*Home Workout 101* (Part 1): A Budget-Friendly Guide to Getting Equipped!

When I changed jobs just over two years ago, my commute became an hour each way. At that time, I was dead set in my routine of going to the gym before work 4-5 days a week. If I wasn’t able to get to the gym in order to workout, my day and my mental state suffered…as did all those around me!

I quickly realized that my former gym schedule was not going to be feasible with my new work scenario (unless I wanted to forgo decent sleep and my sanity). If I wanted to continue a training regimen,  my only option was to work out at home.

I had accumulated a few random pieces of equipment and a reasonable number of free weights slowly over the years. Even with what I had though, I was not able to get the same quality of workout at home as what I was used to doing with the cable equipment and machines at the gym. But I also didn’t have excess cash burning a hole in my pocket that I could use to get everything I really wanted to have at home. It was time to get creative. I started by searching craigslist ads and local Facebook groups for used equipment and weights.

Here are my general tips and takeaways from the experience:

  • Search multiple ways. People misspell words, spell things differently, and spacing matters! Try ALL the versions you can think of to get the most results. Examples: dumbbells/dumb bells, workout/work out, freeweights/free weights, barbells/bar bells, exercise equipment, gym equipment, weights, plate weights, weight set, cables, universal machine, cardio machine… you get the idea.
  • The price for plate weights, dumbbells, and kettle bells (if not coated) runs about $1-$2/lb new, so keep that in mind when you buy used. My husband recently got several matching pairs of older, uncoated dumbbells, which are still in average condition for about 50 cents/lb. I thought it was a very good price for what he got, and I’d have bought them if he hadn’t!
  • Search Facebook groups within your city, county, and local area titled yardsale, treasure, or buy/sell/trade. Some are by invite or request only and you may have to wait a few days to get access. Still, those that are by invite only are the best to look in. It helps eliminate fake posts, keeps people accountable because they have to comply with group rules, and ensures people remove sold items.
  • With the Facebook listings, even if you find an older ad, go ahead and contact the seller if you are interested. Not everyone updates their listings. If it was already sold, it usually has to be removed from the page as part of the rules. If it is still posted, it is probably still up for grabs! This leads me to the next point…
  • Don’t be afraid to barter or offer less. The longer people have stuff sitting around their house, the better your chances will be to get a deal!
  • Search often! Daily or even several times a day…the good stuff goes fast!
  • Be sensible. Don’t buy things that you shouldn’t use second hand. If it isn’t a material that can be cleaned, I’d pass. You’d be surprised to know what standards some people DON’T have.
  • Watch for scams, especially with Craigslist. Scams could still happen with Facebook groups, but there is more accountability with the way Facebook groups work, at least in my opinion. Never meet someone alone, and remember the rule: if it sound too good to be true, it probably is. I don’t think I need to go into too much more detail here. Just be intelligent and use good judgment.

home weight set

What I ended up getting!

What my husband recently got!


I searched until I found a good deal on a universal cable machine with a built in squat rack. It also came with an incline/decline bench. The bench has a leg extension and leg curl machine as part of the seat, and even a removable preacher curl attachment. The guy I got it from also had a bunch of additional cable attachments, weight bars, a plate weight rack, and about 300 lbs worth of free weights and weight plates. I got a freaking amazing deal at $350 for everything—especially since most of it was in close to new condition and initially listed at $650.

Right now is a good time to start hunting for this kind of stuff—think of all the people who got things at Christmas, or bought things for their New Year’s resolutions. They often end up selling them at deep discounts (and barely used). Once their motivation fades or they realize they won’t actually use the items as much as they thought they would, then the stuff is just getting in their way. Even better yet for you as the buyer—if it is in the way of someone else in the home, like a spouse or roommate. When I went to look at and make an offer on my equipment, my husband and I could tell that the guy was pretty much just selling it because it was in a space that his in-laws needed. Like I said, he initially listed it for $650, but knowing this gave me the leverage to low ball the offer I initially planned to make. He was perfectly happy with it.

Even if it isn’t early in the year when you come across this, there are always people moving or upgrading their equipment who will post stuff that is worth buying as well. I once sold a $2500 Precor Elliptical (exactly like the highest end models that were in the gym at the time) for $1000 because I was moving and had to. There wasn’t a thing wrong with it. It still makes me cringe to think about it! But $1000 was better than nothing when I needed it gone fast.

So, that is what I have learned so far about buying used equipment on a budget. I’ll update this post as needed if I come across more insights to the process!

Stay tuned for more in the “Home Workout 101” series! In upcoming posts, I plan to cover: knowing what to buy and what to avoid, tips to getting things you will actually use, unconventional ways you can use your home equipment to replicate what you thought you could only do at the gym, how you can use common household items as equipment, body weight exercises, HIIT workouts for when you are short on time, where to start when you are trying to design a home workout program, staying motivated and avoiding distraction when working out at home, resources for learning how to correctly perform exercises when you don’t have a partner or trainer…and more!


Reader questions:

  • Do you ever work out at home?
  • Have you ever gotten a great deal on a second hand equipment item? If so, what was it?

| Kaci

3 Comments Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s