How to Build a Home Gym for Under $100 & An Inspirational Story

Earlier this week I posted on whether or not to join a gym and nine alternatives. If getting into shape is one of your goals this year, I’m excited for you. I want to do to same too!

But first, I want to share with you my uncle’s inspirational story of getting into shape. I’ve been waiting a few weeks now tell it and can’t wait for you to hear it.

I hope it will motivate you to work towards your goals, whatever they may be. I also have tips and recommendations on how to build a home gym for less than $100. It may sound hard to believe but it is possible.

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The Inspirational Story

I’m so excited to share my uncle’s story with you. My uncle used to run in the 1980s both as a hobby and to keep in shape. That was before he had major life commitments like marriage and a child to raise.

After those came along, he stopped running and even exercising regularly so that his health declined and his weight fluctuated more often for the worse.

In 2013, my uncle was out of shape and dangerously overweight, although not without good reason. He worked full-time and was partner and caregiver to my aunt, who suffered from terminal cancer. A few months after my aunt passed away, my uncle was still heartbroken but began pursuing a healthier lifestyle.

He started eating differently, focusing on limiting his portion sizes, choosing lean meats and vegetables, and cutting out unhealthy snacks. This was hard for him because he LOVES to eat!

My uncle also started running again. He did casual runs like the Bay to Breakers and a 5K here and there. He didn’t have a formal training program, but stuck to a running schedule and went for longer and longer distances.

Finally in December 2016, my uncle ran his first marathon at age 64! He completed the entire Honolulu Marathon despite the heat and humidity.

My uncle actually completed his first two half-marathons and first full marathon in 2016 and shows no signs of stopping in 2017. My uncle is amazing!

My whole family is so proud of him. As an added bonus to his running accomplishments, he’s lost over 40 pounds over the past two years and is now much healthier.

If you feel that you’re too out of shape, too old, or too anything to make your goals happen, I hope my uncle’s story help you realize that achieving your goals is possible.

Take that first step in getting started and then keep going step by step from there. You may find yourself running marathons one day too!

One interesting thing to note is that my uncle doesn’t belong to a gym or have any special exercise equipment other than good running shoes and comfortable workout clothes.

Because this blog focuses on frugal living and personal finance, I want to emphasize that it doesn’t take much money to work out or improve your fitness.

If you are looking to acquire some workout gear or a home gym, however, keep reading below for tips on how to get started without breaking the budget. 


Build a home gym for under $100

Here are some recommendations for equipment to set a gym at home. I tried to make this gender-neutral, but since this is based partly on my experience, it may be aimed more towards women.  



1) Exercise mat

If you’re working on a surface like a hardwood floor or cement basement or you live in an upper-level apartment, an exercise mat is a must. A mat like this basic interlocking exercise mat will protect your joints from the cold, hard surface and reduce the noise your neighbors hear as you jump around the living room. More expensive ones are available depending on the size and quality that you need.

If you don’t plan on doing high-impact exercise, a yoga mat like this one may do the trick and is cheaper too.



2) Running

One of the best ways to tackle cardio on a budget is to run. Cost is minimal except for the occasional purchase of running shoes. If you have a bike or regular access to a pool, those are great options for cardio exercise as well.

3) Jump rope

If you’re not into running, a jump rope is inexpensive and provides an excellent cardio workout.



4) Set of weights

Weights are a great investment for strength training. A set like this one contains weights from 2 lb to 5 lb, while this set runs up to 10 lbs. If you’re looking for something heavier, these adjustable dumbbells are more versatile but more expensive too.

5) Resistance bands

Resistance bands are some of my favorite workout equipment. You can target so many muscle groups with the bands and they are portable as compared to weights. These resistance bands are colorful and affordable.

6) Stability ball

Stability balls like this one here provide many benefits. You can use them in active exercises targeting several muscle groups or improve your posture and core balance just by sitting on one while at a desk. These balls come in a variety of sizes with the best one for you based on your size and your goals.


Additional equipment:

These pieces of equipment below are not absolutely necessary, but you may find them convenient to have.

7) Thera Cane

I love the Thera Cane to massage hard-to-reach muscles. Just thinking about how good it feels to massage the muscles under the shoulder blades makes me want to reach for one.

8) Foam Roller

Similar to the Thera Cane, a foam roller is fantastic for massage to release muscle tension and work out those knots! This one comes in a variety of lengths .


What is the total cost of the gym essentials?

1) Exercise mat $25
2) Jump rope $8
3) Set of weights $25 (more if needed)
4) Resistance bands $10
5) Stability ball $20

Total: $88


You can make your gym budget stretch further by doing research and price comparison before making purchases. Here are some places to pick up discounted workout gear:

  • Amazon

  • Target

  • Discount stores such as TJ Maxx and Marshalls

  • Craigslist and Nextdoor

  • Friends and family. You might be surprised what people have stored away.

  • Thrift stores

  • Used sports equipment stores

Related post: Should You Join a Gym in the New Year & 9 Alternatives 

What are some of your favorite pieces of equipment for working out at home?

how to build a home gym for under $100 2
Build a home gym under $100