Don’t want to pay for a gym membership? Pandemic have you wary of working out in a stuffy facility? Kids making it difficult to steal away for a couple of hours? We’ve compiled a list of our favorite budget home gym equipment to help you create a fitness routine you can stick to from the comfort of your own space. Whether you want a fit pregnancy or need an easy way to lose the baby weight, we’re sure you’ll find something for you! This post may contain affiliate links which means we may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase using one of these links.
If you are looking to have a fit pregnancy, join the club!
My husband and I are admittedly gym rats – him more than me. So you can imagine that when the pandemic hit, we had a mini-meltdown and wondered what we were going to do with ourselves for the [un]foreseeable future. Gyms closed, studios closed, even spending time outside in our metropolitan neighborhood was a little disconcerting.
While we always talked about having a home gym at some point in our lives, we were living in a small apartment and our budget wasn’t all that glamorous. BUT, our health and fitness were a priority so we put our heads together to figure out our options. We were, after all, planning to undergo fertility treatment in a short couple of months, so it was crucial that we stayed as healthy as possible.
How to Stay Fit During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. That’s a minimum of 150 minutes per week. How you choose to spend those minutes is up to you, as long as you increase your heart rate and work up a bit of a sweat.
There are many ways to stay fit during pregnancy, from low-impact exercises like yoga, biking, walking, and swimming, to higher-intensity workouts (as approved by your doctor), like weight lifting, running and HIIT. For the purpose of this article, we are going to review staying fit without a gym membership by creating your own version of a home gym on a budget.
Now, a home gym can mean a lot of different things and entirely depends on the type of physical activity you engaged in pre-pregnancy, how much you can spend, and what workouts you feel comfortable partaking in as you progress through each trimester. Your home gym may simply consist of a mat and some lightweight dumbbells, while another may have a piece of cardio equipment, weights, and bands. If it works for you, that’s all that matters.
Affordable Gym Equipment Alternatives
Staying fit while pregnant may not be easy for everyone. If you were an avid exerciser pre-pregnancy, you may seamlessly transition into your modified workout routine. Or, you may have a tough time adjusting to not being able to do all the things you used to do. If you were a bit of a couch potato pre-pregnancy, starting a new workout routine may be a challenge (albeit a necessary challenge) that becomes absolutely life-changing for you in the long run.
Either way, you’ve got to adopt some kind of routine for you and your baby.
Staying fit while pregnant during a pandemic is an entirely different story! Cardio is hard enough as it is with a mask, let alone while carrying a baby. I remember doing not even ten minutes of the Stairmaster at our apartment building gym and thinking there was no way I was even going to make it to five. We have to wear our masks, even during strenuous exercise, and that was enough to call it a done deal for me.
Working out with my own equipment at home was going to be the easiest way for me to accomplish my goals without being uncomfortable.
Some of the following may still be considered “investment” items, but look at it this way… you’re investing in your health and the longterm! Here are some of my favorite home gym items:
1. Folding Treadmill
Whether you are a walker or a runner, the treadmill is one of the most accessible and user-friendly pieces of gym equipment that you can find – no matter your skill level, shape, or size. Especially for pregnant people, who should be walking around as much as possible. But, the big and sturdy ones you’ll find at your average gym aren’t exactly… affordable. If you want a treadmill AND work from home at a desk, a folding treadmill is a super awesome way to get your steps in without even trying.
You can either fold the arms down and slide the walking pad right under your desk or tabletop, or you can open the arms up and use them for support as you would on a normal treadmill.
Think about it, when you are at an office, you walk to the bathroom, the company kitchen, your co-worker’s office on the other side of the building, and sometimes head out for lunch. Working at home, we’re walking mere feet to get to the bathroom and to feed ourselves. If you were once a step counter, I am willing to bet you’re not entering many competitions these days.
Since my husband and I both work from home and have been for a year now, we finally went ahead and got this folding treadmill to use working while at our standing desks. I also, admittedly, slide it in front of the TV so I can walk while watching my reality shows. Figure I might as well get some cardio in if I am going to go on a binge, right?
This makes those 30-minute cardio sessions a piece of cake.
Yes, you can walk outside, but with that comes a wealth of opportunity for excuses. It’s snowing, it’s raining, I’m tired, I need a break, I’d rather lounge, it’s too dark out, it’s too cold or hot, I’m not comfortable walking around my neighborhood, I have too much to do… the list goes on. With this bad boy, you can multi-task. Bye-bye excuses!
