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Are you still deciding whether to join a gym? Pros and Cons of Home v. Gym workouts 

There has been a double-digit increase in the number of gym membership sign-ups in January versus the same period in pre-Covid times, said gym owners.

If you are thinking about joining a gym, or on the fence, here are some questions you need to ask yourself: 

Pros of Gym Workouts

Old gym interior with equipment

More equipment access: It is pretty hard to match the equipment access at a big-box gym, with different weight machine and cardio equipment. It may be easy to get a workout bench or a Peloton, but I don’t know many people with a landmine press or a skierg at home. Using different equipment is essential to mixing up your workouts. If you don’t do so, your body gets used to the same thing and you plateau. Doing the same workout at home can get repetitive and boring, making you less likely to do it. 

Motivation: As a dedicated space, a gym can give you the structure you need for going to a place for a specific purpose, much like going to the office. 

Lack of distraction: I have been famous for stopping a yoga workout in the middle because I saw a message come through or my dog decided to use my yoga mat as a comfortable lie-down place to get some sunlight. 

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A place to wear your pricey workout gear: A decent pair of leggings costs at least 100-130 bucks; WHY would you not want anyone to see that? For me, my workout clothes are like a uniform or business suit. I definitely never caught onto wearing suits at home, but if you did that or don’t care for anything more than basketball shorts and grubby shirts, this may not matter. 

More accountability: Not showing up for a class you signed up for or a trainer comes with a penalty, and not using a gym membership drains hundreds of dollars from your bank account a month. It’s easier to bail on a home workout when no one is around to call you out. 

More (real) social networking: Workout classes offer a lot of variety and a great chance to interact with new people. I have so many friends I attribute to meeting at yoga or just even in the locker room. 

More amenities: Equinox, for example, has Kiehl’s products and many gyms boast amenities like saunas, spas steam rooms, hot tubs, swimming pools and towel service. It is nice to sometimes even go to the gym for a little “getaway’ and not so much to about exercise. 

Pros of Home workouts

Cost: Other than at-home fitness equipment, it costs you little on a monthly basis unless it is for app subscriptions. Dumbbells, body bands and kettlebells are common types of at-home equipment that can be purchased cheaply online in a very oversaturated market. 

Less social anxiety/self-consciousness: Especially as a “newbie” or someone who is not used to working out, it can be daunting and intimidating to walk into a gym full of people who look like they spend the night there. Starting a workout at home can have a “soft landing” for when you are ready to break out of your zone and start being in a public setting.

More privacy: The absolute best time to work out was when we were just rolling off pandemic and six-feet apart was the rule – this way, there would be blocked off cardio machines and you could chug along without anyone profusely sweating next to you or yacking on their phone. At home, there is no competition for equipment or overcrowding. 

Convenience: Sure, there is nothing more convenient than rolling out of bed and stumbling onto a yoga mat. If you have a good workout playlist queued up (like the one I have on my YouTube Channel), an awesome app you like to use, or even a good live workout class or virtual trainer, this could be the right answer for you especially when you have to stay home with kids or pets. I live walking distance from my gym and could not imagine having to drive. Going to an office gym requires packing clothes and planning, and you may not always be able to get away when you plan on going. 

No constraint on hours: We are 24/7 people and while some gyms are open 24/7 it is much easier to do a quick home workout when you have a window of opportunity than commute to a gym. Sometimes that window can be 10 minutes to do abs at 10pm or a quick HIIT workout at 430am before the kids get up. 

Health and fitness concept. Top view of skipping rope and water bottle on wooden background written with Home Vs Gym.

So what to do?

If you can’t decide, try a hybrid approach. Many people are now both working at home and at the office. To maximize the availability of a routine, decide certain days a week when you know will have more time (like Sundays and Fridays) to go to the gym, while more busy days like Monday can be reserved for home workouts.  Also, many employers offer apps such as Gym Pass or other percs where you can try out a bunch of different places without a commitment or high membership fee being paid to one place.

If you do work out at home, make the space look as much as a gym as possible. A separate room, or at least a separate space, with the equipment set up and not put away (only maybe if you have company). If you have kids or pets that could get mixed up in it, find a way to barricade it off. Make it a no-laptop and DND zone – once you enter, you are in it and you do not leave it until you are done.

Consider mixing it up with using the gym at the office. This rarely costs you any extra as an added “employee benefit” and you have the benefit of trying out machines and sneaking away at lunch to do cardio without any of the added costs. Of course, there is that awkward run-in with the IT guy wearing short shorts to consider, but just say a quick hi and move on! You can also surprisingly make some great work networking connections at the gym, for example, if you are able to engage with that partner you have been wanting to get an assignment from over his chest press PR.

Understand the blueprint- If you are new to a gym, then make an effort to understand the layout of the space and “case the joint” before you actually do a workout there. See where space enables you to know how you will physically go from set to set without hesitation. If you do have hesitation though, never ever be afraid to ask someone to help guide you. Employees of a gym understand the precedent of safety first and are stoked to see people actually returning, so they are more than happy to help.

Case the joint f you are new to a gym or going back after a while, I would suggest that even apart from the complimentary tour usually given by the member advisor you make your first visit just about taking a few laps around to get familiar with the space

Make it a friend and/or family affair – take a group fitness class together or walk side by side on the treadmill. Seeing friendly, familiar faces around you will make you feel more at home. 

Go at off-peak hours – a crucial tip is never start your gym journey during “busy hours”. What are those exactly? From my experience here are the key bust times to avoid

  • Monday mornings 
  • Wednesday and Thursday evenings 
  • Friday afternoons (before 5)
  • Saturday mornings (after 9am) 

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