The Pros and Cons of Choosing Home Exercise Over a Gym Membership

Exercise can help you to improve both your mental and physical health but for many people, affording a gym membership is out of the question financially. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up on the idea of exercising full stop though – there is the option of working out at home instead. Not sure which is the better choice? Here are some of the pros and cons for each.

The Advantages

There are some good reasons to choose home exercise over visits to the gym, including:

1. Convenience
It can be hard to find the time to fit in a trip to the gym when you’re busy but this isn’t so much of a problem if you’re exercising at home. The advantage of being able to work out when it suits you makes it more likely that you’ll stick to an exercise plan, rather than give up because you’re missing gym sessions.

2. Privacy
If you’re not confident about your body, the mere thought of putting on your exercise gear and working out in front of people can be enough to put you off going to the gym altogether. For many people, this anxiety means that they rarely visit the gym or avoid it completely. Home exercise is an ideal way to work out without ever having to go near a gym and you can work out without feeling self-conscious.

3. Lower Costs
A gym membership doesn’t usually come cheap and over time, it may be cheaper to buy home gym equipment instead. You still have the initial outlay of buying the equipment but it can last for years if you choose high quality items, which can prove much more cost-effective in the long term. For workouts involving yoga, Pilates, aerobics and other activities that don’t specifically involve exercise machines, the cost of buying the equipment and fitness games/DVDs can prove a lot less expensive than paying monthly or yearly gym memberships. We have invested in a few sets of dumbells and some good mats.

4. Less Potential to Get Sick
There are obvious health benefits associated with exercise no matter where you choose to work out but there can be some less obvious health-related advantages to exercising at home. Because you’re not sharing your exercise equipment with lots of other people, there’s less chance that you’ll be picking up germs in the process. You can easily clean handles with antibacterial wipes or sprays before and after you’ve used the equipment but it’s harder to be sure that this happens in a gym environment. (Note: if you are looking for a green way to disinfect, put 20 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle and fill it with water)

The Disadvantages

There are also some potential downsides to going down the home exercise route, including:

1. The Potential for Distractions
One major drawback of exercising at home is the strong possibility that everyday life will get in the way. Stopping to answer the door or phone can quickly interrupt a workout and if this happens, you may find yourself lacking the enthusiasm when you go back to it. If you’re not the most motivated to exercise in the first place, self exercise may not be a great option unless you can guarantee an uninterrupted workout. In order to avoid this, we have decided to work out in the morning before work when everyone else is still sleeping. We have been much more consistent since implementing this.

2. Self Discipline is Important
If you’re not working out in a gym, you’ll probably find that you have to push yourself to exercise. Whereas exercising at the gym often offers the opportunity to link up with a personal trainer who can encourage you and suggest ways to increase the effectiveness of your workouts. At home,  you’re all on your own in terms of motivation and this doesn’t suit everyone. I am lucky because my hubby and I keep each other motivated.

3. Have You Got Enough Space?
Even if all of your exercise equipment is of the fold-up variety, you still need somewhere to keep it and to have enough room to use it. If you’re not not using exercise equipment and are instead planning to do activities like aerobics or yoga, you’ll still need to have the floor space.  Depending on how large your rooms are, you may not have the space. We have found that you can do body weight exercises pretty much anywhere.

So, where do you prefer to exercise, at home, or at the gym? Or, how have you decided to exercise on the cheap?


The Pros and Cons of Choosing Home Exercise Over a Gym Membership — 30 Comments

  1. I think it takes a lot of motivation to get the most out of home gym equipment. I prfer to run and ride from home, and leave the specialised equipment for the gym.

    • It doesn’t work for everyone and if running and riding works for you that is great. What I have found though is that a lot people feel like they have to do to the gym to work out effectively which isn’t true. If we can motivate ourselves we can sweat it out at home no problem. I find it a real time saver and so do many other people I know. But as long as you are getting active, that is what matter, not where and how.

  2. I love the idea of exercising at home. I prefer this to paying for a gym membership. Like you said, you can get distracted, but it is much easier for me to jump on the exercise bike than drive somewhere to work out. (especially in the winter) 🙂

    • Agreed. I just did my workout this morning as I always do with my hubby and it was so nice to just get out of bed, put my clothes on and get right to it. I would spend so much more time if I had to drive somewhere. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to workout in the AM like I do if I had to drive and then who knows when I would fit it in.

