Home or Gym? Where's The Best Place For You?

Exercise makes me happy!
Photo: misterwilson

If you’ve resolved to get fit this coming year then good for you. The biggest decision has been made. Admitting there’s a problem is the first step, right? Or so I’ve been told (they don’t call me the Queen of Denial for nuthin’). The second thing to consider is how you’ll go about accomplishing your goal – do you join a gym or can your fitness needs be met at home? There’s a lot to be said for both.

Gym memberships have a lot of plusses going for them. First and foremost is the variety and quality of the equipment: treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, Nautilus, bikes, step machines – you name it, it’s pretty much there and generally kept up to date – provided you haven’t gone the cheap route and joined something called “Gym Y2K” or “Club Rambo”. The added bonus here is that if something breaks, you’re not on the hook to repair it. Consider it to be like a fitness condo fee. Some gyms even offer swimming pools, saunas and/or tennis courts (court time/lessons are extra).

Gyms also offer lots of classes in addition to the stationary equipment. You can find an assortment of classes such as step aerobics, pilates, spinning, yoga, and zumba – just to name a few. And most gyms offer kiddie care at a nominal fee which was actually worth the entire price of membership to me to just get an hour or two of time to myself. But moms should note – you will be pulled out of class to change a stinky diaper. The Health Department never rests.

Professional trainers on staff are another great aspect about gym membership and while their fees are separate from your yearly membership, their expertise as to how to properly use the equipment or tailoring a specific fitness program to your goals is invaluable.

If this is your gym's training staff, it might be time to reassess.
Photo: Ross Harmes

If you enjoy the company of others (and believe me, I know not everybody does – especially when clad in muffin-top enhancing spandex and dripping in sweat), working out in such an atmosphere can be very motivating or in my case, camouflaging. The lion has trouble focusing on just one gazelle when it’s time to thin the herd (or in gym parlance – judge you by your size). Getting lost in a crowd while still being part of the crowd can be a very companionable experience.

Still, for others, there’s no place like home. Chief among the reasons favoring a home gym is the price. While you may buy a few pieces of equipment, there’s generally not much money invested beyond that in terms of maintenance and upkeep. Gym memberships can be pretty pricey, especially if it’s one of those a la carte places that breaks down the entire experience into bite size pieces and charges you for each one that you use.

The commute with a home gym just can’t be beat. If you’ve committed to working out every day then you’ll never have to worry about dressing up and driving to a gym when it’s right in your house. This is especially helpful for morning exercisers who can just roll out of bed and onto the treadmill. You can look like Keith Richards when you wake up and there’s no one to notice. No special clean up, traffic or travel involved. And best of all, home gyms are open 24/7.

Dog tired after a home gym workout. Woof.
Photo: gwhalin

At home, you also get to keep your equipment as clean as you want and never have to wear anybody else’s sweat. One of my biggest beefs about the gym I belong to is the unclean teen behavior exhibited by even some adults when it comes to evading their responsibility for the person using the equipment after them and wiping it down. Geez - I sure hope these aren't the same people who are packing my groceries or giving me the sign of peace (all five fingers) at church.

Private shower and dressing room (this benefit is entitled to its very own five word paragraph – that’s how special it is - but brevity has never been my strong suit). The modesty factor looms large in deciding whether to work out at home or in a gym. Given my self-conscious Catholic/New England prude/pasty-complected self, I just can’t bring myself to walk around the gym with my bodacious set of ta-tas as my only cover. It reminds me too much of the old National Geographic magazine “spreads” on the low-hanging fruit of local tribeswomen that my brother and his friends used to gather around as pre-internet teens.

Working out at home also allows you the freedom to choose whatever music or TV show you'd like to watch while you're exercising. No more forced big time fishing or duck pin bowling because that's what the TV next to the only open elliptical is playing. Where's a remote when you really need one? Oh right, underneath the couch cushion - at home!

So where will your workouts be going on? Home or away or something inbetween?

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