Level Up Your Workout: How to Plan and Pay for a Home Gym


As a former college athlete, John Bovard has always prioritized exercise. Building a home gym helped him balance health, career and family.

“To be able to walk right downstairs, get our workout in, be back upstairs without any travel time or any commute was something that was our best option,” says Bovard, a certified financial planner and owner of Incline Wealth Advisors in Cincinnati.

The cost to build a home gym ranges from $300 to $15,000, according to home improvement website HomeAdvisor, and depends on your equipment and renovation needs. It may seem daunting and expensive, but there are ways to manage the costs. Here are five tips to tackle a home gym so you gain muscle — not unmanageable debt.

Spot what you need

Before jumping into plans for a dream gym, reflect on your past and current exercise patterns.

“Know the equipment you like that keeps you motivated, so you’re not wasting money,” says Megan Kopka, a certified financial planner at Apprise Wealth Management in Wilmington, North Carolina, “so [the equipment] doesn’t become a clothes rack.”

For some, equipment can mean dumbbells and a strength training machine, which can range from $1,000 to $6,000 or more. For others, a yoga mat and a few light weights, which can total less than $100, may be sufficient. Consider gym add-ons like speakers, floor mats or app subscriptions, which can amplify your workout but increase your costs.

Kopka pays for a Peloton app subscription and says the workouts it provides are affordable and rewarding. “I’m a financial planner. I work all the time,” says Kopka, “I’m planning for everybody else, and it’s just nice to have that online class where they tell you what to do.”

Let your budget do the heavy lifting

Once you have a firm idea of what’s needed for your home gym, create a budget by researching equipment, adding up the costs and factoring in any savings from, for example, canceling a gym membership. Identify equipment you may want to buy new versus secondhand.

Bovard found used equipment through Facebook Marketplace and Play It Again Sports. He says rubber-coated dumbbells or weights with low wear-and-tear can be good second-hand purchases.

It may be tempting to buy everything you want for your gym quickly, but it’s best to build the space over time.

“You’re not going to be able to go from zero to a fully decked-out gym,” says Bovard. Lead with your budget as you decide what to purchase and when, and stagger the purchases to give your bank account a rest.

Stretch your savings

The cheapest way to finance a home gym is to pay with cash. “Savings would be more of a slow and steady route,” says Bovard. “That’s where it would make more sense to save over time and slowly start to accumulate what you need.”

Setting aside cash from your monthly income and building the gym in stages can help you avoid high-interest financing options like a credit card or personal loan. Bovard also suggests checking if you can use funds from a workplace health savings account (HSA) for qualified gym equipment. Your employer may also provide compensation for a gym membership that can go toward home gym costs instead.

Another consideration for how much to invest in the gym: How long do you intend to stay in the house? While a gym may increase your home’s value when you sell, the space should also be adaptable for a future homeowner.

Weigh your financing options

Financing is another way to pay for the home gym. Credit cards can be convenient for purchasing equipment and accessories, but interest rates can be high. To avoid interest, pay off the balance each month or get a credit card with a no-interest introductory period, which can be 15 to 18 months. Earning credit card rewards or points can also help offset other costs.

Buy now, pay later” providers like Klarna and Afterpay allow borrowers to break up a major purchase into equal biweekly or monthly payments, often with zero- or low-interest plans. You can find buy now, pay later options during checkout at major retailers and fitness companies like Peloton and Tonal. Applying for a buy now, pay later plan typically only requires a soft credit check, so there’s no impact on your credit score, but the convenience can also make it easy to overspend.

Borrowing funds using your home equity or an unsecured home improvement loan is best suited for a gym that requires remodeling that may include electrical and plumbing work. A home equity loan or line of credit uses your home as collateral and has low interest rates relative to a credit card or personal loan, but it can take a few weeks for a credit decision. An unsecured home improvement loan will have a higher interest rate but won’t require your home to secure the loan, and some lenders offer same-day funding.

Stay on track to see results

A home gym pays off if it’s used regularly, so staying consistent with your workouts is important to get the most out of your money. “If you’re not going to use it, it’s expensive,” says Kopka.

Feel comfortable adapting the space as needed, like getting additional equipment or selling anything you’re not using.

After building their home gym, Bovard and his wife realized an added benefit: Their five young kids got involved. “They might watch us work out or they might hang out in there,” says Bovard. “I think that’s a great part of it.”



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