Fit Kit

Underrated Fitness Gear You Can Get for Less Than $10

cheap fitness equipment
Evan Lockhart/Thrillist

If the Tough Mudder/Spartan Race/American Ninja Warrior craze has taught us anything, it's that you don't need fancy metal machinery or a gym membership to get your swole on. Unless you want to be on TV, in which case you need an insane, state-of-the-art obstacle course.

But the underlying principle is sound: If you have the right attitude, literally anything can be an obstacle, free weight, or DIY exercise machine.

While you don't necessarily want to turn, say, a power cord into a jump rope, you can still get a great workout without spending a ton of money. To prove it, we asked personal trainers and fitness enthusiasts to share their favorite pieces of workout equipment that cost less than $10.

Lacrosse ball, $5

Don't worry, you don't have to play lacrosse.

Just because your workout is free (or just really, really cheap) doesn’t mean it's going to be easy, which is why it's important to recover appropriately. Lacrosse balls can be used as a kind of bargain-basement foam roller, as you can use them to roll out tight knots in your muscles, or ease plantar fasciitis pain in the balls of your feet.

Yoga blocks, $5.99

If you're interested in yoga or Pilates, you're probably already familiar with the yoga block as an assistance tool for especially challenging poses. You can also use them at home to provide additional neck support during core work, and while it may seem like just, well, a foam block, there are more things you can do with one than you might expect.

Jump rope, $7.60

You don't need to be a Double Dutch champion to reap the benefits of jumping rope, which never really gets proper credit for its fitness-boosting abilities.

Nikki Warren, co-founder of Kaia FIT, advocates for the portable and lightweight option because it challenges coordination while increasing your heart rate.

"Between strength-training intervals, jump rope continuously for 30 to 45 seconds for a quick cardio burst and metabolism booster," Warren says.

Dumbbells, $7.95

If you're on a tight budget, Edward Jackowski, fitness expert and CEO of Exude Fitness, recommends making a small investment in dumbbells.

"Light dumbbells are the perfect weight for toning your entire upper body and burning off excess fat," Jackowski says. You can use dumbbells in a variety of ways to give yourself a killer upper-body workout, making them one of the more versatile items on this list.

If you've got a little cash burning a hole in your pocket, you could even spring for two and stay under $20.

Hand-grip strengthener, $7.97

It may seem silly for anyone who's not the muscle behind a bookie trying to collect gambling debts, but a hand-grip strengthener can help protect you against carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if you spend a lot of time at a computer during the day.

"A hand-grip strengthener can help increase your grip strength and the strength in your hands, fingers, wrists, and lower arms to increase endurance and help with injury prevention," Jackowski says.

Resistance bands, $9.95

Resistance bands -- the lightweight, easily portable rubber bands you can use to add resistance to simple bodyweight movements -- come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are a versatile product that can amplify any bodyweight workout you might normally do.  

"With resistance bands, you can still get a full-body workout with a whole lot less wear and tear due to the low-impact functionality," says Evan Betts, coach at New York City's Tone House. "You still get an incredibly effective workout while also building strength in your stabilizing muscles and core -- muscles that we sometimes forget about when focusing on major muscle groups."

Since they can be used anywhere, resistance bands are one of the most portable pieces of fitness equipment with the highest rate of functionality.

Push-up bars, $9.99

While standard push-ups are still a great way to get jacked, push-up bars provide a greater range of motion, giving your chest, triceps, and other upper-body muscles more out of the movement. You can use this simple tool to modify the angle of your workout, giving you nearly limitless arm exercise options.

The cushioned handlebars don't feel too terrible on your wrist joints, either.

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Erin Kelly is a writer, runner, and triathlete living in New York City who gets a cheap workout every day by climbing the three floors up to her apartment. You can follower her on Twitter @erinkellysays.