We all know how beneficial exercise is to the body. But life happens: your schedule gets packed, and you end up only going to the gym once a month.
Then – none at all.
Ten, wallet-thinning months might have passed before you realize that your gym is still charging you 150 dollars per month for a membership you no longer use. Ouch!
After the initial rage and shouting: you’d probably wonder if the convenience of a home gym could wipe out your past excuses for not heading to the gym.
So – which is really better: working out at home vs. the gym?
Here’s the deal:
When it comes to deciding, you have to weigh the pros and cons of each of them.
And what are they, you ask?
Pros of Working Out at a Gym
Here are a few things that could convince you of working out at the gym.
You will no doubt come across insanely fit and athletic people who lift surprising amounts of weight with ease while you can barely make it out alive with their warm-up sets in the gym.
Discouraged? Don’t be!
Our adaptability as human-beings ensures that weights which previously seemed impossible will be the new normal as you consistently head to the gym.
I used to think that 5 KG dumbbells were too heavy for me to perform shoulder presses with. Well – till the day I saw a fellow female lifter remove 12 KG dumbbells from the rack, and proceed to crank out four sets straight.
I now head for the 10s when I’m in the gym.
When you compare between a workout at home vs. the gym, you’ll realize that there’s just something irreplaceable about the music, the loud grunts and exhalations in the gym.
Walking into an intense gym is like a shot of pre-workout. There is simply nothing quite like the contagious vibe of being surrounded by like-minded people pursuing their fitness goals in the same place, at the same time.
Variety and Options
Unless you’re made of money, you probably won’t allocate a portion of your home gym budget to niche and function-specific machines like a hip abductor machine.
A cardio day for you no longer means continuous jump rope exercises or laps around your neighborhood: you can have your pick between the treadmill, elliptical, stair stepper, rowing machine, and more.
Picking the gym in the battle between home gym vs. gym membership ensures that you’ll have plenty of room to experiment with when designing your own workout plan.
That’s not all:
Many gyms now offer fitness classes. On days where I feel particularly uninspired to train, I simply show up at the gym and join in various different fitness classes offered by the gym.
Seeing everybody present in the class put real effort is incredibly encouraging and fun.
And who knows, you might end up making a friend or two by socializing in the fitness classes!
Trying to break your PR?
There are always people (be it fellow gym-enthusiasts, or personal trainers) at the gym whom you can ask for spotting help from. Ensuring proper safety while lifting is crucial if you want to be in it for the long-term.
You definitely do not want to be alone when a 100 KG bar comes crashing down on your throat.
Other than securing spotting help, friendly individuals at the gym could offer you invaluable tips and tricks on how you can perfect your form.
A guy I met at the gym corrected my deadlifting form after he saw my embarrassing rounding of back when performing the exercise. Phew – thousands of dollars saved from a potential slipped disc surgery!
A fair warning though: always be sure to validate their advice with a professional if you can – a personal trainer’s guidance will always be better than someone unqualified.
No Need To Get Your Hands Dirty
Machines do break down, and sometimes your favorite chest press machine might have an ‘Out-of-order’ sign plastered over it. You might be devastated on chest day, but look on the bright side: you don’t have to be the one who fixes it!
And also: all you have to do when you get to the gym is work up a sweat – you are not required to perform maintenance on any of the equipment.
What sort of maintenance, you ask?
There’s so much to do when it comes to caring for the equipment properly.
First, the oiling of the resistance machines’ moving parts must be done monthly (at the very least). Second, the nasties in the barbell knurling – dirt, dead skin, rust, and lifting chalk – need to be scraped off with a wire brush each week. Third, frequent checks on all equipment must be performed to remove any safety hazards, like insecurely attached weights on barbells and dumbbells.
If you pay your gym dues, all the above work is on the gym, and not you with the busy schedule!
Protein shakes, hot towels, childcare, tanning, massaging, and steam rooms – these are simply a few of the perks you receive in exchange for a monthly charge on your plastic.
While they are not necessary, they are nice to have and can make the entire gym experience more comfortable. The add-ons can serve as that extra push you need to get yourself to the health club.
