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.
If you haven’t seen Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe, put it on your list immediately.
When I talk about staying mentally strong, this is one movie I love to reference.
There is a fine line between being a positive person and preparing for adversity. James Braddock finds himself down on his luck after being a successful boxer and needs to fight through the hard times for his family.
This doesn’t require just physical endurance (he’s a boxer and also does physical labor on the docks), but mental endurance as well. To wake up every day, put on his outfit, and keep fighting for every single scrap he can get.
This requires a different kind of endurance than just being able to put weights up and down.
On your journey to a better body, do not overlook developing your mental strength as well. There are a ton of people out there with rock-hard abs and zero ability to actually handle stress.
There will always be unforeseen circumstances that come your way, things that happen that you have no control over. Assuming that you’ll just “deal with it” when it comes is nonsense. You have to mentally prepare yourself for things around the corner that you don’t see coming.
Muscles grow with resistance, and the mind is no different.
There are tons of people who can’t handle an ounce of resistance. They crumble to the smallest amounts of adversity.
There will always be times in life where we must find that tough warrior within and battle our way through life. Something will happen to our families, our loved ones, or our own lives, and we must fight to pull ourselves out of the situation.
Instead of building the fundamental habits for a better life, people waste their time playing video games, smoking weed (I live in Denver, so this is incredibly common), scrolling through Facebook, drinking their savings away at bars, watching football, watching reality TV… It’s all a waste of time, especially if you aren’t where you want to be in life.
If you aren’t making as much money as you want, don’t have your dream body, aren’t learning anything new, or progressing toward any goal you want, why would you waste a second flushing your time down the toilet instead of taking the action steps needed to move your life forward?
This is something I constantly battle, and so do most of the people I know. Time vampires are everywhere, waiting to suck the life out of you.
Of course, breaks are good, but at the sacrifice of your goals, any breaks should be destroyed.
Pre-workout is one of the best things to help people get through a workout. However, a lot of the ones on the market simply give you a caffeine or sugar buzz but don’t actually do anything to enhance your workouts. Pre JYM is different. It not only gives you the energy you need to sustain your grueling workout, but it also is full of benefits to help you get the most out of your workouts.
The benefit of Pre JYM
Pre JYM is formulated by Dr. Jim Stoppani. He worked as the science editor at Muscle and Fitness for a decade and also, you know, casually holds a PhD in exercise physiology with a minor in biochemistry. He also served as a postdoctoral research fellow at Yale University School of Medicine. So, just easy degrees. HA.
Right away, you need to know that one of the biggest benefits of this pre workout is the lack of a crash after taking it. With most pre workouts, you drink them and then an hour or two later you’re face-down on your couch because the buzz wore off. You won’t feel shaky and tingly from this workout. That’s not the point of a pre workout anyway. A quality pre workout is designed to give you all the nutrients your muscles need to get the most out of your workout, not make you feel like a tweaker.
Unlike other supplement companies out there, JYM doesn’t use proprietary blends. That means you know exactly what’s in every product you buy instead of some secret amount.
This can hurt you because there are certain ingredients that need to be in a pre workout, but you’ll never know if you’re getting the right dose. That’s just a waste of money.
Ingredients and benefits
Although there are more ingredients than these ones, they are the most important:
6 G of citrulline malate: helps with muscle endurance and muscle pump
6 G of BCAA’s: helps reduce muscle fatigue and helps increase muscle growth
2 G of creatine HCl and 2 G of beta-alanine: helps with strength, endurance, and muscle growth
300 mg of caffeine
1 G of taurine: helps improve focus and reduce jittery feelings
Jim has mentioned multiple times how it’s scientifically impossible for these other brands to have such small scoops in their pre workouts if they wanted to fit in all the ingredients that are in Pre JYM.
Most pre workouts do not also include BCAA’s, so if you’re a person who has been buying both, you’re going to get a deal by using Pre JYM instead.
Taste of Pre JYM
I haven’t personally tried all the flavors of Pre JYM, but here’s a run-down on the ones I have tried and my thoughts:
Raspberry Lemonade – This was the first Pre JYM flavor I ever tried and I thought it was delicious.
