By Megan Taylor Morrison
The Active Times

Sometimes, squeezing in your workout is a matter of convenience. Even the best-made plans can go astray in the face of traffic, a faulty alarm clock or other factors. At these moments, having a few basic pieces of fitness equipment at your home can be the difference between a great sweat session and a missed workout.

After all, you don't need a gym or big and bulky workout machines to strengthen, tone, and condition your body. In fact, with a few compact and affordable items -- resistance bands, kettlebells and stability ball, for instance --you can fit in a great workout anywhere. Whether you want to stay in shape while on the road or living in a shoebox of an apartment -- or even if you just need a few good suggestions to help trick out your home gym -- the following great buys will help you stick to your fitness routine.

Even if you don't spend an hour every day working out in your living room, having these items on hand means you're more likely to fit in a few reps while hanging around the house or to squeeze in a workout when you're short on time. In fact, having your own equipment comes with a long list of benefits: you only pay the initial cost of the purchase (rather than a monthly gym fee), you can create a training space you enjoy, and you can blast your own tunes in surround sound. After your workout, you can also enjoy your home shower where cleanliness and privacy are never an issue.

The Fitness Gear Everyone Should Own Slideshow


BOSU Pro Balance Trainer

A BOSU can be used for cardio training, as well as to work your arms, legs and abs. In particular, it's good for building balance and working stabilizing muscles while you cultivate strength. When you purchase one on Amazon ($109.99), you'll also receive a workout DVD, foot pump and exercise manual.


Ankle And Wrist Weights

Using these strap-on weights, you can complete a full-body workout. At $16.10, the Thera-Band Comfort Fit Ankle and Wrist Cuff Weights are a great option and come in two-, three- or five-pound sets.


Resistance Bands

Using resistance bands can help you develop muscular strength and endurance, as well as increase coordination and balance. With this set from Black Mountain Products ($28.58), you'll have everything you need to get started: bands with various levels of resistance, an ankle strap, door anchor, carrying bag and more. Once they arrive, try this 10-minute workout.


Comfortable Shoes

Throughout your day and your workout, your feet take a beating. For this reason, it's important to invest in a pair of shoes that will provide adequate support during cardio and strength training. Whether you want the best new shoes on the market, or a great pair for under $100, there are plenty of great options to choose from.


Foam Roller

Although it's not a substitute for a proper cool down or stretching, a foam roller can be great for massaging muscles and increasing bloodflow and flexibility. The Grid Revolutionary Foam Roller ($39.95) receives rave reviews. It's made with less foam than other models, meaning it's not only better for the environment, but also holds up well to heavy use.



Kettlebells can help you build explosive strength without harmful impact on your joints, according to The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Currently, you can buy a set of four kettlebells (10, 15, 20 and 25 pounds) for $60 on Amazon. Use them to perform these excercises suggested by the American Council on Exercise.


Plyo Boxes

Plyo boxes can be used for plyometric exercises, including box step-ups, box jumps and lateral box jumps. These moves will help you develop power and strength.


Pull-Up Bar

Pull-ups are an excellent way to build upper body strength. The Pro Gym Multi Pull-Up Bar ($25.95) can be attached and removed from a door frame quickly (no bolts required), meaning you can easily put it away when company comes over. If you can't already do a pull-up, check out these suggestions for mastering the exercise.

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