Many of us are bringing our workouts home.  Maybe we don't have the time or money for the gym, or we're looking for other exercise options. Whatever the reason, home fitness equipment doesn't have to be expensive or expansive. Begin by  jotting down what you really need, will really use, and can afford.  Once you've decided what you're looking for, you're ready to start shopping for home fitness equipment.

Set your goals. What is this equipment going to do?  Are you looking for a total workout system or just a bit more cardio?  A weight machine or dumbells?  If you already go to the gym for strength training and aerobics classes, you might only need an exercise ball and yoga mat for flexibility training.  If, on the other hand, you're moving your whole fitness routine including strength, cardio and flexibility into the spare bedroom, you might need a lot more equipment. 

Get real. Ask yourself if this is an impulse buy or a long-term commitment-and shop accordingly.  Far too many use their treadmill as a clothes hanger while their weight machine gathers dust in the garage.  If you already exercise regularly, and know you'll use it, make an investment. If, on the other hand, you've never made it to the gym past the first month of membership, start with something low-end or used-and see if you stick with it before you break the bank. 

Determine your budget. If money is no object, you'll have no trouble finding top quality equipment at sporting goods shops, home fitness equipment stores, or online.  Talk with a certified fitness instructor about what equipment is suitable for your needs.  Check consumer review publications before you drop a dime on home fitness equipment that's all hype.

Shopping on a shoestring is no problem. Fitness equipment like treadmills, elliptical trainers, step, and rowing machines are plentiful on and in classified ads.  Discount stores sell low-end, new models without all the bells and whistles for cheap.  Many gyms and fitness centers sell their used equipment when they buy newer models.  Don't buy anything sight unseen.  Step on it and make sure it works. 

Strength training can be as affordable as resistance bands and hand weights or expensive as a home gym (ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars.)

All you really need for flexibility training is a spot on the floor to stretch out. Add a yoga mat, exercise ball, and some straps if you're feeling fancy but make your investment in good yoga, Pilates, or flexibility DVDs.  Pilates machines range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. 

Determine your space. Take measurements before you bring equipment home.  Do you really want a treadmill in your bedroom?  How inviting is a weight bench in a dank basement?  Will your garage provide a comfortable workout in the dead of winter?  Do you need equipment that folds up and tucks in a closet, or can you fill an extra bedroom?  There's a reason why and other places have so much to offer.  Don't purchase equipment you really can't live with.