Rainbow Sherbert – hands-down my favorite flavor of all the options. It surprisingly tastes like sherbert ice cream and is so good. It’s also really smooth and doesn’t have any aftertaste unlike some others (especially other brands of pre-workouts).
Refreshing Melon – This flavor is good, but it has a really strong sugar flavor. It doesn’t have the same smoothness and feels pretty thick. If you do get it, be sure to put it in a bigger container so there’s extra water.
Considerations when using Pre JYM
When you first put it in your shaker bottle, you need to let it sit for 15 minutes. This gives everything a chance to break down for easy digestion.
You’ll also want to shake up the bottle before you scoop it out.
A lot of people have stomach issues with Pre JYM and this is the solution to that. Unless you simply cannot take the caffeine in it, in which case you should use his Post JYM matrix since it has what you need without the energy boost.
There’s no doubt that it’s more expensive than some of the other options on the market, but in my opinion, it’s well worth the price tag.
How I use Pre JYM
Personally, I only use a half scoop for my pre workout. Sometimes I add another scoop of the Post JYM to make sure I’m getting everything I need. I have a pretty high caffeine tolerance but this tests it. (Also, when I’m on a budget, this helps me spread it out.)
The focus with this pre workout is unlike anything else I’ve ever had. Even on a bad day, it’s easy for me to stay in the gym longer instead of getting tired and cutting it short. I always have such clarity when I’m in there that I bring my notebook and jot down work and side-hustle to do’s and ideas.
I recommend Pre JYM to everyone I talk to so they can enjoy the benefits and get the most out of each and every workout. You could even sip it on a hot day for added energy or bring it with you to drink during a hike or sports game.
Buy it on Amazon
Buy it on Bodybuilding.com
Disclaimer: Jackie Pearce is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Throughout all of the Avenger movies, we learn that Black Widow is forever haunted by what she calls the “red” in her ledger
Her “red” represents her life as a Russian spy before the Avengers and all the awful things she did to accrue the moral debt she carries in her mind.
Whether or not we realize it, many of us carry around a ledger of our own to keep a mental checklist of our good and bad choices.
No matter how many good Black Widow does, no matter how many lives she saves, she still had difficulty acknowledging that she’s worthy of being an Avenger.
Like Black Widow, you might wince when you think about your ledger, thinking only about your mistakes instead of your progress. Only about how far in the hole you are. How you can never get out.
Today we’re going to dive into the red in our own ledgers, come to terms with where we are in our journey, and prepare to balance it once and for all.
Acknowledging The Red in Your Ledger
“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor!” – Odin
During Avengers: Age of Ultron, there is a moment between all of the Avengers where they each try to lift Thor’s hammer (the Mjolnir) after a party.
The rule is, whoever can lift the hammer is worthy of ruling Thor’s realm of Asgard.
Hawkeye can’t move it at all.
Iron Man and War Machine make an attempt to no avail.
The hammer shifts ever so slightly when Captain America tries (giving Thor an incredibly worried look).
But when it’s Black Widow’s turn, she passes on any attempts to lift the hammer.
Something about that short hammer scene always stuck with me. Like there was so much more going on than just a few friends having fun.
Then, one day, I was at the gym surrounded by these beasts who were performing moves I’m still far off from achieving when that scene came to my mind.
I realized it’s easy feel like Black Widow when you’re around these demi-gods and think you’re so far behind on your journey.
The problem with Black Widow is that she doesn’t think she’s worthy of the hammer. She thinks of her own ledger and deems herself unworthy without even giving herself a chance.
This is Black Widow’s constant problem: she’s haunted by her past and won’t allow herself to fully embrace the new person she’s become. And here she is, just like Hawkeye (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsdk-AnkVks), a mortal amongst these super-humans.
We all have symbolic red in our ledger. The things we think are holding us back from achieving our goals.
Some possible red includes past injuries, unhealthy habits, lack of confidence, comparisons to other people, food addictions, self-sabotage, or trying to break up with your previously-held beliefs.
Think about the past year of your life.
Which way did your ledger move?
Did you add more red, or did you start to balance it out? Did you already give up on trying to make progress this year?
