We all have a million excuses not to exercise — the weather is too hot or too cold, you’re too busy, you can’t get away from the kids, you’re not comfortable going to a gym yet … All of these are valid, but whether you’re sitting at a desk all day, wrangling little ones or on your feet at work, the benefits of exercise go beyond just getting in shape.
According to the Mayo Clinic, regular physical activity combats weight gain, helps you fight disease and health conditions, boosts energy and mood and perhaps most importantly is a major de-stressor. So where to start without shelling out thousands on an exercise bike or elliptical?
If guidance is your thing, there are countless video apps and services to join, many with free trials. Aaptiv, FitReserve, Sworkit and FitOn range from free to premium, or offer free trials to get you started, and there are endless free workouts on YouTube.
However, you’re still going to need some gear to help you get moving, so we turned to Jessica Rae, founder of Rae Studios in San Francisco and FitReserve Anywhere trainer, for some tips about low-cost equipment to enhance your DIY workouts.
“My go-to basics are a pair of light weights, a yoga mat and a hand towel,” says Rae.
CAP Barbell 5-Pound Neoprene-Coated Dumbbell Weight, Single ($11.99, originally $24.50; amazon.com)
This small hand weight is perfect for building muscle while working out to a video or to carry while on an evening walk.
Surge Hydro Ball 25 ($69.99; dickssportinggoods.com)
Just add water — a little or a lot — to adjust the weight of this at-home kettlebell that can help improve your balance and endurance.
Dralegend Yoga Mat Exercise Fitness Mat (starting at $32.99; amazon.com)
This thick tearproof mat promises to stay put during all of your workouts, with grip on both sides.
TXK Yoga Mat Nonslip Hot Yoga Mat (starting at $46.99; amazon.com)
Indulge yourself with this beautiful, high-rated luxury mat. “It is really wonderful,” writes one reviewer. “Its authentic colors and high quality make me feel like I’m in a spring garden.”
Gaiam Studio Select 5-Millimeter Premium Stable Grip Yoga Mat ($50; dickssportinggoods.com)
This extra thick mat will stand up to your most vigorous workouts and is “a bit sticky to help with your grip and balance,” according to one reviewer.
Aegend Ultra Soft Microfiber Gym Towels, 3 Sizes ($15.99; amazon.com)
Users love this set of three towels, with one writing, “Just used them today after a hot yoga session and these were great! Absorbed all the sweat and dried up very quickly.”
Mission Max Cooling Towel ($19.99; dickssportinggoods.com)
This cooling performance fabric towel is perfect to wipe down sweat after a hot workout.
“I have a large background in MMA, specifically kickboxing, and jump roping is a large part of our cardio warmup,” says Rae. “It’s usually a few rounds of jacks, jump rope and shadowboxing into mitt work.”
Nike Fundamental Weighted Rope ($25; dickssportinggoods.com)
This 4.8-star-rated jump rope has handles that weigh .5 pounds each, adding to your workout intensity.
Century 9-Foot Challenge Jump Rope ($59.99; dickssportinggoods.com)
This heavy-duty rope will challenge your body and target your muscles, helping you burn fat at home.
Auoxer Jump Rope, Electronic Counting Skipping Rope ($19.99; amazon.com)
This electronic rope is surprisingly high-tech. It features electronic counting of calories, miles and kilometers, a one-click button to view exercise results and anti-slip handles.
Sonic Boom M2 High-Speed Jump Rope ($33.86, originally $39.99; amazon.com)
“If you like to invest in workout accessories that are well made, this is your rope,” writes one 5-star reviewer of this smooth-spinning, premium jump rope.
“I see the benefits of a trampoline dedicating a practice to balance, coordination, mobility, core and overall cardiovascular fitness,” says Rae.
Easy to store in a closet or behind a door, a mini trampoline takes up very little space and offers a great calorie-blasting workout.
BCAN 40-Inch Foldable Mini Trampoline ($129.99, originally $199; amazon.com)
This foldable trampoline can actually fit in a desk or dresser drawer and is suitable for adults and kids. “It’s fun to jump on and doesn’t feel like real exercise work,” writes one reviewer.
Fitness Gear Mini Trampoline ($44.99; dickssportinggoods.com)
“Easy setup, quick results,” reviewers say about this sturdy and portable trampoline, which supports up to 220 pounds.
Darchen Mini Trampoline for Adults ($127.49, originally $149.99; amazon.com)
Get your bounce on with this nearly silent rebounder — supportive of up to 450 pounds — that you can “feel in your legs after five minutes,” according to reviewers.
Booty Kicker Home Fitness Exercise Barre ($99; amazon.com)
Rae also suggests an exercise barre, sliders and resistance bands to complement your home workouts.
“I’d buy this a thousand times over,” wrote one reviewer who “found a great barre workout on a streaming service” and “uses it every day.”
Ballet Barre Portable for Home or Studio ($189, originally $199; amazon.com)
A classic ballet barre like this one is great for enhancing stretching, balance and form while doing a streaming workout.
Fitness Insanity Resistance Bands Set, 5-Piece ($69.97; amazon.com)
This 4.8-star set of bands is perfect for rows, pulls, raises and fly workout sets to exercise your arms, back, hips, legs, chest and abdominal region.
Thirty48 Gliding Discs Core Sliders and 5 Exercise Resistance Bands ($19.95, originally $21.98; amazon.com)
This set of sliders and resistance bands includes everything you need to get a core and strength routine going.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.