Treadmill running
Treadmill running
Image: 123RF

There’s always something clever or pseudo-profound doing the rounds on social media to motivate people to train. The pain you feel today is the strength you will feel tomorrow; the best view comes after the hardest climb.

You can reach for the puke bucket or do something that’s likely going to get you to exercise, if not for the right reasons, then certainly out of guilt: build a dream home gym and spend money on some enviable equipment.

Last week we spoke about the basics of setting up a home gym. Once you have a well-lit space that’s 6m x 6m or bigger, ideally, with appropriate flooring, the fun starts.

Start with the strengthening equipment first because you need to get used to the idea that strength is not a luxury. It is a necessity, whether you are a stay-at-home dad, soccer mom or cyclist. Get strong — your future self will thank you. And in case you’re stuck in the 80s, “get strong” doesn’t mean “get buff”. Then have fun and choose your cardio equipment. That’s how you train smart. Those who don’t train smart neglect resistance training.

Smith Machine

Your first purchase should be a power rack or squat rack. There is nothing more effective than functional movements. You don’t have to move ridiculous amounts of weight. No machine will ever be as effective as free weights for people who have been cleared to move by a professional.

We’d choose a solid squat or power rack and barbell. However, if you are afraid of using free weights, you may want to consider a Smith Machine. Just take care with how you position your body to ensure you go through a proper, and safe, range of motion. You can use this piece of equipment for squat variations, press variations and pull variations.

Matrix Home Ascent Trainer.
Matrix Home Ascent Trainer.
Image: Supplied

The Gym Shop has a sturdy Body-Solid Smith Machine selling for R34,950, down from its usual R42,950. You’re going to stack weights onto this machine and then climb under it — it needs to be solid.

You’ll need Olympic style barbell plates. You may have noticed that there are two types of plates — those with bigger holes and those with smaller holes. You want the big holes, not the small hole things you see being sold on Facebook’s Marketplace. We are putting together a quality gym here and therefore using Olympic-spec plates.

Sportsman’s Warehouse has plates fit for purpose online, selling for just under R82 a kilogram. This means a set of 20kg, 10kg, 5kg and 2.5kg would cost about R6,150. A set means two — what you put on the one end needs to go onto the other end. Olympic spring collars sell for R100. These keep the weights secure on the bar.


These are gifts from the exercise gods. Dumbbells are not the exclusive preserve of meat heads watching themselves do bicep curls in the mirror. These versatile pieces of equipment can be used for presses, pulls, squat variations, walking lunges, farmers walks and various hip hinges. And yes, you can still curl and stare at yourself in your home gym mirror.

Fortifitness sells a very convenient hex dumbbell set. It is made up of pairs of 2.5kg, 5kg, 10kg and 20kg dumbbells with a great stand to keep your home gym tidy. Including VAT, it will cost just short of R9,000. Mifitness also has a variety of dumbbells that are as attractive as they are functional.

The strengthening cherry on top

Disclaimer: these are not necessarily needed in home gyms. You can get fit and strong without them, but they are oh-so-cool, and your friends will be impressed. You’ll also work up more of a “pump” if that’s your thing. You can do more with these pieces of equipment. If the author had space, he’d have one.

Matrix Fitness’s Matrix Functional Trainer ’30.
Matrix Fitness’s Matrix Functional Trainer ’30.
Image: Supplied

Matrix Fitness’s Matrix Functional Trainer ’30 is a piece of heaven for those that love the accessory and isolation training that you can do at a commercial gym. For R76,000, it comes with enclosed weight stacks, cables, adjustable handles, and you can do triceps extensions, cable flyes, face pulls, and more, on a piece of equipment that looks like it belongs in a high-end gym and not in a yard sale like some of the nonsense being flogged on OLX.

Technogym’s Kinesis Personal is the single-most beautiful piece of cable-operated equipment we’ve ever seen. Much like the SQ menu at a fine-dining establishment, on this site you “request a quote”.  

Cardio equipment

You could just go for a run or walk, but if we do concede it is safer at home, and the whole point of a home gym is to, well, train at home. In summer we’d still recommend going for a swim.

There are various suppliers and most of them have amazing pieces of equipment that range from a few thousand to closer to R100,000. The Matrix Home Ascent Trainer, for example, looks to be as durable as elliptical trainers come, and the two models retail for R49,000 and R72,000.

If design matters to you, Technogym has beautifully designed equipment (from cardio to strength), but their Personal Line of cardio equipment probably includes the most well-designed and beautiful pieces of exercise equipment you can find. Heck, we’d hire a trailer just to drive around with them to be seen.

Run Personal, Bike Personal and Cross Personal are our favourite pieces. The challenge will be to stop staring and start training.

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