2. Spin Bike
I am an avid spinner, but spin classes aren’t always easy on the wallet. And, well, the pandemic.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a Peloton. I’d kill for one. But, being practical and on a budget due to IVF and all of the other fun expenses associated with getting pregnant and introducing an entire human to the family, I needed another option. Instead, I got this more affordable spin bike about a month into the pandemic and it was by FAR, the best thing I could have done for myself. It made being cooped up while on lockdown a lot more bearable, and it kept me in shape for the start of my IVF treatment.
Now that I am pregnant and the world is still upside down, I still manage to get on the bike five times a week for at least thirty minutes. While I can’t jump and climb and thrash around the way I used to, it is helping me have a fit pregnancy better than I could have imagined.
If you are also interested in the Peloton but don’t have the budget, you can easily get the same experience with a little creativity:
- I have the Peloton app, which I use on my TV with the Firestick, or you can use it on an iPad with a bike mount
- Attach a cadence sensor to your wheel
- Grab yourself a pair of 2lb, 3lb, or 5lb dumbbells
- Hook yourself up to a Fitbit or similar fitness tracking device to keep an eye on your heart rate and calories burned
- And, of course, the spin bike
…and you’ve got yourself a worthy alternative! You just saved yourself thousands of dollars.
3. Yoga Mat
A yoga mat is useful for all sorts of at-home strength workouts as well as stretching, which is crucial during pregnancy. As you progress, your hips will widen to accommodate your baby, and your back will ache as you get used to your new center of gravity (which is constantly growing). Therefore, we highly recommend adopting a regular stretch routine – in addition to cardio and/or strength training.
Taking 10-20 minutes a day to stretch out your aches and pains will not only make your daily tasks easier but will also help your labor and delivery.
A quarter-inch yoga mat is pretty standard and what you will find at many yoga studios. Or, if you need a bit more cushion, a thicker yoga mat may be more comfortable on the tailbone when you’re carrying all that extra weight.
4. Adjustable Dumbbells
Weight training is highly beneficial when you are pregnant, especially for your back and hips. As you make your way through each month and trimester, you will notice your bones and muscles working harder to accommodate the added weight. With your body changing so drastically and you if didn’t have strong legs to start with, your knees and hips may suffer.
An awesome way to strength train at home without taking up too much space is with adjustable dumbbells. Instead of having a set of equipment for every weight, you can simply add or subtract what you need from one set of grips and you’re good to go!
If you are used to lifting weights, you will notice that many of your workouts will need to be modified but that’s OK!
This gym alternative is not for everyone, as you really shouldn’t introduce too many new physical activities that you weren’t already familiar with pre-pregnancy. However, low impact strength training with a light set of dumbbells is still an awesome way to help your body carry your baby through your pregnancy with as much comfort as possible.
5. Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are a low-cost, low-impact way to work on your strength training and mobility from home.
- This set of Resistance Bands is super versatile in that they come at multiple weights and don’t take up a lot of space, which is useful for those who want to strength train but don’t have the budget or room for dumbells. It comes with multiple weight levels, a door anchor, handles, leg ankle straps, and a waterproof carrying bag, which would make storing them when you aren’t using them a piece of cake!
- Resistance Loops are great for leg workouts, particularly for your glutes and hips. Use them while laying on your yoga mat or when doing squats or lunges and you’ll get an added workout.
I can’t get it all, which should I get?
Depending on your preferences and your budget, I would recommend the following:
- If you are a cardio enthusiast and are torn between the folding treadmill and the spin bike, I would recommend that the average pregnant person go with the folding treadmill first. I love my bike but, I was only able to use it throughout my pregnancy for so long before my tailbone started to ache and the new weight and belly really started to limit my mobility. With the treadmill, anyone can walk, belly or not. And you will probably get a better workout because you are working harder to support yourself and the baby, whereas, with the bike, you’ve got a little help because you’re seated. That is, unless you are able to climb and do high resistance! Additionally, you are more likely to be able to put a treadmill to use after giving birth SOONER than you would a spin bike because, well, your lady bits will need some time to recover.
- If you are interested in low impact stretching, get yourself the yoga mat and a set of resistance bands so you can stretch and work on strengthening your hips.
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