worthy to consider where you fall in this range.

    In 30 years, the average North American knowledge worker will be suffering from poor flexibility and endurance and likely some obesity problems. Even the older bodybuilders will tell you the importance of flexibility and range of motion and endurance.

    You see, the closer you get to health nut, the less you need the weights in the home. The closer you get to bodybuilder the more you need the gym. And if you veer to far towards being a sports buff, then the weights are useless b/c you’re always at practice or games (at which point the gym pass is nice if they have a, you know, gymnasium).

    It’s not that I’ll disagree with the idea of buying the set, it’s simply that most people don’t fit the profile of owning a home gym. Professional actors and athletes? Sure, but they clearly have other reasons (privacy)! Even pro weightlifters have gym passes. Owning a home gym puts you squarely in the camp of fitness nut with a very specific long-term routine.

    If you plan on trying “other things”, like yoga or organized sports or long distance running, then you’re going to end up with a room full of gear that you don’t use, can’t sell, or that gets in the way of the other gear that you actually want in there.

  39. FrugalTrader on January 8, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Gates, i’m into strength training and bodybuilding with a side of health nut. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not one of those big gronky guys, but I do enjoy keeping in shape.

    Great comments guys!

  40. doug ransom on January 8, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Try an exercise ball and two adjustable dumbbells, and the floormat.

  41. Marianne O. on January 8, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I have to agree with Early Retirement Extreme on the kettlebells… cheap and much superior to other weights. See info at

    Though the sledgehammer and truck tire sounds like fun too.

    We have a Diamondback elliptical machine that we bought barely-used and warranty-covered for a fraction of the original price. Diamondbacks are exceptionally good machines for their price point even when new, so if you can find one second-hand then you’re laughin’. I imagine you’re familiar with the benefits of an elliptical over a treadmill.

    Yoga mat, kettlebells, elliptical & skipping rope — that’s working pretty well for us. Good luck pulling together your set-up.

  42. Les on January 8, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Speaking as someone who has in the past been both been a gym member (for 15 years) and had an in-house gym (universal, rowing machine, treadmill, stationery bike, some free weights, mats, etc.), before you invest a chunk of money into a home fitness centre, a few things to consider.

    Cons: as mentioned, the real estate: you’ll have to set aside a space that is not only sufficiently sized but also somewhat appealing for exercise–a damp, poorly lit basement will quickly suffocate your motivation.

    The cost of all the equipment–yes it can be recovered over 4-5 years but don’t you have other uses for that cash?

    Pros: in a nice place in the house, it’s so handy rain or shine to take 30 minutes or more and fit in a quick workout.

    Alternative: what I do now is run & walk, year round, & cycle in the summer–these can also be family or couple activities as well, especially if running involves getting your kids & their friends & parents to play soccer or some such activity–or just ‘keep away’ with your kids.

    For weight training, I’ve retained a ball, bench, curl bar & some plates. These take up little room, most under the bed. A search of the internet will show there’s lots of exercises that use your body weight as resistance, like crunches, push ups, pull ups, squats, etc. Most will keep you fit but not in a body building manner.

    It depends on what your objectives are. Try doing exercises without the equipment investment first. If you can’t do those, if you think you ‘need’ the equipment to start a fitness routine, then hmmm. Maybe it’s just an excuse to start working out, eh? :-)

    The best way to guarantee you’ll work out every day is have your work out clothes & running shoes laid out & ready to hop into. Also, the later in the day it gets, the less likely you’ll do something.

  43. TKO from Ontario on January 8, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Although I’ve been saying earlier to skip the treadmill because running outside is better for you I was still humbled by the following story.

    The Legend of Cliff Young: The 61 Year Old Farmer Who Won the World’s Toughest Race

    I was inspired and hope you may be too. In so many ways this could also apply to investing for the long run.

  44. Telly on January 9, 2008 at 12:06 pm


    Comparing the Swiss ball to step and slide (which are actually still quite popular in many gyms) is incorrect. I’m not talking about Swiss ball cardio classes. As Guiness mentions, a Swiss ball can replace a weight bench for many, if not most exercises.

