Save Money and Get More Exercise With a Mini Home Gym

Hand Weights
Madoline and I are homebodies – mostly by choice, but these days, also by circumstance since we bought a house in the desert. Over the years, as we strived to stay in shape, we have tried many regimes, both physical and nutritious, described in detail in The No-Budget System. After years of trying different things, we have settled with a mini home gym that gets us our aerobic and even some anaerobic exercise.

One of the regimes we tried when we were still living in Hawaii was getting up very early in the morning and riding our bikes (which we bought for this very purpose) to feed our horse who was stabled 3 miles away. We pedaled as fast as we could there and back before going to work in the morning. This worked great for about a week until one morning when we got caught in a rainstorm of biblical proportions, with winds that reduced our speed to a crawl, and I was sick for a week. We never did this again.

We also spent a few months, from December 2002 through April 2003, running 5 miles a night after work. We lost a lot of weight, but oftentimes it was extremely unpleasant as we did this at night and the Hawaiian winter weather was highly unpredictable (well Hawaiian weather all year round is) with high winds and sudden rain. After moving to California, we decided the best way to get our exercise would be to be able to do it at home any time of day or night, regardless of the weather, and also because the first neighborhood we lived in wasn’t somewhere we wanted to be walking or running outside.

Our Mini Home Gym

Manual Foldable Treadmill
We went to Walmart and picked up an foldable motorized treadmill for $200. For a motorized treadmill, this machine is very small and easy to store. When we’re done working out, we just fold it up and push it into a corner. It also has adustable incline and speed, and progress display of distance and calories. Unfortunately, this kind of treadmill is no longer available for $200 as that was 5 1/2 years ago, but more advanced models of the same brand are now available for around $400 (Weslo Cadence C44 Treadmill), still a decent price for a treadmill. Manual folding treadmills (without motors) like the one pictured to the left are also available for a little over $100 these days.

Pedal Exerciser
The winter after buying our treadmill, we also bought one of these pedal exercisers for under $30 (nowadays around $36). As can be expected from the price, it was simply constructed but it had adjustable resistance and worked extremely well; I could feel a difference in my legs within hours. We took this pedal exerciser on a trip to visit relatives and our grandmother liked it so much that she asked us to leave it for her.

A couple of years later, we added a recumbent stationary bike with magnetic resistance which we bought for $100 (again from Walmart) to our home gym. We love this bike and have pedaled thousands of miles on it while watching movies at home. This bike has lasted amazingly long, considering it has worked days as long as 10-12 hours during our Horatio Hornblower movie marathon last Christmas. The belt finally broke a few weeks ago after years of hard service, but we can still pedal without resistance, which means very fast pedaling (something I have find more fun than pedaling slower with resistance). Nowadays, it these can be found for about $150-200.

Mini Cycle Exercise Bike
We added this more advanced fitness mini cycle to our home gym this winter so that we can have resistance pedaling again, and we can both pedal when we don’t feel like getting on the treadmill. What we like most about this bike is that it doesn’t take up much room and we can easily move it where we want to so we can pedal while reading, watching TV or playing games at the table. This mini bike can also be set on a chair or table for working the arms. It comes with an LED monitor for counting calories, reps, time and distance, which is helpful.

For our anaerobic exercise, we have a few hand weights which we use while watching movies to work our biceps, triceps, deltoids, transverse abdominals and forearms.

Saving Money, Time and Gas

So, for an initial investment of a few hundred dollars, you can end up saving thousands from gym membership fees and get your exercise whenever you want without having to leave your house. If you drive to go to a gym, you can save gas as well. Watching movies is one of our hobbies, so we can feel justified in buying some new DVDs once in a while because they help to keep us entertained during our exercise sessions.

Getting More Exercise

Some may argue that exercising artificially on a machine and in front of the television isn’t as healthy or beneficial as doing so in the open air. This may be true if the open air isn’t near traffic and smog emissions. But it definitely is better than no exercise at all. I know that I get a lot more exercise with our home gym because having the equipment right here makes it so much easier to just jump on and work out. If it weren’t here, I’d probably be lying in bed reading or sitting at the computer all the time instead of just some of the time.

When you don’t feel like leaving the warmth of your house to go running, or to drive to the gym, consider investing in some modestly priced exercise equipment. Having exercise equipment conveniently at home will help you stay in shape because:

  • it eliminates a step or two of preparation that you would have to take in order to workout outside of your home
  • you can space out your workouts for maximum calorie burn without having to squeeze everything into one time slot, and
  • you don’t have to worry about how you look while working out and can do so in your underwear if you so desire. ;)

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