Crushing Toy Dinosaurs in Your Home Gym

I’ve had many gym memberships over the years. Much of that time was when I was an apartment dweller and lacked the space or resources to have my own personal workout equipment. But even when I became a homeowner, while I was able to stay in adequate shape with a regimen of push-ups, sit-ups, and running, I sometimes missed weight training and the variety of exercises available at a local gym.   Even after my wife and I purchased a home with plenty of space, I frequented a 24-hour fitness center and shelled out $40 per month for the privilege of torturing my body. They gym was great because when I went to the gym I knew I would workout. I know that seems silly, but the simple act of walking through that front door meant that I was going to exert myself for the next hour or two because I’d gone through the trouble of paying the gym fee and making the trip. But as I got older (and busier), my wife and I accumulated some equipment for our home. The initial expense wasn’t insubstantial, but the various devices we purchased paid for themselves over time. The best part is, we can fit everything into one corner of our basement.

I present to you… our gym.

gym 1

Yeah, I know. It doesn’t look like much.  And there are no dinosaurs… but, I’ll get to that.

First, let’s look at how you can get great workouts with relatively few pieces of equipment. You’ll notice there is no treadmill pictured, as I’m not a huge fan of those things and I prefer to run outside if at all possible.


I think these were a Christmas present from my wife and they are outstanding. They are Bowflex SelecTech adjustable weights that can set anywhere from 5 to 52.5 pounds each. I admit they are expensive ($299), but I use these babies for bench pressing, shoulder presses, shrugs, curls, and anything else you can think of that you can do with dumbbells. While I own some regular 15 lb dumbbells (pictured sitting in front of the Bowflex weights), I almost always use the SelecTech weights. Now, for those of you hoping to bulk up like Wolverine, 52.5 lbs probably isn’t enough for you. For those of us who are satisfied with falling somewhere between the goofy kid from the movie Road Trip and Wolverine… this will be fine.

gym 3


We picked this thing up for about $100 and the best part is that it inclines. It’s great for bench presses, incline presses, rows, and a variety of other exercises. My preschooler likes to climb on this thing an growl while she lifts her purple 2 lb weights, so you KNOW it’s the real deal.


The base is filled with water and it DOES tend to scoot around the room when you punch it hard enough, but this $130 purchase is great when I need a quick cardio workout (or close-quarter combat training in case I’m going to be speaking to a rowdy book club). The height is adjustable and you can buy some gloves relatively cheap.


I have mixed feelings on this one. It was expensive ($400 – $500) and while it’s been good to have during the winter months, it feels like I have to be on the thing FOREVER to get a really good workout. However, we’ve had it for years and put a ridiculous number of miles on the thing. And watching a movie while peddling is better than simply sitting on the couch.


Surprisingly, this was not crazy expensive (approx. $140) yet it gives us the opportunity to do exercises that are great for multiple muscle groups. One side of the station allows the user to do pull-ups – not an easy thing to do, or maintain. The other side lets the user do dips and leg lifts. I really like this piece of equipment, as I’ve never been able to get door frame pull-up bars to work well, and there are few other ways you can do dips unless you are at a gym.

Gym 2



I don’t use this as much as I probably should, although I do a variety of other ab exercises. Maybe it’s because part of me thinks the whole exercise ball thing is a passing fad that will seem silly in another 10 or 15 years, but you can buy a ball for $20 and there are some good core exercises you can perform on the ball. Not to mention small children love to take the things and roll them over toy dinosaurs, although you rarely see those photos in the ads.


 SPEED ROPE (not pictured):

Jumping rope is great for cardio and agility. Ropes are cheap ($10 or less) and speed work burns fat. Rocky Balboa knew it. Now you know it. Get to it.


I already mentioned my semi-hate / hate relationship with the treadmill.  But, many people swear by them and I can understand why.  If you are a runner and need to get your miles in and mother nature, work, kids, etc. won’t cooperate, then the treadmill can be your salvation.  Some people enjoy having more elaborate weight machines.  It all depends on your preferences.  I’d like to have an elliptical and would probably use it quite a bit.  However, a marathon coach I know burns up his treadmill, but avoids the elliptical.  Some people like rowing machines and others hate the things.

Regardless, you can create a fantastic home gym with a few pieces of equipment.  It will cost some money (our setup was created over several years), but when you consider the annual cost of a gym membership plus the time and gas spent going to and from the gym, it’s not a bad situation.  If you have children, you can exercise with them in the same room (sometimes) and therefore you won’t feel guilty bailing out for an hour or two.  And sometimes you can incorporate your kids into your workout.

Do you need any of this stuff to stay in shape?  Of course not.  However, you CAN get the feel of a complete gym workout without buying an entire gym.

What equipment do you have/want in your home?  Comment below!


J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor


An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.



In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.


Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air


 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the upcoming LEGACY anthology: 




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