For many, joining a local gym is as good as it gets. Gym enthusiasts enjoy the variety of equipment available and are motivated by people working out around them.
But for others, even the thought of stepping into a gym causes anxiety and trepidation. It’s safe to say that these folks would rather exercise at home.
Fans of home gyms tend to fall into two categories.
The first is the fitness buff who wants to supplement an already established exercise routine.
The second is the fitness newbie who doesn’t want to commit to a gym membership but would like to improve her strength and shape.
Luckily, for those searching for ways to workout at home, there are many home gym systems to choose from.
Before we review the top home gyms under $500, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantage of a home gym set-up.
Before you fall in love with a home gym unit, make sure you have ample room to set it up! Take exact measurements so you know just how much space you need to work out in a comfortable, safe manner. Remember that you may need to move some of the equipment around during a regular routine.
Of course, money matters. Be sure to shop within your budget. Reviews like the ones below will allow you to narrow down the search and find the best home gym under $500.
Putting together a home gym can be tricky. Make sure your equipment comes with a detailed manual and step-by-step instructions. Some models have online tutorials that will walk you through the initial set up.
A key to maintaining an exercise routine is versatility. It’s a bonus to have a range of exercises to choose from so you never tire of the same thing day in and day out. Check if there are “add-ons” available either with your initial purchase or if you can buy additional stations at a later date (remember that add-ons will increase the overall footprint of the gym).
A good warranty is essential since home gyms endure lots of wear and tear.
For additional tips, check out this great article.
Before we take an up-close look at the main contenders, check out this table below for a quick overview.
Features we love
Buy it now
- Built-in rowing station
Home Gym Weider
- Perfect for beginners
- 30+ strength training exercises
Marcy 150 lbs.
- Extremely well-made
XR 55 Home
- Extremely quiet,
Now then, let's take a better look at our top picks.
The Bowflex PR1000 is a popular choice for families, probably because of its versatility.
There are over 30 strengthening and toning exercises to work all muscle groups, plus a built-in rowing station (great for cardio).
There is 210 lbs. of resistance, an attachment for leg extensions and curls, and pulleys that can be used in low, medium or high positions.
The rowing bench was our favorite feature. We love that we can add on a cardio portion to our routine.
This model has 6 workout stations, 81 lbs. of “DuraStack” weights and up to 214 lbs. of resistance.
There are many exercise options, including bench press, butterfly, high and low pulleys, a preacher pad with ankle strap and handle, and a 4-foam leg developer.
The frame is made of durable steel and the gym comes with an exercise chart to keep track of your progress.
We appreciated the compact footprint and the overall look of this home gym; it’s an attractive, streamlined black and red design. It’s ideal for a small space.
The Marcy MWM-990 is another solid option for anyone looking to jumpstart a workout routine.
With dual-functioning arm and leg presses and multi-position pulleys, you can choose from over 30 exercises.
There is a 150 lb. weight stack ready to sculpt and strengthen all of your muscle groups.
The weight stack (150 lbs.) was extremely easy to use thanks to the locking mechanism. Once the lock was in place, our resistance training was fluid and absolutely safe.
Of all the home gyms we reviewed, this may be the most compact and straightforward.
In this way, it’s a great beginner set up.
Its main features: high and low pulleys, dual-function arm press, and an adjustable preacher pad.
For a quick but informative overview, check out this video.
For its size and simplicity, this model has a solid construction that should withstand a serious amount of use.
The XR 55 by Gold’s Gym is designed by a Certified Personal Trainer.
With over 36 exercises (6 workout stations), this home gym targets the entire body with 330 lbs. of resistance, a 125 lb. weight stack, adjustable pulleys, a 4-roll leg developer and more.
We were impressed with the number of exercises we could do on this compact system! What’s more, the entire operation ran very smoothly and made hardly any noise at all (perfect for apartment living!).
There’s something to be said for having full control of your workout regime – and we’re not just talking about the amount of weights and number of reps.
For example, there may be days when you want to exercise just your legs – while wearing pajamas -- or days when you don full workout gear, crank up your rock music and dive into a lengthy routine.
If your gym is just minutes away (in another room), you can make split decisions and match your workout to your current mood.
Whether you’re intimidated by the hardcore athletes or cannot afford the monthly membership, we know that the gym scene is not for everyone.
Luckily, on the market today there are a number of top-notch home gyms to consider, many under $500.
With such a low price point, building a home gym is a wise investment – financially and physically speaking -- for just about anyone.