Don’t like gyms…Build your own!


I love going to the gym. There’s so much variety, so I can change up my workouts every time I go. However, that hasn’t worked for my life over the last six months. There are no LA Fitness facilities near where I am in San Francisco, and I don’t feel like managing another membership.


So, I made a “mini gym” at home. It saves me money, I can work out whenever I want and have no excuses not to do it.


You Don’t Need It All


Your first reaction might be, “I can’t afford that!” or “I don’t have room for a treadmill.” I’ll let you in on a little secret: neither do I. You don’t need a dedicated room to convert in your house. You don’t need a whole lot of fancy equipment either. If you can afford it, and have the room, go for it! But most people do not. All you need to get started is some of the right equipment and you can get a great workout at home. You’ll even be able to put everything out of sight when you’re finished.


Bands, Bands, Bands


There are so many different kinds of resistance bands to choose from, and this may seem daunting. Type it in a Google search and you won’t believe how many options pop up. Amazon has tons, and many cost under $30. I would suggest buying more than one resistance band. You’ll find there are kits that have bands of different thicknesses. This way you can use a thicker band to challenge yourself as you get stronger. Also, you’ll need a thicker band to do squats than the one you need for bicep curls. These kits come with different handles and attachments so you can mimic a lot of exercises you do at the gym on a machine.


Pro tip: invest in a good set of bands!
Comfy Mat


A good exercise mat is also important—at least for me. Right now, I live in a hotel. The floor is only so comfortable for a period of time, plus, my dogs are all over it. You can get a good mat from Amazon, Power Systems, Target, Walmart or any sporting goods store. They can be really thin, or thicker and more comfortable. I like the mats that are a little thicker, but still roll up so that I can store it easily. I use an exercise for ab workouts, stretching, yoga and Pilates. Mats can range from $10 to $100 or more, so you have a lot of options in your price range. They even come in fun colors and patterns. Who said working out had to be boring?


What About That Cardio?


I live half the year in Arizona and the other half in California, so I can go outside for cardio year-round. I’m very lucky. At our house in AZ we do have an exercise bike (the kind you would find in Spin classes). But here in CA, we don’t have the room. A jump rope and a bench are good choices for my hotel room. There are many kinds of step benches, so choose one that works for your space and your budget. You can use it for cardio, or as a weight bench for resistance exercises.


You can also use the stairs in house, do jumping jacks, jog in place or even mimic jump roping for cardio options without equipment. Get creative with what you have available to you!


Love the Weights


I love free weights! Like bands, they are very versatile. However, they can get expensive because you can’t just buy one set and have it work for every exercise. I need heavier weights when I do squats or lunges, and lighter weights for upper body. Dumbbells also take up more room than bands, so if you have a small space, dumbbells may not be the bet option. But if you just have to have them, consider buying an adjustable set of dumbbells. They take up less room and give you a few different weights to choose from. These can be expensive, so you need to decide if these are a necessity for you and worth the investment. I love mine.


Odds and Ends


My husband and I bought a house in 2015 after living in apartments for a long time. We have a great room that we use, but our formal living and dining rooms are without furniture. Instead, we have all of our exercise equipment. Because we do have the room right now, we have stability balls, medicine balls, foam rollers and some other miscellaneous equipment. If we ever get furniture, some of this will end up stored in the garage or office. But for now, the dining room it is!


Building a home gym is an easy and convenient way to get your daily fitness routine in. It can save you money on gym memberships and you can personalize your workouts to fit your busy schedule. It’s a win-win for anyone who loves fitness!


What types of equipment do you use at home? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s ELM fitness together!



Bethany Kochan started her fitness career at a local women’s fitness center at 19 years of age. This part-time job lead to a career that over 20 years later, she still loves. Bethany earned her B.S. in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale at the same time becoming certified as a group exercise instructor. After college, she pursued NSCA-CPT and CSCS, group cycling, mat Pilates and YogaFit certifications. In 2009, she and her husband made a big move across the country to pursue his dream job in the field of strength and conditioning. At this point, Bethany began writing and training online to be both with her husband and the fitness industry. Today, the Kochans split their time between AZ and CA, pursuing their passions and enjoying life together with their two rescue Weimaraners.