While you can find plenty of expensive fitness equipment to spend your money on, it may surprise you to know that you can get started with a few choice items, each for under $30. Many people think that you need to spend a lot of money on equipment in order to get in shape, but in reality, you can do a lot with very little. While training in a gym environment can be motivating, there is plenty you can do on your own with just a little self-discipline and some creativity to help get you started.

To begin, letís start with the jump rope. You will find ropes made of actual rope, plastic or vinyl, and leather. Leather will last the longest, and you should be able to pick one up at any local sporting goods store. Iím speaking modestly when I say that jumping rope is a taxing workoutóyou will probably only be able to do a few minutes at a time when you first start out, but stick with it and your endurance will build up with each go around. Remember, boxers always jump rope to train for a fight, and they need to last inside the ring for 8-12 consecutive rounds! It may surprise you after a couple months of jumping rope just how much your endurance will improve.

Another piece of equipment that has been around for a long time is the roller-wheel, although it is called by many different names. Basically, it is a wheel with a handle through the center of it that you use by kneeling on the floor, grasping the handle with both hands, and then rolling the wheel away from your body. The difficult part is bringing it back towards you, which requires a fair amount of upper body strength. Often promoted under various names as an abdominal exerciser, this small but tough piece of equipment actually works not just the abs, but the entire upper body. It looks much easier than it actually is. After you get better at it, you may be able to start from your toes rather than your knees, but this will take some time.

The exercise ball, sometimes called a Swiss ball, abdominal ball, or fitness ball, serves as an excellent way to perform numerous exercises. These balls originally got their start in physical therapy clinics and then eventually spilled over into the general public. They are inexpensive, yet extremely versatile, and they usually come in about three sizes so be sure to get the one that is appropriate for your height. You can perform movements ranging from abdominal crunches and push-ups to glute and hamstring exercises. These balls also provide a lot of low lumbar support for people with low back problems, although anyone can benefit from their use.

And last but not least, letís talk about a good set of dumbbells. I just canít say enough about theseóyou canít beat them for the vast array of resistance training movements that can be performed using them. People with osteoporosis are encouraged to engage in weight-bearing exercise as a means to increase their bone density, and dumbbells are a fantastic means to do so. They can also be used in conjunction with an exercise ball in place of a bench when performing chest presses, back rows, and a number of other movements. You can purchase a set in any five-pound increment you choose, or you can spend a little more money (more than $30) and buy an adjustable set of dumbbells that will allow you to grow into them as you get stronger and require a greater amount of weight.

These four types of fitness equipment are all excellent means of getting in shape and tend to work the best when combined. Remember, you need to engage in all four components of fitness for a balanced workout: Cardiovascular conditioning (jump rope), resistance training (dumbbells), flexibility (stretching), and nutrition (practicing good eating habits). The four components donít necessarily have to be these four, but I think you will find these will give you a great workout, none-the-less. So shop around and look for the best deal for the equipment of your choice, and donít forget to check used sporting goods stores, they often carry a wide selection of equipment. The goal is simply to get started on a fitness program that accommodates your lifestyle and is convenient for you to do, in the hopes that it will become a habit.

Author's Bio: 

Melissa Allen, CPT, BS, is a certified personal trainer & exercise therapist, as well as the owner of Optimum Condition—Mobile Personal Training & Exercise Therapy. She is a self-syndicated columnist who welcomes input from her readers, so please contact her with any questions or comments by visiting her website at http://www.OptimumCondition.com