Gym or At Home Workouts?... The Pros and Cons

So, you've made the decision to start working out, but now you have a decision to make: is it worth it to join a gym or should you just do it on at home on your own?

To be honest, I've done both and have seen the pros and the cons of each options. Today, as part of the Fall Fitness series, I'm going to break down the pros and cons of both options to help you find the decision that is right for you.

At Home Workouts

The Pros

  • The biggest advantage to working out at home is that there is no gym membership required so if you are on a very tight budget, you don't have to worry about another added monthly expense. You can do a variety of workouts at home with no added equipment at all. You can even find workout routines online.
  • Working out at home certainly has the advantage of privacy! Personally, I'm not the most graceful or skilled when it comes to working out, so there definitely is a relief in knowing that no one else will see you during and after your workout. 
  • If your schedule is always full, you might find that getting to the gym during convenient hours is tough. At home workouts allow you to workout whenever you find the time.
The Cons

  • Depending on your goals, you might find that you need specialized equipment to get the workout you want. While again there are many great workout options that do not require any equipment, if you want to use things such as a treadmill, exercise bike or even weights, that is something you will need to purchase and store as well. 
  • When it comes to safely and effectively working out, proper technique can be very important with certain types of workouts. Those who are already accustomed to working out will have no issues with that. However, for those of us who are new, working out at home usually means there is no one there to check that our form is correct so that we are able to get the most from the workout (and avoid unnecessary pain and injury).

Gym Workouts

The Pros

  • It's good to mix up your workouts and to try a variety of things to see what you like. A gym typically has a wide variety of equipment that you can use--- from weights to elliptical and much more... without the need for this costly and large purchase for your home. Depending on the gym, they may offer a wide variety of classes to chooses from too. Our YMCA offers step, Zumba, yoga, Piyo, cycle, strength and endurance training and so many more... all included within our monthly membership. 
  • I don't know about you, but when I'm spending money on something, I want to make sure that I am getting the most bang for my buck! While we actually initially got our gym membership primarily to use the pool (which we've discovered is calming for my son), once we had it, I wanted to make sure we used it to it's full advantage. We pay the same whether we go one a month or every day... so why not use it often? 
  • In that same sense, going to the gym has an accountability factor as well.... and not just holding you accountable with your bank account either. Personally, I have found that group classes work best for me--- allowing me to have an instructor showing me exactly what to do as I'm far from an expert--- but without an added expense of a personal trainer. I take a variety of classes, but most of them are with the same group of ladies... once you've gotten into the habit of going, people expect it and wonder about you if you are not there. Now, while that might not work for everyone, if you have a fun and caring group as I've been lucky enough to find, I personally find that to be very motivating. 
The Cons

  • Of course the biggest con that most of us can think of when we talk about the gym is the cost... especially if you are looking for a membership for the whole family. There are some gyms that are pretty reasonably priced, but they may not be available in all areas. One good thing about the YMCA (or at least in my area) is that they offer discounts based on income. We pay less than what the full cost is (and additionally save on any extra activities the kids choose to take part in like basketball or dance, etc). I assume this applies to ALL locations, but it's certainly something worth checking into to find out. We'll talk more about budget friendly options in an upcoming post. 
  • Living in a larger city, we are lucky enough to have TONS of options. Off the top of my head, I can think of 4 different gyms that are just a few minutes away. Still, I grew up in the country where the nearest gym was probably an hour away! I know many are in that same boat so location can certainly play a big role in our ability to get to a gym more easily. 
  • Going to the gym is intimidating... especially for those of us who are a) introverts and/or b) new to working out. We actually had our Y membership for several months (using it for the pool) before I finally worked up enough nerve to actually try going to an exercise class. I was so concerned about what others would think, or my ability to keep up. Again, this is an area in which I really lucked out in finding a good group that was very encouraging and who honestly don't judge anyone on their skill...or lack thereof. 
  • If you have kids, getting to a gym can be a real hassle. Even though our Y membership includes childcare, I still find that I prefer not having to take them when at all possible... which is probably why I never even considered stepping foot inside a gym until both kids were in school. 

So, now that we've looked at both options... which is better?

Whichever one you will do! Honestly, there isn't a one size fits all. Though I'm not a people person at all, I have found that for me, the actual act of going to the gym is much more motivating. If I'm left to just do it at home, I'm less likely to make the time. That said, I still enjoy working out at home on occasion as well. I have a small selection of basic equipment (small weights, resistance bands, etc) and I will use those on days when I'm unable to get to my classes for whatever reason. I also have an app that I use to mix things up as well--- which I will also be sharing more about in a future post. For others, at home is going to be more comfortable and fit into your schedule better. The most important thing is not WHERE you are working out, but just that you are! Find what works for you, wherever or however that might be.

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