Are you one of the millions of people who’ve made a resolution to take care of their body by exercising more in 2021? Whatever your reasons for wanting to up your exercise game, the benefits go beyond just getting into 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.
Get the basics
“My go-to basics are a pair of light weights, a yoga mat and a hand towel,” says Rae.
Surge Hydro Ball 25 (starting at $49.99; amazon.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.
Bala Set of 2 Weighted Bangles ($49; nordstrom.com)
Given that weights can be hard to come by nowadays, these popular weighted bangles, which you’ve probably seen on Instagram, let you integrate fitness into your everyday life. Just wear them around your wrists or ankles and your workout is instantly heightened.
Dralegend Yoga Mat Exercise Fitness Mat (starting at $19.29; amazon.com)
This thick tearproof mat promises to stay put during all of your workouts, with grip on both sides.
Mission Max Cooling Towel ($19.99; amazon.com)
This cooling performance fabric towel is perfect to wipe down sweat after a hot workout.
Gaiam 6mm Extra-Thick Yoga Mat (starting at $23.98; amazon.com)
This extra-thick mat with a non-slip grip will stand up to your most vigorous workouts and is an Amazon shopper favorite, with more than 8,000 5-star reviews.
TXK Yoga Mat Nonslip Hot Yoga Mat (starting at $35.99; amazon.com)
Indulge yourself with this beautiful, high-rated mat. “It is really wonderful,” writes one reviewer. “Its authentic colors and high quality make me feel like I’m in a spring garden.”
Add a jump rope to your routine
“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.”
Auoxer Jump Rope, Electronic Counting Skipping Rope ($13.99, originally $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.
This beloved 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.
Sonic Boom M2 High-Speed Jump Rope ($25.38, originally $37.86; 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.
Try a mini trampoline
“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.
Stamina 36-Inch Folding Trampoline ($43.19, originally $69.99; amazon.com)
This 36-inch trampoline, which can hold up to 250 pounds, folds up for easy storage and only weighs 14 pounds itself. Reviewers love the thing too, with more than 4,000 5-star reviews.
Darchen Mini Trampoline for Adults ($139.99, 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,” writes one reviewer who “found a great barre workout on a streaming service” and “uses it every day.”
Ballet Barre Portable for Home or Studio (starting at $129; 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 ($21.97; amazon.com)
This set of bands is perfect for rows, pulls, raises and fly workout sets to exercise your arms, back, hips, legs, chest and abdominal region.
Bala Resistance Bands, 5-Pack ($20; nordstrom.com)
This set includes five resistance bands of various strengths with inspirational sayings like “Don’t stop now” and “Keep moving” written across them — plus a bag to neatly store them away.
Smooth on the bottom, you can use sliders to glide along a slick surface like a wood or tile floor. They work by making your body try to balance, which strengthens your core muscles.
Thirty48 Gliding Discs Core Sliders and 5 Exercise Resistance Bands ($13.98; amazon.com)
This set of sliders and resistance bands includes everything you need to get a core and strength routine going.
Other cheap workout equipment
BalanceFrom Bike Trainer Stand ($99.99; amazon.com)
If you’re off the road for the winter, but missing the feeling of getting on your bike, this highly-rated stand easily converts a road bike to an indoor cycle. Take a spin class on an app, or just crank some tunes and pedal away!
Ativafit Folding Magnetic Upright Bike Stationary Bike (starting at $154.99; amazon.com)
Ready to make the jump into indoor cycling, but don’t want to spend a lot or don’t have a lot of space? Try this folding upright bike that Amazon shoppers love, with one 5-star reviewer writing, “Small enough for limited spaces but sturdy and solid.”
Advenor Folding Fitness Bike With LCD Monitor ($139.99; amazon.com)
Another great option for small size — and smaller price — this simple bike has hundreds of 5-star reviews, with one shopper writing, “I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my cardiovascular health, as well as emotional during work from home. Sometimes it just takes that small step to start taking care of yourself!”
LifePro Under-Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser ($149.99; amazon.com)
This under-desk pedal exerciser probably won’t have you working up a sweat, but if you’re concerned about being too sedentary, this highly-rated little machine is, according to one reviewer, “super quiet and also comes with resistance bands if you want to add upper body exercises,” if you need a gentle workout.
Portable Resistance Band Workout System ($49.99; sharperimage.com)
At under 1 pound, this highly-rated home workout set is easy to stash away and gives you a total body workout that’s low impact and fun. “Very easy to use and I am already seeing results. I would recommend this to anyone looking for an at home exercise system,” raves one reviewer.