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Working out at home vs gym is an often asked question with people new to working out. The decision to pay gym membership fees or purchase home gym equipment is a tough one. While both will certainly help you in your health and fitness journey, they do come with pros and cons. Here we’ll go through them and discuss which one may be right for you.
Pros and Cons of Working out at Home
In today’s age, with lockdowns and gym closures, people are forced to stay in their own homes. While for some, like myself, I couldn’t be happier. Being at home is where I feel most relaxed and myself as I’m sure some of you do. If you’re like me, working out in the home vs gym is a no-brainer. Home training is my personal choice for many reasons. But there are some obstacles.
Pros of Home Gyms
- Saves Time
- No waiting on equipment to free up
- Be loud and obnoxious all you want
- No dirty germs all over equipment and showers
- Listen or watch whatever you want, or keep it silent
- Workout naked or in silly clothes if you want
- Can be designed and decorated just for you
I’ll start with the number one pro of home gyms. Time. The amount of time saved by working out at home is ridiculous. Walking from one room to another couldn’t be much quicker. Unless you happen to live next door to an LA Fitness. For me anyway, the odds that I’ll walk to my home gym are exponentially higher than me getting in the car and driving to the local gym.
Having to wait for a piece of gym equipment to be free is frustrating and a time-waster. Having the exact exercise equipment you want, in your own home, is priceless. This is a pro and a con though. While having the equipment on hand is ideal, the cost to own every piece you’d find in a gym is astronomical and not really feasible to most.
I NEVER need to wait for a piece of equipment to be available when I’m the only one working out in my home.
Feel like grunting, cursing, and making noises while lifting at the gym? That’s fine if you enjoy the looks from the shocked seniors’ power walking on the treadmills. I however don’t enjoy being stared at. Some gyms will even ban you for being a “Lunk”. I like dropping my bar after a deadlift and yelling “Hell Yeah”. Or calling out to Christ when I’ve got 20 more reps of squats to do.
Bug Free Zone
Another big pro, especially today, is the worry of catching a bug, cold, or COVID. While gyms are certainly cautious and most make attempts at staying clean and sanitized, it’s not 100% effective. Even things like athlete’s foot are a concern when using gym locker rooms and showers. Hopefully not in your own shower though.
Make it Loud, or Silent
I love listening to loud, heavy music when I’m lifting. I’m more motivated and get super pumped when a real good Rob Zombie song starts playing. When I’m on the treadmill I like to catch up on some of my favorite Netflix binges or watch the morning news. Then there are other times when my motivation comes from complete silence. Only the sound of the weight plates rattling.
Design Your Home Gym
This may sound like a silly one, but what if having a life-size poster of Arnold Schrsanegger hanging behind your squat rack is the tool that helps you get fit and healthy? I don’t think Planet Fitness would allow you to hang it up every time you come in, nor is that ideal. In a home gym, you can design your space as you see fit. Everything from hanging a mirror to motivational posters spread out, this is your space.
Want your treadmill facing the window so you can see outside, turn it around. Want to hang pin-up girls or guys on your wall, go for it. The world is your oyster they say.
Clean Bathrooms and Showers
While this may sound obvious, gym showers are not the cleanest places on earth. Most gyms do their best to ensure safety and cleanliness in the locker and shower areas, but nothing compares to a shower in your own house. You know when it was cleaned, you know who’s been in it. And it’s your shower. Maybe I’m the weird one but I’m not a fan of public showers, pools, or other things like that. Yuck.
Want to Wear Nothing
I don’t recommend doing this, but if you felt like doing leg lifts in the buff, feel free. At home anyway. They seem to have a problem with that at the gym. Most have dress codes even. Not in your home gym. There you’re allowed to wear anything or nothing. On hot days it’s nice to take your shirt off while bench pressing. Plus after each set, you can check yourself out in the mirror wearing those super tight compression shorts and weightlifting belt. It’s liberating, to say the least.
Cons of Home Gyms
- Lack of all equipment and machines
- No classes or personal trainers available
- When lifting heavy weights you have no spotter for safety
- Lose motivation when you aren’t accountable to anyone else
I said this one was a pro and a con so we’ll start here. While you can still achieve a toned and healthy body using only bodyweight exercises and routines, having the right equipment makes a huge difference. Unless money is no object to you, we need to limit our choices. Not only is cost a major factor, but the amount of space some equipment takes up is just not going to work in a small home gym. We need to pick equipment that will be the most useful all around.
Yes, you can buy a stand-alone leg extension machine if you desire, but the limited usage and space it requires make it seem like an unwise choice for most. Gyms offer these specific, limited use, pieces of equipment.
No Personal Trainer or Classes
Some folks need some extra guidance or help when beginning their fitness healthy lifestyle. This is where gym memberships really shine. Having access to a personal trainer at the gym is a benefit you won’t find at home.
Sure you can watch YouTube videos and read a million and one articles, but having someone there can be game-changing. A personal trainer will help with weight loss, exercise form, and give you nutrition advice on healthy eating.
Along with personal trainers, most gyms offer group classes. Classes are a great way to try new activities or just be social and active.
You’re All Alone
When I’m bench pressing in my home gym, one thought always crosses my mind. What happens if my arms give out and this bar comes crashing down on my chest? How long would I lie here before my wife found me? I do use safety bars, but there’s just some peace of mind about having a buddy behind me, waiting to grab that bar if it falls.
In a gym, even if you’re alone lifting, you’re not really alone. Staff or other members will see you relatively quickly and come to your aid. This could be life or death so depending on your risk-reward ratio, take it into account seriously.
Motivation and Accountability
For me working out at home is all the motivation I need. But for others, being around friends is what gets them motivated. If you’re the latter, a gym would probably be your best bet if you lack motivation. Setting workout dates with friends at the gym will not only get you pumped about exercising, but it’ll also hold you accountable to your workout partner.
If you browse local for sale ads, I guarantee you’ll find a plethora of treadmills for sale. Why? Because people who initially thought they were motivated to workout at home quickly changed their tune. Now it collects clothes and junk. To workout at home vs gym requires a lot of self-dedication and personal accountability. If you find that you lack those traits, working out at the gym is probably better.
Home is Where the Gym is
Whether you exercise at home or exercise at the gym, staying healthy and fit is the number one goal. If you have the money and space available to create your own home gym, I say do it. The simple fact that I only need to walk about 50 yards to my garage gym is worth its weight in gold. I know me and I know I would lack the motivation to get dressed, get in the car, drive to the gym, then drive home all sweaty. That’s not for me.
If budget is a concern, start small. Even starting with bodyweight exercise routines is better than doing nothing at all. Then start picking up equipment one piece at a time.
Check the marketplace online or Craigslist for local sellers. As I said, we all know someone who has a treadmill in their basement collecting dust so may as well take advantage of it. I started out with a secondhand treadmill and a set of adjustable dumbbells. I’ve acquired a squat/power rack, free weights, and bar since. I have resistance bands and some kettlebells as well that get used almost every day.
Working out at home requires you to be a bit more creative as well. Lacking the full spectrum of equipment like in the gym workouts, you’ll need to utilize alternative exercises that work those muscle groups you’re aiming for. Being creative and using what you have on hand can be just as effective as that $1500 piece of gym equipment.
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