    Have you ever tried kneeling on a Swiss ball while doing db shoulder presses? Give it try and I guarantee you won’t be calling it “silly”. I can’t quite do it yet, but I’ve got the kneeling part down. :)

    Good for you for giving yoga a try. Sure, you might find running outside a lot more enjoyable, but the type of yoga you’re doing isn’t likely a form of cardio so it shouldn’tt replace your running but rather compliment it. Runners often have problems with tightness in the hips. Yoga can benefit them greatly, and as your wife probably knows, can beneift pregnant woman even more. Keep it up – even if just to keep her company. :)

  45. Cannon_fodder on January 9, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    My wife and I have recently (in the last year or so) discovered that if we work out right after work and before dinner we are far less likely to miss a routine. Also, I have convinced her (based on my own experience) that if you feel tired the best pick me up is working out. So, when we are dragging ourselves in at 6pm, going downstairs and working out gives us the energy we need for the rest of the night.

  46. FrugalTrader on January 9, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Cannon, i’m the same way. I am the most motivated to workout immediately after my work day.

  47. Jeff on January 10, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    There’s no reason to spend this much on a home gym (particularly not $999 for a power rack–you can find perfectly good ones for much less). Also, you can get in VERY good shape with VERY simple equipment. See The only reason to pay $60-120 a month or more for a gym membership (that’s $720-$1440 a year, every year, not counting gas and whatever your driving time is worth) is if having other people around is the only thing that motivates you to work out. Otherwise, buy whatever equipment you need and save a ton of money.

  48. […] Dollar Journey had a very interesting post on his future home gym which generated quite a discussion in the […]

  49. thean on January 13, 2008 at 1:51 am

    Personally, I have a combination of the following:

    – Bowflex – although, I want to switch to dumbbells, and that set you reference looks interesting.
    – My mountain bike on a high-quality (but relatively inexpensive) fluid trainer (and what a great way to read books!)
    – Just got a Fitness Anywhere TRX, read about it here:
    – A high quality wooden hang board, from MEC
    – An exercise ball
    – Various medicine balls

    And in the summer, I run outdoors mostly on trails, in addition to mountain biking.

    And for me, the convenience of having my gym at home (no travel time, my own surround sound systems and TV, etc) not only makes it cheaper, but ensures that I work out 6 times a week.

  50. TKO from Ontario on January 13, 2008 at 10:03 am

    What a fantastic post and discussion thread this has been. It proves that opinions are like belly buttons, every one has one.

    There’s likely a wide spectrum of fittness levels and goals among readers of MDJ, and I wish you all great physical and financial health.

    Personal thanks to Jeff for posting about, what an awsome link. I’ve added learning to skip rope like a boxer as my goal for 2008.

    I challenge you all to be, look and feel your best in 2008. “Don’t talk about it, be about it”.
    Be accountable for your goals to your self. Take a picture or measurement or lift record by Jan 31 and work hard at improvement. Let’s all revisit this thread 1 year from now to share success stories.

    TKO from Ontario

    Ps Don’t trust the scale too much, it can be very deceiving and remember “Loosers always have excuses ready”.

  51. Jeff on January 13, 2008 at 10:49 am

    “Personal thanks to Jeff for posting about”

    You’re welcome. If anyone wants to get in excellent shape for very little money, buy Ross Enamait’s books and do his workouts. I’m not kidding, and I don’t know the guy and he’s not paying me under the table. :) All I’m saying is that his stuff will make you want to puke, but it works. You don’t even need any equipment; if you think body-weight exercises are too easy (as I thought), try a one-handed pushup or pullup. Look him up on YouTube for a sample.

  52. […] from Million Dollar Journey presents Building a Home Gym.Something I’ve never thought of doing, but if I did, I’d want to build it […]

  53. Hilary on January 14, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Fitness isn’t about money, it’s about feeling great. Go ahead and set up a home gym, if that is what you want to do.

