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.

bodyweight exercisesKeep 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 is interested in keeping 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.

In the last few years, as I've grown older, I found I can get a very nice workout with a set of high quality resistance bands attached to my bedroom closet door.

Another method for exercising at home or while traveling is through isometric exercises, made popular in the 1950's by Charles Atlas. Despite the fact that his program was sold mainly to young boys through advertising on the back of comic books, scientific study HAS SHOWN that isometric exercises DO WORK.

It's kind of a long topic, so click here for more information about isometric exercises.

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.

Exercise at home or at a gym?

Page Updated 6:51 AM Tuesday, December 19, 2023
Web Page Copyright 2023 by Donovan Baldwin