Should You Exercise at Home or at a Gym?
By Donovan Baldwin
The "one size fits all" attitude that we find in so many things today doesn't always work. Choosing whether to exercise at home or at a gym is no exception. Some people are going to find the gym to be an attractive choice for them, while there are others who will prefer working out in the privacy of their own home.
Whether you prefer to work out at home or at a gym, that decision about where you will go to exercise can be a very important step in reaching your personal fitness goals. Many factors will go into this decision, and each one should be evaluated carefully before you start exercising at one place in preference to the other. Once you have made a decision on WHERE you will go to exercise, you can move on to deciding HOW you plan to work out.
When you are deciding to work out at home or at a gym, take the time and make the effort to make sure that you are choosing what is going to work best for YOU, not somebody else. Don't work out at the gym just because it's what everybody else in the office is doing if you really feel more comfortable working out in the privacy of your home. After all, even if a gym has a ton of flashy equipment, saunas, and personal trainers, and you only have a set of dumbbells in your bedroom (like I do), if you avoid the gym but will use the dumbbells, then your best choice is to work out at home.
Obviously, exercising at home has many advantages on its side. Cost is one of the best advantages, and, one of the first that most people think of. With gas prices what they are today, it's pretty obvious you'll save money on fuel, as well as wear and tear on your vehicle, and your psyche, by choosing to exercise at home.
Despite all the deals the big gyms offer to get us in the door, a membership a gym can often be quite expensive in the long run, and the fees may include things that you don't need such as child care, saunas, or swimming pools. You also won't need to be concerned about the latest trends of exercise gear as you most likely will be exercising by yourself at home, and, as I have hinted, you can get a lot done at home with a couple of cheap dumbbells, or an all in one exercise machine from Walmart.
Keep in mind that working out at home does require a bit of financial obligation itself. Even though you may plan to run, for
example, and only need shoes, it is very important that you have high quality running shoes. This statment also applies to any type
of equipment that you may purchase to use at home. If you go out and buy cheap, as in poorly made as opposed to inexpensive,
equipment, you'll possibly end up getting hurt or perhaps getting frustrated because you aren't making any progress.
That last sentence is a good argument against buying most of the cool-sounding exercise equipment you see advertised on TV. My
two major exceptions to that are the Bowflex and Total Gym.
I loved my Bowflex (which I parted with a while back when I took a job
that took me away from home regularly), and I know people involved with
Total Gym, including someone who works with Chuck Norris, and
all I hear from them is good. As for the other junk, as I
mentioned, Walmart sells a perfectly good set of adjustable dumbbells
for a few bucks, and, as needed, you can add additional plates as needed for just a few bucks as needed.
If you really feel you need something a bit more complicated in home exercise equipment, you might want to consider an all in one exercise machine such as the Bowflex and Total Gym.
Unless you are training for sports competition or have some major
fitness goal, the only other piece of exercise equipment you "might"
need could be an exercise bench. I love bench presses, and
they are difficult to do without a bench. A bench can also be
used for other alternate exercise movements. For example, the squat is a great leg exercise, but, I have
arthritis and a bad knee and cannot do full squats. I
compensate for this in other ways, but when I am doing my dumbbell
workout (three mornings a week) I simply sit down on the bench and then
stand back up while holding the weights rather than doing a full squat.
Anyway, along with the financial gains of exercising at home, those who
don't like to work out in public (99.9% of us if truth be told) will
feel more comfortable. If you are worried about how you look
in gym clothes, or if you feel that all those buff young dudes and
dudettes are making you feel inadequate in the exercise department
itself, it is very comforting to know that the only person who has to
be with you when you exercise at home is you!
Another point: when you exercise at home, you don't need to worry about time at all and there's nobody waiting to use the particular piece of equipment you are on at the moment.
Since I mentioned all that equipment, let's talk about that for a
moment. You don't really need it, you know, unless you ARE
trying to train up to some professional or semi-professional level in
some sport or activity. If you are a man or a woman who wants
to be healthy and fit, all you need is a couple of dumbbells and a good
pair of walking shoes. In a pinch, you can even get, and
stay, healthy and fit without all that. If you check a book
on yoga out
from the library and learn a few simple positions (asanas),
you can exercise naked on the living room rug whenever you feel like
it. Total cost = the late fee if you forget to return the
book on time.
I like dumbbells, but I did yoga for years, so I have designed my dumbbell workout to be like a yoga routine for me.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
For those of you who are more motivated by being with people you know
or come to know while working out away from home, a gym may be a better
idea than working out at home. If you don't get out much or
don't have many friends away from work and would like to meet a few
more people, it can be a good place to let that happen. You
are automatically in the presence of people who have at least some of
your values and likes. If you want to take your workout to
levels beyond yoga on the living room rug or dumbbells in the bedroom,
at the gym, you'll also find more of a selection of equipment, far more
than you'll have at home.
Obviously, if you need other services than just some free weights and odds and ends of exercise equipment, the local gym may have just what you need. If you plan to swim a triathlon, you'll find the swimming pool at the gym to be just what you need to prepare yourself. Swimming is also a great exercise for your body, and good cardio, as it will work muscles in your body that you probably didn't even know you had. If you want to have access to a sauna, many gyms have them as well. As mentioned, some gyms also have a daycare program so that you can drop the kids off there while you work out. You might even find a gym where you can get a massage or find other services of benefit to you.
Gyms often will also offer you classes or training that you may find
very motivating. If you attend class on a regular basis, you
may be motivated enough to continue so you don't have to defend
yourself when asked where you've been or what you have been doing
lately. You can also meet new people in class, or just help
others along if you choose. Most gyms will also have
certified fitness trainers who can possibly help you make more progress
than you would on your own.
Overall, making the choice of whether to exercise at home or at a gym
is a choice you should make based on your goals, lifestyle, wallet, and
personal preferences. The most important decision you'll need
to make is to determine what type of environment you want to be in and
how you want to accomplish the fitness goals in your life.
Which one will do it for YOU?
Once you have given it some thought and sorted out the pros and cons of
working out at home or at a gym, you'll probably have no problem making
the choice. However, always keep in mind that once you have
made your choice, you can always switch if you aren't happy with the choice you made.