Everything You Need to Quit Your Gym Membership and Create a Home Gym

Since moving to Greenwich Village in New York from Sydney, I’ve downsized my living conditions considerably. In addition to being able to now see every inch of my apartment from the front door (an excellent security method), I also now have the convenience of being able to reach the fridge from my shower. Which comes in handy more often than you’d think.

While I don’t have space for a washer/dryer (I barely have room for a couch), I do love working out at home, usually late at night after the gym has closed. Lately, I’ve been mulling over the thought that maybe I could get better set up at home, and quit my gym membership completely, which sets me back about $60 per week.

I aspire to one day have a full in-house fitness center to call my own (future Jasmine lives in a home with ocean views and a laundry chute too, obvs), but in the meantime, I need equipment that can be stored underneath my bed/couch while still providing the caliber of training I’d get during a high-intensity gym class.

The end goal—in addition to basically never needing to leave my apartment again—is to ultimately save $240 a month on gym fees, meaning my at-home equipment must be affordable too. So I went to work building the cheapest, smallest, most convenient home workout kit, and stayed clear of the gym for seven days to test whether it’s really worthwhile quitting my membership. Here’s what I needed:

A workout program to follow.

Years ago I became a certified personal trainer, but I still don’t often plan out my own workouts. Instead, I most frequently run on the treadmill or outside, attend a high-intensity circuit class, occasionally take a reformer Pilates or yoga class, or buy guides to follow from other trainers—clearly, the latter was the only real option for my pseudo home gym. There are literally hundreds of free exercise plans you can print that are circulating Pinterest (also, try this free plan), but I also love Kayla Itsines‘s 12 week bikini body guide. For less than $70 you receive weekly guides that have really delivered great results for me.

Here’s the kicker though—these workouts are bodyweight based, which means you don’t need much in the way of equipment. I also used HanxFit, a fitness app from model and fitness blogger Hannah Saul. This is another great place to get workout ideas you can follow at home. While I didn’t try it this week, I’ve also used YouTube tutorials to work up a sweat at home in the past, and in the future might try and substitute my Pilates classes with virtual lessons through Blogilates, and try yoga classes online too.

Strategies to boost your heart rate.

At the gym I rely on a treadmill to boost my heart rate and burn calories, but obviously at home I don’t have the same luxury. Instead, I tried to think of tools that would make my workouts more intense, which led me on the path to discover Crossrope ($69), a product that I’m currently obsessed with. Essentially, it’s a weighted jump rope that allows you to adjust the resistance to make your workout easier or harder—and a great way to burn fat in small spaces. I used this item every time a jump rope sequence came up in my HanxFit and Kayla Itsines guides, but you could also try Crossrope’s new fitness app which offers interval workout ideas. 

Somewhere to step up.

Though I attempted (and failed) to use my couch as a step for both step-up lunges and tricep dips, I decided to bite the bullet and get a proper step. After trying out Strongboard ($289), a seriously effective step that’s based on springs and requires you to use muscles to stabilize yourself, I came to the conclusion that while it made every exercise harder—in a good way—this product was just too big for my place. Instead, I now regularly use a regular old square step that anyone can pick up for around $50 online  and fits easily under my bed.

Something to exercise on.

When I first started exercising at home, I’d just lay a beach towel on my timber floor. This, I don’t recommend; I ended up bruising my tailbone after a particularly enthusiastic set of weighted sit-ups. Now I roll out a Lorna Jane exercise mat ($59.99) in my living room for all and any forms exercise.

Here’s another thing you need to know about my living situation: My apartment’s on the fifth floor of a very old building, so everyone from floors two to four can probably hear my skipping, squat-jumping, and burpee-ing, which ain’t neighborly. While I’ve investigated soundproof mats to place underneath my workout mat (you can nab one on Amazon), they’re pretty pricey, so I’m waiting for a formal complaint until I commit. Sorry, apartment 4B.

Weights for resistance training.

If a scientist studied the household items I’ve been able to turn into exercise weights, I think I’d be categorized as a genius. I’ve bicep curled with coffee table books, lunged holding a bucket filled with random kitchen appliances (this happened), and, on occasion, held my pomeranian x chihuahua while I squatted to Beyoncé. Recently however, I upgraded to a set of adjustable dumbbells ($149.92). If I was at the gym, I’d be switching between weighted medicine balls, multiple sets of dumbbells, and a barbell, but found my new adjustable set is really all I need. There are also way cheaper options available, if you don’t need an adjustable set.

The verdict: My initial outlay came to $402.87, not including the Strongboard, which admittedly feels pretty expensive. Except, these tools will last for years, and while I may have to fork out another $60 in six months or so for a new workout guide, even that $462.87 investment will still leave me with a whopping $2,657 in the bank (/my wardrobe) that I could save on gym fees. There’s one downside to not having a membership however, and that’s motivation—sometimes, when I’m struggling to get started, simply turning up at a class and letting someone else tell me what to do is the only way I could work out. Overall though, thanks to handy bodyweight training guides and innovative fitness products, working out at home is effective, easy, and seriously cost-effective in the long run.