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What do you need in a good home gym?

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17 November 2021|3 min read

Key Points

  • A home gym can be a convenient, inexpensive alternative to a gym membership.
  • You don’t need heaps of space – just a few well-chosen pieces of key equipment.
  • Most home gym items are versatile and can be used for a range of exercises.

You don’t need to join a gym or hire an expensive trainer to get fit and healthy. It’s possible to enjoy all the benefits of working out while only using at-home gym equipment. But what IS the best home gym equipment here in Australia – especially if your space or funds are limited?

Personal trainer Gabrielle Petterwood shares her tips for creating a great gym setup in your home or garage, and how to use it to reach your fitness goals.

Is a home gym setup right for me?

Perhaps you can’t afford to join a gym, or can’t find a babysitter for the kids while you do an exercise class? A home gym setup could be the answer.

In addition to getting your 10,000 steps per day, a home gym can be a great way to stay healthy and achieve your wellbeing goals. 

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What equipment will I need?

Gabrielle has a few compact home gym equipment setup recommendations – here are her top five essentials:

1. Resistance bands

Gabrielle says that you can incorporate a good-quality resistance band into several moves. This means you can do some of the best resistance exercises at home without heavy weights.

“Resistance bands are available in different lengths, to suit different exercises,” she says. “They’re perfect for people on a budget, because you can use them together with everyday furniture like a chair to create a portable home gym.” Alternatively, Gabrielle recommends using a resistance band to level up your squats: one of the best bodyweight exercises for your glutes. 

Resistance bands are also small and portable, so you can take them away with you on holidays. No wonder they top her list of the best budget home gym equipment. 

2. A set of dumbbells 

Gabrielle says that dumbbells are the next most versatile addition to your at-home gym, because you can use them for so many exercises. 

“Dumbbells work for single unilateral (just one side of your body) moves, as well as more functional movements,” she says. Plus, “you can use them in HIIT workouts, for benefits that may include both improving your cardiovascular fitness and building muscle.”

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3. A yoga mat

Gabrielle recommends looking for a comfortable, non-slip mat that will keep you steady and stable while exercising. 

You can use it while you’re watching one of the hundreds of free yoga videos online, but you don’t just have to use it for yoga. Try lying on it when you’re doing your core exercises or stretching to help reduce your chances of common sports injuries

Mats are a great addition to a compact home gym setup because they’re easy to roll up and store. That makes them perfect if you don’t have much space.

4. A workout bench 

If you have room for it, a workout bench is another super-versatile piece of at-home gym equipment to help you reach your wellbeing goals. “Try doing your step-ups, arm weights and bench presses on a workout bench,” recommends Gabrielle. 

In short, a workout bench offers many of the benefits of lifting weights in a gym, right in the comfort of your own home.

5. An ab slider

“Ab sliders are one of my favourite pieces of equipment,” says Gabrielle. They’re small discs that you can slide in and out on while completing ab exercises. That makes them excellent to include in your home gym setup if you’re keen to do some core exercises at home.

Gabrielle adds that you can use ab sliders on carpet, tiles or floorboards, which means they’ll work in almost any home. “They’re really fun,” she comments, “so they’re great to include in family fitness challenges with the kids.”

How to look after your at-home gym equipment

Once you’ve invested in a high-quality home gym setup, it’s important to take care of it. 

Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe down sweaty equipment like dumbbells or your bench. You might like to use a mild detergent or spray cleaner occasionally too, but be sure to dry the equipment thoroughly so it’s not slippery. 

Also, wipe down your yoga mat with soap and water, or a mix of 50:50 water and vinegar, to keep it clean and fresh. Then allow it to air-dry completely in a well-ventilated room or outside before using it again. 

Finally, regularly check any screws or bolts on equipment like workout benches and tighten if needed. 

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You’re all set!

Whatever items you choose for your home gym, don’t forget to take it slowly at first. 

You might wonder how often to have a rest day. Everyone’s unique, so if you have any signs of overtraining like sore muscles after using your gym at home, take a day off. 

“It's really important to make sure that you don't push your body too hard all the time,” says Gabrielle.

Get started on your Ways To Move

Hear from Sam Rooney, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, on his top strength and aerobic exercises that you can start integrating into your routine. Plus, learn more about getting fit and reducing your chances of injury by signing up for one of our ways to move programs. You’ll get all the knowledge you need to get moving, right to your inbox. All you have to do is keep engaged and reap the benefits.


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Gabrielle Petterwood is a Personal Trainer with a holistic approach to fitness, nourishing the body with fresh foods and living a healthy and balanced lifestyle to realise full body health.

Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board October 2021.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health you should consult with a health professional.