When it comes to getting in shape, there are a million ways to approach it. Two of the most popular choices are to either get a gym membership or to invest in a home gym. Both of these are strong options and for a lot of us, the ideal place is to have a blend of both, but that’s not always an option.
If you’ve been weighing the options between getting a home gym or spending the money to join a local gym, there are few things you should know about the pros and cons of each so you can make the best decision.
Home Gym Pros
The biggest difference between a home gym and a gym membership is that you’ll have to pay your expenses up front to get all the equipment. A gym membership often costs less up front, but you’re simply renting the space and the equipment and never get to take it with you. However, if you decide to do bodyweight exercises or use light weights, it shouldn’t cost much at all.
Weather doesn’t matter as much
If you live in a place that gets snow, you know how hard it can be to make it to the gym on those freezing, snowy days. Sometimes even the roads are closed making getting to the gym even harder. The benefit of having your own gym at home is that you don’t need to worry about the weather since you’re already there. The only time you’d have to worry about it is if you have your home gym in an area that doesn’t have climate control (like a lot of garages, for example).
Listen to your own music
Listening to your own music is one of the best features of a home gym. No shade to commercial gyms, but a lot of them have questionable music or just not my preferred genre. Of course, at commercial gyms you can just bring your own headphones, but it’s nice to have the option.
Don’t need to worry about gym hours
Some gyms have weird hours. If you’re a person who likes to fit in a good workout before you head off to your job, it’s nice to be able to wake up and just workout at any time you want.
Home Gym Cons
Home is for relaxing
Sometimes the nice part about a gym membership is that you have to leave the comfort of your home to go workout. That can be a good motivator, especially since most of our homes tend to be a relaxing environment.
Equipment can be wildly expensive
Everything you buy you’ll have to move around. The benefit of a gym membership is that it’s up to to the gym to maintain, store, and move the equipment.
Not enough weight variety
Typically, a gym membership will give you more equipment variety and options when it comes to machines, weights, and options to use. If you’re just looking to stay active, that’s not really a big deal. However, if you’re into things like bodybuilding, that can be a huge hindrance to your progress.
Gym Membership Pros
Keep in mind, not all gyms are the same. There are CrossFit gyms, huge commercial chain gyms, local gyms, yoga studios, and so on. The average gym membership is $30-$50, but some smaller ones can run much higher.
Most gyms have more equipment than you could buy to fit in your home. They’ll have different machines, bands, chains, weights, and so on that would take up a ton of space in your home.
Maintenance and cleaning
It’s nice to not have to worry about cleaning any equipment or keeping it maintained. The staff at the gym have to do that and you just come in to use it. Things like squat racks have to be
Gym Membership Cons
Some smaller gyms can be expensive, depending on how big the city you live in is. It’s a recurring charge every month and depending on how tight your budget is, sometimes it simply doesn’t make sense. Some people are better off financially to just buy a cheap set of weights from a garage sale and start that way. I’d never sit here and say someone HAS to have a gym membership, especially if it’s going to put you in a tougher place with your money.
If you have anxiety or don’t like to be around a lot of people, the crowds at a gym, especially during the busy hours, can be overwhelming. If you’re just starting to work out, being around a ton of people and feeling like you’re taking up space or getting in their way can be enough to keep people out of the gym forever.
How to decide
If you’re still on the fence, one good way is to try and do bodyweight exercises at home. If you find it hard to get motivated when you’re at home, get a guest pass/trial membership at a gym. Most gyms will give community members a free day (or even up to a week) to test out the space and see if it’s a good fit. You’ll want to do this before joining any gym since it can be hard to tell if you’ll like it or not before trying it.