July 11, 2019
Anyone who’s ever participated in an exercise regimen knows what a struggle it can be to make it to the gym. It certainly takes time and effort—not to mention the anxieties that can often accompany working out in front of a crowd. But what’s the alternative? Working out at home comes with its own list of potential pitfalls, and it’s simply not feasible for some people. So, what’s best: a gym membership or a home gym? Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each option.
Having an active gym membership can be a luxury. Depending on location and amenities, memberships cost an average of $58 per month ($696 per year). This is a pretty good deal for someone going to the gym frequently—it comes out to $3.36 per visit for someone going four times a week. The problem is, most people don’t go to the gym that much. In fact, studies show that while gym members anticipate visiting the gym almost ten times a month, most only end up visiting around four times—skyrocketing the average session cost to $14.50 per workout. In a 2018 survey of 5,313 American gym members, only 37 percent of people actually used the gym membership they pay for.
But for those who use their membership to its fullest, the monthly fee may be worth it. Having access to an enormous variety of exercise equipment encourages a more well-rounded workout, ranging from aerobic and cardio exercises like treadmill and elliptical running to more resistance-based workouts like weight-lifting. There’s also a social benefit to gym memberships, as many active members join classes hosted by professional trainers. It’s a great way to find like-minded people, especially for those interested in more specialized activities like kickboxing or Zumba. Many gyms also provide access to amenities like saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms, making an intense workout that much more rewarding.
Home gyms are another way to squeeze in a workout. Without the added monthly expense of a gym membership, people who exercise at home can focus their money elsewhere, like gym equipment that can last for years. Investing in a set of dumbbells, resistance bands, or pull-up bars is much cheaper and more convenient in the long run. When the gym is your own house, external circumstances like heavy traffic or bad weather are no longer barriers to getting a good workout. It allows for more freedom in scheduling, reduces any fears for people who might feel self-conscious working out around others, and there’s a lot to be said about showering in your own bathroom rather than a public gym locker room.
But carving out the space and time to exercise at home isn’t always easy. Many people don’t have room to set up a home gym, especially those already on a budget. If you already feel cramped in a small apartment, sacrificing scarce square footage isn’t so appealing—not to mention noise-sensitive downstairs neighbors. Other people struggle to feel motivated when other options, like the TV and kitchen, are just a few steps away.
There’s no way around the difficulties that inherently accompany a regular exercise routine, but that’s no reason to be discouraged. The benefits of consistent exercise are immeasurable, and they far outweigh the consequences of avoiding a workout altogether. Everyone is different, and one routine can’t work for everyone. What’s important is to get out there, get moving, and make health a top priority.