Home Exercise Equipment vs Fitness Center?

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Daniel Pavlik Sr DC

Apr 21, 2020

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and embrace a healthier lifestyle, the next question is: where should you exercise? Working out at home can have a lot of advantages, but then so does working out at a fitness center. Which is the best option for you? Here are some of the factors to consider when making your decision.

Cost

Gym memberships aren’t cheap, although you can reduce the cost by shopping around for special offers. For some people, the price of a gym membership is a source of motivation for regular attendance at the fitness center. After all, nobody wants to waste money on an unused subscription. In the long term, those monthly fees can certainly add up.

On the other hand, home exercise equipment can also be expensive. If all you want is a few dumbells and maybe a stationary bike, you might save a lot of money if you buy equipment and exercise at home. If, on the other hand, you want a full range of dumbells from 5 lbs to 160 lbs and a variety of different machines, a gym would be a lot cheaper. The same range of exercise equipment that you find in your local gym could run into tens of thousands.

Motivation

Exercising at home also leaves you vulnerable to distractions and excuses. Family members may want your time and attention, there are always chores to be done, and many everyday calls on your time to be navigated. Without a supportive household, it’s very easy for those expensive machines to end up gathering dust in the basement.

At the fitness center, you may face fewer distractions. You will also find yourself in an atmosphere that’s more conducive to exercise. In essence, everyone else is working out, inspiring figures surround you, and nobody is asking you to take the dog for a walk. The social aspect is a big source of motivation for many people. Gyms allow you to socialize with other people who share similar goals to your own, helping you to stay on track. Distractions do exist, however. You may find yourself interrupting your routine because another gym-goer is using the machine you want to use. Waiting around can be demotivating.

Convenience and range

Exercising at home is certainly convenient. You don’t have to find time to drive to the fitness center — your equipment is available at all hours of the day or night. That said, the range of equipment is likely to be very limited.

A gym’s fitness center will undoubtedly have a more significant range of equipment than your home exercise room is every likely to accumulate. In the ideal scenario, you would be able to begin your exercise routine as soon as you arrive and progress through your workout without interruptions. Unfortunately, this isn’t always what happens. If you can only attend the gym during the busiest times, you may face long queues for the equipment you want to use. This can be a real problem for some workout programs.

Perks and extras

Most gyms offer useful perks to help you exercise and recover more effectively. Some offer water, sports drinks, or protein shakes, while others might provide access to facilities such as saunas and steam rooms. Skilled staff is often on hand to assist with training or to give massages and other treatments.

At home, however, you can get a lot of these things for free. Why pay $4 for a bottle of Gatorade from the vending machine when you can get a similar drink from your refrigerator for a few cents? Unless your gym is providing drinks and snacks for free, this can be a significant extra cost.

In the end, the choice of whether to use a gym or to invest in home exercise equipment will come down to your situation and goals. If you want to boost your overall fitness levels and don’t like your local gym, home equipment is an excellent option. If you’re a serious body-builder, you’re unlikely to be able to achieve your goals with home equipment alone.

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