How to Build a $50 Home Gym

Want to exercise and lose weight at home? Here are some tips on creating a home gym for $50.

Maybe you’ve committed to dropping that spare tire around your belly this year. As you already know, the best way to do that is by eating healthy food and exercising daily. But if it’s too cold to go for a jog outside, you’ll have to do your exercising indoors, and gym memberships can be expensive (and, when your commitment starts to wane, you’re likely to stop showing up—though your card will still be charged).

Better idea? Create your own exercise room indoors. You don’t need much equipment to get fit—chances are, you can buy everything you need for $50 or less.

Here’s what we recommend:

Workout DVDs. Instead of paying big bucks for a personal trainer, you’ll get all the coaching you need from a DVD. Personally, I swear by Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred, a 20-minute interval training workout with three levels, from beginner to advanced, that helped me lose 20 pounds of post-pregnancy weight within a couple of months. Is kickboxing more your style? Try Keli Roberts’ Kickbox Bootcamp. Most workout videos are $10 or less—better yet, take a look at Hulu or Netflix Instant (for subscribers only) to find great options for free.

An exercise mat. Especially if you’re doing high-impact calisthenics, an exercise mat will cushion your blows. Prices are generally as low as $15.

Hand weights. If you’re not focused on serious weight training, a pair of 3- or 5-pound hand weights should be all you need, and they’ll only run you around $10.

A balance ball. A balance ball is a great tool for strengthening muscles in your core, abs, and back, and (bonus!) also makes an excellent everyday replacement for an office chair. Amazon has them for under $18. Check out Fitness Magazine’s tips for what to do with yours.

A buddy. (Free!) A University of Pittsburgh study showed that women who work out with a partner lose one-third more weight than those who exercise solo. A workout buddy can keep you motivated on those days when you’re not feeling in the mood—so when you plan to exercise, invite your spouse or a friend along, and burn the pounds away together.