With the pandemic still happening in the world around us, many states are still not allowing gyms to be open. You may be lucky enough to have some “at home” equipment to keep your “fitness” going, but if you do not, we have a solution to help. Start training for the real world using real world skills, and the only equipment you will need are at your local hardware store. For about $100, some creative thinking, and the ability to ignore people giving you weird looks, you can have a complete “home gym” for an endless variety of workouts.
As part of our Train 4 Life methodology, we will be using whole body movements in our training. We utilize the 13 MovNat skills which include running, walking, balancing, crawling, climbing, jumping (and vaulting), lifting, carrying, throwing, catching, swimming, striking and grappling. Luckily for us, the local or big box hardware store has everything we need if it is not naturally available around us.
Running, Walking, Crawling, Jumping, Swimming, Striking and Grappling can all be done with no equipment. We will incorporate these movements and skills into our training, but let us get into the supplies we should buy. We will be showing supplies found at the “big box” home improvement stores, but I am sure your local hardware store will have similar items for you to purchase.
VAULTING (a part of Jumping)
One of my favorite movements is vaulting. Vaulting is jumping over an obstacle using a combination of our hands, feet and or body. Vaulting is used very heavily in parkour, so if you have ever watched anyone do parkour, you have most likely seen some sort of vaulting.
One of our best investments, will be simple a saw horse. Not only can they be used to vault over, but also used to balance on and crawl under. This one at Home Depot is $22.
LIFT AND CARRY
The next object we want to invest in is something to lift and carry. I recommend finding a variety of stones or even old telephone poles because they are free, but if you can not find those, then a simple sand tube will be a great investment. At around $5, these are perfect for lifting and carrying, and they weigh around 60 pounds. You can lessen the weight by removing some sand and just duct taping the top shut again. To help prevent leaking, you can wrap it in a heavy duty construction garbage bag and tape it with duct tape ($4 a roll).
You may not need anything for jumping, but spending a couple bucks can give you more ways to have fun in your training. Cinder blocks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are perfect for jumping to or from, because they are sturdy enough that they do not move, and they are rough enough that they do not slip when landing on them. Since we all love when an object can have multiple uses, the larger cinder blocks can do just that. They can hold our beams for balance, or we can use them for lifting and carrying in our training. At just under $2 a piece, these make a really good investment to the home gym. You might want to purchase some extra grippy self liner to set on your floor for putting the cinder blocks on. This helps protect your floor and helps prevent the cinder block from possibly sliding. I have seen this on sale for $4 but the price varies quite a bit.
Balancing is a skill that is not practiced in modern fitness classes or gyms, but it is necessary for daily living. Not only will it help you as you grow in age like a fine wine, but it is fun to do and there are so many possibilities with practicing it.
The most simple balancing piece of equipment we can buy is a simple 2”x4” and I like to go for the 8’ length. This will run you about $4 for a pine board. If you will be storing it outside, a pressure treated board will run more like $13. As long as you are storing it inside, go with the cheaper board. You want to find one that is straight and not bowed when first practicing balancing as it will be easier to practice with.
As your balancing skills start to develop, you may want to switch to a more rounded balance beam. This will more replicate nature and our hardware store has that solution as well! For this I like to use a landscape timber. This will run you about $4 as well, but has the added benefit of being pressure treated. Seeing how it is round on two ends and flat on two ends, it offers a good variety.
If you want the round end up all the time, then I suggest screwing some scrap pieces of lumber on the ends to support it. If you want to have the option for variety, then you will need to brace the board in a couple spaces with heavy rocks or stakes so it doesn’t roll over when you balance on it.
If you purchased 2 of the larger cinder blocks, then you can place the landscape timber on top of them as an elevated balance beam. The 2×4 might break under the stress of bodyweight, but the landscape timber is thick enough to withstand me and my 250 pound frame!
If you want to build incredible grip strength and a strong upper body, then climbing will have to be in your training. You could do pullups day after day, but that can get boring and the same motion over and over will likely cause injury. A better solution is to practice climbing as that is essentially what pullups are for! If you do not have a place where you can build one outside, then you may want to find a park with a tree because climbing is so beneficial for us humans.
Building a climbing apparatus at home does not have to be that overwhelming. For this project in the photo, I have some additional climbing bars, but yours can be very simple. I recommend a 1” thick iron pipe. The one in the photo is 7’ long and ran about $16. The two post (4”x4”x10’ and buried 2 ½’ in the ground) were $18 apiece. I purchased the pipe connections and used those for attaching the pipe, but you could skip that part and just not drill the hole all the way through the post to put yours in.
As you can see in the photo, you could also use another landscape timber instead. I notched the post and then used a long bolt to help secure it. The rope is added security and helps it look better. The cost of the landscape timber, rope, and additional hardware comes out to about the same price as the iron pipe, so it is more on what type of climbing you will be doing.
If you have a basement or space above a door, you can use a smaller length 1″ iron pipe and a combination of elbows and flanges to attach it. The photo below shows two 3′ lengths of pipe attached to the main beam in our basement. This is about the same cost as the outdoor apparatus, and is another great option to use. It will limit some of the climbing moves, but will still be very useful!
Home improvement Store Home Gym Total Cost Breakdown:
Vaulting Saw Horse $22
Duct Tape/Shelf liner $8
4 Cinder blocks $8
Landscape Timber or 2”x4” $4
*Climbing Post $36
*Climbing Pipe $16
GRAND TOTAL $99
We do have to make some assumptions. You have a drill, drill bits, garbage bags and post hole diggers. If you do not have those items, then the cost will be significantly more, but investing in those items will only help you with future projects!
Now you have the equipment, but you are not familiar with thinking outside the “box” of modern fitness. How can you use these for a home gym? Check out our Youtube channel for videos on training and using this equipment to help you regain some of the Natural Human movement you had when you were a child and prepare you for the real world!
*The cost will fluctuate depending on the option you choose.