If you're one of the many people who feel like you've been watching a little too much Netflix and eating far too many processed foods out of a box, can, or bag throughout the pandemic, you're not alone. But it's never too late to reset if you've lost your routine and are struggling to find your new normal. Perhaps a home gym is the solution you need.
Those of you who want to figure out ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance should create a dedicated space in your house that serves as an at-home gym. It's a bit of an investment. But, rather than continually rotating between couches and screens all day long, you can break up the hours at home by squeezing in some much-needed time to sweat.
In the end, you'll be able to live, work, exercise, and hopefully stay sane and healthy, all from the same house. Here is a selection of top-notch fitness gear to consider -- many of which are smart or internet-connected. We've also included some accessories to help flesh out your home gym in more ways than just buying dumbbells and resistance bands.
Did you really think we would start this guide with anything else? Peloton's $1,900 indoor spin bike features an adjustable seat, handlebars, and a 21.5-inch touchscreen display. You use the display to participate in live and on-demand cycling classes from your own home -- a subscription feature that costs an extra $39 per month. Peloton's app offers other workout classes as well including yoga, bootcamp, running, stretching, and meditation.
If you love to cycle or simply want the hottest, trendiest piece of equipment you can buy right now, look no further than Peloton's exercise bike. The best part is it's great for all fitness levels, so if you're a total newbie to spin bikes, you'll catch on quickly and be able to burn a ton of calories in a relatively short amount of time for a true full-body workout. This makes it easy for you to jump into any routine with your smart home gym equipment without having to make time for live classes or a personal trainer. The optional leaderboard allows you to work out with your Peloton community and match that tempo, no studio required.$1,900 at Peloton
At $1,700, the VeloCore indoor cycling bike is a true Peloton alternative -- especially if you get the model with the 22-inch screen, which brings your cost up to $2,200. If you're interested in buying a competitor to Peloton and don't care about saving money, VeloCore is the bike for you.
What's also interesting about the VeloCore is that it actually lets you lean side to side. The bike chassis can swing left and right, so if you hold that lean during a workout, you will really feel it in your arms and abs. The bike itself has magnetic resistance and looks very premium, with pedals that support both regular and clip-in shoes.
It also runs Bowflex's JRNY software and service, offering trainer-led and recorded virtual coach classes. There are scenic virtual ride and streaming radio stations, too, plus the ability to sign into streaming services like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. JRNY even supports syncing ride data with other apps, like Peloton.
The service costs $20 a month or $149 annually. You can use the bike without it.$1,700 at Best Buy
Top-of-the-line treadmill with guided training
Warning: The product has been recalled over safety concerns. The recall affects about 1,050 units of the regular Tread in the US (plus 5,400 in Canada). It has a problem where the touchscreen may fall off and cause injury. Peloton is offering full refunds or a free repair of the machine.
The $2,495 Peloton Tread is a smart treadmill with a 32-inch touchscreen display. It requires a $39-per-month subscription to access Peloton's live and on-demand running classes. You can use these classes to train for a beginner 5K or participate in more advanced sessions designed to improve your running game.
Yes, there are cheaper treadmills, but if you want a premium piece of kit that guides you on your journey to becoming a seasoned runner, then the Tread is an easy buy. It's a top-of-the-line treadmill with all the bells and whistles. It has that Peloton name, too, it'll get lots of oohs and aahs from your friend and loved ones.
This is basically a Peloton treadmill alternative. It's $3,799, though.
You get a 32-inch touch screen, streaming classes through the iFit app, and the option to run worldwide trails with beautiful scenery. Perhaps most interestingly, it offers a 40% incline, compared to the 15% incline on the Peloton Tread. This allows you to really feel like you're hiking the Swiss Alps. It's a great form of HIIT training and helps you burn more calories over time.
If you want something cheaper, but with a smaller screen, the Nordictrack X22i is $2,999. Wither either of these treadmills, you'll also get a free 12-month subscription to iFit included.$2,999 at NordicTrack
Indoor rowing is a great way to improve your core and add great upper body strength training while engaging in low-impact, high-intensity cardio. It's truly a fantastic calorie-burning exercise.
