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How to Build a Home Gym for Less Than $100

Five staples that will whip you into shape, no initiation fee required.

Photo by fizkes via iStock.

It’s time to disrupt the fit economy and embrace the home gym. You don’t need to invest in a hulking Bowflex machine that’ll just sit in the garage, either. Instead, keep it simple with these five items that deliver a total-body workout at your own convenience. You’ll save time, gain privacy, and obviously save money—these cost less than $100, total, or about as much as a one-month membership at a DC gym (and that’s on the cheaper end of the spectrum). Enjoy grunting as loud as you want and never having to clean off another machine again.

Jump Rope

This gym-class hero is a far cheaper cardio alternative to a pricey treadmill. Jumping rope for 15 minutes has roughly the same health benefits as running an eight-minute mile, according to Calorie LabUltra Light 2.0 cable speed rope in black, $9 at

Exercise Ball

One of the most versatile pieces of home gym equipment, an exercise ball can be used for yoga and Pilates, for jackknives and hamstring curls, or to improve core strength and balance by using it as a desk chair (à la Dwight). PROMIC exercise ball, $14 for 55cm in red, Amazon

Pull Up Bar

Not just for college bros, the doorway pull-up bar offers an intense upper-body workout using just your body weight. Sunny Health & Fitness Doorway Chin Up Bar in Silver, $18, Bed Bath & Beyond.



Dumbbells fire up multiple muscle groups at once, such as during a bent-over row, which not only targets the back but also engages hamstrings and glutes, increasing overall caloric expenditure. CAP Neoprene Dipped Dumbbells, $25 a pair at Amazon.

Foam Roller


See those little nubs? Those will make your muscles hurt so good. Cooling down with foam-rolling flushes blood from muscles to make room for nutrients and oxygen, promoting faster recovery. Teeter Massage Foam Roller, $30, Amazon

This post has been updated.

Kim Olsen

Kim Olsen ([email protected]) is a freelance writer in Alexandria.