Gym memberships are expensive – but we can help you get the same thing, except cheaper and in your house. So, come with us to dive into the world of cheap home gyms and workouts…
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The UK's average gym membership hits a whopping £40 a month, which works out at £480 per year. Although that could be a great investment if you're using the most expensive equipment on a daily basis, you can actually produce a pretty good imitation of a lot of the machines at home.
The gym can also be a nerve-wracking place, while exercising from home gives some certainty. Not only can you do your own exercises without feeling self-conscious (as many do), but you're also not spending hundreds of pounds per year on fitness.
With all that in mind, we're here to show you how to stop spending money unnecessarily and, instead, save money on the cost of an annual gym membership without missing out on exercise or good quality equipment.
If a home gym isn't for you, check out how to get cheaper gym membership.
How to exercise at home
Find the most effective ways to keep a gym at home for £65 or under:
Invest in kettlebells or dumbbells
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Cost: £19.99+ per kettlebell/dumbbell
Buying home gym equipment is the basis of this guide, and we've whittled down a small list of items you may want to invest in for your home gym.
First of all, we suggest purchasing your own kettlebells or dumbbells, like these from Amazon.
Kettlebells and dumbbells can be used in very similar ways and are super versatile. What's more, they can also form the basis of so many different exercises and activities, including home workouts for your chest, legs and arms. So, once you've got some, you may find you won't have to purchase much else!
If you're wondering what exercises to do, or how to do them, YouTube and Google are your friends – you can find so many different instructional videos and guides online, so the world is your oyster. And with that in mind…
Free online fitness classes
If you need a bit of motivation to do a home workout, it may be worth using online classes to exercise with others.
Online fitness classes are particularly helpful if you're one of those people who likes to feel as though they're in a group, and who can say no when it's free? And if it still doesn't feel quite right, complete the class with a housemate or video call friends at the same time – then you can be social while working out!
If you're not sure where to find these online classes, we suggest taking a look at YouTube and searching 'free yoga class' or 'free Peloton class' – there are always some out there.
Door frame pull-ups
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If you want to build your upper body strength, pull-ups are a great way to do this. And while we're pretty sure you've seen them featured in any prison film or uni fitness fanatic's room, it's worth noting pull-up bars are an absolute staple of any home gym.
The bar fits onto a door frame (at the top) and you can use it to pull yourself up. Depending on the type of pull-up bar you get, you may be able to work a range of muscles and try different exercises – we suggest having a look online for ways to challenge yourself using this piece of equipment. We found a great deal for a pull-up bar here.
Pull-ups will mainly work your lats (back) but also biceps secondarily. You can also change your grip to have your palms facing you and do chin-ups, to focus on the bicep more.
Just remember that, while most door frames should be able to handle a pull-up bar without a problem (and without any damage), you may want to check the condition before attaching your equipment.
The last thing you want is to find out midway through a pull-up that the door frame is rotting, as not only could the damage cost you some of your tenancy deposit, but the fall could injure you too.
Set yourself fitness challenges
Sometimes a bit of competition is all it takes to motivate you to get out of bed and start a workout.
We've found that apps like Strava or Nike+ Running Club are great if you're able to connect with your friends. Seeing the exercise other people are doing can really inspire you to leave the house, and runs are always more fun outside than on a treadmill!
In the case of Strava, there's also the option to join challenges, meaning you get a (virtual) medal achievement when you complete a 5km run, for example.
The app will also tell you how quickly you've completed certain 'segments' (stretches of road that other Strava users have given a name to). After each run or cycle, it'll tell you if you've beaten your record for a given segment – believe us when we say you'll become very competitive with yourself, very quickly.
But whatever app you use, the main reason to download them is to get yourself outside and into some fresh air – it's such an easy way to do self-care.
Use fitness apps
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On top of setting yourself challenges via apps like Strava and Nike+, we suggest using other apps to fully immerse yourself in a 'gym environment' at home.
We recommend SHREDDY or SWEAT particularly, as they give you workouts to do whether you're working out from home or in the gym.
There are sometimes monthly costs to apps like these, or you can choose to pay annually (which often comes at a discount). If you're unsure whether it's your cup of tea, definitely start with a monthly subscription – that way, you're wasting less money if you don't like or stick to using it.
And, of course, you may also be able to find similar apps for free.
Make your own weights
Making weights at home couldn't be simpler, and you can usually do it with stuff you've already got lying around the house.
In the past, we've used empty four-pint plastic milk bottles and filled them with sand – with the added benefit that the milk bottle already has a handle to help you lift it. But you don't have to use sand – you can also use water, rice, pebbles or whatever is in abundance.
If you're looking for something a little heavier, try filling a backpack or duffel bag with books, magazines, cans of food or anything else you can find! In fact, if you're after a super heavy weight, you could even fill the bag with the milk bottle weights we mentioned earlier.
Utilise what you already have
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A home gym that costs about £50 is never going to fully mimic a proper gym with thousands of pounds worth of equipment, but you can narrow the gap by fully utilising things that are already in your house.
For example, you could turn your sofa or bed into a bench (propping pillows up if you need them), or use a coffee table as a platform for doing tricep dips.
Walls may not seem that useful in the scheme of things, but we've used them for strength training. Handstands are a great way to gain bodyweight strength in your core, as well as your arms, and walls are ideal to lean onto for balance.
Triceps dips will work your triceps, while handstands are great for your core and shoulders. You can also use the side of your bed/sofa for incline or decline press-ups to work on your chest, shoulders, triceps and core.
If you've not done handstands before, take a look at YouTube for some help – it may be a new and different way for you to exercise…
Designate a space for your workouts
If you're lucky enough to have some kind of space in your home, we suggest utilising it for workouts.
Whether it's a spare room, garage or a space you have outdoors, creating the right space for yourself is vital to boosting your motivation when you want to work out.
If you're able to decorate your space, consider putting up some mirrors. Not only does this make the space feel bigger, but it also allows you to see your workouts.
We'd also recommend adding posters, motivational quotes, lighting, a speaker you may have lying around and more – whatever it takes to make feel as though it's your space for workouts. Typo have a great range of all of the above, so take a look here. After all, mental health is just as important as physical health.
Get cheap workout equipment accessories
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Cost: £5–£6 for resistance bands, £3.99 for skipping rope, £2.99+ for exercise mat
To complete your home gym, there are a few 'accessories' we'd suggest getting to change up and enhance your workouts.
Using resistance bands can enhance your squat routine and build up muscles in your legs, while a skipping rope will help you improve your cardio levels without you needing to leave the space you're in.
For some workouts, you may also need a yoga or exercise mat. These are incredibly versatile as not only do they aid with stretching and floor workouts, but they can also help with comfort when you're on your feet.
If you're still set on using the gym, we've found ways to go for free here.