Making the decision to exercise is easy. It gets more complicated when you actually have to do it, the biggest question being: Where are you going to exercise? It’s easy to join a gym, of course, but it’s also easy to pay for that membership while never using it.
It’s also easy to set up a home gym and, of course, even easier to find a hundred other things more important than your workout—laundry, playing a game on your phone, cleaning the lint from behind your dryer, etc.
Whichever you decide, you have to actually follow through and part of that is working out in the environment that fits your needs and budget the most.
Pros of Joining a Gym
If this matter most to you, you have your answer.
Options and Amenities
Exercise is so much easier when you have lots of options to choose from. If you’re a cardio machine person, your choices abound the treadmill, elliptical, stairclimber, stair stepper, stationary bike, rowing machine…it goes on and on. You also have options for lifting weights. You have machines, free weights, cable machines, bands, and more. And then there’s a big attraction, fitness classes. Sure, you can do online classes at home, but it’s not the same as going to the gym and being around people. There may be other things, too, like a pool, hot tub, tennis courts, etc.
Paying for a gym membership can be motivating, but there’s also the boost you get from working out around other people. You can pick up on that friendly competitive vibe that you won’t get working out alone.
There’s not much to do at the gym but exercise (well, there is the hot tub), which can help you stay focused on your workouts. There are no chores staring you in the face, no kids interrupting you, and nothing to tempt you away from your workouts.
Energy and Community
There’s something about being in a gym, sweating along with everyone else, that gives you kind of a boost. We often draw energy from others and it can even push you to work harder. You don’t want that guy next to you running faster than you, right?
Cons of Joining a Gym
Membership has its privileges, but also its drawbacks.
No matter where you go, you’re going to have to pay something to join a gym. Some high-end clubs can cost more than $100 a month, while smaller clubs may only charge $10. Still, you get what you pay for.
Another thing you have to do if you’re going to work out at the gym is to go there. Pack a bag, fill up your water, get dressed (you don’t have to match, but you do need to wear clothing), drive there, park, go to the locker room, etc. So, your workout time may end up being longer, just because of the drive time.
Here’s another thing about the gym: it’s full of people. Sweaty, earphone-wearing, breathless exercisers who are all there to do their own thing. Sometimes that leaks over into your world in the form of talking loudly on cell phones, leaving sweat all over the machines, not putting away their weights or choking you with too much cologne or perfume. It’s a gym. It happens.
Pros and Cons of Working Out at Home
Pros of Working Out at Home
For some people, home workouts are the best option, thanks to these benefits.
There’s no membership fee and you can outfit your home gym with a few resistance bands and an exercise ball and be set to go. You could even do bodyweight workouts that require no equipment at all.
You don’t have to pack a bag, drive anywhere, or arrange for child care. You could work out in your pyjamas, if you wanted to…something they frown upon at the gym. You can also work out whenever you like, which is perfect if you need to split your workouts or want to work out at odd hours.
There’s variety at the gym, but there’s a different kind of variety when you work out at home. You can go outside for a walk or run. You can do exercise videos, streaming exercise classes, exergames, or use your smartphone to download workout apps. You can mix and match all you want—putting weights and cardio together, throwing in some yoga, whatever floats your boat. This is great for more impulsive exercisers who want to mix things up.
Cons of Working Out at Home
Don’t let these derail your workout.
When you exercise at home, there are approximately 4,987 excuses to skip your workout. If you’re not very self-motivated, you might find yourself avoiding workouts with silly chores like filing your nails, ironing the sheets, or alphabetizing your book collection.
At the gym, you have lots of scenery to distract you and, sometimes, we really do need a distraction. If you don’t have enough variety, you might just get too bored with your workouts.
You don’t need a ton of space to work out at home, but if you want a treadmill or other large piece of equipment, space is obviously important.
A Word From Verywell
Whether you should join a gym or work out at home often comes down to personal preference and your budget. If you’re self-motivated and know you’ll exercise no matter what, working out at home may be a good option.1 However, if you find way too many distractions (e.g., “I know I should work out, but I really need to trim my toenails”), getting out of the house may be a better choice.