March 23, 2023

Amy Schlinger is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT) and freelance journalist with over 12 years of experience. She regularly covers health, fitness, wellness, and lifestyle topics for Shape, Health Magazine, Self, Women's Health, Men's Health, The New York Post, Business Insider, Livestrong, Well + Good, MSN, and more. Her work has also appeared in Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Outside Magazine, Runner's World, Pilates Style, and more. She has held staff positions at Shape Magazine, DailyBurn, Self Magazine, Hearst, and PopSugar. She earned a BA in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University and is currently based in New York City. Amy has run six half marathons, completed two triathlons, biked two century rides, finished two Tough Mudder races, and four Spartan races.
Even though many gyms have re-opened, private fitness studios are holding classes again, and recreational sports teams are back to playing games now that the full pandemic lockdown is no longer in effect, working out at home isn’t going anywhere. Exhibit A: One 2022 survey found that more than 56 percent of people prefer at-home fitness routines, according to GoodFirms, an IT research and review platform.
Some folks who began following along with online classes in the comfort of their homes may not want to stray from their convenient routine, and others who are interested in trying strength training or HIIT for the first time may feel too intimidated to do so in a crowded public facility. Simply put, exercising at home provides a sense of comfort and convenience that shared spaces just can’t offer.
But building out a home gym can still be a hindrance for a lot of people. “Creating a home gym can be expensive, and buying multiple pieces of equipment can add up quickly,” explains Mathew Forzaglia, an NFPT-certified personal trainer and the owner of Forzag Fitness in New York. Machines from well-known brands are often extremely pricey, and it can feel like you need to buy countless pieces of home fitness equipment (think: a Peloton bike, multiple sets of dumbbells, kettlebells, a pull-up bar, and more) in order to get in a quality workout in your humble abode. “You can end up spending anywhere from $500 to $2,500 before you know it,” adds Forzaglia. “If you’re getting cardio equipment, it gets even more expensive.”
But it doesn't have to be this way. To create a personal fitness space that helps you get the intense (or chill!) workout you're after and doesn't break the bank, steal these expert-approved tips and tricks for saving money on at-home fitness equipment.
“Buying used fitness equipment online is always a good idea when trying to save money and building out a home gym,” says Forzaglia. “You can find all sorts of equipment at discounted prices this way.” Check out Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, or OfferUp, all of which offer gently used products — including home fitness equipment and gear — from individual sellers. “A lot of people weren’t sure where they were going to work out at the beginning of the pandemic, so they built home gyms,” explains Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., the head trainer and owner of TS Fitness in New York. “But now with public gyms open again, [some] people aren’t using the equipment at home, so they want to get rid of it.” As a result, you can find high-quality equipment at cheap prices, he says.
It’s important that you either check out the machine or piece of equipment prior to purchase — either in person or via photos — to ensure it has the features you’re looking for and has no major damage. But for the most part, gyms and individuals are getting rid of the home fitness equipment they just don’t use or have space for it anymore, so the quality is generally sufficient. Just know that some previously owned machines, such as Peloton bikes and treadmills, require a factory reset before you can use them, and the warranty may not be transferrable.
If you’re loyal to a specific brand and don’t want to settle for gear that other people have put their sweat on for months or years, it’s worth looking for your preferred brand’s home fitness equipment on a big-name retailer’s website, such as Amazon, Walmart, or Target. Because these sites do so much selling, they’re generally able to price items for less. “Plus, they have sales from time to time, too, and you can end up getting a great deal,” says Tamir.
Free weights are generally valuable pieces of at-home fitness equipment because of their efficiency and ability to improve functional fitness. But buying multiple sets takes up a lot of space in a home gym, and the price can add up quickly, too. One solution: Invest in adjustable weights, which allow you to progress or reduce your load by simply adding or removing plates. “Adjustable dumbbells and kettlebells are always a go for me for a home gym,” says Forzaglia. “Yes, they might be pricier up front, but you now have equipment that is varying in weight, so you won’t have to keep investing in other sizes as you progress — which makes shipping [costs over time] cheaper, too.” Plus, you can still use them for full-body workouts as you would traditional free weights, but they take up less room in your living-space-slash-home-gym.
The fancy cable machines available at most gyms are so versatile that you can work your entire body on them by performing everything from triceps pull-downs to glute kickbacks. The issue: They’re often incredibly expensive. “A cable machine can be thousands of dollars,” says Tamir. Pulley systems — which feature cables that attach to pull-up bars, squat racks, or ceiling hooks and can be loaded with weight plates, such as Pulleypro — however, are an affordable alternative, he says. “It mimics what a cable machine can do and costs under $100,” he adds. Check retailers such as Amazon or eBay to find a pulley system that fits your budget and workout space.
A bodyweight suspension trainer is one of the most efficient pieces of home fitness equipment you can buy, explains Tamir. “You can perform hundreds of different exercises, and simply changing your body angle can either modify or intensify every move,” he says. For example, you can use the piece of equipment to challenge your upper body with push-ups, triceps dips, and rows, as well as your lower half with Bulgarian split squats and hamstring curls. Not to mention, you can purchase a trainer with a handful of attachments online for less than $200. TRX is one of the most popular and well-known brands in this category, but don’t be afraid to purchase a generic version to further lower the cost. “Some brands are pricey, but places like Amazon have tons of similar options for less,” says Tamir. “Just be sure you read the reviews and pick one that has a lot of 5 or 4.5-star ones.”
Cardio machines such as treadmills, ellipticals, and stair climbers are some of the biggest and most expensive pieces of at-home fitness equipment you might consider buying. But there are cheaper, space-saving ways to get your sweat on. “Get a weight vest and wear it walking up and down the stairs in your building or running down the block,” says Tamir. “The weight from the vest mimics the added resistance that you can manually adjust on a cardio machine.” You can also use a weighted vest to amp up the challenge of low-impact cardio exercises, such as burpees and mountain climbers. Regardless of when you wear it, you’ll get your heart rate up all while saving money and space. Talk about a win-win situation.
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