As I prepare to begin sharing my workouts, I thought it would be appropriate to show you the equipment I have in my garage gym. Personally, I prefer to work out at home vs. a fitness center. There is absolutely nothing wrong with exercising at a fitness center and I actually have a gym membership that I utilize for fitness classes and long cardio sessions while binge watching Netflix (don’t judge me!!), but as a mom of two toddlers, I need the flexibility of being able to work out at home and not having to worry about finding a sitter or placing my kids in childcare. There is also something so incredibly satisfying about exercising in the southern Georgia heat. The extra sweat that a hot and humid workout session brings is so satisfying.
I will be breaking down the photo pictured below, and eventually posting videos of how each piece of equipment is used. I want to begin by saying I am not a personal trainer or a fitness professional; I am simply a mom who uses physical fitness and nutrition to bring myself and my family closer to each other and closer to God. There are links provided which may enable me to make commission from sales, but please rest assured I would never post a link to a product that I do not personally stand behind. Some mamas like to bake brownies. Some mamas like to tend a garden. This mama likes to pick up heavy things.
So, lets dig in! In the photo above, working from left to right, you will find a plyometric box, adjustable dumbbells, a rower, a yoga mat, foam rollers, a kettlebell, dumbbells, and a medicine ball. Then you get to the platform and there is a weight rack, a few exercise bands, two bars with weights, clips, rings, an exercise ball, and a large mounted mirror. Hanging from the ceiling you will also notice a red Bluetooth speaker.
It sounds like a lot of stuff. Take a breath. Inhale. Exhale. We will get through this together. I promise.
Let’s begin to the left of the photo and work our way right:
30x24x20 Plyometric Box
One of my absolute favorite exercises is box jumps. Essentially, you jump from the ground up onto the box. It sounds miserable and it is, but in the most satisfying quad-toning way! My husband built our plyo box (you can find instructions here). If you don’t quite have the time or patience to build your own then you may opt to purchase one, like the Rep 3 in 1 Wood Plyometric Box for Jump Training and Conditioning 30/24/20. This specific box has been pre-cut with pilot holes already made for you. The box to the left, from Amazon, is a great choice and also has handles for easy mobility and a variety of size options. You can purchase unassembled or assembled for convenience.
Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells
I will admit, I wasn’t sold on the adjustable dumbbells at first. I couldn’t justify working out and these huge bulky things. They are clunky, they require a base, and they can’t be used to support body weight — think plank rows. But once we got them and I started using them, I became hooked on them. The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (pair) are AMAZING! By just the turn of a dial, you can use weights ranging from five to 52.5 pounds. The convenience of the weights, and the space saved from eliminating an entire rack of dumbbells, definitely outweighs the bulkiness of them.
I love rowing. Love it! We are borrowing this rower, as weird as that sounds. Our friends will be picking it up soon, but in the meantime I will continue to be getting in time on it. Rowing is a great way to get in low-impact cardiovascular exercise. This is a good little rower; it is small and doesn’t take up much space. The problem with rowers is that they, to me, are much like running shoes. If you try on the top-of-the-line running shoe and then try on an old, worn down shoe, the better running shoe is clearly going to be the first option. Rowers are the same way. As good of a rower as the Stamina is, it isn’t a Concept@ Model D with PMS Performance Monitor Indoor Rower Rowing Machine. If you know rowers, you know the Concept2 is the best of the best and for a good reason. Other rowers may do the job but I can’t consciously recommend them because this one is just that great, but with an ultra-hefty price tag, if you are trying to stay within a budget and are looking for something a little more compact, I do really recommend the Stamina ATS Air Rower.
I absolutely love yoga. Not only does it help build strength but it also helps you to center your thoughts and relax while gaining flexibility. Here’s a little tip for the Christian yogis: Before your next yoga class, memorize one to two Bible verses that encourage, inspire, or speak to you in a situation in which you are currently facing. As you are practicing, begin reciting these verses to yourself. Not only will this allow you to clear your mind but this quiet practice can also be used as a time that allows you to bring yourself closer to the Lord. As for the mat, Trider High-Density Yoga Mat, 1/4″ Thick Non-Slip Lightweight Eco-Friendly Anti-Tear 6mm is actually the thickest and grippiest yoga mat I’ve ever had! The price is a bit higher than other yoga mats you could find, but I honestly think the price of this is worth it. And I mean, come on, its so darn cute!
