Working Out at Home or at the Gym?
This question is one that health and fitness professionals are asked regularly. The answer is a function of what the ultimate goals are. Presumably, the goals are to:
Make sure you get a workout done
Meet your fitness goals
To reach these two goals, you have to think about three issues:
First is friction. Is getting to the gym going to be too difficult, or involve too much “friction”? For example, is the closest gym a 30-minute drive?
If that’s the case, the hour round trip may be too much to incorporate into your daily routine. The initial enthusiasm of the new routine of hitting the gym eventually will be dampened by the grind of a time commitment that’s not easily accommodated. After all, that hour drive time probably was used to do something else.
If you can easily discard that something else, then no big deal. There’s not much friction. If all that’s involved is getting to bed a little earlier and getting up a little earlier, not much friction exists. You might even enjoy the time in the car to and from the gym, listening to music or audio books.
But if that hour cuts into the time you use to prepare for work, getting the kids out the door, or other obligations, then it will become hard to defend the use of that time. Soon your new routine will require too much energy to maintain, and you’ll stop going to the gym. At that point, the first goal of simply making sure you work out is abandoned.
Another source of friction is money. If a gym membership is not financially viable, then trying to force that membership into your budget may be a nonstarter. Of course, first look for less-than-wise spending that could be replaced with an investment in a gym membership. But if there is no wiggle room, a gym membership may not be in the cards. (If that’s the case, keep reading; in a bit we’ll discuss using just a little space to get in a good workout.)
The second consideration is focus. If too many distractions exist at home, they will drag you away from your workout or keep you from getting in a good workout. If that’s the case, home may not be the ideal place for exercise. For example, if you have young children who might demand your attention despite your partner’s best efforts to watch them while you work out, then home is not an environment where you’ll be able to focus. Similarly, if your pet is going to distract you with overwhelming cuteness or is intent on participating in your exercise routine, then home may not be the best place to focus on an impactful workout.
By design, a gym is a place with a purpose. As such, it is the ideal place to focus on a workout. If you need that focus because the siren song of the TV or fridge is too strong to resist at home, then the gym may be the right option for you
The third and final issue is function. If you’ve reached a certain level of baseline fitness and want to achieve specific goals that require more weight or specialized equipment, such as putting on muscle mass, then you might only be able to find the right equipment at the gym. Similarly, if your fitness goals are evolving, investing in a gym membership might make the most sense. You are essentially renting the equipment versus buying it. You might want to incorporate swimming for some time and then weave in rowing. Instead of investing in those resources yourself, “rent” them from the gym for as long as you need.
With the above in mind, you should remember that a decent workout doesn’t require any equipment at all. A few square feet of space can provide more than enough room to complete an impactful workout routine involving pushups, crunches, burpees, lunges, squats, and other exercises that don’t require any equipment whatsoever. If you aren’t trying to achieve any specialized fitness goals, then all you might need is a little open space. If nothing else, you can use home-based exercises as a backup for when you can’t make it to the gym.
So, focus on what will most likely help you get a workout done and hit your fitness goals. With these guideposts in mind, you’ll come to the right decision regarding working out at home versus the gym.
And remember, it’s always possible to do a little bit of both.