The red in your ledger probably isn’t as big as being an assassin for Russia (I hope), but it stands for who you used to be; the things you work hard to change.
Moving Past Your Red
The red in our ledger is real – we have to correct our past mistakes and move forward with our lives. But so many of us, like Black Widow, can’t get out of our own heads and actually do it.
So what can you actually do now that you’ve acknowledged the red in your ledger and you want to continue to move forward?
1. Focus on your progress and your goals.
Black Widow brings a unique and badass skillset to the Avengers team. If she compared herself to others, that would defeat the point of what she brings to the table.
In our lives, we may not be on a superhero squad, but with social media, it’s easier than ever to compare yourself to the people around you.
Take the time to think about what you want from your health and fitness journey. You bring your own unique perspective, advantages, and disadvantages to the table. You’re your own character. You can’t choose where you are right now – you’re already here. But you can choose how you move forward.
Write out each goal you’ve had in the back of your mind. Yes, write all of them. Then actually go through all of them and ask yourself if it’s something that would enhance your life or something that you think you “should” want.
You don’t have to run a marathon, deadlift 600 pounds, or climb a mountain to be the best version of yourself. Instead, just focus on being a little bit better tomorrow than you were today.
Make progress toward the goals that actually matter in your life.
It boils down to you being better than you were, not better than anyone else.
2. Be Prepared Like an Assasin
It’s when setbacks happen that most people want to (and actually do) quit.
But guess what: everyone slips, even superheroes.
The difference is, the superheroes correct their mistakes. They get back up and move on.
Just like courage cannot exist but in the face of fear, heroism cannot exist but in the face of difficulty and missteps.
All is not lost for the day because you had a bad meal.
All is not lost for the week because you missed a workout or two.
All is not lost for the month because you were sick for a week.
When a mistake happens, it’s easy to think of the red in our ledger and give up. But Black Widow doesn’t. She knows life is full of ups and downs with new surprises every single day.
Just like Black Widow, you need to be prepared for what life throws at you.
Now that you have your goals from the first action step, it’s time to make sure we’re prepared. Create your plan of attack for all the things that come your way.
When your coworker brings in donuts, you will say no.
When your workout partner skips a workout, you will show up to the gym anyway.
When you sleep in, you will fit in your workout at lunch or dinner.
When you miss a meal, you’ll be sure to meal prep tonight so you are prepared tomorrow.
When your coworkers ask you out for happy hour, you’ll either be prepared for this in your diet or you simply won’t go.
When your significant other buys snacks to fill the cupboards, you’ll maintain your discipline.
When it’s time to workout, you’ll be there.
If any of the items in your list fail, simply acknowledge you added more red to your ledger and immediately get to work to balance it out.
At no point does Black Widow say, “This isn’t going as planned, I quit.”
She stays adaptable, and so should you. At no point should you quit, no matter what life decides to surprise you with.
3. Be a part of something larger
There’s a great scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron where Captain America is doing what he does best: Preparing to save everyone knowing he might die in the process
And Black Widow doesn’t hesitate to join him on the floating rock and sacrifice her life to save others. She knows she’s part of something larger than herself.
She’s an Avenger. She can’t put herself first, and her teammates aren’t just there for her sake. The Avengers have saved the world many times, and Black Widow is a central part of this heroism.
Coming together to help others is the ultimate push to confront the red in your ledger.
We’re all part of our own Avengers team, whether we know it or not.
Your family, friends, community, city, country, team, or any other group you feel a part of needs you to step up.
But we don’t always act like it.
Black Widow was the same way. Sure, she has always been prepared for her demise, but she never was prepared to sacrifice herself for the good of the world. By joining the Avengers she can help herself and move past the red on her ledger by helping others. She has an extra piece of motivation to be better each day – one that isn’t selfish and that helps her to overcome the guilt she had.
Your journey isn’t just about you. There are people around you that need you to start putting your best foot forward. We really are the average of the five people we associate most with.
So be a positive influence on the people who associate with you. Bring out the best in yourself for others. Be better to yourself, and help people directly:
Checking in with them to see how their progress is going
Cooking paleo meals together
Going on group hikes
Signing up for a new fitness class
Or just supporting their journey in general
You might not be able to fly, but you can change our life and others around you.