If you have never tried a foam roller or have never heard of them, you are missing out! These little foam gadgets are magical! Imagine the most intense deep tissue massage for your sore muscles. Yes, that’s what it feels like! Foam rolling is great for loosening and stretching muscles and it actually helps to break up lactic acid from your muscles, ultimately resulting in faster recovery. My two favorite muscle groups to foam roll are my calves — my calves are ALWAYS tight — and my quads. There are few things mores satisfying than the feeling of freshly rolled legs after an intense leg workout. The rollers themselves come in different densities. From my findings, AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller, Black is the densest (meaning it will give you the firmest, deepest massage) and the pink is the lightest density. I have this black foam roller from Amazon but I also have pink roller from Target. After trying the pink one I quickly upgraded to the denser foam because the pink wasn’t doing much for me.
Although all kettlebells are generally the same I prefer Rep 16 kg Kettlebell for Strength Training and HIIT Workouts over ours for two reasons. One is I love the colored bands around the handle. These allow for easy weight identification when multiple kettlebells are available. The second reason I love these is you can tell the iron on the handle is textured, ensuring a good grip on the weight even when sweaty hands are involved. Kettlebells usually range from about two pounds to over 100 pounds. Personally, I prefer a 35 pound to 45 pound kettlebell, depending on my workout.
Fun Fact: Kettlebells originated in Russia in the 1800s. Due to this, you may see some kettlebells in the Russian unit of measure, known as a pood. 1 pood = 36.1 pounds.
My very first piece of exercise equipment was a pair of dumbbells, just like the CAP Barbell Neoprene Coated Dumbbells (pair). I had no idea what to do with them so at the time I would do hundreds of bicep curls thinking they would somehow transform my body into this toned muscle machine. Oh, silly and naive Amity! Really though, I especially love the neoprene coating on these. They are really comfortable to hold when your hands are sweaty. The neoprene also keeps them from clanking together when they bump each other. My absolute favorite thing about this specific style of dumbbell though, is the hexagonal shape. The shape of them allow you to easily rest your body weight on them — again, think plank rows — and they won’t try to roll away on you. These are highly highly recommended for everyone from an exercise newbie or a professional athlete. Everyone can use a great set of dumbbells.
Wall balls are another favorite exercise of mine — Karen is basically my BFF! Ha, kidding…. kinda! Although I love the color of the Champion Sports Rhino Promax Slam Ball, I will say the one I received is a bit lighter in color. The weight is 14 pounds and I use it for wall balls and for oblique work when I am doing core exercises. Although it does seem well made, I haven’t and won’t attempt ball slams with it because I like it too much to have to replace it.
Whew, we made it halfway through the photo. Are you still following? I know it seems like a lot of information but I promise as I begin to show you workout videos and ways to use each piece of equipment, I promise it won’t be as overwhelming. Okay, let’s continue!
When we decided it was time to jump in with the big boys and purchase a weight set and rack, we knew we wanted quality products that would last so, naturally, we with with Rogue. Rogue Fitness has an outstanding reputation within the CrossFit community and they are the company that provides equipment for the CrossFit Games. They really are amazing products! So, when it came to the large items that would be used almost daily, we went with Rogue. You can find our weight rack here.
When we chose weights we knew we wanted to go with Rogue again, so we chose these bumper plates (rubber). The benefit to bumpers vs steel is that bumper plates can be safely dropped without destroying our platform or garage floor. We wanted a beginner set so we started with 190 pounds, which is enough on a standard day; so it works! As for the quality, they are great! They have good bounce to them but they are also such a thick rubber they don’t give or bend. I can definitely recommend these.
If you know my husband, you know the is great at woodworking and this came in handy when it came time to build a platform. He used these instructions to build it and it is amazingly solid! The horse stall mats have just enough grip. It’s truly a great platform and if you’re looking to build one, I highly looking into these instructions from The Art of Manliness.
