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Why Building a Home Gym Is Better and Cheaper Than a Gym Membership

by Will TenBroeck

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What is the first thing that someone usually does when they decide they want to get into better shape? They join a gym. Why? Gyms have all the equipment you need to build your muscles and melt the fat away. Gyms have treadmills, bikes, barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines.

Joining a gym appears to make sense since 58 million Americans belong to a gym at any given point. However, the average gym membership costs approximately $58 per month ($696 per year) in the United States. Yet, the average gym member only uses the gym approximately two times per week, which technically means they are wasting $39 per month by not using their gym membership. Include the fact that 67% of Americans with a gym membership never use it, and you will see a lot of money wasted on unused gym memberships. Source:

Why a Home Gym?

Well, for starters, fitness and health are long-term ideas. You cannot just exercise and eat well for a year and reap the rewards for the rest of your life. That $696 you spend on a yearly gym membership becomes $20,880 over the course of 30 years. If you are like me, you want to keep exercising until they put you in the ground. Depending on your age, you may plan on exercising a lot more than 30 years. Think about all the things you can purchase with all that money you are spending on a gym membership that you may or may not use. You could invest that money into your mortgage, savings, home improvement, transportation, travel, or entertainment.

Why Building a Home Gym Is Better and Cheaper Than a Gym Membership

What Do I Need?

Okay, you are convinced of the cost savings. Now, what do you need for this home gym? This is going to be dependent on what your idea of fitness is. A barebones basic home gym could include a yoga mat, some dumbbells or resistance bands, an exercise ball, and a jump rope. This could literally cost you less than $50, and you could have this for the rest of your life. Alternatively, you could go the route I went and turn your shed, basement, or garage into your dream home gym. For example, I have a power rack, two benches, two barbells, 700 pounds of weights, a strongman log, a strongman axle, and more that I can't remember. Guess what? I have all those fitness toys and I still spent less than what it costs the average gym member for two years of a gym membership. On top of that, I never have to wait for a piece of equipment or deal with someone else's sweat. Plus, I can exercise whenever I want.

Ideas for Getting Home Gym Equipment on the Cheap

If you want to embark on this journey, you need to shop around. Search fitness outlets, internet sites, and garage sales. One great idea is to find a gym that is going out of business and purchase equipment at a highly discounted rate from them. When a gym is closing, they fire sale all their equipment at deeply discounted rates. In fact, I obtained a free barbell from a closing gym.

Another idea is to visit your local home improvement store. You can make a lot of gym equipment from plumbing materials, wood, and sand. I made two sets of dumbbells and a strongman axle (fat barbell) from steel pipe. I had a store associate cut them to the proper size for me and I drilled holes in the dumbbell pipes at home to make them adjustable. I used nuts and bolts to hold the weights in place. I duct taped the dumbbell for grip. I have had as much as 200 pounds on one dumbbell. That's not bad for $5 worth of dumbbell! I bought sand bags from the store and put the sand in contractor garbage bags. I then put the desired amount into my old Army duffel bag to do sandbag exercises. An Army duffel bag can be bought from an Army/Navy store. I must say sandbag exercises build ridiculous core strength that most gym machines could never build.


The world is full of muscular, conditioned, and fit people who never step foot into a gym. They train at home and outside. Often times, the buffet of equipment at a gym works against your goals. When you train at home, you have to simplify your plan. This leads to getting better at less things rather than becoming mediocre at many things.

Will TenBroeck is an avid fitness advocate who created, a website geared to no nonsense health and fitness information.

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