After all: who would say no to a gentle, full-body massage after a strenuous leg day?
Cons of Working Out at a Gym
Before you rush to get your gym membership, consider these possible drawbacks.
Getting yourself to the gym is only half the battle won – let’s not forget you still have actually to get the workout in. And nothing prevents you from putting in your best effort like distractions.
Here’s the kicker:
The gym is full of distractions.
It’s your upper body training day, but hey, that fitness influencer has a great butt, and she’s doing hip thrusts – maybe you should too? And how good does that guy look with sweat dripping down the crevices of his chest? Perhaps you should follow him around to catch his attention.
But wait – did your phone just vibrate? Best to check it to see if it’s anything important.
Just like that: a precious hour of workout time – wasted.
Lack of Freedom
I know people who prefer working out naked. And people who need to scream through every rep of a particularly heavy set of deadlifts.
While the first could obviously get you arrested, the second is simply a personal preference which can earn you many side-glances at the health club.
Bad news: you can’t just do whatever you feel like in the gym.
If you’re someone who feels the need to sprawl across the middle of the gym floor right after a set of leg-destroying squats or prefers the convenience of selfishly hogging a few sets of dumbbells by your side, the gym is probably not suitable for you.
Simply put, when you choose to a home workout, you have more freedom to express yourself, like taking all your clothes off to exercise.
Waiting in Line
If I had to pick one thing I hate the most about gyms, it’s the endless wait for someone to finish with the equipment I wanted to use during peak time.
And the worst thing?
Some of the people aren’t actually working out with said equipment: they’re only planting their butts on the seat of the cable row machine to scroll through social media!
Really makes you wonder why they even chose to come to the gym.
Sometimes, the closest gym to you isn’t all that close at all and may require a significant amount of time to drive to.
Well, while this is not an issue when your motivations are running high, you might eventually find that taking half an hour just to get to the gym quickly becomes an inconvenient pain in the ass.
What happens then?
You’ll come home, exhausted from work of course, and you’ll come up with a handful of reasons as to why you should skip the gym for the day. The road conditions aren’t too good – it’s dangerous.
The weather looks gloomy – it’s probably best to stay in.
A workout at home probably suits you best if the above sounds like you.
Have you ever fallen terribly sick after a gym session?
Me too. Gyms are dangerous places infested with all kinds of germs. 63% of gym exercise machines tested positive for the virus that causes the infamous cold in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sports Medicine.
I know what you’re thinking: what about all the wipe-downs performed by the janitors? It turns out that sometimes, even sanitization is unable to kill off stubborn contaminants.
So – how can you fall sick from what supposedly is beneficial to your health?
When you participate in high-stress activities (like pushing heavy weights), your immune system is jeopardized. A weakened immune system combined with an abundance of germs lurking around on all surfaces of the health club – you can already see where this is going, right?
Trust me: lying in bed for a week with a pile of tissues beside you after a grueling workout – not fun.
Pros of Working Out at Home
Working out at home could be the option for you. Here are a couple of reasons.
There is nothing quite like exercising in your home gym: there are no lines, no need for forced smiles at strangers, and nothing to hide.
You can listen to Justin Bieber for all your sets. Wear days-old clothes. Only do frog pumps and glute bridges for an hour. Shout, scream, or cry through your sets – you can literally do anything you can think of that might otherwise disturb others in the fitness center.
Also, if you’re someone easily affected by what other people think, you might lift way more weights than you should in the gym.
Ultimately, this impairs your progress and puts you at higher risks of injuries.
When you decide to workout at home, there’s no one to care about or impress. You can really focus on the exercise that you’re performing and ensure that you’re executing every rep with perfect form.
Even if you have to use 1 KG dumbbells.
Newsflash: a home gym setup will end up cheaper than your commercial gym membership in the long-term.
Not convinced? Let’s do some quick calculations.