    I have a gym in my basement and I love it. I started setting it up four years ago with only a couple of pieces of gear and each year I treat myself to a few more items. I painted it red for energy, put in an old radio and have a big white board on the wall to track my progress. Used equipment is great if you can find it, and warehouse stores like Costco have quality items at good prices. Have fun with your workouts.

  54. Cannon_fodder on January 14, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Good point about not trusting the scale, TKO. Personally, I’m one of those fortunate types that I need to workout in order to GAIN weight. My wife has also noticed that while her weight may not go down much, her clothes definitely feel looser.

  55. […] want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!The Million Dollar Journey had an article on building a home gym that consisted of a power rack with a bench and barbell and a treadmill. While I am positively […]

  56. […] Building a Home Gym […]

  57. LG on February 1, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    I was considering building a home gym but the most expensive part was the treadmill. You don’t want to get a cheap one and a decent entry level one will cost at least $1200.

    So Snap Fitness opened up in my area. It’s a no contract membership and situated in a plaza. It has all Cybex machines, free weights, no showers but clean. The model is that they open these places up near your house and you just walk in, workout and go home. It is also 24×7 so you can go anytime. There is only video surveillance during non-staffed hours. Besides, I’m not going to work out that late in the night anyways.

    For $39.99/month, it was easily a good choice for me.

  58. Fitness equipment on February 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    ;)great post – great threads too! A great read about different ideas of how to get and stay fit!

  59. lena the thinker on February 9, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I agree with you.Having gym equipments at home is an investment because it can keep our body fit at the same time can cut down expenses of going to gym.

  60. George on February 9, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Lena: I disagree. A single piece of good-quality gym equipment can easily cost $3000. In FrugalTrader’s case, he’s planning on spending about $4600. Around here, a gym membership can easily be had for $30/month or less – my gym has lockers, showers, and free daily fitness classes for $25/month including taxes. At that rate, the home gym becomes “cheaper” only after around ten years of paying for a gym membership. Of course, I’m not factoring for the residual value of the gym equipment if you sell it (which is usually quite low) or the costs of keeping a room dedicated to a gym in your home.

    Getting healthy is an investment, but it’s one that can be done with nothing more than a pair of running shoes, and perhaps some free weights. If you’d like a wide variety of exercise equipment, a gym membership (assuming it gives you good service and no contract requirements) is a cheaper way to achieve the same goals.

  61. Jeff on February 9, 2008 at 2:18 pm


    You don’t need to spend *nearly* $3000 for home gym equipment that will allow you to do a huge variety of exercises and get in excellent shape. As I said in a previous post, see Also, consider:

    1. In urban areas, gym memberships usually are much more than $30/month–more like $60 and up.
    2. Even if you spend $3000 on home gym equipment and commercial gyms in your area are only $30/month, do you plan to quit working out in 10 years after the home equipment has paid for itself?
    3. A lot of the equipment in a gym consists of weight machines that are (a) expensive, and (b) less than optimal for strength training (they only work in a single plane of motion, etc.–there’s been a lot of research on this.) You don’t need to use these machines at the gym, and you certainly don’t need to buy them for your home. Get free weights.
    4. You neglected to factor in gas money and whatever your time is worth driving to the gym, waiting for equipment, and driving back 3-4 times a week.
    5. You don’t need a “dedicated” room that’s used for working out and nothing else. A garage, basement, or rec room is fine, and the incremental “cost” of working out there (in addition to whatever else you do) is about zero.
    6. Plenty of home gym equipment (e.g. weight plates, bars) doesn’t wear out and thus retains its value quit well.

  62. George on February 9, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Jeff: I’ll address your points the same way that you’ve numbered them:

    1) Gym memberships can be had for $30/month in urban areas. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, where membership to a number of the city facilities costs $380/year ($31/month), but there are a number of discount programs available that can drop the price to around $27/month. Perhaps you need to shop around some more.

    2) It’s extremely hard to predict what will happen over the next 10 years. Based on what happens with the majority of home fitness equipment, it’s reasonable to predict that most people (myself included) would get bored and stop using the equipment long before ten years has passed. At least with a gym membership, you have a way of cutting out the expense if you no longer attend.

