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Building a Home Gym

Another project that I'm evaluating with the upcoming new home is building a home gym in the basement instead of paying our monthly gym membership fees.  What kind of equipment and materials are required to build a decent home gym?  Here is what I am considering (from Spartan Athletic Products):

  • Rubber Floor Mats: $65 (4'x6') x 6 = $390 (the room is 12'x12')
  • 4×6 mirror: $75
  • Dumbbell Set:  Power Block Elite 2-50lbs $400
  • 2 x 45 Olympic plates:$0.80/lb = $72
  • 2 x 35 Olympic plates: $56
  • 2 x 25 Olympic plates: $40
  • 4 x 10 Olympic plates: $32
  • 4 x 5 Olympic plates: $16
  • Adjustable Bench: $350
  • Power Rack: $999
  • Olympic bar: $119
  • EZ Curl Bar: $60
  • Weight clips: $22
  • Treadmill: $1200
  • Total: $3,831 + tax = $4367.34

Our current membership combined costs around $85/month.  This means that this home gym should pay for itself in around 52 months or 4.3 years.  The negatives about the home gym is that it's not as motivational as going to the gym itself and a pain in the behind if we decide to move again.  On the upside however, it's much more convenient than lugging myself to the gym.  

Do any of you have extensive home gyms? 

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FrugalTrader About the author: FrugalTrader is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 64 comments… add one }

  • Jeff January 13, 2008, 10:49 am

    “Personal thanks to Jeff for posting about http://www.rosstraining.com.”

    You’re welcome. If anyone wants to get in excellent shape for very little money, buy Ross Enamait’s books and do his workouts. I’m not kidding, and I don’t know the guy and he’s not paying me under the table. :) All I’m saying is that his stuff will make you want to puke, but it works. You don’t even need any equipment; if you think body-weight exercises are too easy (as I thought), try a one-handed pushup or pullup. Look him up on YouTube for a sample.

  • Hilary January 14, 2008, 2:27 pm

    Fitness isn’t about money, it’s about feeling great. Go ahead and set up a home gym, if that is what you want to do.

    I have a gym in my basement and I love it. I started setting it up four years ago with only a couple of pieces of gear and each year I treat myself to a few more items. I painted it red for energy, put in an old radio and have a big white board on the wall to track my progress. Used equipment is great if you can find it, and warehouse stores like Costco have quality items at good prices. Have fun with your workouts.

  • Cannon_fodder January 14, 2008, 5:18 pm

    Good point about not trusting the scale, TKO. Personally, I’m one of those fortunate types that I need to workout in order to GAIN weight. My wife has also noticed that while her weight may not go down much, her clothes definitely feel looser.

  • LG February 1, 2008, 8:23 pm

    I was considering building a home gym but the most expensive part was the treadmill. You don’t want to get a cheap one and a decent entry level one will cost at least $1200.

    So Snap Fitness opened up in my area. It’s a no contract membership and situated in a plaza. It has all Cybex machines, free weights, no showers but clean. The model is that they open these places up near your house and you just walk in, workout and go home. It is also 24×7 so you can go anytime. There is only video surveillance during non-staffed hours. Besides, I’m not going to work out that late in the night anyways.

    For $39.99/month, it was easily a good choice for me.

  • Fitness equipment February 3, 2008, 11:13 pm

    ;)great post – great threads too! A great read about different ideas of how to get and stay fit!

  • lena the thinker February 9, 2008, 12:13 pm

    I agree with you.Having gym equipments at home is an investment because it can keep our body fit at the same time can cut down expenses of going to gym.

  • George February 9, 2008, 1:13 pm

    Lena: I disagree. A single piece of good-quality gym equipment can easily cost $3000. In FrugalTrader’s case, he’s planning on spending about $4600. Around here, a gym membership can easily be had for $30/month or less – my gym has lockers, showers, and free daily fitness classes for $25/month including taxes. At that rate, the home gym becomes “cheaper” only after around ten years of paying for a gym membership. Of course, I’m not factoring for the residual value of the gym equipment if you sell it (which is usually quite low) or the costs of keeping a room dedicated to a gym in your home.

    Getting healthy is an investment, but it’s one that can be done with nothing more than a pair of running shoes, and perhaps some free weights. If you’d like a wide variety of exercise equipment, a gym membership (assuming it gives you good service and no contract requirements) is a cheaper way to achieve the same goals.

