What’s the first thing one usually does when they decide to get in shape? Join a gym, right? When I started my journey in May of 2011, nowhere in my plan of action was to get a gym membership. Despite the convenience of having a 24 Hour Fitness right across the street from my office, signing up would’ve been the kiss of death for me, and I know this from experience. I’ve had memberships to LA Fitness, Curves, 24 Hour, you name it, and probably all at the same time too. I loathe the gym. Probably the only equipment I used regularly, and properly, were the treadmills and ellipticals. They say that getting off the couch and going to the gym is half the battle, and for me, it’s a battle I would have lost every time.

“It smells funny in there.”
“Parking is terrible.”
“All the people that work out there are plastic aspiring actresses and meatheads.”
“It’s always crowded when I want to go.”
“Well now it’s too late and I won’t get home till after 11.”

I’d pull out every excuse in the book that I could find, so I eliminated that option for myself altogether. Months ago I touched upon my initial workout regimen which included DVDs, walking the dog, and training with Angie. Ever since I fully recovered from my surgery I’ve been working out on my own in the modest home gym I’ve assembled. My girl @scribble_nibble (HA! I totally typed nipple.) gave me the idea to brag write about all the equipment I use on a daily basis and what I feel is essential for any home gym.

Mae’s 24 Hour Sweat Spot

1. A designated workout space (required). I know that there aren’t a lot of people out there that have a spare garage like me, but I’m lucky enough to have one, so I’ve made good use of it. Even if it were my only garage, all of my equipment could be situated so that one car can still fit inside. The good news is that most, if not all of the “required” stuff on my list could fit in a spare bedroom, or even a corner of your living room.

2. Treadmill (nice to have). Why spend a few hundred bucks on a treadmill when you can run outside for free? Simple: because the weather doesn’t always permit, and I’ve been known to injure myself on pavement. I know you’re not getting the full training experience, but for me personally, I am more likely to keep running on the treadmill than if I were running outside.

This model is a Pro-Form Performance 400; an entry-level treadmill with tons more features than I’ll ever need. Perhaps my favorite, and most useful feature, is the shock-absorbing running surface. It certainly helps those with troublesome knees like myself.

3. Weight Bench (strongly recommended). This Crescendo Fitness Flat Bench was a bargain at about $40.00 from Amazon.com, and it has so many different uses. Barbell or dumbbell presses, dips, or just a place to sit down when you’ve worked your ass to the bone. Measuring 43.25 x 18.12 x 15 inches, it is also nice and compact and will fit in most spaces.

4. Incline Weight Bench (nice to have). When I started lifting heavier weights, my reps became more and more precarious without a spotter. I needed a rack. The Competitor CB 729 Olympic Weight Bench was also a bargain in my opinion, and it offered three uses: a rack, incline (positive and negative) and a leg press thingy.

5. Stepper (nice to have). Yes, the stepper (and color of the stepper!) just screams Jane Fonda aerobics tapes from the 80s, but I love mine. I use my stepper for a ton of body weight exercises. “High box” squat jumps, modified mountain climbers, modified pushups, calf raises, and so on.

The cool thing is you can add or remove risers as needed to suit whatever exercise you need. It can also double as a flat weight bench! Or just dust off those old step aerobics tapes, don your favorite purple spandex leotard, bright pink sweatband, and get to work. It also comes in a manlier gray/black version if you prefer.


6. Free Weights and/or Resistance Bands (required).
For $30, I’ve got a set of five bands with resistance ranging from 2lbs to 30lbs. I purchased these specifically for my New York trip (that ended up getting cancelled due to surgery) because they can easily be packed in a suitcase. Honestly, I haven’t used them much, because I’ve got all my other weights handy. Like Jillian Michaels’ Adjustable Speed Dumbbells (2.5lbs-12.5lbs), Valeo 5lbs & 8lbs dumbbells, and a basic barbell and weight set. The barbell it came with was too short for my incline bench, so I purchased a separate 72-inch threaded bar that luckily fits the cheap plastic weights perfectly. Honorable mention goes to my kettlebells, a 10lb that I use for Bob Harper’s Kettlebell Cardio Shred, and a 25lb that I use, well, never, because I was stupid and bought a 25lb kettlebell thinking it’d be no problem for me.

7. Stability Ball (required). Also known as an exercise ball or Swiss ball. Pictured here are three variations: the standard, the long pill looking thing (came with my Barry’s Boot Camp DVD program) and the Bosu. A multitude of body weight exercises can be performed with any of these versions, from burpees to wall-sits, butt lifts to pushups to planks. The options are endless! They can be deflated for storage, and your arms will get a hell of a workout pumping them back up. The standard ball is also great as a weight bench. Because of the instability (ironically), your core is engaged for a full body workout while you lift.

8. Jump Rope (optional). A true $5 workout!

Odds and Ends…

Bluetooth Sound System. Almost everyone needs music to keep them going during a run or a workout, and I hate wearing earbuds so I opt for a speaker system. Luckily I don’t have any neighbors that are close enough to bug with my music.

Interlocking Foam Flooring. It provides a colorful, and soft surface for you to land instead of hard concrete or wood flooring. Also protects your floors from stray weights and scuff marks.

TV & DVD Player. For those days when you want Jillian or Bob (or your favorite trainer) to work you hard.

A Large Mirror. Good form is essential! You’ll need a mirror to make sure you’re doing it all correctly, or else you could seriously injure yourself. Big thanks to my coworker who gave me his spare mirrored closet door for free, and even delivered it! Check craigslist or yard sales in your area. Apparently people give this stuff away a lot!

I’d like to again mention that I understand that not everyone has the space, financial wherewithal, or same priority list. I’m truly just a loser that spends too much money on her hobbies. If you want to start a home gym of your own on a budget, you can’t go wrong with a set of dumbbells or resistance bands, and a stability ball.

And if you’re ever in my area, feel free to stop by and work out!