Should you opt for a membership or build and use your own home gym? Both scenario’s have their own attractions and disadvantages. This really comes down to individual choice and the correct choice for you may depend on a number of factors. These factors are likely to include budget, space, time and often how you are motivated as an individual. Let’s look at some of the key points for each option so you can decide which you would prefer.
Benefits Of A Home Gym
Cheaper in the long run – Usually a home gym will workout cheaper in the long run. You get your upfront capital costs of buying the various items of equipment, some of which you can mitigate by buying used. In the long run you can sell this equipment if you need to, so the capital cost might be offset by a future sale but your ongoing monthly or weekly bill is zero – no matter how many times you workout….compelling.
Time efficient – Your own gym is definitely time efficient. Always open 24/7 and no commute, flexible to your needs – a change of plans doesn’t necessarily scupper your workout regime. Of course your workout sessions are also more time efficient, no waiting for equipment to free up, no no waiting for your sets.
Privacy & Freedom – Want to workout in your briefs or last weeks unwashed raggedy gym gear with your own selection of music blaring? Probably not advisable at a commercial gym….Want to avoid the world and do your thing – always easier at home.
More hygienic – You know when the weights bench has misted over from the last dude or the seat is still warm? Who knows what has been left there – With a home set-up it is all you baby!
Home Gym Cons
Lacks social aspects – sometimes it is nice to meet like minded souls, share some banter, check out the talent – you won’t be doing that in your garage.
Less variety of equipment – buying equipment can get expensive and take up room, consequently you tend to buy what you think you are going to use the most. Sometimes it is nice to change things up or try different workout equipment to keep your motivation going – harder to do with your own gym.
No spotters – tempted to include this in social aspects but then thought it deserved it’s own mention. A spotter can help you push that last rep when, without help you might give in thus helping you get the maximum out of your workout. Not happening at home unless your bros turn up..
Takes up space at home in a garage, cellar or room – No good building a home gym unless you have the room for it. Ideally you want a vacant room with a concrete floor. You need enough room for a barbell set, squat rack and cardio equipment of choice as a minimum. Your probably looking at sixty four square foot minimum and storage space is always valuable. Can you give over the space for working out?
You do the maintenance – when you build a gym it is down to you to maintain it. With a commercial gym you just use the equipment and walk away at the end of the day. If parts break you have to source, order and fit – and workouts are likely to be missed until you get your kit back in action.
Motivation – this is up to the individual, but sometimes if you can leave it till tomorrow with no financial penalty you can be seduced into losing your workout ethic. This might be a problem, but on the other hand being able to grab 20 minutes any time to workout might help you keep your routine going…down to individual introspection this one.
Benefits of a Gym Membership
No big upfront costs – this is the kicker with gym memberships, you avoid the larger up front costs of setting up your own gym. This is great if you are living on a budget. Generally you can pay as you go or enter a duration contract with monthly payments. For me when I used a gym I preferred pay as you go – if your motivation slips or work schedule changes you won’t lose out financially on membership. On the other side of the coin, a paid membership can put pressure on you to maintain your workout schedule to get full “value” from your membership subs.
Potentially more facilities – Often a membership will entitle you to extra facilities you might not normally choose to pay for like saunas, massage or instructor led sessions. Sometimes it can be nice to try something new, just remember your paying for it somewhere!
Qualified trainers/advice – Most gyms or clubs do have people who know what they are talking about, can spot your form during exercises or can lead you to a suitable workout plan if you are unsure how to achieve your aims. Granted, most gyms have people who also don’t know what they are talking about but at home the research and background is all down to you. Spot your own form at your peril.
Wide selection of quality equipment – most commercial gyms have high quality equipment and a wide selection of it at that. You can expect to see every variant of cardio workout machine available to be on offer and in quantity. Banks of treadmills, rowers, spin bikes and such are a common sight in decent commercial gyms. You will have more obscure machines such as rotating stairs, you will have most of the strength training machines to workout and isolate every muscle in your body and you probably will have a free weight room with banks of dumbbells in every conceivable size, numerous barbels and weight benches as well as the ubiquitous squat racks. You simply can’t get this variety into most garages.
Gym Membership Cons
Busy – Gyms with all the right facilities and a decent ambiance are often popular. Additionally most people want to workout at similar times of day – think lunch, just after work etc. Sometimes it is just to busy to do your routine, to hard to get your set’s in or just to damn crowded…
Sometimes dirty – busy and popular can mean dirty but sometimes gyms fallen on hard times don’t clean up enough – either way a public gym is not going to be as clean as your own gym and at least in your own gym it is your own dirt. If you are big on hygiene you soon get picky about the gym you prefer to use.
Waiting for equipment can extend workout periods – I like my workout to last about 40 minutes including rest between sets. But sometimes that 40 minutes can take over an hour if other guys are on the kit – have you got time in your schedule for slippage?
Motivation – if it is busy, dirty or the equipment is poor it is easy to get demotivated and head out early but additionally making time for your commute and having to schedule activity can easily lead to demotivation if you end up missing the odd session due to work commitments or traffic problems. Sometimes maintaining motivation needs spontaneity and ease so picking the correct gym can be a massive choice if you are going to get the most out of your workouts without losing your routine.
Lack of privacy – most gyms are massively public, if you are under confident, feel uncomfortable being eyeballed in public, or just want to do your thing like collapse to the ground after a set, howl or moan under pressure then you might find a public gym tough to feel comfortable in. Is privacy important to you?
Home Gym vs Gym Membership Round Up
Choosing between building your own gym and using a commercial gym is a personal choice – there is no right or wrong answer – it depends on your circumstances and how you like to workout. For me, i found it beneficial to use a gym initially whilst I got used to what motivated me, decided which equipment I favoured and had certain lifestyle considerations to take into account. Now I am older, more settled and know what I like, want to achieve and what is likely to keep me focussed I chose to build my own gym.