Believe it or not this is actually a debate that happens in the fitness world, even though it seems everyone is ‘gym-ing’ it these days.
I thought it would have been an interesting topic to tackle, and give my 2 cents on it.
For the record let me say in terms of which is better it ultimately depends on your workout and fitness goals. For example if your goal is to gain strength training and gain muscle then a gym workout would be better.
However, when it comes to sticking with your workout program and fitness goals with consistency a home workout is better. The reason why I believe this is I’ve had experience with both.
A few years ago I had free access to a gym and even a personal trainer. I would drop my mom to work in the mornings and then head to the gym by 8am. It was convenient because the gym was on the way home.
Yet, even with free gym access, state of the art gym equipment, a personal trainer, and the convenience of the gym on my way home, I still failed to stick with it and be consistent.
Fast forward to today where I have none of those things, but I’m more consistent and disciplined with my workout routine than I’ve ever been my entire life. This with no gym, equipment or trainer.
This is why I stress so much that achieving your fitness goals and sticking with your workout routine has very little to do with a trainer, workout program or diet plan, and all has to do with YOU. It is why I say that it’s 90% psychology and 10% practicality (the How-to).
In this article I want to state the pros and cons for both, so that you can better decide which is a better fit for you.
Pros of Home Workout
1. It’s Convenient
The number one pro to working out at home is that it’s convenient.
When you have a home workout routine you don’t have to worry about making a detour or going out of your way to go to the gym. Nor do you have to schedule much time to get your workout in.
It’s a simple matter of waking up, getting it done right before you leave out for work, or do it when you get home from work. It falls right within the course of your daily routine.
Another convenience is you don’t need to worry about having to get top-of-the-line workout clothes to ensure you’re looking good at the gym (I know this is a big deal for women).
A simple t-shirt and shorts you have lying around the house is fine. You’re going to sweat in it anyway, so it’s not a big deal.
2. Less Time Commitment
A second big pro is that it requires less time commitment, especially for those who are very busy with their time.
Trying to figure out how you’re going to fit the gym into the ton of other things you want to get done throughout the day can be a challenge. This is a major reason why most have a difficult time sticking with their workout routine and fitness goals. Just traveling to the gym alone can take 20-30 minutes out of your day.
By working out at home you can eliminate the time it would take to commute back and forth to the gym. Also, because of the convenience of working out at home, you can easily get in quick 10-15 minute workouts that can still give you the energy and endurance you need to conquer your day.
3. Set Your Own Pace
One of the reasons why people struggle to stick with their workout routine is due to the fact that they are trying to push themselves to do too much too soon. Some of the responsibility can be placed on part by fitness trainers that push their clients who are beginners into 30 minute to 1 hour routines when they aren’t ready for that level of intensity. By the way isn’t necessary for a beginner at this stage.
This causes the brain to associate pain with working out. If that’s the case you won’t want to do anything that causes you pain so you’ll seek to avoid working out.
With working out at home you can set your own pace, and slowly work your way up to greater intensity. You can start a 10 minute workout, then eventually move up to a 20 minute, and eventually 1 hour. The important thing is that you are in control so you can pace yourself instead of pushing yourself.
Cons of Home Workout
Though there are good reasons to workout out at home it’s not as easy as it sounds. It takes a certain level of discipline to follow through and get it done with consistency. There are negatives that come with working out at home.
1. Easily Distracted
In every sense of the word home is synonymous with distractions.
It’s all too easy to get distracted from your workout routine when there are so many things fighting for your attention. One could be your family especially if you have kids.
It’s hard to get it done when your 5 year old daughter keeps climbing on your back because she wants to play now (#DaddyLife).
Plus there are so many other things that you can be doing that’s far more pleasing such as watching television. If you had a choice I’m sure you’d rather be watching Netflix than working out.
2. Easy to be Complacent
Complacency is a killer of dreams, and there’s no place it’s easier to be complacent with your workout than at home. As mentioned to workout at home requires that you have a level of discipline to follow through.
Let me break down the psychology of why it’s less likely you’ll follow through your workout at home than at the gym in this case.
