I used to love going to the gym. The wealth of equipment, the variety of classes, the vibe—all of it made my heart happy. And then life happened…kids, work, dog…the demanding pace made getting to the gym more stressful and time-consuming than it was worth.

So I shifted my workouts home, where I had zippo classes, no vibe and a dearth of equipment. And to my surprise, I loved it. My workout routines became simple, efficient, powerful. And as, over a few years, I built up my stash of fitness tools, I soon found myself in the best shape of my life.

Most of my workout apparatus are like sprinkles on a cupcake, nice to have, but not essential. There are three, however, that I’d be hard-pressed to stay in shape without. Here’s my short list:

Adjustable dumbbells. If I were forced to pare down to just one tool, this would be it. With the right-sized dumbbell, you can work out any body part. But who has room for a whole rack of weights? The adjustable variety ensures you always have the right load for the right exercise; plus it allows you to progress as you make strength gains. Try: The gold-standard brands are PowerBlock and Bowflex, but plenty of less-expensive brands work just fine. Just make sure the weights adjust easily and that the range is broad enough.

Pull-up bar. I actually hate the pull-up bar. Because pull-ups are stupidly hard. But few things will get you as ridiculously fit as ridiculously fast. If, like me, you can’t do more than one or two legit pull-ups, just touch the floor (or use a stepstool) between each rep, and use your legs for a little (or big) boost. You’ll still reap the benefits. Try: Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar

The World Wide Web. I used to buy a lot of fitness DVDs—and I still use some of them (my favorite: Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30)—but now I find most of my workouts online. With a few keystrokes, I can instantly find a workout of a specific length, style and intensity to fit my needs that day. Many don’t require any equipment at all. Try: The supply and variety are endless, but my two favorite sites are: 1. Dailyburn.com. It costs $15 per month (after a free 30-day trial), but it’s worth it for the production quality and workout variety. 2. Youtube.com/befit. This free site is easy to navigate and offers a huge variety of workouts. Check out the “10 Minutes or Less” category, and you’ll never again have an excuse not to exercise.

kellee-katagi-headshot-lower-resKellee Katagi is one of those strange souls who actually enjoys working out for the sake of working out. She’s spent most of her 20-plus-year writing and editing career covering fitness, nutrition and travel, as well as outdoor sports ranging from skiing to spelunking to street luge (yes, that’s a thing).