There are multiple Avengers for a reason. You may not have Thor’s strength, like Black Widow, you have your own set of skills.
Celebrating Your Progress
Most of the Avengers went from good people to great people.
Thor was a cocky, successful warrior and had to be humbled.
Captain America needed the strong body to match the mental determination.
Tony is still Tony, just with better technology at his disposal.
But Black Widow’s past is, well, darker than the other Avengers. None of the other Avengers were “bad” before they were “good.”
Black Widow transformed everything, especially how she was living her life.
She doesn’t acknowledge this, though. Just like how many of us do not take the time to look at our lives and say, “Wow, I’m making completely different choices than I did in the past.”
In the real world, most of us have transformations that look and feel a lot more like Black Widow than Tony Stark.
Your journey to a better life is sometimes a tweak here and there, and sometimes it adds up to an entire lifestyle transformation. It’s important we stop to take a moment to acknowledge our progress. Because if we don’t, we might believe that we simply can’t balance our ledger, when we may already have!
Losing a few pounds
Put on some muscle
Tried a few new exercises
Avoided eating that extra cupcake even though it looked delicious
Started sleeping or resting properly.
Packing your lunch for work
Tried a new vegetable
Committed to a new adventure
Started walking or a new active hobby
Let’s learn from Black Widow’s struggle and acknowledge what we’ve done, no matter how big or small.
If you’re having trouble acknowledging your daily victories, you may need to do a better job tracking your progress! Whether you need to take progress photos, keep a workout log, start timing your runs, use Jerry Seinfeld’s chain technique, join an accountability group, or simply journal, you need to be sure you’re keeping track of how you are moving forward.
Don’t just assume you’ll know when you’ve made progress. Without documenting your progress, it’s hard to see how far you’ve come.
Balance Your Ledger
You can never go back in time to take things off your ledger. Those mistakes are done.
However, every day is a new day to begin the process of balancing your ledger. It is no small task, but if you feel up to it you can even list out your ledger.
Take a sheet of paper. Draw a line down the middle. On the left-hand side list out the red in your ledger.
However, instead of just listing all the red in your ledger and beating yourself up over it, for each item in your red directly across on the right-hand side, list something you could do to actively balance the red.
Not enough walking? Plan in a walk around your local park.
Forgetting to bring your lunch? Put in your calendar to meal prep.
Sore and stiff all the time? Sign up for a trial yoga class this weekend.
Want to try a paleo meal? Print out a recipe right now and buy the ingredients on your way home from work.
Lack of support? Find a group either online or in real life that can support you on your journey.
Keep cheating on your diet? Resolve to stop buying any temptations from the grocery store so they’re not in your house.
For every mistake you’ve made, there’s something you can do to make it right.
You don’t need to balance your ledger all at once. It took you years to get here. So take it slow and be proud of each step.
Every day we can work to erase the red in our ledgers. To acknowledge how far we’ve come. To deem ourselves worthy of our own personal hammer.
What mistakes did you make in the past?
How can you reach your own Level 50 and be worthy of the hammer?
If you’ve been around this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know I’m a big fan of challenges.
There’s something to staying accountable, sending in pictures every week, and staying on schedule. That’s also why a lot of people hire trainers, so they can have that kind of accountability.
This isn’t going to be a long post, just an update. Some people have messaged me like “R U ALIVE?” and to be honest, some says I’m not sure. I quit coffee for a day last week (lololol, I know, a day) and regretted it immediately. (If you do want to stay updated, come say hi on Instagram!)
If you have a problem staying consistent (a problem most people have), few things beat a challenge to stay focused.
Fitness is the things that keeps my entire life on track. When I’m lifting, things are going well. When I’m not, I’ve noticed I seem to struggle to stay organized and focused. I’m not sure if it’s the consistency or the stress relief that comes from lifting every morning, but it’s just one of the to-do’s that’s part of the foundation of a happy life for me.
I’m not sure if I’ll be updating the challenge weekly or just do a wrap-up at the end, but either way, you’re welcome to join me!