How To Build A Serious Home Gym Without Emptying Your Bank Account

I hate going to the gym. I never feel it's clean, people stare at you, you have to wait for equipment, and what is up with the misogyny in the weight room!? After spending thousands on gym memberships I would eventually abandon, my husband and I decided to convert our garage into a home gym. With over 15 years in the fitness industry, my husband knows good equipment, but it can be insanely expensive. Luckily, after tons of research and testing, we found amazing gear at very digestible prices. Whether building your gym slowly over time, or buying everything in one fell swoop, here are our favorite gym basics, all under $500.

Rep Squat Rack with Pull Up Bar

This squat rack has changed our garage gym game. Bolted into the floor, it is as sturdy as any squat cage I’ve used at a commercial gym. With included attachments, you have spotter arms if you are maxing out, attachments for dips, pull ups, as an anchor for band work, and a weight rack. The pull up bars are adjustable, as are the spotter arms, and padding inside the j-cups protects your barbel from damage. I’m shocked at the quality of this squat rack for the price, and if you’re serious about your home gym, but don’t want to spend a month’s salary on a squat rack, this is your rig.

The Bella 2.0 - Rogue Women's Bar

This is a 15 kg women’s bar that can be used for Olympic lifting as well as any other barbell work you may like to do. Sturdy and with no center knurl, you can squat without tearing up the back of your neck. This bar also has great whip for those of you who clean & jerk. If you share your gym with a guy, you’ll likely need a men’s bar as well, but if not, this can serve as your only barbell easily and for years. I’ve had this bar for about 5 years and it’s still every bit as great as the day I got it.


I bought a set of these adjustable dumbbells for our home gym and quite honestly, I have religiously used them for years now. They are easy to adjust to use for any dumbbell work, and have even acted as a suitable substitute for kettlebell work for me as well. They are compact, making them perfect for our garage gym. We have this smaller set and a set that goes up to 90 pounds per hand and it’s all we need dumbbell-wise for both myself and my husband, who competes nationally for Olympic weightlifting. These can take some abuse!

Rep Fitness Adjustable Bench - FID Bench

This reasonably priced bench inclines, lays flat, and declines for a versatile bench that can suit all your home gym needs. It’s sturdy, well-built, and light enough to be easily rolled around for convenience. We have had this bench now for 5 years of regular use (husband works out about 10 hours per week, myself 6-8 hours) and it is showing no signs of wear yet. For the price, you won’t find a better bench out there. You can even use it for sit ups with the leg bolster if you want a way to do those crossfit sit ups. A must for any home gym.

TRX Home Gym | Suspension Weight Training

I bought the TRX Home Gym thinking I would be able to do a few exercises without having to buy bulky gym equipment. What I didn’t realize is you can get a full body intense workout with just this product. Because you are balancing while using it, your whole body will burn and you’ll build strength and muscle without your body ever getting “used to it.” I have had my system for about 6 years and it is showing no signs of wear other than dirt on the yellow parts. My husband is a personal trainer and often steals it to use with his clients. We love it and based on our experience, the price is more than fair.

Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit - Includes 65cm Anti-Burst Stability Exercise Yoga Ball, Air Pump, Workout Program: Gaiam: Sports & Outdoors

This ball has lasted me years with lots of abuse. I use it for hamstring curls, planks, stir the pots, elevated push ups, and all sorts of balance work. A ball is a great tool for home gyms, and this one stands the test of time. I’ve had this ball for 4 years and it has not warped or had any leaks, and it holds it’s fill. I’ve never had to pump it again since I first filled it. I’m a big fan.

Daily Burn Workout App

I got a lot out of this membership. The variety alone keeps you motivated daily since you never get bored. Some of the workouts are really intense and get you sweating, while others are relaxing and improve flexibility. Instructors are really good at motivating you and explaining each exercise well. This is a great, affordable workout option for people who are too busy to go to the gym or are watching their budget. Fit it in any time or place! I imagine this would be a fantastic option for moms or single parents as well.

From behind the chair to now creating hair care products for a color brand, the beauty industry has been my home for over 10 years. Skin care is my first love, hair care is my mistress. My mother bought me Paula Begoun's Beauty Bible when I was a little girl, and it was love at page one. I've written content for dermatologists and have been cited in publications like Byrdie and Town and Country for both makeup and hair. Aside from beauty, I dabble in weightlifting and like learning about nutrition and healthy living. When I'm not working too much or in the gym, you can find me listening to podcasts with my husband or mastering the art of Hygge.