  • Jeff February 9, 2008, 2:18 pm


    You don’t need to spend *nearly* $3000 for home gym equipment that will allow you to do a huge variety of exercises and get in excellent shape. As I said in a previous post, see http://www.rosstraining.com. Also, consider:

    1. In urban areas, gym memberships usually are much more than $30/month–more like $60 and up.
    2. Even if you spend $3000 on home gym equipment and commercial gyms in your area are only $30/month, do you plan to quit working out in 10 years after the home equipment has paid for itself?
    3. A lot of the equipment in a gym consists of weight machines that are (a) expensive, and (b) less than optimal for strength training (they only work in a single plane of motion, etc.–there’s been a lot of research on this.) You don’t need to use these machines at the gym, and you certainly don’t need to buy them for your home. Get free weights.
    4. You neglected to factor in gas money and whatever your time is worth driving to the gym, waiting for equipment, and driving back 3-4 times a week.
    5. You don’t need a “dedicated” room that’s used for working out and nothing else. A garage, basement, or rec room is fine, and the incremental “cost” of working out there (in addition to whatever else you do) is about zero.
    6. Plenty of home gym equipment (e.g. weight plates, bars) doesn’t wear out and thus retains its value quit well.

  • George February 9, 2008, 2:34 pm

    Jeff: I’ll address your points the same way that you’ve numbered them:

    1) Gym memberships can be had for $30/month in urban areas. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, where membership to a number of the city facilities costs $380/year ($31/month), but there are a number of discount programs available that can drop the price to around $27/month. Perhaps you need to shop around some more.

    2) It’s extremely hard to predict what will happen over the next 10 years. Based on what happens with the majority of home fitness equipment, it’s reasonable to predict that most people (myself included) would get bored and stop using the equipment long before ten years has passed. At least with a gym membership, you have a way of cutting out the expense if you no longer attend.

    3) I agree that free weights are an excellent choice for a home gym. They’re readily available second-hand for far less than the “brand new” cost.

    4) While gas money and time might be a factor, depending on how far you live from a gym, you also have to question the logic of using gas money to drive to a gym, just so you can hop on a treadmill or exercise bike. Why not jog or bike to the gym in the first place?

    5) Depending on the type of equipment you purchase, you might not need a dedicated room, but you certainly need some dedicated space. If the room has a lot of exercise equipment in it, it’s often difficult to use it for any other purpose.

    6) Free weights certainly don’t wear out, but they do lose their value quite quickly. Take a look in any newspaper’s classified ads and you’ll see plenty of exercise equipment selling for far less than the cost of brand new equipment.

    Some conclusions: If you want a home gym, you’ll need some space in your home to dedicate to that purpose, purchasing equipment used is a much better deal than buying new, and making exercise part of your routine (i.e. by cycling to work) is an easier way to get fit than by setting aside dedicated “exercise time” in your day.

  • Writer's Coin March 20, 2008, 8:41 am

    Part of the appeal of “going to the gym” for me is getting out of the house. While this would be incredibly tempting (“I’ll work out every day”), I don’t know if it would work for me.

  • John January 5, 2009, 12:48 pm

    My wife and I purchased a Treadmill, Smith Machine, Lat Machine (pull up/down), Adjustable Bench, mats, and Weights for a 25×12 foot area in our basement. We set it up with a T.V., music and some good lighting. We bought the “Body Solid” brand and some used items found on Craigslist (we spent just over $3,000). We have been happy thus far and have been consistent in our workouts so far (6 times per week – 30 minutes for weights (one major body part per workout) and 30 minutes cardio). Finally, my wife and I have something that we can do together and without the kids. We put the kids to bed at 9pm… and then workout until about 10pm or so. Gym memberships didn’t work out for us. Finding a babysitter 6 times a week just isn’t realistic and with the kids involved in activities there simply isn’t any time for us to be gymers. Gym fees were a waste!

    Strongly recommend quality home gyms for couples with kids!!!

  • jk6661 January 5, 2009, 3:37 pm


    Try making your gym less dark, quiet, and suffocating. Dark: add lights. Quiet: add a TV or stereo. Suffocating: not sure what this means. Fan? Air freshener? Plants, mirrors, posters, or other decor? And remember, the point is to work out (hard), not to “enjoy the scenery.” People who plod along on a treadmill or elliptical while watching Seinfeld reruns are simply wasting their time. Not trying to be harsh, but it’s true.

  • cashback cards December 23, 2009, 3:07 pm

    It sounds like from reading through the comments and the great article. You need to get the ultimate professional design/room with tv’s, mirrors, etc to really keep the home gym atomsphere and motiviational. Otherwise, it sound best to keep your gym membership. Maybe you should do an updated blog with pros and cons from all the comments for this home gym idea.

    Also, just another thought contact your local gym place and see if they could work with on a deal or a cheaper or lower membership fee..it’s worth asking you just never know.

    But it sounds to me that you could get away both and still not going wrong. Though I believe it boils down to what you really want and what is the most convenience for you.

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