As with the weight rack and plates, we went with Rogue when it came to our barbells. We ended up getting two different bars; a 45 pound Ohio Bar for my husband and a 35 pound Bella Bar form myself. I have lifted with my husband’s a couple of times and to be honest, if you have small-ish hands and you lift, I really recommend a 35 pound bar. My husband’s bar is 28.55mm in diameter and my bar is 25mm in diameter; which doesn’t sound like much but it really does feel much more comfortable. Also, the knurling on my bar seems to be much less harsh on your hands, which I prefer.
These Titan Fitness 8″ Daimeter Wood Gymnastics Rings with Cam Buckle Strap are the most recent item we have purchased for our gym. They aren’t really a necessity but as someone who has a goal of strict pull-ups, I knew they were something I needed. I felt it was a small add-on that would be worth it in the long run and I was right. These rings are pretty inexpensive and the wooden rings and straps areboth great quality. Recommend 100%!
For the price, the WOD Wear Speed Cable Jump Rope does the job. It has a really thin cable so the whip is quick and the handles are very similar to those of RX speed ropes.. If you have the money to spend and if you jump rope often, I highly recommend RX ropes. The handles are this super squishy ultra-comfy material that will do a great job at preventing blisters. If you are like me and don’t jump rope often, this speed rope from Amazon should do just fine for you.
These Assorted Pull-Up Loop Bands are great quality! I was actually really impressed with them when I received them because they are so much thicker than I expected. I use them for upper body movements similar to those of a cable machine and also to assist myself with pull-ups. I purchased the #1 and #3 bands and they are perfect for what I needed. I like how they are color coordinated, too, so it is easy to differentiate the weight resistance of each band.
When it came to an exercise ball I knew exactly what I wanted but it took me three tries to find it. My first ball was too small, my second ball was this weird grippy texture that attracted every little gross particle from our garage floor — no thanks!! — , and I finally found this one! The URBNFit Exercise Ball is PERFECT! It’s a great size for abs and pilates and you can’t beat the cute pink color.
We went about two years without a mirror in our gym and it DROVE ME NUTS! I didn’t want to settle for a small mirror and I didn’t want to spend a lot on one, so I waited. Patience really is a virtue because I lucked out so much with this mirror! I found this on Craigslist for $10 and it’s HUGE!! When looking for a gym mirror, the bigger the better! You want to be able to see all movements, ideally from anywhere in the gym. I still can’t believe I scored this thing!
This speaker is an absolute must in our home gym. My neighbors probably hate me because of my blaring workout music — sorry guys!! — but it is just something that I need when working out. My husband purchased this UE Megaboom about a year ago and it is amazing! We have found that by hanging it in the center of the room, the sound really fills the garage. It is waterproof, shockproof, and has survived many beach trips with our family. It is well worth the investment!
I know you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal, it’s just a fan?!” Well, in the heat of summertime in southern Georgia, fans are important and this one is great! I, specifically, really like the Lasko 2264QM 20″ High Velocity Floor Fan because it is small and so powerful. This thing is more powerful than a huge box fan but isn’t a big and bulky. It even comes with a mounting kit so you can mount it in a corner. Highly highly recommend this if you’re in a southern state that gets HOT!
So I’m not a runner. Well, I used to be, then I wasn’t, then I was. Now I don’t know what I am, to be honest. I love the idea of running but mentally, I haven’t gotten back into it; which I need to because I am signed up for a half marathon in November, but that is a whole other story. Anyay, the Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill was gifted to us by our dear friends who were moving and wanted to give it a good home. It is a great treadmill for someone looking for a low-profile treadmill. It’s small and folds up quite nicely, which I like. It doesn’t have an incline feature so if you are an avid treadmill user, it may not be for you but for us and our needs, it works well.
Well, we made it! It took a while and I know I threw a lot of information your way but you stuck it out! Now you have an idea of the equipment I use at home and how my garage helps keep me sane. A couple of other accessories that may interest you include weightlifting gloves and a weightlifting belt. Personally, I don’t use either of these items so I don’t feel that I have enough personal experience to mention these.
I hope you find this guide helpful and maybe you will even see a few products that you realize you need in your home gym, that you didn’t know you did!
Blessings and happy exercising,