    3) I agree that free weights are an excellent choice for a home gym. They’re readily available second-hand for far less than the “brand new” cost.

    4) While gas money and time might be a factor, depending on how far you live from a gym, you also have to question the logic of using gas money to drive to a gym, just so you can hop on a treadmill or exercise bike. Why not jog or bike to the gym in the first place?

    5) Depending on the type of equipment you purchase, you might not need a dedicated room, but you certainly need some dedicated space. If the room has a lot of exercise equipment in it, it’s often difficult to use it for any other purpose.

    6) Free weights certainly don’t wear out, but they do lose their value quite quickly. Take a look in any newspaper’s classified ads and you’ll see plenty of exercise equipment selling for far less than the cost of brand new equipment.

    Some conclusions: If you want a home gym, you’ll need some space in your home to dedicate to that purpose, purchasing equipment used is a much better deal than buying new, and making exercise part of your routine (i.e. by cycling to work) is an easier way to get fit than by setting aside dedicated “exercise time” in your day.

  63. Writer's Coin on March 20, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Part of the appeal of “going to the gym” for me is getting out of the house. While this would be incredibly tempting (“I’ll work out every day”), I don’t know if it would work for me.

  64. John on January 5, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    My wife and I purchased a Treadmill, Smith Machine, Lat Machine (pull up/down), Adjustable Bench, mats, and Weights for a 25×12 foot area in our basement. We set it up with a T.V., music and some good lighting. We bought the “Body Solid” brand and some used items found on Craigslist (we spent just over $3,000). We have been happy thus far and have been consistent in our workouts so far (6 times per week – 30 minutes for weights (one major body part per workout) and 30 minutes cardio). Finally, my wife and I have something that we can do together and without the kids. We put the kids to bed at 9pm… and then workout until about 10pm or so. Gym memberships didn’t work out for us. Finding a babysitter 6 times a week just isn’t realistic and with the kids involved in activities there simply isn’t any time for us to be gymers. Gym fees were a waste!

    Strongly recommend quality home gyms for couples with kids!!!

  65. jk6661 on January 5, 2009 at 3:37 pm


    Try making your gym less dark, quiet, and suffocating. Dark: add lights. Quiet: add a TV or stereo. Suffocating: not sure what this means. Fan? Air freshener? Plants, mirrors, posters, or other decor? And remember, the point is to work out (hard), not to “enjoy the scenery.” People who plod along on a treadmill or elliptical while watching Seinfeld reruns are simply wasting their time. Not trying to be harsh, but it’s true.

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  67. cashback cards on December 23, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    It sounds like from reading through the comments and the great article. You need to get the ultimate professional design/room with tv’s, mirrors, etc to really keep the home gym atomsphere and motiviational. Otherwise, it sound best to keep your gym membership. Maybe you should do an updated blog with pros and cons from all the comments for this home gym idea.

    Also, just another thought contact your local gym place and see if they could work with on a deal or a cheaper or lower membership’s worth asking you just never know.

    But it sounds to me that you could get away both and still not going wrong. Though I believe it boils down to what you really want and what is the most convenience for you.

  68. Building a Home Gym | Million Dollar Journey on December 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    […] Read more: Building a Home Gym | Million Dollar Journey […]

  69. Julie @ Millennial Boss on March 29, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    I second the comments suggesting you check out Craigslist. We recently downsized and sold all of our gym equipment on Craigslist. We had plates, two platforms that my husband made himself for about 250 each, and dumbbells. When we get a garage again, we will look for gyms that are closing or selling equipment and check out craigslist. Having your own home gym is worth it because nothing is more important than your health.

  70. undercutsyou on March 31, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Did you ever build your gym & how did it work out for motivation and cost efficiency?

    • FT on April 1, 2017 at 10:47 pm

      I did seriously consider building a home gym for a while. However, I have remained a regular gym user. I’ve been going to a gym for almost a couple of decades now and it’s something that I enjoy.

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