The Ultimate List of Homemade & Alternative Gym Equipment Substitutes

Not everyone has the luxury of access to a full gym, but that shouldn’t stop you from working out! There are plenty of everyday household items you can use as an alternative for traditional gym props, equipment, and weights. With a little creativity and ingenuity, you can get the full benefits of working out with gym equipment, without the added cost!

Our top picks for homemade exercise equipment:

  • Weights: A lot of online fitness classes call for weights, but don’t let that scare you off if you don’t have any lying around. Grab some canned goods out of the pantry as a substitute for smaller hand weights. (We use them all the time while doing Nikki Fitness’ Walking Workout with Weights, Monte Sanders’ Tone Zone Arm Workout, and Kristin McGee’s Pilates Abs and Arms Workout!) And paint cans and bags filled with heavy items are perfect substitutes for heavier weights at home. Children and pets work too, just be careful!
  • Kettlebells: Kettlebell workouts are becoming more and more popular. If you’re dying to try one but don’t have the proper equipment you can always use a gallon of water or a gallon of milk. Just be careful with the milk… it could get messy! Why not give it a go during Chad Austin’s Warrior 2 class or FX Fitness’ Lower Body and Upper Body Kettlebell
  • Strap: Straps make yoga postures and stretches more accessible and are great for people with tight hips, hammies, and shoulders. If your class calls for a strap you can use a belt, rope, towel, just about anything over 4 feet long works as a replacement for a strap. Get creative!
  • Block: Don’t be afraid to rock that block! Blocks are great for bringing the ground closer to you as you move through yoga poses, and they’re a great addition use in barre classes to make sure your legs and arms are engaged. If you don’t have a block, you can always use a large book, and towels or blankets are also good when restorative classes call for blocks to help deepen a pose.
     Gym equipment substitutes for health and fitness
  • Sliders: Sliders are often used in bodyweight and barre classes. These innocent looking discs are used for descriptively hard workouts. Paper plates (for carpeted rooms) and socks (for hard floors) are perfect DIY exercise sliders. We use them all the time during FX Fitness’ Slider Workout and Marie Christine’s Dance & Fitness Glider Burn.
  • Weighted vest: Grab a backpack and fill it up with the heaviest items you have and voila, you’re now the proud owner of a DYI weighted vest.
  • Step-up block: A short coffee table, ottoman, or your own stairs can all work as a replacement of a step-up block.
  • Incline and decline push-up bench: You don’t need a fancy gym bench to do incline or decline pushups. A sturdy table, bed, stairs or chair will all give you the angle you need to perform this exercise.
  • Ballet bar: A lot of people are hesitant to try barre because they don’t have a ballet bar at home! That’s an easy fix. All you need is a chair, countertop, or high table and you’re ready to tuck and pulse your heart away. We always use this alternative exercise equipment when we’re taking our favorite classes from Soul Body Barre, Beach Barre Body, Marie Christine’s Dance and Fitness, and Core Cycle Studios.

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