3 Tips for Building a Home Gym on a Budget

If you’ve been considering creating your own home gym, then this article is for you. It’s all about your current needs, cost, and what will benefit you long-term.

I recently had the opportunity to set up my own home gym. My husband and I do more functional fitness than other types of programming, and since we live so far away from any decent gym, we decided to build our own. If you’ve been considering creating your own home gym, then this article is for you.

Why Build a Home Gym?

Truthfully, a home gym is just a preference. If you enjoy the gym you currently attend, there is no need to change a good thing. It’s all about your current needs, cost, and what will benefit you in the long run.

Cost of a Gym or CrossFit Membership

With the popularity of CrossFit comes the increase in prices. Having done a little bit of number crunching from various CrossFit facilities around the United States, on average, a single person paying an unlimited membership will pay roughly $156 per month. Yikes!

If you are a family (with spouse and kids) you will pay on average $242 per month. When I was researching the numbers, I found that some facilities charged an extra fee for CrossFit Kids, so you may have to take that into account when looking for a CrossFit gym. Now, I’m not saying that these facilities are not worth the money, but what I am saying is that these prices may not be in the budget for some people.

For the non-CrossFit, big-box gyms (those ones with machines and air conditioning), it can be a bit tricky to find prices online or even without having someone try to sell you something. From what I could gather, you will typically pay an initiation fee, which usually runs anywhere from $49.99 to $250.00 up front. After you pay your initiation fee, you pay anywhere from $26.99 to $74.99 per month.

A bit more affordable, but remember, this is for a single person. For families, you will double everything in regard to cost, even though a few may have a discount for family memberships.

How Do I Build A Gym Within a Decent Budget?

My husband and I decided we would build the basics first: a full rack (four bar foundation), bumper plates, men’s barbell, gymnastics rings, clips, storage, and a pull-up rig. We budgeted roughly $1200. Luckily, we ended up spending only $1,000 by following some simple rules.

Advice One: Consider Non-Brand Name Alternatives

The rack was a large investment, and we knew if we ordered a piece from Rogue, Again Faster, Muscle Driver, or any other online builder we would spend just as much on shipping (probably more) as on the rack itself. I know the urge to have something name brand is appealing, but instead we stayed local and went to Dick’s Sporting Goods.

We bought a large rack with a four bar foundation including a center pull-up rig that could hold rings, and a bumper plate/kettlebell storage section on the actual rig itself. Compared to a similar rack from Rogue (the R-4 to R-6 series) we saved $420 because we bought from Dick’s. And that $420 in savings doesn’t even include the shipping cost of what you might buy online (which is upwards to over $100). Both racks are made of the same material and are pretty much the exact same in regard to materials used in manufacturing.

If you don’t have a place nearby that sells racks, go to fitness shows. If you are going to a CrossFit event, grab a truck and you can usually find a decent rack that you can take with you without paying all those shipping costs.

A car full of equipment bought at the CrossFit Games.

Advice Two: Check Out Craigslist

The next step for us was trying to find a barbell, gymnastics rings, bumper plates, and clips. We looked on craigslist and found a fitness establishment that partnered with a company from California to sell different types of fitness equipment.

We went to the store and bought our gymnastics rings for half the cost as you would on Again Faster. Funnily enough, the barbell we purchased was actually manufactured by Again Faster, but for a few dollars cheaper. We also bought a set of clips for super cheap (cheaper than Dick’s actually) and we were able to drive away same day. Again, zero shipping costs!

Advice Three: Go Local

We ended up buying our bumper plates from a local sporting good store. Our set was similar to that of the Again Faster bumper plate and barbell packages, except we saved close to $300 because we bought the plates locally. And again, the savings do not even include the exorbitant shipping charges you must pay for shipping over 265 pounds through the mail. So if you factor in the shipping you pay from buying online, we saved closer to over $400.

In case you are wondering: yes, all of our new gear has warranties just like you would if you bought from your online stores.

How Long Will it Take to Get My Return on Investment?

Lets do some quick math for the single person. If you pay roughly $156 per month for your CrossFit membership, but you paid $1,200 for your home gym, the costs will break even after roughly eight months. If you are a two-person family and you pay $242 per month, your gym will pay itself off in roughly five months.

For a bigger gym like 24 Hour Fitness, it’s slightly different. If you pay the lowest initiation fee of $49.99 and pay dues of $26.99 monthly, then your home gym will pay itself off in roughly 43 months (3.5 years). If you pay the highest initiation fee of $249.99 and then pay $74.99 monthly, your gym will pay itself off in approximately thirteen months.

What About My Programming?

I have you covered on that one. Breaking Muscle offers free programming in several different areas of fitness that you might be looking to get better at. Although, strongman may be a little bit more complicated in that you need more gear to get started.

If you want something a little bit more specialized, many personal trainers, exercise physiologists, and CrossFit instructors offer online programming that you can pay for. Many people really want free programming, but programming takes a lot of time, energy, and late nights pulling your hair out to help someone make gains. Price is negotiated with your programmer.

You can also pay for an online membership similar to Conjugate Gymnastics with Sean Lind through WODfollow, which is extremely inexpensive. I myself have programmed for individuals and developed programs for movements like strict pull-ups (which is why I know what it feels like to program).

Should I Build a Home Gym?

At the end of the day, having a home gym is really a preference. Some people love it, but others want the sense of community from being part of a gym. Either way, as long as you stay healthy, fit, and happy is all that matters.

Do you have tips on buying or building home gym equipment? If so, please post to the comments below.

Photo 1 courtesy of Shutterstock.

Photo 3 courtesy of Josie D’Aquanno.

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