Now, let’s see what you can get for your home gym (based on rough estimates) with a one-time payment of $1800:
- Power rack – $300
- Barbell – $100
- Iron Plates – $100
- Adjustable Dumbbells – $200
- Pull-up Bar – $20
- Basic treadmill – $600
- Weights Bench – $100
- Flooring and Mirrors – $100
All that equipment for only $1520: you still have $280 to spare!
Fair warning: If you really want to build a world-class home gym, you’ll probably need to spend upwards of $2000.
But even then – you would have spent that amount anyway on a 14-month extended gym membership. The only difference? You get to call the machines and accessories yours.
Of course, this all depends on the equipment needed for the kind of exercises you are looking forward to doing. There are a lot of options for great exercises that only need some simple, basic equipment. In which case, take a look at the best suspension trainers, best mini steppers or just the best exercise balls.
You are only a doorway or two away from the gym.
Now that you’re able to walk to your gym at any time, you’ll definitely chalk up massive amounts of time savings throughout the day.
Your hour-long workout will really only take an hour: you no longer have to factor in the time it takes to drive back and forth the fitness center, change into your clothes in the locker room, and random catch-ups with fellow gym-goers.
Ultimately, this means that you will have more time to do life. Maybe you can spend more time with your family, or you could take up a hobby – it’s really up to you!
It no longer matters if it’s Christmas or New Year’s: your home gym operates every single day of the year.
In fact, if you wake up at 3 AM and decide that your muscles need pumping, you can do it.
Being able to get your session in whenever you want opens up your schedule, and is definitely helpful if your day is usually packed right down to the minutes.
Cons of Working Out at Home
So, what could make working out at home harder?
Quitting Is Easier
I’ve found that it’s way easier to bail on a workout when I choose to workout at home.
It’s embarrassing, but if I were feeling particularly unmotivated and sluggish on the day, I would simply skip whichever exercises I didn’t want to do.
And I don’t think I’m alone – deep down, you know it applies to you too.
Many of us work out harder and longer when we are surrounded by others who are doing the same thing, and obviously, the presence of others is sorely lacking in a home gym.
Let’s not forget:
Your house is full of distractions.
There is never a shortage of other things you could be doing other than exercise.
This makes it incredibly easy to put the weights down, and take a ‘short TV break’ on the sofa which eventually drags to the end of your planned sweat session.
You might find yourself taking three hours on a workout that could have been completed in 45 minutes, or you’d have quit long before the 45 minutes were up.
Lack of a Spotter
Unless you employ the help of a friend or family member who can help you, you have no safety backups.
This becomes a problem when you don’t have a power rack: the lack of a spotter can be hazardous. Can you imagine being trapped under a 200 KG bar? It’s literally deadly.
If you haven’t tried lifting weights, you should think about. There are some amazing benefits of lifting weights that women can enjoy.
Also – when you’re just starting on a brand-new routine, it’s easy for your form to suffer. You might perform specific exercises improperly, and if you’re alone at home, there’s nobody available to critique your movements.
This may potentially lead to severe injuries in the long-term – you don’t want that, do you?
I work from home, and I get incredibly cranky when I don’t find reasons to leave the house every once in a while.
If you work from the comforts of your home just like I do, it may be challenging to find the push you need to break a sweat without a change of scenery.
Just about every space in your house might remind you of the unfinished work you’ve yet to complete, and make it difficult for you to concentrate on getting a good session in.
Besides, you can get lonely.
If you already spend the majority of your day alone at home, choosing to work out at home probably isn’t going to be the healthiest thing you can do for your mental state.
The fitness center is a great place to meet like-minded people who can potentially turn into your friends. And I’m speaking from personal experience when I say that gym friendships often turn into solid relationships in the outside world!
So Which Should You Choose?
Choosing between a workout at home vs. gym depends on what type of person you are and what you find motivates you!
If you are an extroverted person who enjoys working out in the presence of others, the gym is an excellent place for you. On the contrary, if you feel that you would not get lonely, working out at home can be a cost-effective choice.
Which do you personally prefer – working out at home vs. the gym?
And, do you have any experiences to share about the process of setting up your very own home gym? Let me know in the comments section below – I’d love to know!