Just as there are exclusive fitness centers featuring soft tones, flattering lighting, soothing music, personal masseuse, trainers, and top-flight equipment, there are crowded, noisy, garishly-lit, gyms with wait lines, communal dressing rooms and cold showers for the rest of us. Well, home fitness centers have been bridging that disparity for a few years now. They offer the ambiance of a spa, with the exclusivity of knowing that the equipment is custom-calibrated for your use alone- that is if you can afford the steep price tag! In this article, we’ll cover a range of options for those seeking the solace that only a workout within your own four walls can provide.

Whether maintenance, muscle-building, or weight control is your goal, home gyms offer the best options for continued success. Working out at home means you can set your own schedule, and no more waiting for a piece of equipment to become available while trying to maintain your exercise-elevated cardio level. Your ‘locker room’ and shower facilities are more exclusive as well. Also, no combination locks or lockers to stow your gear while you exercise, and no monthly/annual membership fee. There’s more- no self-consciousness around folks who were born fit and genetically hard-wired to stay that way regardless of how many pizzas and beers they ingest. That said, here are our top picks and why:

  • Peleton: The current darling of successful Millennials and Gen-Xers, the Peleton is a stationary bike that takes its riders on trips around the world. It is a quality-built machine, with excellent, inspirational and motivational trainers and customer service to match. Many users have stated that previously they were not conducive to working out but quickly became ‘hooked’. That is due to the interactivity between users and trainers as well as other riders. Users can be in their homes, but also a continent away riding alongside other participants. The machine monitors heart rate and other metrics, as well as offers arm toning options.
  • Cost: $3,000+ for the first year (machine and an annual subscription for classes), roughly $500 yearly for classes thereafter. Extended warranty will incur an additional charge. If this machine is too pricey and cult-ish for your taste and wallet, Nordic Trak, Fly Anywhere, Cyclebar, and SoulCycle have similar options. Additional cons: While sleek and attractive, without the subscription service, this 135-lb machine is just an indoor bike.
  • Total Gym XLS Home Gym: The popular choice among Boomers due to its celebrity endorsements (Chuck Norris and Christy Brinkley) and the fact that if you use it, it works. Clearly aimed towards seniors, the gym is great for those seeking to increase flexibility and tone and lengthen muscles. The product is regularly flacked on that TV channel that offers interest-free payment plans- also a plus with those on fixed-budgets. This model is also rock-solid and will support individuals up to 400 lbs. While many competitors offer a stripped-down base model, just about everyone one could wish for comes standard including an ab attachment, attachments for arms and legs, dip and pull-up bars, squat stand, and stability mat. The DVD claims over 80 exercise options so boredom is not likely to set in. The only cons are that to use it, one must be flexible enough to lower oneself down to the slider base. A spotter is recommended. Also, while the machine folds for closet or under bed storage, fully extended, it takes up over 90” of space. Not suitable for a cramped apartment. Shipped folded flat, DIYers can set it up themselves or hire a handyman. Cost: Roughly $1,000. Also seen on eBay for from $150.- $299.
  • Tonal – Due to space limitations, many have been deterred about setting up a home gym. Others do not like the look of most fitness equipment relative to the ambiance of their open-concept living. Tonal provides the ideal fusion between home decor and getting a solid fitness workout. Wall-mounted, with its sleek and alluring design, this machine is also a monument to consumer technology. This home fitness center of the future is here and now. Problem is, it is cost-prohibitive for most of us. The total outlay for this wall-mounted wonder is about $5K when taxes, delivery, installation, and the monthly subscription fees are applied.
  • What does this paragon do, exactly? Tonal’s pros include a range of workout options for almost every fitness level; it uses up to 200-lbs of magnetic force resistance (like some rowing machines) yet, it is compact and when not in use, unobtrusive. More pros- Tonal is easy to use, and dynamic. This means there are multiple workout features so it is not a one-trick pony it’s users will soon tire of. Continuous updates are promised, so additional classes will be available on a regular basis. Cons, other than the price, are said to be that for competitive weightlifters, 200-lbs of resistance is child’s play. That’s not most of us. Also, the parent company is a startup, so some owners are concerned that down the road, their warranty might be invalid. As for competitors, right now there are no other wall-mounted exercise machines offering the same features.

We said every budget, right? Some readers may still be thinking this equipment is out of reach. Remember, every system offers payment plans but if you truly are a cheapskate, there are still other options. Many townships have an ‘offer up’ website where residents can upload photos of unwanted household goods, free on a first-come, first-served, haul-it-away-yourself basis. Unwieldy, disused exercise equipment is a perennial selection on these sites. If less is more for you, however, just opt for hand-held free weights in varying sizes, a portable over-the-door system consisting of a pull-up bar, pulleys, and handles. Add a star if the door features a full-length mirror. If not, many towns have an ‘offer up’ website.