The Hydrow is a high-end smart rower that costs $2,245. It features a 22-inch full HD screen, electromagnetic resistance, a cushioned seat, and adjustable pedals. It also works with a $38-per-month subscription that offers on-demand and live workouts, including classes with "Olympians and world-class rowers."$2,245 at Hydrow
Initially, we were split on whether to recommend the Hydrow or the NordicTrack RW900 rower. The latter is cheaper and has just as many positive reviews, plus it works with the iFit app, which you can use with other workout equipment. But it only has a 250-pound weight limit, whereas the Hydrow supports 375 pounds.
Still, NordicTrack is an established name. Its $1,599 RW900 rower offers a 22-inch HD screen with one year of free access to the iFit live and on-demand access. The rowing machine itself offers 26 digital resistance levels, an inertia-enhanced flywheel, pivoting pedals, and the entire thing is foldable from the get-go.$1,599 at NordicTrack
Now, we're just getting fancy. The $1,495 Mirror is a total luxury purchase.
A full-length mirror that doubles as an LCD screen, you can use it to check your form while taking live and on-demand fitness classes ($39-per-month membership required). There are classes for a broad range of activities, such as yoga, strength, and cardio -- all with different lengths and fitness levels.
It even offers one-on-one personal training, which takes advantage of the built-in camera so that your trainer can interact with you with real-time feedback. The mirror comes with a Bluetooth heart-rate monitor and six fitness bands, too. You can rock a bodyweight workout, or take it to the next level with high-tech resistance training from the comfort of your own living room.
Our sister site, CNET, said the Mirror is the best personal training system it's tested.$1,495 at Mirror
FightCamp's boxing bag is perfect for those who want to unleash their inner Rocky.
The whole system uses sensors (which go into the boxing wraps that go under the boxing gloves for your hands) to track your punches. With these sensors, you can tell you how hard you're hitting and how many punches you've thrown or landed in real-time to see how you're improving.
The base FightCamp package with just the wraps and sensors costs $439. The full package -- complete with the gloves, an exercise mat, and a punching bag -- is $1,219. As for FightCamp's classes, those are part of a $39-per-month subscription. You can watch hundreds of on-demand sessions with guided boxing techniques, but there's no screen included. You have to use your own TV or a mobile device.$1,219 at FightCamp
The NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 is frequently cited as the best elliptical overall. It features an adjustable stride length, a 14-inch color touchscreen, oversize cushioned pedals, auto-adjustment capabilities, and Bluetooth compatibility. The flywheel is 32 pounds with magnetic resistance, resulting in a quiet, smooth movement.
The elliptical is fully integrated with iFit, providing access to elite personal trainers and guided workouts where you're taken through terrain in places like the Canary Islands. The simulated workout experience automatically adjusts both incline and resistance on your machine as you go.
You get one year of iFit for free with the NordicTrack Commercial 14.9, and then it's $15 per month for an individual plan or $39 per month for a family plan. Or you can not use iFit and run the machine alone.$1,999 at NordicTrack
The NordicTrack FS10i is described as a "FreeStride trainer" based on the swing/rotational motion of an elliptical trainer. Nordictrack claims it's an elliptical, a treadmill, and a stepper all-in-one machine, offering a range of workout options with adjustable stride and incline. We think it's like a cross-country ski trainer.
Again, this is a low-impact piece of home fitness equipment. If you're looking to stay in shape without really stressing your joints, look no further. It costs $2,499, has a 10-inch HD touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity, and works with the iFit platform of live and on-demand classes.$2,499 at NordicTrack
The Bowflex M8 Max Trainer combines the classic climb of a stair stepper with the smooth stride of an elliptical. It's a sturdy machine offering 20 different resistance levels and heart rate-tracking grips. You can pair it with a JRNY membership, which costs $19.99 a month, and the machine will automatically adjust your workout.
If you're looking for a high-tech, dynamic stair stepper that's relatively small space-friendly and provides access to virtual classes, this is the machine for you. It also has a built-in device holder and display screen. It costs $2,299 has a weight capacity of 300 pounds.$2,299 at Amazon
The $1,995 is a mini home gym for those who love to work out with weights. It offers a 42-inch HD touchscreen display and storage for 16 plates (four each at 1.25 pounds, 2.5 pounds, 5 pounds, and 10 pounds). It also comes with two 7.5-pound dumbbells and one 25-pound barbell and collars for locking the plates in place.
