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Ultimate Guide to Your Home Gym

One of my goals with my personal training clients is to teach them, and enable them to workout on their own without a trainer. Part of being able to work out on your own requires a minimum amount of equipment. This post is about my recommendations for putting together your home gym.

Guide to having your own home gym

I know it sounds kind of counter-intuitive to building a clientele, but in reality, I believe that for an individual to be successful in adopting a more fit lifestyle, it is essential that they are able to work out on their own from time to time. It’s just not practical to expect everyone to be able to hire a trainer for at least three sessions per week (the minimum that I recommend working out in order to attain any fitness goals).

Having the right equipment at home does not need to be an expensive endeavor. Below I’ll outline my recommended fitness equipment for three different levels of home gym: the minimal amount of needed fitness equipment, what I have in my home gym, and what I would have in my home gym if money and space were not limiting factors.

The Workout Room

The word gym is used loosely here. I don’t actually have any kind of specific workout room or area that I use for a gym. I live in a 2 bedroom apartment and use the extra bedroom as an office. When I do work out at home, I use the living area as my makeshift workout space, and in the warmer months have a small patio that I use.

Your workout area doesn’t need to be very big. If you can swing a kettlebell around without concern of hitting anything, or anyone, then you have enough space to work out at home.

The Minimum Gym

The absolute minimum home gym that I could recommend would be nothing but your bodyweight. You really don’t need any equipment at all to work out. Really though, that’s just boring. A bodyweight workout is fine from time to time, but we need something to swing around!

  1. Kettlebell – To start your home gym, let’s start with just one piece of equipment. One kettlebell can work your entire body. You can stash the kettlebell in your closet, on the side of the couch, pretty much anywhere as they don’t take up much space – until you start to collect a lot of them.
  2. Area Rug – You’ll want a small area rug to work out on, even if you have carpet in the room that you’ll be using. The reason is that you will sweat a lot, and you don’t want sweat accumulating day after day on your regular carpet. Additionally, if you have hardwood floors, you will want to ensure that you have something for the kettlebell to land on if it ever slips out of your hand (it likely will).

The brands that you use are a matter of preference more than anything, but I would recommend Dragon Door if you are interested in using cast iron kettlebells. The quality is noticeable when you compare cheap kettlebells to these, but if you’re just getting started, any kettlebell that you can acquire is fine.

For the area rug, I would recommend a 5 x 8 size. Just big enough for you to take a few steps in any direction, and lay down on. You can usually find 5 x 8 area rugs on sale for $20-$40 at your local department or hardware store. You don’t need anything special as you’re just going to sweat all over it anyway. I just roll mine up when I’m done and store it in a closet.

JohnnyFit’s Home Gym

I’ve added to my home fitness equipment slowly over time, often buying one thing here and there. After awhile, I’ve grown a really decent collection. When I started my personal training business, I acquired enough equipment so that I would be able to train two people at a time.

I’ll just list everything that I have at home and if you’re interested in doing something similar, you can decide what works best for you in the space that you have.

  1. Two complete sets of kettlebells from 10 to 53 pounds
  2. Two pairs of Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells
  3. Two TRX Suspension Trainers
  4. A pull-up bar
  5. Stability ball
  6. Push-up stands
  7. Yoga mats
  8. Resistance bands
  9. A Body Bar
  10. Wrist/Ankle weights
  11. Medicine balls
  12. Jump ropes
  13. The Grid foam roller
  14. GymBoss Interval Timer
  15. Heart rate monitor

The Dream Home Gym

OK, you’ve upgraded to life 2.0, or you somehow managed to convince your significant other to let you turn the basement or garage into your ultimate home gym. Where do you begin?

In addition to the items listed in both of the previous sections above, I would also include:


Let’s start at the bottom. Flooring is expensive, but you’ll want something that will protect you as well as your equipment. You’ll want something that is easy to clean and is multi-use as you’ll be swinging kettlebells on it, placing heavier equipment on it, and likely laying on it for sit-ups and various core and plank exercises (and passing out…from exhaustion).

Your 3 main options here are

Keep in mind that any new flooring is probably going to smell like rubber. You’ll likely need to air out the space and mop a few times to get rid of it.

You will also want to get a lifting platform if you’re doing any type of heavy bar exercises.


You know that I’m not big on using machines to work out with. Yet, this is the ultimate guide to your home gym. Included with the dream home gym, I’ll recommend two cardio machines and one weight machine.


Make sure to learn how to operate the interval and difficulty functions to get the best use out of this equipment.

Weight Training

There are a lot of different Smith machines to choose from. Ultimately, you’ll want to balance out cost, quality, and size. Also, before purchasing an expensive piece of equipment like this, make sure and read the reviews of others’ experience with it.


I love training with TRX, and while you’ll probably have a doorway or a sturdy beam to mount your Suspension Trainer to, if you’ve got the space you’ll really love an S-Frame or Multimount.

TRX Suspension Trainer MultimountTRX Suspension Trainer S-Frame

With one of these, you’ll be able to train with friends at the same time, and have a lot more room to perform advanced TRX exercises.

Sound System

Don’t forget that you’ll need a killer sound system to power your workouts. Maybe even a wall mounted TV to play some workout videos.

There you have it. Everything on this page would comprise my ultimate home gym. Hopefully, it’s at least given you some ideas for your own collection of fitness equipment.

Is there anything that I left off that you would have included? Is there anything on this list that you think I’m crazy for suggesting? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Ultimate Guide to Your Home Gym”

  1. Hello JohnnyFit,
    I have searched about fitness tips and materials. Last 19 December 2012, I got your site from Google Search. I have bought “Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical Trainer” according to your suggestion. Now I’m happy. Have any suggestion for me now?

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