How to Set Up Your Home Gym for Success

As a young mother,  joining a gym was not an option, and working out was my stress reliever.

 I became fascinated with what weight training, kettlebell workouts and TRX training did for my physique. That gave birth to my passion for learning as much as I could about women’s fitness. The natural progression was my in-person and online fitness business.

Through the years, my home gym has been my anchor. Our home gym has been a 20+ year work in progress, beginning with a few sets of dumbbells and a step that I hid under my living room couch.

That home set up was my gateway to a lifestyle I love. It allowed me to be consistent with exercise in less time because I didn’t have to get a sitter or drive anywhere. I saved precious time and resources and maintained a regular exercise practice. My kids also learned by example that regular exercise was part of life. In fact, training myself in my personal home gym has helped me maintain consistent healthy habits practice for almost 30 years.

Lack of time and consistency in exercise is a huge issue for women and having the option to train at home gives us a chance to destress and get fit. Plus we don’t have to worry about germs from large public gyms or wait to use our favorite equipment.

Training at home can be helpful in numerous ways. It is a very effective stress reliever.  When I am stressed, going down to the gym to pump iron, even for even just 15 minutes, is super helpful.

These are my best recommendations for setting up a useful gym so that you can experience the convenience of getting your workouts done consistently. For guidance and professionally designed workout programs that you can do at home,  click here for more information.

Home Gym Essentials:

#1 Equipment:

Dumbbells: Start with 5-25 pounds. Skip the fancy ones. Metal is my recommended choice because Plate Mates (see below) can be added to make in-between sizes. Sometimes that jump from 15 to 20 is just too much.

        Optional add-onPlate mates: are 1.25-pound magnetic discs that add weight to metal dumbbell or plates when an in-between size is needed.

If space and expense are tight, here is a better option:

Barbells:  Cap Brand is my preference for bars, plates, kettlebells, and squat racks. Start with a 5-foot bar. Purchase plates in these sizes with a 1-inch opening: 2.5 pounds- 1 pair, 5 pounds- 2 pairs, 10 pounds- 2 pairs, 25 pounds- 1 or 2 pairs.

        Optional add-on: If you can safely squat or deadlift more than 100 pounds, an Olympic bar [7 feet long] and corresponding plates are a logical progression.

Kettlebells: Cap Brand is a great brand, or look for a brand that goes by metrics if you prefer. Look for a brand that has the same size handle regardless of weight.  If you have never worked with kettlebells, find a  qualified trainer to learn the basics.  The Swing and Turkish Get Up literally work the entire body when done correctly and with a conscious effort.  The bells take up very little space and Swings and  Turkish Get Ups are time-efficient cardio and resistance combined. 


TRX: Suspension trainers are extremely useful for all fitness levels. If you could only buy one piece of equipment start with the TRX.  I recommend attending a few classes by a certified TRX trainer to learn the basics.

See this page for TRX  video demonstrations. Additions are added regularly.




#2 Paint the walls in a color associated with ENERGY!  For example, I have two main walls wall that are brightly colored. This is the 4th edition of my gym, and this time I ditched the spa colors for an energetic atmosphere!

#3 Flooring:

     Subfloor: If you are in a basement or garage and the floor is cement, you are going want to protect your joints and insulate from the cold harsh cement. Adding a sub floor will do that and it will add some sound insulation.

  Flooring: Stretch your budget by purchasing horse-stall mats instead of gym flooring. These mats hold up horses and have done a fine job in my gym for a fraction of the cost of commercial gym mats. Tractor Supply Company has these in 1/2 inch thickness.


#4 Optional Equipment

High Step and risers 



These are useful for a number of exercises. If you need inspiration, check out the video tab on the home page  and subscribe to my Youtube channel.


Resistance bands 


These can up your glute training for very little cost and space.

Stability Ball

Adjustable Rack  If you are using an Olympic bar you will want a rack. here is an example – Sturdy Steel Squat Barbell Free Bench Press Stands GYM/Home Gym Portable Dumbbell Racks Stand (one pair/two pieces): 


The bottom line here is that the best gym is the one you will actually use.

My gym is my special space, it has been revised over the years to evolve with our family’s needs and preferences. Listed above are what I have found to be the most valuable additions over the last 20 years. 

FREE Video Series: The Best Exercises for Women Over 40!


Free 3-Part video Series goes in-depth teaching you how to perform the above exercises step-by-step THE RIGHT WAY without getting hurt.

Watch the Videos

3 Comments on “How to Set Up Your Home Gym for Success”

  1. That’s so funny, I started with Denise Austin also. Couldn’t lift a 2lb db for a shoulder press. I’ve come a long way. And I never thought of plate mates! Fantastic idea

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