Other bonus accessories include a heart rate monitor, a workout mat, and a foam roller. Like other smart exercise equipment in this guide, you can use the Tempo to participate in live and on-demand classes for $39 a month. Workouts range from high-intensity interval training to strength training. It also uses AI to give tips on your form.$1,995 at Tempo
Last but not least: A resistance weight machine. Tonal's offering uses digital weights to strengthen your muscles. There are no weights, metal plates, dumbbells, or kettlebells. You just use the two giant arms that extend outward from the sides of the screen and follow the built-in coach on the touchscreen.
It offers up to 200 pounds of resistance and guided workouts with real-time feedback and the ability to automatically adjust the resistance during your workout. It's smart, compact, and will round-out your gym.$2,995 at Tonal
Which home gym machines should you buy?
There are 13 pieces of equipment on our list, but some of them are alternate choices for you to consider. Obviously, you need to set a budget and think about your space and the types of workouts you want before making a final purchase.
Here is your decision tree:
Indoor exercise bike
Alternate option: Bowflex VeloCore
Indoor exercise bike
Peloton Tread (Warning: Recalled)
Alternate option: NordicTrack X32i
Alternate option: NordicTrack RW900
NordicTrack Commercial 14.9
Free weight training
Resistance weight training
At the bare minimum, we'd say a cardio machine such as an indoor bike or treadmill is a safe choice, but then you should perhaps consider a specialty machine for a more varied workout. The Mirror will offer you personal training, and Tempo and Tonal can help with strengthening your muscles. We suggest picking a couple of these options and then filling out your home gym with affordable workout accessories.
Should you buy home gym accessories?
OK, so now that we've discussed the core equipment you could buy, let's talk about accessories. These are products that really transform your workout space into a full-fledged gym. They're not necessary, but they're handy, and they're perfect for those of you who prefer to do body workouts without the aid of bulky machinery.
- Resistance bands: Black Mountain set for $30 at Black Mountain
- Yoga mat: Manduka Pro for $120 at Amazon
- Suspension training system: TRX for $170 at Amazon
- High-density roller: AmazonBasics roller for $15 at Amazon
- Vinyl-coated kettlebells: Yes4All bells start at $15 at Amazon
- Pull-up bar station: Citybirds for $105 at Amazon
- Adjustable bench with barbell: Bowflex SelectTech for $599 at Bowflex
- Adjustable dumbbells: Bowflex SelectTech 552 for $329 at Bowflex
- Jump rope set: Crossrope for $99 at Amazon
- Gym mats: BalanceForm mats start at $31 at Amazon
- Punching bag: CenturyOriginal for $179 at Amazon
- Fitness tracker: Fitbit Versa 3 for $229 at Amazon
We recommend you get some gym mats, for starters. Maybe also a yoga mat. From there, pick up some "dumb" exercise kit, such as resistance bands, pull-up bars, jump ropes, punching bags, and weights. Finally, get yourself a roller to soothe your sore muscles, and a fitness tracker like the Versa 3 to track your fitness goals.
Is it cheaper just to join a gym?
According to our sister site Healthline, the average monthly cost of a gym membership is $58. Over the course of 30 years, that can equal over $20,000 (not including inflation). If you're serious about making a life-time change and want to transform your physical health, investing in a home gym is an easy decision to make.
If you completely spurge and get all the kit we recommend in this guide, you likely won't save money, but you will save time on your commute to the gym, and honestly, some people just prefer working out alone and not in the company of others. Deciding to set up a home gym shouldn't be about cost alone, though we understand it is a big piece of the pie. But that's why we provided you with a range of options across different price points.
You should be able to create the perfect place to sweat it out without breaking the bank.
How did we choose these workout machines?
We put hours of research into compiling this buyer's guide. We've also owned and used several of the machine and accessories we mentioned. We even poured over reviews at CNET, our sister site, and scoured online retailers to find the best deals and learn what consumers think.
Any "best list" is subjective, but we can confidently say our picks are among the top-rated options available, covering a range of prices, needs, and wants. Everything we chose above is well-reviewed across Amazon and elsewhere. Just keep in mind some of these items are selling out fast during the pandemic.