Save Money and Get Fit with A DIY Home Gym

wooden gymnastic rings on a stone floor

Posted by Kyle

As a fitness enthusiast, one thing that I wasn’t entirely prepared to give up on when moving to the homestead was a gym. This posed a bit of a problem however because we aren’t particularly close to any fitness clubs not to mention the cost of membership! We have had something of a epiphany when it comes to frugality lately, and have entered what we call “austerity mode.”

So what’s a guy to do? Answer: Build your own gym. Now as I’ve described in a previous post I subscribe to the fundamental principals of Crossfit. Which happens to work out pretty well because for those of you familiar with the “sport” you don’t really need a ton of equipment to do it.

The next hurdle with my home gym dream was space. Now this is where we got a bit lucky because the house we moved to had a large garage… And I’m talking LARGE garage. From the outside it looks like a regular double garage until you get inside and realize it runs the full depth of the house!

We were cruising through the original survey of our property and realized that the reason for this is that the original owner kenneled dogs in there. There were interior runs that had doors through the garage wall to an outdoor run. The other major plus was that at the very back corner of the garage there is a door that goes straight in to the basement. So, what we decided to do was frame in across the entire back of the garage to make a home gym!

Now I don’t want to make it seem like you can just throw a gym together on a shoe string budget, you can’t. But once you factor in the cost of a gym membership over time + the expensive clothes so you don’t look like a noob + the time spent away from home + the cost of driving to the gym it really starts to add up.

Let me show you what that can actually look like using my own experience as an example:

  • Gym Membership = $75 a month
  • Exercise Clothing (shorts, sweats, shirts, shoes, accessories, etc) = $50-100/month averaged over a year
  • Cost of driving – $0.51/mile x 24 mile round trip x 5 days a week x 4 weeks = $244 a month!!!!
  • Time driving there and back = Priceless

  • Total = $394/month or $4728 per year, not counting your time

I hope your eyeballs nearly popped out of your head because mine sure did. When you are spending that kind of money it is very easy to justify the upfront costs of acquiring equipment like a treadmill or an exercise bike or some weights – which is what we did.

a treadmill on stone floor with a wall mounted tv
Our Sole F80 Treadmill. The window in the top left of the pic was found on kijiji for 15$ and we custom framed it in. Score!

So what did we buy? So glad you asked:

  • Sole F80 Treadmill – This is one of the best rated mid-level treadmills out there. I actually went down to the store and tested a bunch before deciding. Then went and found the best price online and ordered one. It is winter most of the time here (or at least it feels like it) so a treadmill is necessary for us.
    • You are probably wondering why I bought new if I claim to be frugal. Two reasons
      • 1) I (Bonnie) hadn’t accepted frugality into my (her) heart at the time of purchase and
      • 2) I run a lot (or at least I did before kids… working on it) and wanted to find a treadmill that would be a good investment for the long term. 
  • Dumbbells – my brother was giving them away so I happily accepted
  • Weight Bench – same story as above
  • Box Jump – I take zero credit for this but I found plans for one here and sent it over to my pop who said no problem. I would have loved to have built it myself but again, kids.
    • Quick note – we did make one tweak to the plan and added a support in the middle of the box to better handle the weight. I am by no means a small guy so I wanted to make sure it held up over time.
  • Kettlebell – had this in the basement
  • Medicine Ball – had one of these already as well
  • Jump Rope – scooped a nice ball bearing one from Amazon for a pretty reasonable price (in Canada? Click here)
  • Pull Up Bar – I grabbed this one from Amazon but it has since disappeared. I do recommend it if you can find one.
  • Gymnastic Rings – And Amazon again (in Canada? Click here)

All in cost of the project including the construction of an entire room (walls, paint, flooring, door, windows, insulation and electrical) was about $4000 which is less than 1 years worth of Globo-Gym expenses. 

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So that’s it! It might look like a long list but when you think about the equipment available at your local gym it is actually a rather small assortment. And that’s okay – you don’t need a ton of fancy equipment to get an amazing work out. In fact you don’t need any equipment at all, you can do a lot with just your body weight.. squats anyone?

So where does one find bargain basement pricing on exercise equipment? Well if you just punch in “exercise equipment for sale” in the ol’ googler, I guarantee that places like Craig’s List and Kijiji are LOADED with used stuff that well-intentioned people are trying to offload. Let’s face it, exercise equipment is one of those things that everyone gets super jazzed about a couple times a year. They rush out to the store, plunk down all of their money (or Visa’s money at least) and then enthusiastically exercise in their basement for precisely two weeks. After that the treadmill turns in to a manual clothes dryer for the other 50 weeks of the year. That’s where you, the frugal-minded fitness buff (or aspiring buff) comes in. You can scoop up these deals at pennies on the dollar and add to your gym over time.

Garage sales are another great place to pick up a piece of equipment but if you live anywhere like we do that is only a viable option May-September. All I’m trying to say is that if you have an unused corner of your basement/garage/shed then you definitely have room to create a functional home gym that you will love. We aren’t going for Mr. and Mrs. Multiverse here but we can definitely get in great shape with only a few pieces of equipment and a lot of motivation.

Post your epic second hand fitness finds to the comments! I would love to see the great deals you find.



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