Setting up a home gym: How to stay healthy at home

Staying active and healthy is one of the top recommendations by health experts all around the country during the coronavirus pandemic. Staying healthy is also something worth investing in even when we’re not all confined at home, however, so setting up a good home gym that will last you for the next few years is something worth considering. Here is our guide to setting up the ultimate home gym, without breaking the bank.

The home gym must-haves

gym equipment
We recommend investing in equipment you know you’ll use for many years. You don’t want something to break while your working out, otherwise you risk seriously injuring yourself.

When putting together a home gym, you need to consider the full range of exercises you might undertake. Luckily, there is a relative small list of ‘must-haves’ that will let you complete most, if not all, exercise sets/routines. The equipment you will need is:

  • Dumbells,
  • Kettlebell,
  • Yoga mat,
  • A skipping rope, and
  • Resistance bands.

These five pieces of equipment form the basis of most routines put together by personal trainers and gyms, and cover most cardio, strength and structural exercises. All five are relatively versatile as well: for example, you can use a yoga mat for yoga, pilates, cushioning when performing push ups, and as an obstacle if needed. These pieces of equipment also work well for those in rehabilitation programs (although always consult your doctor/physiotherapist before beginning any at-home program while healing).

If you’re not interested in buying your own gym equipment, have a look at renting. Many gyms are letting their users rent gym equipment like dumbells at low rates.


When choosing your weights, keep your current and future fitness goals in mind. The weight range will differ from person to person, but for a reasonably fit man it is recommended that they use 10-kilogram dumbbells and a 16-kilogram kettlebell, while women should opt for 7-kilogram dumbbells and a 12-kilogram kettlebell. This will give you enough weight to push yourself, but not so much your end up injured. With this in mind, you may need to buy/rent weights that are lighter or heavier.

What workouts can I do from home?

workout at home
Take advantage of your balcony and various indoor and outdoor spaces to spice up your workouts: you might find a neighbour who wants to join in!

While those who enjoy a HIIT workout or a yoga class can still do so from their home, others won’t have the same luxury and will have to change up the way they go about things. This may mean that you have to challenge yourself in different ways, and focus on different aspects of your fitness. Do what you enjoy: you might find that joining an online zumba class is less daunting than going in person, or that you can simply continue training for your triathlon by practicing different aspects of the workouts.

For someone who is a big strength trainer who doesn’t have access to a gym, or a swimmer without access to a pool, this is a great time to switch things up and think about what else you can do to complement your training and skills. For example, can you focus on your mobility? Would it be better for you to focus on online group activities so you can get your daily dose of social interaction? Find what suits you and your lifestyle.

A type of workout motivation and routine that is currently taking off is the use of fitness apps or online videos. Most, if not all, of these apps have workouts you can follow in your living room, and have varying levels of intensity so you can workout to the extent you’d like to. Some apps we think are worth checking out are SWEAT by Kayla Itsines, Centr by Chris Hemsworth, 28 by Sam Wood, and the more well-known basic apps MyFitnessPal and Strava Training. Live online classes are available on platforms like YouTube and Facebook if having support in real-time is more up your alley. Have a little fun, playing around and trying out different styles of workouts until you find the one that suits you.

What do I do once I can go back to the gym?

Joining a class once or twice a week while continuing to workout at home is great because it will help shake up your workouts while still letting you supplement harder/easier at-home workouts as needed

Once you decide it’s time to head back to the gym for whatever reason — perhaps you need different equipment to prevent stagnation in your fitness, or your personal trainer is based out of the gym, or your regular hot yoga classes are back on — you might wonder what to do with your home gym. We would recommend keeping it, if you can. The five pieces of equipment don’t take up that much space, and are great for sneaking in a quick workout when you have 20 minutes on busy days. On the mental side, having the equipment around may help you feel more motivated to achieve your fitness goals, either because you’ve invested in yourself so much, or because you find yourself with no excuses not to work out.

Written: 1 May 2020, Updated: 23 July 2020

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