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Pumped up!

You can choose from dozens of ways to get fit—and not all of them need involve fancy, wallet-busting gyms. In fact, with the right gear and motivation, you can get a gym-quality workout for a stay-at-home price. Try some of these moderate- to low-cost fitness options to help you get the most muscle for your money.

  • Step to it. Treat yourself to good quality fitness shoes and a pedometer to count your steps, then head out for a walk. Aim to cover at least 10,000 steps over the course of a day.
  • Depend on dumbbells. These small, handheld weights come in many sizes. Consider buying a few dumbbells of assorted weights so you can vary your strength-building moves.
  • Use resistance bands. These stretchy cords provide resistance similar to a weight workout when you pull on them.
  • Skip rope. Jumping rope gives your heart and lungs a terrific workout.
  • Settle on a stability ball. It may look like a giant playground ball, but using a stability ball for stretching and strength building is a great way to work on core conditioning and achieve more range of motion than you would performing exercises on the floor.
  • Work out with videos and DVDs. With so many to choose from, try out a few from the library or video store before buying your own. Select a variety of workouts to keep boredom at bay. Consider aerobics, kickboxing, yoga and more.
  • Choose just one “big-ticket” item. Don’t believe claims that seem too good to be true. To get fit, you’ll have to huff and puff, simple as that. But if you’re still itching for a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical, shop carefully. Resist any of the bells and whistles you aren’t positive you’ll really use. Check out consumer and fitness magazines or Web sites for articles that rate equipment. Then set a budget. Scout garage sales, consignment shops and closeout sales. Consider sharing the investment with a friend or family member. Before you buy, read all the fine print. Ask about the machine’s life expectancy and consider whether it pays to get added warranties. Inquire about delivery or shipping charges.

Location, location, location

No matter what equipment you invest in, you won’t burn any calories if you let it collect dust. Find a space for your home gym and make it as comfortable, attractive and accessible as possible. Unless you like dank, dark places, nix the unfinished basement. Instead, think about converting a spare bedroom into a workout room—one with a great view, a TV and a stereo, if possible, to make it all the more appealing.