Going to the gym is a popular way of getting in some exercise, with membership signups increasing 44% last year. With a range of specialist equipment and lots of likeminded people, gyms have some real plus points. But is it really worth the money? Will you simply become one of the thousands who waste their gym memberships?
The other main option is to buy some gym equipment and find exercises that can be done without specialist equipment. But are you really going to get a well-rounded workout? Are you risking your body with unsafe, untested exercise routines?
It’s time to settle this once and for all. We’re going to have a fitness showdown.
In the red corner, we have the local gym. In the blue corner, a home workout…
Going to the Gym
Introducing the reigning champ: going to the gym.
The gym is a fan favourite with loads of benefits but a few shortcomings, as well. Let’s dive in.
- It’s great for beginners
Going to the gym means you don’t invest too much in home equipment when starting out. You may be on an exercise kick now, but you might realise intensive workouts just aren’t your thing after a few weeks or months. A trial period at the gym is a great way to get your feet wet and decide if you’re ready for a long-term commitment.
- It keeps you motivated
Let’s be honest: some people pay for a gym membership that they never use. In fact, studies indicate we Brits waste £37m a year on unused gym memberships. If you’re a thoughtful spender, however, investing in a gym membership will keep you at it – whether you like it or not. If you have a workout buddy or trainer, that’s extra encouragement to keep your routine going.
- There’s endless equipment
Even if you’ve got the cash for a comprehensive home setup, the gym will always have more equipment. No matter what you want to focus on, the gym’s got you covered: cable machines, dip stations, hip abductors and more. If you have a dream, the gym has the machine.
- Location, location, location
This could be a pro if you’ve got a gym at your office or just down the road. For many of us, however, getting to the gym can be just as much work as actually working out. You’re at the mercy of your postcode on this one.
- Waiting in the queue
If you really want to work on your quads, you’d better hope the leg curling machine is free. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck jogging on the spot while you wait in the queue.
- Occasionally dodgy hygiene
Most gyms work hard to keep their equipment and changing rooms clean and sanitary, but even a dedicated staff can’t keep busy gyms spotless at all times.
Working Out at Home
Introducing the plucky young challenger: working out at home. It’s something we’ve all considered, so let’s compare the pros and blows of having a home gym.
- It’s great for beginners
Crazy hours, young kids or a full social calendar. No matter what your schedule is like, having a home gym means you can work out whenever you like – without having to leave the house.
- There’s no membership fees
While it may be pricey to purchase the initial setup, a home gym will save you money in the long-term. Just don’t buy more than you will use.
- You can be yourself
Listen to loud music, wear your comfiest (and gaudiest) pyjamas and shout obscenities with every push up. No one can judge you at home!
- There’s less accountability
If there’s no one expecting you to show up for a workout or training session, it can be difficult to get up early and hit the treadmill when the bed’s so warm and cosy.
- There’s no instruction
YouTube videos can only go so far at teaching you the proper techniques. It can be confusing and even dangerous to do some workouts without proper instruction.
- Setup is expensive
We mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating: don’t spend money on a pricey home gym until you know you’re going to stick with it. Otherwise you’ll just be left with some uncomfortable and expensive furniture.
And the winner is…
Look, we know you want a definitive answer, but it all comes down to your individual needs. Take a look at the pros and cons, and decide which option makes you feel more comfortable.
If you do need a starting point, sign up for a trial membership at the gym, and find out if you’re willing to make a commitment to working out. Then you can consider purchasing that home gym.
Whichever option you go for, make sure you are complimenting your exercise routine with the right diet if you’re hoping to lose weight. All the exercise in the world won’t help you gain a trim belly if you’re not getting the right balance in your diet.
There are also lots of exercise options that involve no gym equipment at all – at home or at the gym. Check out our blog Exercise Smart, Not Hard, on a Calorie-Controlled Diet.
For more diet and exercise advice and tips, sign up for the Balance Box monthly newsletter. You’ll get more goodies like this sent straight to your inbox.