The worst time to join a gym is in January.

While the deals are plentiful, so are the crowds. When you only have 45 minutes between getting off work and picking up your daughters from their after school program the last thing you want to do is waste time circling the parking lot looking for a space or waiting for an elliptical machine to come open. Suddenly that special offer of only $10 a month doesn’t seem like such a bargain anymore. Your YOU time is valuable and limited so you need to make the most of it.

The luxury of a home gym sounds like heaven but there’s no money to buy your own elliptical trainer, much less a place to put it. You doubt if your daughters would be willing to share a room to make space for your home gym. If all you had to do was go downstairs to the living room while everyone was still asleep you might actually become a MORNING EXERCISER!

You deserve the reward of a place to work out when you want to and when you need to. January is the best time to make this dream come true. This is also the perfect time to find bargains on the exercise equipment you need to build a home gym on a budget.

Creating a functional home gym is less expensive than you might think. For $100 or less you can get everything you need to make the most out of your workout time.

It’s not just because of the deals either. It is partly because the first essential piece of equipment cannot be purchased. Your own body is all you need for some the most challenging exercises. Push-ups are one of the hardest exercises you can do, if done correctly. A minute plank is a great test of core strength and works more than just your abs. You can get fast and effective cardio with a body weight HIIT workout. Do not underestimate this great tool you already have!

Ready to shop for the rest of the equipment you need to create a home gym? The best place I know to get home exercise equipment is Amazon. You’ll find some good deals in January at Target and your local sporting goods store, but year-round Amazon is probably still going to be the most cost-effective option for exercise equipment. Plus you can order on your lunch break and, with Amazon Prime, the equipment will arrive at your doorstep before you have time to change your mind about that morning workout habit.

You can also buy in phases if you need to. Like I said, you already have your own body to work with. You have a lot of options for bodyweight exercises. Starting without weights is a great way to make sure your form is spot on for exercises like squats and lunges. If you need to build your home gym start with these four things.

  • Stability Ball

    Adding a stability ball (also sometimes called an exercise ball) adds to your exercise library in two ways. You can do exercises with the ball itself, like wall squats or hamstring curls. It can also serve as a bench. By using the stability ball instead of a standard bench, you will engage more core and stabilizer muscles while performing classic strength exercises like chest presses and dumbbell pullovers. Most women will probably need a 55 cm ball, but it varies based on height.

  • Dumbbells 8 lbs or 10 lbs

    You will also need a pair of dumbbells to start. One good pair of dumbbells allows you to do upper body exercises like the ones mentioned above as well as adding a new challenge to bodyweight exercises like walking lunges or jump squats. Dumbbells do not always have to be used as a matched set. Try training unilaterally (a single-arm shoulder press, for example) for an extra core challenge. The weight you need to purchase will depend on your fitness level. Most female beginners will do well with a pair of 8 lbs weights. As you get stronger, you can add to your collection. Just a heads up, the heavier the weight the more you pay.

  • Resistance Bands

    Bands are easy to use and store plus they fit great in a suitcase. They are great for traditional pulling movements like rows but also for creating multi-movement exercises like a squat with a shoulder press or a split squat with a bicep curl at the bottom. By using multiple muscle groups in one exercise you increase burn and save time.

  • Kettlebell 15 lbs

    A kettlebell is easy to store and you can put it in the trunk on your next road trip. You can use it as another dumbbell for exercises like rows and shoulder presses or kettlebell swings are a great HIIT cardio workout. However, make sure you learn how to do a kettlebell swing correctly first to prevent injury. 15 lbs is a great started weight if you’re learning how to work with a kettlebell for the first time.

The prices listed are based on those listed in January of 2016. Prices may vary slightly the rest of the year but these four pieces should come in around $100. If you’re new to strength training and not sure how to put your new gym to use, get a copy of my favorite strength training primer Weight Training for Dummies. Use it to help you master the basic exercise I suggest in The 4 Keys to Real Fitness.

Once you have these key pieces of exercise equipment and your functional movements mastered you might only need 30 minutes for your workout, leaving you plenty of time to savor a cup of tea before the kids wake up.

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