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Toolbox to success: How to create your own home gym for under $100.00

By Megan Williamson BA, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

If someone told you that you need a bunch of fancy gym equipment to get in shape…they told you wrong.

A lot of the time when I’m training clients in corporate ‘big box’ gyms, I only use fancy equipment simply because it is there and quite honestly, I know that my clients are paying a membership to be using it!

Don’t get me wrong, fancy equipment is nice! It gets the job done and can be very accessible to use. However, if a client wanted to work out at home instead, I could deliver to them just as good of a workout as they would have had if we were in a fully equipped gym.

Where do I start?

Below I have a great list of tools that I think anyone can accomplish a great home workout with.

The Toolbox

1. Therabands: These come in different colours which represent the different resis- tances. They are very versatile, and I love using these in-home workout programs. They can be tied to things, made into loops, and tied around your wrists if you have any grip issues. (Hack: Physiotherapists typically give these out in strips so that you don’t have to commit to buying the whole box.) Otherwise, they have selection packs with about 3 or 4 different resistances on Amazon for $13 CAN.

2. Medicine ball: These range in price depending on the weight and brand. I think most people are good to start out with a 2lb ball and go from there. I love these for core work and arm strength exercises. A 2lb medicine ball on Amazon will run you about $10-15 CAN.

3. Dowel: My dowels were $2.80 CAN each at Home Hardware. It doesn’t really matter the circumference size, however, make sure to cut the length longer than the width of your arms. Also make sure that you get the dowel sanded when they cut it at the store to avoid any splinters.

4. Dumbbells: These are great to have especially for upper body strength at home. It gives a different challenge to the muscles than only using the bands would. I suggest getting a package with different weights, since you will probably want to increase your weight a bit as you progress, so you don’t plateau. Amazon has a package of dumbbells with 1 set each of 3’s 5’s 8’s for $45 CAN. Keep in mind that a set is 2 dumbbells.

5. Hook grips (for higher level injuries): I recommend hook grips for those that have compromised grip strength. These don’t need to be fancy, especially for home workouts. Amazon has these for $16 CAN a pair.

6. Chest Strap: This is recommended for not only quadriplegics but for some paraplegics too, especially if you are new to exercise or core work. A lot of times you can progress from using a chest strap to not after some hard practice at the exercise. There are fancy ones you can get which tend to be better for wheelchair sports, but there are basic neoprene ones that work well for the gym and home workouts—Search eBay under ‘lumbar back support brace’ and they will be there for around $11 CAN.

So, there you have it folks!

These are the essentials that I highly recommend having to create the most effective home workout. If you work out at a big box gym or community centre, they will most likely have the items that are more gym-specific like the medicine balls and dumbbells. Keep in mind that you may not need everything from this list—start with something that’s easy like a Theraband and see how that changes your workouts. You can always start to gradually add to your toolbox later to create the most dynamic home workouts.

Your coach, Megan Williamson

If you or someone you know could benefit from training with mega in person or online, visit

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