The words “Do It Yourself” might bring to mind images of crocheted scarves and hand-embroidered mittens, but turns out the DIY community also has a harder edge. Fitness aficionados across the country are figuring out how to make their own gym equipment, saving money and boosting self-sufficiency in the process.
Here, we’ve rounded up a few DIY fitness projects designed help you reach your fitness goals from the comfort of your own home. Though some of these projects might be a little intimidating (concrete and power tools, anyone?), many of them are accessible to even the novice do-it-yourselfer.
Simple, yet fundamental, sandbags are an extremely versatile piece of equipment. The best part is they cost next to nothing to make. All you need are an old duffel bag (preferably an army/navy rucksack), contractor’s bags, and some pea gravel. Double-bag the pea gravel in the contractor’s bags, and tape them up securely.
2. Pull-up Bar
Pull-ups work a variety of muscle groups in the arms and back, which explains why they’re a classic complement to strength training routines. To make a homemade pull up bar, just fit some pipes together and hang the contraption over a suitable load-bearing I-beam. (Emphasis on load-bearing! Make sure the bar is suitably secure and supported before you start pulling.)
3. Plyometric boxes
Nothing builds explosive strength like jumping on a plyo box. However, plyo boxes from most fitness distributors are extremely expensive. The good folks over at Crossfit (THE anti globo-gym entity) have published plans on how to make your own boxes.
4. Water Balls
Similar to a sandbag but way harder to maneuver, water balls are the crazy cousin hanging out in the corner of the strength-training party. They’re also very easy to make: Simply purchase an exercise ball (make sure it’s marked “anti-burst”—unless you want to be soaked in more than sweat), fill it up with water (leave some air so the water has room to slosh around), and voila: For about $10 and 30 minutes of time investment, you’ve got one heck of a training tool.
5. Medicine Ball
A popular addition to core work, medicine balls can be used in a variety of exercises that challenge the whole body and have been shown to improve muscle power and performance. Make your own with an old basketball, drill, and some sand.
6. Incline Bench
Love it or dread it, the incline bench is a classic tool for a variety of core work. But commercial versions can also chisel away at people’s wallets, lending appeal to the DIY version. Another perk of making your own incline bench: It’s self-adjustable, so it can be tailored to different moves and levels of fitness. Plus, it looks really impressive in a basement or workout space.
Both practices make great complements to any fitness routine, and luckily making a homemade mat couldn’t be simpler. Simply buy a roll of no-slip kitchen shelf liner (look for one that’s at least 5 feet long and 1 inch thick), unwrap, and get toning. It may not be the fanciest mat out there (though it’s possible to beautify it a little bit), but it’ll do the trick.
8. Foam Roller
Foam rolling is gaining popularity thanks to its serious benefits, which include muscle tension relief, increased range of motion, and injury prevention . It can be difficult to replicate the sturdiness of commercial rollers, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. With the help of a cheap yoga mat, some PVC pipe, and (of course) duct tape, these instructions will have you ready to roll like a pro in no time.
See? You don’t need a gym subscription! Just a few household resources and a ton of patience.