  3. I work out at home. It’s a basic setup with just 2 benches, a few bars, and a hodge-podge of plates. Especially now, when it has rained for 4 days straight it makes it easier than building the motivation to go out in this crap weather to get a workout in. Plus, I have the access to my kitchen which really saves money versus overpriced gym bars. And, I know that it’s always clean, and there’s never a wait to use it!

    • Sounds like you have it made. We also have a home gym- a few sets of dumbells and dynabands and a couple mats. It works great. I actually find that doing body weight exercises like pushups etc. is more effective than other stuff I have done in the past. I love working out at home.

      • Yeah, it is a pretty nice deal when you only have to go about 20 feet to have the gym, juice bar, and showers while not paying a single cent. Although, there are some machines that the gym does have that are very useful but not within a home-gym budget. That variety would be the only reason I would consider joining a gym.

    • Good for you. It’s funny how some people say being at home gives them lots of excuses to work out while others like yourself says it gives you no excuses. I am like you. If I can do it at home I am sure to get it done. What kinds of exercises do you like to do at home?

  4. When I was younger and had more time, I use to love to work out at college (it was free then), with my buddies, lifting weights.

    But now that I have kids, I don’t have time to go to a gym anymore, so now I’m going to start to work out at home.

  5. I choose home exercise equipment over a gym membership. The trick I noticed was to not go overboard on your home gym. Get some basics and that’s it. Leave the special stuff for the gym. I did the math on a universal home gym on vs a gym membership and the it would take a 10 year holding period to payback the cost of the home gym over the gym membership. That is definitely not worth it.

    • 10 years hey?! I didn’t do the math but that number doesn’t surprise me. Your right- don’t go overboard. You only need a few things. We have a few sets of dumb bells, a couple mats and a couple videos and we do great. We do a lot of body weight stuff which seems to be the most effective and it doesn’t cost a penny.

  6. Like you, Krantcents, and 20’s Finances all suggest, the convenience with having a home gym is unparalleled. It does remove all my excuses. I find that I am much more likely to workout at weird times at home than I would if I had to go to the gym, regardless of the facility’s hours.

    • Me too. We currently work out in the AM before work and this only works because we do it at home. We wouldn’t have the time in the morning to go to and from the gym which means the workout wouldn’t happen. The evenings get busy after work and we are usually tired and less motivated. We are much more consistent working out at home than we were when we went to the gym.

  7. years back i decided to invest in some home gym equipment, thinking i would use it more since it’s more convenient. now they’re just collecting dust. why is it so hard to exercise and be healthy?

  8. I used to be pretty hardcore about working out. I had a gym membership and went 3-4 times a week. Since my daughter was born I don’t seem to have the time now. Ironically, I’m probably healthier and in better shape now because I eat a lot better than I used to.

    My wife is a stay-at-home mom and she gets her workout in at home while our daughter naps in the afternoon. With kids, you’ve gotta do what you can.

    • I totally agree. We don’t always have the luxury to work out for hours a day. But if we can find some time to fit some in, even 30 minutes it can make a big difference.

      Glad you are eating healthier. That is huge progress. Maybe you can get in a 20-30 minute workout in at work at lunch time. That way you don’t take time away from your daughter.

  9. I reserve the gym for winter workouts and take advantage of the warm weather in the summer. The also can save money as well because you can sign up for a short term gym membership during the cold months. However, I do like to use the treadmill at least once a week to give my aching joints a break from pounding on the pavement when running outside.

    • I am an ex runner. Ended up with too many injuries. I know exactly what you mean when it comes to aching joints from the concrete. A treadmill definitely is a nice break. I have tried trail running too which is a lot nicer on the joints or even just running on the grass. It makes a real difference. I like your idea about a seasonal membership. Makes sense if you live somewhere that gets too cold.

  10. At least in the past I was not really able to get into working out at home, but now that I am older I am starting to multitask more i.e cook/do laundry or just cleanup while I workout……Also used equipment is available for great prices locally on craigslist and if you do need to get rid of it in the future you barely loose any money on it….per my estimation the payback period is well within two years if you count the gas and time saved… $50 cash plus time….

  11. We switched over to a home gym this year and love it. Mainly for two reasons that you mentioned: It is convenient and costs a lot less. It is true about distractions, so that is something that I am still working through. Great post!

  12. I love biking but in winter, when temps drop and snow falls, I wouldn´t trade my exercise bike for the world! thanks for the great post 😉

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