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If You’re Going to Buy Just One Piece of Exercise Equipment for Your Home, Here’s What It Should Be

Four personal trainers and fitness fanatics, ahem, weigh in

My local gym is 45,000 square feet. There has to be at least 200 machines in there, of which there are probably 50 different varieties split between cardio and weights. And don’t get me started on all the dumbbells, barbells and squat racks.

Now, I’m willing to venture a guess that unless you’re, like, Jeff Bezos-level rich, your home is likely not 45,000 square feet. And even if it was, I can pretty much guarantee that you’re not packing it with treadmills, StairMasters and ellipticals as far as the eye can see.

Which is to say, now that the gyms are all closed and we’re mostly stuck at home, in lieu of row after row of weights and machines at the house, wouldn’t it be nice to own just one magical exercise tool that can give you the workout you desire?

But what tool is that, exactly? Should it be a treadmill? Or should you just stick with a couple of paper plates

For answers, I asked a bunch of personal trainers. Here’s what they had to say…

A Set of Adjustable Dumbbells (or Kettlebells)

Cost: ~$500

Advantages: Space saver, adjustable so you can grow into them, versatile

Disadvantages: Cardio? Never heard of it.

The Personal Trainer Says: “I have two answers: First, pick yourself up a set of Power Blocks, i.e., a set of adjustable dumbbells,” says Sean Salazar, owner and certified personal trainer at Anywhere Gym. “The great thing about adjustable dumbbells is that they don’t take up too much space, which makes them perfect for home. Plus, you can do a wide variety of full-body movements with them.”

“The second option would be a kettlebell,” he continues. “They’re a great tool because, considering everything you can do with them, it’s like having a full gym. The problem is, most people don’t know how to use them correctly, so admittedly, there is a learning curve.”

Suspension Trainer 

Cost: $200

Advantages: Compact, great for travelers, will get your heart going as well as basically every muscle group there is, works for every fitness level

Disadvantages: On the pricier side, need really strong doors

The Personal Trainer Says: “It’s the biggest bang for your buck,” says personal trainer Daniel Saltos. “What’s great about it is that it’s compact. You can roll it up, put it in a little mesh bag, keep it under your bed or in a drawer — it’s so easy to store and you don’t have to take up a lot of room with it. So if you’re traveling — or if you live in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City — it packs a powerful punch in a really convenient package.”

“It’s also super versatile. You can do an entire full-body workout using just a single piece of equipment — everything from legs, back, chest, arms, even your core. Plus, depending on where you are as a user — if you’re a little bit more advanced or if you’re a little bit newer to the fitness thing — you can basically adjust to whatever fitness level you’re at. So you can make it as hard as you want, or you can make it as easy as you want.” 

A Squat Rack (Plus Accoutrements) 

Cost: $1,300

Advantages: The best way to get swole, can do multiple exercises (bench, squat, deadlifts, etc.), won’t need to go back to the gym if you’re a weightlifter

Disadvantages: Expensive

The Powerlifter Says: “A Rogue power rack and a Rogue shorty bench with a Thompson fat pad upper will run you $1,000 but it’s well worth it,” says amateur powerlifter Oliver Lee Bateman. “Throw in one of their basic Ohio barbells, and it’ll be about $1,300. For weights tack on another couple hundred bucks, but you can source them from all over. Alternatively, if that’s too expensive, a pull-up bar from Amazon will only cost you like 26 bucks.”

A Yoga Mat

Cost: $50 to $100

Advantages: Save your back/elbows/wrists/knees from needless destruction, blank slate for whatever you need it for, will keep your floors sweat-free

Disadvantages: Can’t deadlift a yoga mat

The Personal Trainer Says: “The simplest thing tends to be the best, and when it comes to the average person working out at home, the simplest thing is a yoga mat,” says personal trainer Damien Brown. “That’s because your best tool for getting a complete workout at home is your own body weight; with it, you can work every single muscle group.”

“The issue is, most surfaces at home are hard, limiting how well you’ll be able to utilize your space to get your workout in. That’s why a yoga mat is key: It’s thin, it rolls up and it softens the surface below you so you can do things like planks and sit-ups comfortably.”