The first really cheap piece of training equipment I bought was a jump rope. The jump rope was just under $3 after taxes and has done wonders to improve my cardiovascular conditioning. Just how can I beat three buckaroos? It wasn't easy, but I managed with a little inspiration from a pair of articles from Testosterone Nation: Feel Better for $10 and Soft Tissue Work for Tough Guys. Basically, the articles cover Self Myofascial Release (SMR) techniques for keeping your fascial tissue in good shape and loosening any knotted fascial tissue. Having suffered from wrist tendonitis and used similar principles to aid in my wrist recovery, I decided to give SMR a try.
So, I picked up a tube of good old made in the USA Penn tennis balls. Total price somewhere around $2. I know, I was shocked too. There are indeed still products in the department stores that are actually made in the USA and not China. And they were only $0.22 more expensive than the made in China ones. It's reassuring to know that American balls haven't been completely outsourced to China.
The SMR was, as promised by the T-nation articles, quite painful. Being the macho man that I am, I gritted my teeth and kept at it. Boy am I glad I did. I felt so much looser after the self inflicted soft tissue work. It's really hard to beat $2 equipment for self-massage.