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Home Fitness Part II: 10 Must-Have Home Gym Items


Life Fitness encourages exercisers to remain active, whether it’s at the gym or at home. Modernize, a website dedicated to empowering homeowners with expert guidance and the educational tools needed to take on big home projects with confidence, provides a three-part series of informative articles that will help you set up the perfect home gym.

About the Author: Erin Vaughan resides in Austin, Texas where she writes full-time for

Must Haves

Setting up a home gym is a serious endeavor, and shows your deep commitment to getting—and staying—fit. Congrats to you for taking the plunge! You’re about to have a space of your own that complements your gym routine.

Setting up your own gym can be intimidating. After all, you have to pare down the wide variety of equipment you use at the health club to just a few essential items that fit in your home. There are, however, a few must-haves for any home gym user.

Room to Stretch Out

You don’t need a dedicated workout room. Well-planned gyms can be set up in an attic eave or the corner of a home office or bedroom. But you do need some space—you don’t want to be doing lunges with your nose against the wall. Try to free up somewhere between 20 to 50 square feet of space. Treadmills generally require about 30 square feet. If you have multiple machines, you’ll need something more like 50 to 250 square feet. But don’t think that machines are the only way to get your workout in. There are plenty of creative routines you can do to get your heart pumping and your muscles working.

Adequate Temperature Control

If you’re thinking about remodeling your attic or garage into your home gym, you’ll probably need to do a little installation work to get it going. Add insulation to keep out the elements, and install adequate HVAC controls to keep the space feeling pleasant— and to keep you from overheating during precious workout time.

Yoga Mat

Stretching is a must and stiff muscles make workouts less fun. Try swapping out some of your static stretches for a few dynamic ones, that stretch your hips and spine, two areas that need the stretching after sitting at work all day.

Foam Roller

A good foam roller helps you massage out knots and places that are extra hard to stretch (hello, IT band), which is a must after a punishing workout.

Dumbbells or Resistance Bands

You likely won’t be able to fit all the machines you like to use in your home—that’s why it’s a good idea to keep your gym membership active. However, if you get familiar with resistance training, you can work many of the same muscles, especially if you have a quality dumbbell set that allows you to incrementally increase weight. If you don’t have the room for dumbbells, however, a set of resistance bands makes a great alternative.

Adjustable Bench

Okay, you’ve got weights. Now combine those with an adjustable bench and you’ve just opened up a huge range of moves, everything from rows to curls to dumbbell presses. You can even use a bench for ab workouts.

Cardio Equipment

You don’t have to be a marathon runner to appreciate the value of a good jog. Pumping up that heart rate burns calories and helps you hone your focus. Still, not everyone can make the treadmill conversion. No matter—there’s a wide variety of cardio equipment to choose from, including cross-trainers, stair steppers and stationary bikes.

Jump Rope

There’s a reason the humble jump rope has kept an honored place among gym-goers for so long: it’s a killer workout that burns around 10 calories a minute, and it works many of your major muscle groups, including your legs, shoulders, and arms. It’s a must-have in your home gym because its size makes it so manageable. Just hang it up when you’re done and you have a calorie-crunching cardio boost that takes up practically no space at all.

Activity Tracker

A heart rate sensor with a stopwatch can really help you get a hold on your workout’s intensity. Many wearables now are so advanced that they can actually track your reps and even your workout plan, helping you rehash what you’ve accomplished. That means you’ll be freed up to focus on the exercise at hand.


An hour-long workout can be a long haul without any tunes or TV to lighten the load. A wireless speaker is a great investment—that way you can dial into your phone or tablet’s music catalog and apps. Don’t want to miss your favorite shows? A wall-mounted screen is your best bet, and a 24-inch model will be large enough to keep you from squinting, yet small enough to fit snugly in your workout space.

Learn the Simple Steps for Transforming Your Home Into a Workout Space in part one of this series and How to Renovate Your Garage Into an At-Home Yoga Studio in part three.




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