One of the most commonly asked questions by folks putting together a home gym is, “How much will it cost?”.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a highly useful and enjoyable home gym. In some cases you don’t have to spend any money at all. Yet somehow when we start dreaming about our ideal mix of equipment, we end up with a shopping list that totals more than what it would cost to buy a moderately priced used car.
If you have a large budget, I say go for it, but many others, including myself, don’t have unlimited funds. We need strategies to curb our spending and still get the result we are after. To do this, there are a ton of different approaches. You can find many of them detailed here on this site.
There are many common answers to this question. Some people say to only buy used equipment. Others say to sell all the gear you don’t use and reinvest the profits. Minimalists say you don’t really “need” any equipment at all. There is not shortage of opinions on how to save money when building a great home gym.
But overarching them all is one guiding principle. One key thing to keep in mind at all times. If you can keep this one thing in mind, you’ll not only save money on your home gym, but on literally anything else in life you might choose to spend your hard earned dollars on!
The short version
If you don’t want to read this whole article, the principle is simple. Understand that almost everything you see on line is marketing of one sort or another!!!
Most people on the internet are only concerned with one thing, selling you stuff. The more expensive and complex, the better. Rarely are they concerned with you buying the RIGHT thing. Even more rarely will they come out and tell you NOT to buy something at all.
These folks, often well disguised as “reviewers”, will do an amazing job at convincing you that they are the authority on the “best (you fill in the piece of equipment here) of the year”. It’s funny how the “best” is almost always the most expensive! But what about the best FOR YOU?
If you are putting together a commercial gym, CrossFit box, or other such set up, spend away! Buy the commercial grade, super expensive stuff. And buy a lot of it! If you have a 3 car garage you can devote 100% to your home training paradise, that’s amazing! I want to come work out at your house some day!
But for 95% of us building home gyms, there are lower cost alternatives. They might have a less pretty finish or uglier welds. They might be made in (gasp!) China. Are they the same gear you will see used in the CrossFit games? Nope, but most of us aren’t hosting competitions in our basement!
I don’t need a power cage that’s rated to 5000 lbs. One rated to 2000 lbs. is perfect for my use and will cost a fraction of the price! A $1500 treadmill will serve most of us just as well as a $5000 version. A $400 squat rack will be perfect while a $2000 model is simply overkill. Used bumper plates from Play it Again Sports weigh the exact same amount as brand new ones bought on line and cost a fraction of the amount. You get the idea.
I also only need ONE of them. I don’t need a power rack, a squat stand, AND a bench rack when I can more than make due with a power rack alone! I only need a few different barbells, not an entire wall full. I’ve worked out for years with a single set of adjustable dumbbells, there is no reason to have a huge rack of them taking up half of my room.
Marketers, equipment manufacturers, and brand loyal “fan boys/girls” will try to tell you differently. Don’t believe them. Be smart when you are shopping. Buy nice, but you don’t have to buy the ”best” or most expensive version of everything to build an amazing gym! There is also a lot more than just one or two brands that are good, although you wouldn’t know that looking at many of the review sites.
Seeing the matrix
There are some amazingly smart people out there in the world. Unless you are an egomaniac, you and I both understand that there are millions of people smarter than we are. While most of those people are out to do good in the world, a fairly large number are also there to make money.
While I see absolutely nothing wrong with making money if you are providing value in return, I think it’s a critical life skill to be aware that not everyone has your best interest at heart. It’s important to have that perspective in all areas of our lives.
This is where marketing enters the picture. Marketing is everywhere. Studies show that every day we each see between 4,000 and 10,000 attempts to sell us something. You can’t even get dressed in the morning without participating in a deluge of branding and selling.
Don’t believe me? Look at your clothes and shoes. Odds are that most of it, if not all, has a visible logo on it. That logo is free advertising for the company that made the clothing. If you are dressed to work out, you probably have some very large logos displaying to the world exactly what brand of clothing and shoes you buy.
While I could go on for quite a long time about branding and marketing, I’m guessing you get the point. It’s everywhere! The reason I started by mentioning marketing is that step one to saving money on your home gym is understanding that EVERYTHING YOU SEE when shopping for your home gym is some form of marketing.
That’s not good or bad. It just is.
