What is the True Cost of a Home Gym?

Many of us right now are stuck at home, quarantined due to the coronavirus, and the only way that we can workout is if we go on a run outside or do bodyweight videos like Insanity.  Isn’t that so frustrating?  A home gym might sound it expensive but you’ll be surprised when you learn the true cost of a home gym!

I always was the type that loved going to the gym and could never justify spending the money that it would require to put in a gym at my house.  Personally, I love the variety of a gym.  I like to use the treadmill, the elliptical, the Stairmaster, the dumbbells, the squat rack, the machines and especially the cable machine.  That’s a lot of stuff!  And for only $40/month, it seemed hard to beat. 

My wife and I would both go at 5AM, when practically nobody was there, and have all of these options to use at our disposal since many people actually weren’t at the gym at all at 5AM.  It was great!

Then something amazing happened – my wife got pregnant!  We were going to have a baby, our first child.  It was an amazing time, but as we started thinking about the logistics of being able to go to the gym, we quickly realized something – it didn’t really seem possible!

Essentially, it boiled down to this – one of us would have to make the sacrifice to go after work.  That person then wouldn’t get home until 7 or so, likely eat on their own (or the other would eat late), and then by the time we actually sat down and got to relax and spend time with our baby, it’s like 7:30. 

Well, newborns sleep…a lot (although sometimes it’s not enough ?)

We weren’t really excited about the idea of one of us not getting to really see him all day.  And we also weren’t excited about one of us having to workout after dinner.  But then the most important thing really came to us…

A baby doesn’t give a s*** about your schedule!

He will wake up, cry, poop himself (inside and outside the diaper), scream, and demand food at literally any and all times.  So, even if we got the schedule 100% figured out – it wouldn’t matter. 

The chances that we both were able to find an hour to workout each day, like we did before our baby, were slim to none. 

Before we had our child, if I was only going to be able to have a 30 minutes workout or less, I wouldn’t do it.  A 30-minute workout meant 10 minutes to drive to the gym, 5 or so to get in the gym and ready, 30 to workout and then 10 to get back home.  So, essentially 25 minutes of wasted time on every workout. 

But what if we only have 45 minutes total?  That means a 20-minute workout at the gym, or…. we could put in a home gym.

Like I mentioned – I’ve always hated this idea.  And I was very skeptical at first.  It took a long, long time for me to warm up to the idea because, if you’ve read any of my posts before, you know that I am extremely analytical – so I wanted to see the numbers!

While we were still debating about getting a home gym, I did a ton of homework.  I researched a ton of options for equipment, brands, different stores, etc.  I would sign up for emails at Dicks Sporting Goods and Dunham’s Sports to try to catch email patterns lol.  I would look at Amazon, Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, anything!  I was just trying to get an idea of what was out there and then create a plan.

So how did I really go about this?

Step 1 – Decide Your Budget

How much are you willing to spend on your home gym?  For us, our goal wasn’t a hard limit per se.  My plan was to put a 2-year cap on our home gym at the same cost of our gym membership.  Since we were spending $85/month, that means $2040 over two years.  So, in the 2-year period, I want to spend less than that if I can, so I was thinking that $1500 or so would be a good start and then give us some room to buy more additions as we needed.

Of course, money is absolutely essential – but the big thing for us here was time as well, so we were going to be flexible.  Some things you can bargain buy on; some you don’t want to.  All personal preference, but we will dive into that a bit more later on!

Step 2 – Create a Wish List

Create a wish list of everything that you would want.  For us, that list had all types of things:

After the list is created, then go through and code each item as a Need, Want or Stretch item.  In my eyes, A ‘Want’ meant that I wanted it really bad, and essentially felt like I was sacrificing my work out if I didn’t get it, so it was high priority.  Then ‘Stretch’ meant it was nice to have, but not necessary.

Take a look at our list, below:

My favorite piece of cardio equipment is an elliptical and my wife’s is a treadmill – notice which one is a ‘Need’ and which is a ‘Want’?  ?

Step 3 – Look at Cost Options

Like I said, I was a hawk for looking at literally all options for ways to be able to get these items that I wanted.  I looked for coupons, specials, and anything else that might allow me to get a great deal.  I then listed the new price in one column for an item as if I was actually going to but that item new, a used price as if I was going to buy it used, and then added links too. 

My format looked like this:

Nothing overwhelming by any means, but it is exactly what I needed to outline the different options that I had, and like I said I had links to the right of the chart, so that I could easily reference different options and think about them before making a decision.