There are certain environments our brains associate with certain things. For example the office is associated with doing work and being busy. The gym is associated with working out and exercising. The home is associated with rest, relaxation and sleep. When we’re in these environments our brains immediately go into habit mode, automatically falling into the respective routine. Even when we’re unaware that’s what we’re doing.
Therefore, once we’re at home our brain will automatically go into relaxation mode because that’s what it has linked home with. So it takes a certain level of discipline and willpower in the beginning to break that mental link, and relink home with workout.
This can be a challenge and so it’s easier for the brain to be complacent, lazy and not workout, than to overcome the challenge of pushing through and getting it done.
3. No Support
Working out effectively requires that you understand what workout works well for you. It also requires understanding not just which routine to do, but how. Meaning having the correct form for each type of exercise.
The disadvantage to working out at home is that it requires a lot of trial and error to get the routine and form correct. The unfortunate part of this is in the experimenting to get it right you can end up injuring yourself. This is where it’s good to have a trainer or at least someone who knows the correct form that can guide you.
Additionally, some people may find it difficult to hold themselves accountable and get it done at home. Working out at home means you have to discipline yourself to make it happen, and not rely on someone else to hold you accountable or motivate you.
Pros of Gym Workout
1. Right Environment
While the brain may associate home with relaxation, for the gym it links it with working out. This makes it easier for you to follow through, as long as you’re actually AT the gym.
There are certain cues and triggers in each environment that influences certain behaviours and actions. So if you walk into a gym, see the gym equipment, other people working out, then that will influence the behaviour in you to workout.
The gym creates the right environment conducive to you wanting to workout, and that’s one of the advantages to working out at the gym.
2. Association and Support
Another great advantage is for the association of other people like you who are there to workout.
Being in an environment with like-minded people means you can feed off their energy. You get to associate with other people who have the same common goal and vision as you do…getting fit. This association can create a sense of belonging and community that can allow the brain to associate working out with something good and pleasurable, not bad and painful.
The other benefit is the support system it provides if you have a trainer, or a core group of other gym members you’re friends with. They can help to motivate you and push you to get the job done.
3. Access to Equipment
The final advantage to working out at the gym is that there is equipment available that you can use to sculpt any aspect of your body you wish to.
You can work your abs, legs, biceps, triceps, or anywhere you wish to, and get a more toned body that working out at home without equipment wouldn’t be able to give. Plus there would be other amenities available to you.
Cons of Gym Workout
1. Comes With a Cost
Though the equipment and amenities may be nice, the service also comes with a cost.
Now for someone who may be on a very tight budget, a gym membership may be the last thing on their mind to spend their money on. A gym membership is seen as a monetary inconvenience and thus a disadvantage to that person, especially when you also factor in cost for commuting.
Working out at home eliminates the need to spend money on gym membership, especially since there are many home workout videos you could do.
Believe it or not there can be distractions at the gym. This distraction takes the form of people that see the gym as more of a social club than a place to workout. That’s why most people prefer to workout during hours when the gym is empty (for those who have that luxury).
I have seen it many times, being at the gym and overhearing many ‘water cooler’ conversations about gossip, the latest news, and what happened on last week’s soap opera. Yet spending 1-2 hours in the gym, talking for 90% of the time they are there, and working out only 10%. It would baffle me how much talking actually takes place rather than working out.
It didn’t stop me from working out. However, if you’re not careful it’s easy to get caught up in the distraction of idle conversations, rather than doing what you came there to do…workout.
3. Requires More Time Commitment
Going to the gym requires a great deal of time commitment.
It’s not just the actual workout that you need to consider, but also the time it will take to commute to and from the gym.
That’s not the only thing. You have to also consider the inconvenience of traveling to the gym. Through surveys I’ve done to figure out what are some of the reasons people give for not sticking with their workout routine, inconvenience was one of the top answers.
It’s the inconvenience of having to leave work and travel in the opposite direction from their home, which means a further distance and longer time to get back home. The inconvenience of the traffic they may be faced with by trying to get to the gym, and home from the gym. It’s anything that requires them to go out of their way why they considered going to the gym an inconvenience.
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