It’s an accurate view of the world we all live in. In order to understand how to thrive in the matrix, we first need to see that it’s there.
A great example of this is fitness magazines. Did you know that almost all bodybuilding magazines and websites are actually owned by supplement companies? Each of those magazines and sites, from cover to cover and page to page, is designed to sell you supplements. It’s a multi billion dollar industry.
Is everything in the magazine or on the site bad? Absolutely not! We just need to read them understanding that people much smarter than ourselves designed that magazine to make us want to buy supplements. When they are really good at their jobs, they make us think it’s our own idea in the first place! It took me spending $1,000’s on supplements that didn’t work to figure that one out.
Why GymCrafter.com exists
Keeping the body building mags and websites example in mind, let’s look at where we can do research to figure out what equipment to buy for our home gym. There are only a few sources of information out there and they all have their own unique problems. That’s why I decided to put together GymCrafter.com. As I researched my own home gym purchases, I kept running into the same few flawed resources over and over again. You can see the full story on my “about” page here.
First were the various forums out there. While I’ve learned a lot from them, I never really got any solid help in my purchasing decisions there. Every question I asked was answered with a myriad of one sided opinions that were based on little to no actual research. I soon realized that most of those opinions came from “fan boys/girls” of various brands of equipment.
Why are they “fan boys/girls”? It’s simple, they have fallen hard for the marketing of that particular company. They’ve bought into the paid Instagram posts, Facebook ads, TV commercials, and sponsored pro athletes who rep that brand.
Another thing to keep in mind is that marketing reps for many fitness companies hang out on most of those forums daily, disguised as normal users. Their job is to post how much they like their company’s gear without actually letting on that they work for that company in the first place! It’s a very common marketing strategy.
Next were the manufacturer and retail websites themselves. The manufacturers do have some very valuable and helpful information. But in the end, there are very few comparisons to other brands or manufacturers. And that makes sense because why would one manufacturer want to give any air time at all to a competing product?
The retail sites seem to always recommended the most expensive version of whatever I was looking at. Also not surprising since the entire point of a retail site is to sell as much as possible.
Then I found a handful of blogs and corresponding YouTube channels that at first were very useful. I still refer to some of them to this day. But in the end, they are also marketers. It’s called “affiliate marketing”. While some sites are giving legit good advice, many others are not.
We shouldn’t discount good information, but we also need to see it for what it is. Much of the blogging world exists solely to sell you stuff. By default, that colors their recommendations.
Wait a minute! Doesn’t GymCrafter.com participate in affiliate marketing?!?!?
Yes, I absolutely do, but I like to think I’m doing things a little bit differently.
First, this site is all about how to build a great home gym. That entails buying things. If I point you to something that I know from personal experience that I think you’ll love, it’s not unreasonable to ask you to buy it through a link on my site. It doesn’t cost you extra and it’s a great way of saying “thanks” for the useful information. If what I write about isn’t useful, please don’t click on the links!
Second, and the crux of this entire post, I am very selective about the affiliate links and products I recommend. Notice how this site isn’t littered with every possible equipment review I could write? There are ZERO articless titled “The 10 best” this or that. That’s because I only recommend equipment that I’ve owned or used and like.
Tying it all together
All of that brings me to the title of this article. What’s the best way for you to save money when building your home gym?
Don’t believe the hype (marketing)!
Sure, company X might make a very well reviewed (insert equipment here) for $1200. The advertising and blog reviews look great. They make you really want it and think it’s the only choice. But if you ignored the marketing and the hype, you’d realize that there is an amazingly good alternative from a different company for a fraction of the price!
Look, I’m guessing that there aren’t any Olympic gold medalists power lifters reading this site (if I’m wrong, please drop me a note, I’d love to know you are reading my site!!!). The people that come here are normal folks who want to build a quality home gym and are looking for honest, no bullshit advice. I had such a hard time finding that when I was building my own gym that I really felt it necessary to build a resource for others based on my years of research and trial and error.
I hope I’ve achieved that goal. Throughout this site I’ve tried to make recommendations that will serve you well while not breaking your budget. I’ve tried to give advice born in the real world and tested over time. I’ve tried to cut through all the marketing that’s out there in the fitness space to bring you some honest opinions.