By the end of February, your New Year’s resolution to work out has well and truly faded into distant memory. At the beginning of the year, you were determined that this year was going to be the start of your fitness revolution; that you would evolve into the healthiest and most gung-ho version of yourself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be happening. The gym membership you bought in January has been wallowing, unused, for weeks. Briefly, you consider building your own home gym – after all, wouldn’t exercising at home be easier than schlepping to the local YMCA three times a week?
Maybe – or maybe not.
For some people, working out at home can seem like a relaxed alternative to investing in a gym membership. However, home gym might not be the ideal solution they appear to be – and ultimately, the choice between the two will fall to your preferences and priorities. Here, I break down the pros and cons of each.
Gyms come in all sizes and cater to interests spanning the gamut from barre to crossfit. If you’ve only recently decided to get fit and aren’t quite sure where to start, you should consider purchasing a membership at your local YMCA or Planet Fitness, which offer community access to basic cardio and weight equipment at a reasonable rate.
Gyms have their perks. Compared to the upfront costs inherent in setting up a home gym, community organizations like the ones mentioned above are downright affordable. A membership with Planet Fitness, for example, will only cost you $20 per month. These places often have trainers on-hand to step in if anyone needs help with a piece of equipment or guidance with their workout routine. Moreover, public gyms are motivational by nature; no one wants to look lazy when everyone around them is putting in their best effort.
The expense of a gym membership can be an unneeded monthly drain on your wallet, especially if you don’t go enough to make the expense worth your budgetary while. Absenteeism is a also real problem; people who are unable or unwilling to make the logistics of driving to the gym, finding parking, and dealing with scheduling conflicts work are unlikely to make regular use of a membership.
What constitutes a “home gym?” Do a few hand weights, a yoga mat, and a medicine ball suffice, or do you need a fully-equipped room with cardio equipment and a weight bench? The former might work for some, but let’s assume the latter for the purposes of this post.
A home gym will always be readily accessible and private. If you want to blast music on the elliptical at 2AM, you can – although your neighbors might not thank you! You also have no excuse for not regularly exercising, since your fitness equipment is only ever a few steps away when you come home after work. These home gyms are great for those who are uncomfortable with their body and want the security of working out privately. Although the initial cost of purchasing equipment is high, a decent home gym may add up to less than the accumulated cost of a gym membership over time.
As mentioned above, the investment cost of building a private gym is hefty – especially if you plan to buy high-quality and long-lasting equipment. This, of course, is only an option for those who have the space and the right to build a home gym; renters might be out of luck. Moreover, having your workout equipment in your home might not be as motivational as it seems. After all, what do you really want to do after a long day – work out, or sit on the couch with your dog and a bag of potato chips? Distractions abound at home, so you should probably opt for the gym unless you truly have the motivation to hit the treadmill after work.