Each January, nearly half the American population resolves to get in shape. We promise ourselves we’ll skip the after-work happy hours and instead crawl out of our warm beds early each morning and head to the sweaty, crowded gym for a well-intentioned workout.
Unfortunately, that expensive gym membership we pay for goes unused more than we’d like to admit—and no New Year’s resolution ever seems to change that. (You know what they say about best-laid plans…)
Thankfully, there’s another way to stick to your resolutions this year: Move your workout to your home. After all, why would you subject yourself to the gym when you could just breeze down the hall instead?
To give you a bit more incentive, we asked top personal trainers for the home gym equipment that will best help you stick to your goals—for real this time. Here’s what they recommend.
1. Top-of-the-line cycling bike
Indoor cycling bikes might be expensive, but you’re also almost guaranteed to get a good return on your investment.
“If you are looking for a single piece of cardio equipment, skip the treadmills and StairMasters, and opt instead for a spinning bike like a Peloton or Schwinn IC3 indoor cycling bike,” recommends Julie Lohre, an online certified personal trainer. “There are incredible apps now that turn your bike into a full-blown class right in the comfort of your own home. By incorporating these apps and classes, you can challenge your body and stay engaged.”
Plus, she says, you aren’t likely to get bored after just a few weeks.
“If you have a competitive spirit, the classes offer you the option of measuring your fitness against others your age and encourage you to push hard and keep going,” Lohre says.
2. Bench and dumbbells
If you’re one of those people who need to see results quickly or you risk losing motivation and quitting, Lohre recommends getting yourself some dumbbells ASAP. Strength training is one of the quickest ways to build muscle fast, she says.
“The most certain way to make sure that you work out in the new year is to find equipment that you really enjoy using and that feels more like play than exercise,” she says. “Personally, I love weight training and would highly recommend a bench and dumbbells to see the best results.”
3. Resistance bands
If spending loads of cash isn’t in your budget right now, don’t worry! You don’t have to invest in a lot of equipment—especially if you’re a beginner. A set of resistance bands is all you need to stay motivated, says Therese Zarleng, owner and personal trainer at LIFT Fitness.
“Keeping it simple and easy to use is one of the best ways to keep someone wanting to work out,” she says. “Exercise resistance bands are cheap, come in several colors that represent different resistance levels, and can be thrown in a suitcase when you travel so you never have to miss a workout.
“Just about any exercise that can be done with a set of weights can be done with a set of resistance bands, too,” she adds.
What to buy: C9 Champion resistance bands, $10 for 3
4. TRX System
Want your workouts to feel as badass as the Navy SEALs’? Try the TRX System. Designed by (you guessed it) a former U.S. Navy SEAL, TRX is a form of suspension training that leverages your body weight and gravity to develop strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability.
Many gyms offer TRX programs, but you can also buy the equipment online, allowing you to work out and stretch every part of your body from the comfort of your own home, says Bruce Kelly, a certified personal trainer at Fitness Together Media. What’s more, you can take it with you wherever you go. And he believes that’s enough to get you started—and keep you going.
“A TRX costs about $200, while a full-cable system/multifunctional trainer will set you back thousands,” he says. “It is a multipurpose tool that also has some very effective stretching and mobility drills you can do as well. It is also highly portable, and I’ve taken it nearly every place I’ve traveled.”
Note: Be sure to carefully follow instructions when hanging your TRX System. Some ceilings and walls can’t sustain its weight.
What to buy: TRX Pro Suspension Trainer System, $200
5. Mini step
If you know the same old cardio routine each day is going to wear thin, try mixing it up with a mini step, suggests Olivia Wilken, a personal trainer at LivFit. There are a ton of free YouTube videos that will get you dancing, stepping, and doing aerobics and resistance training into the new year. Best of all, it won’t even feel like exercise.
Plus, this stepper is as unobtrusive as they come.
“We aren’t talking about the big Reebok steps our mamas used in the ’80s and ’90s,” Wilken says. “Today, steps are about one-third of the size, can be packed away easily, and won’t get in the way or take away from your home’s decor.”
What to buy: Tone Fitness aerobic stepper, $30