You’ll see that many of the things were marked N/A for used, simply because I wasn’t willing to buy them used.  Maybe it was like a TV that I figured I could buy a cheap new one for almost the same price as a used one.

And then other things, like gym flooring, just seemed absolutely disgusting to buy used.  Yuck. 

You see, my analysis isn’t hard to do by any means, but the thing is that I am outlining all of my options to make sure that I am making a well-rounded, thoroughly thought out decision.  I am taking all factors into account, looking at all outcomes, and then making a decision.  It doesn’t have to be overly complex – it just has to work.  Your stock buying purchase should be the same, but that’s not why we’re here!

Step 4 – Purchase the Items

This is the fun part!  Or, the really stressful part if you hate spending like I do!

I went through and typed in the amounts for each item if I was to buy something and then totaled it up at the end.  As you can see, in total, we spent $1,375!  Not too bad for a home gym.

Does the home gym have everything that I had at the gym?  Absolutely not.

Does it have 100% state of the art equipment?  That is also definitely a hard no.

So, what does it have?

We got a really good treadmill with a 1-year warranty. The treadmill was very highly rated and was the middle of the pack for models that we chose, and we got it at a time that was $200 off of the normal purchase price.  And I know this because I price shopped…big time!

We got an average squat rack.  It’s nothing to write home about, and the cage type of squat rack that I really wanted, but it was $170 and it also came with a bench, which we planned to buy two of.  The cage squat racks which look really BA were about $300 and that was just for the rack.  So, with a bench being about $90, we were able to save $220 over the alternative.  That’s a win!

Flooring – bought this for super cheap from Walmart.com.  Bought the cheapest, most boring, black foam that we could find and guess what – it’s perfect.

Dumbbells – we considered a set of dumbbells that went up to 30-pound dumbbells which was on sale for $150.  We also considered the adjustable dumbbells that can go up over 50 pounds but those were about $110 each or so.  And then, I found some dumbbells where you manually put little plates on them that were a total of $100 on Amazon! 

That was a heckuva deal.

Essentially, we had three options:

  1. Spend $150 and not get as much selection as we wanted
  2. Spend $220 for adjustable dumbbells – probably our preferred route if cost wasn’t a hurdle
  3. Spend $100, get the full arrangements of weight, and have to deal with the slight hassle of changing weight manually every time

By willing to deal with the slight hassle and by searching all options possible, we saved $120.  Not bad to save over 5% of the total budget by doing this.  That’s the difference of being able to afford the nicer treadmill or not.

Bar and plates – this was pretty standard and we found a good deal that was on sale (notice the trend) for $240. 

Bench – we did splurge a bit here and got a really nice bench that also can do leg extensions and leg curls.  This wasn’t necessary by any means, but by us being able to cut on a lot of the other things that we didn’t find the value, we got a great bench that now allowed us to do even more workouts!

And that’s it!  Nearly half of the budget was the treadmill but I have faith we don’t have to upgrade or replace that anytime soon.  We now have a little under $700 to go buy some things in the future if we want to upgrade or simply add on new items.  A big thing that I mentioned is I really want to add a cable machine, so that likely might be on its way in the future.

So, the question is – am I happy we did this?


I am so happy we brought on a home gym and it’s for many reasons:

  1. I get to spend more time with my family. 
    1. That’s the root of it all and now I am with my family more than I would’ve been otherwise.  Both my wife and I can workout at the same time in the basement and simply bring a baby monitor downstairs.  This alone makes it worth it.
  2. I get to work out more often
    1. Before, a 45-minute window meant no workout at all.  Now a 45-minute window means that I can workout for about 40 minutes!  Enough to really get a good sweat in and make myself feel accomplished.  While it’s shorter than a normal hour-long workout for me, it’s still enough that makes me feel good and like I didn’t waste time!
  3. In the end, I will hopefully save money!
    1. By us saving $1020/year from our gym membership cost, we can theoretically add that to our home gym every year and keep upgrading and replacing at a breakeven.  Sure, we spent a lot upfront but I have faith that it will all pay for itself down the road on a strictly financial basis.

Our home gym isn’t anything to write home about (just write online lol) but it does the trick for us and accomplished three major goals that we had and I’d do it all over again. Take a look for yourself!

Nothing too extravagant, but as I said – it does EXACTLY what we wanted our gym to accomplish, and now we have lots of room, financially, to keep on adding to it!

I urge you to really consider a home gym of your own if you have the room as well!  You can go much more in depth or make it much simpler.

Just like with personal finance and investing – it’s all about what you need…and you better do some freaking analysis!!

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