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Build a Home Gym on Any Budget
Budget-Friendly Cardio Equipment
Nike Sparq Speed Ladder
Simply unroll this eight-foot-nine-inch-long plastic ladder on the floor, then run, skip, hop, or jump through its evenly spaced squares for an instant aerobic session. You'll work up a calorie-blasting sweat. $40, nike.com.
Cardio Equipment for a Mid-Range Budget
This space-saving upright bike features interactive workout programs, a wireless heart-rate monitor, and a console that details speed, distance, and calorie burn. Its super-cushy seat keeps you comfy during long workouts too. $699, gym source.com for info.
Cardio Equipment to Splurge On
NordicTrack AudioStrider 990 Elliptical
Target everything — arms, abs, butt, legs — by adjusting your stride and incline (up to 30 percent!) as you work out. The machine folds up to 26 by 48 inches for easy storage and features iPod speakers, customized fitness plans, and a fan. $999, nordictrack.com.
Budget-Friendly Strength-Training Equipment
Heavy Handles with Medium Tubing
Get more firming oomph out of any lift by using a pair of dumbbells and a band at the same time. Six-pound set (each handle is three pounds), $23, jfit.com.
Strength-Training Equipment for a Mid-Range Budget
Weider PowerSwitch 25 Adjustable Dumbbells
A set of weights that acts like five pairs in one and takes up less space than a shoe box? Brilliant! Adjust each from 2.5 pounds to 12.5 pounds. $70, sears.com.
Strength-Training Equipment to Splurge On
Horizon FS-40 Home Gym
Save space (and time) by doing everything from rows to lunge presses on just one cable-based system. With four sets of pulleys, a removable seat, and a strength-training guide, the number of moves is practically unlimited. $699, horizonfitness.com for info.
Budget-Friendly Core/Balance Equipment
8-Pound Toning Ball
Rotate from side to side while holding this ball in front of you and watch your love handles dwindle. Bonus: It comes with a poster of eight cool core-strengthening moves to try. $25, danskin.com.
Core/Balance Equipment for a Mid-Range Budget
Arrange these bright rubber domes (hump side up or down) in different patterns on the floor, and step, lunge, or squat from one to the next for an abs-sculpting balance challenge. Set of six, $39, spri.com.
Core/Balance Equipment to Splurge On
Strap the harness onto this stability ball and you'll have more than 150 ways to trim your tummy and get toned all over. For example, loop a resistance band through one of its handles and do seated biceps curls. Get more moves on the Web site. $120, bounderball.com.
Budget-Friendly Equipment for Flexibility
Dragonfly Hydrangea Yoga Mat
Posing like a pretzel doesn't seem quite as difficult when done on this pretty, nonslip mat. Store it in its matching cotton tote to transform your "studio" back into a living room. $34, gaiam.com.
Workout Equipment for Flexibility on a Mid-Range Budget
EcoWise Foam Roller
Made from nontoxic materials, this is an earth-friendly way to give yourself a super-intense massage. Lie facedown with the 36-inch-long roller placed horizontally under one thigh. Inch your body forward and then back, allowing the roller motion to knead tight quads. $42, fitness1st.com.
Workout Equipment for Flexibility to Splurge On
Cardio Barre Portable Ballet Barre
Bend it like a ballet dancer with this built-for-stretching bar. It comes with a workout DVD, a pair of one-pound dumbbells, and a storage bag. $130, cardiobarre.com.
Expert Tips for Building Your Home Gym
Get the most out of your at-home exercise with these tips from Nigel Anderson of Gym Source, who has helped set up workout studios for dozens of celebs, including Janet Jackson and Demi Moore.
1. Keep your thermostat between 58 and 66 degrees.
This ensures that you aren't too hot for cardio or too chilled for stretching. If you don't have an air conditioner, run a dehumidifier in the summer to pull moisture out of the air and keep the room from smelling like, well, a gym.
2. Install a dimmer switch.
Match the lighting in the room to the mood of your routine: Brighten things up when you do high-energy cardio, and tone it down for mellow yoga sessions.
3. Mount your TV on a wall or a shelf.
Make sure the center of your screen is at eye level during your workout to help prevent neck strain.
4. Invest in rubber mats.
Prevent scratches and nicks to hardwood by placing padding on the floor (24-by-24-inch Value Lock tiles, $29 each; mygymfloor.com).
5. Install a wall mirror.
Keeping an eye on your form while you lift is key to doing perfect reps.
6. Decorate to motivate.
Frame photos of your fitness inspirations — a favorite Olympian (hello, Michael Phelps!), a shot of you wearing that slinky little black dress — and hang them on the walls to spur you on.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2009.