by Marcus Jessen
Are you one of the many people contemplating whether to enrol in a local gym or create one in your own home?
Your ultimate goal might be to become or stay physically fit, but deciding between a gym membership and a home gym can be a tough choice. Both can help you achieve your goal.
In order to make a well-informed decision, you must, first of all, understand the pros and cons of owning your own training haven.
I wrote this article to help you make the decision.
Pros of Having a Home Gym
One day I will buy a house together with my wife, and you can be sure that a home gym potential is going to be an important factor. I will have a nice power rack, a decent amount of weights, a barbell, some dumbbells, and big loudspeakers.
As you can understand, having my own home gym is something I have thought about a lot, and here are what I believe to be the 6 largest advantages of having a home gym.
#1 No need to travel
The travel time to the gym can be discouraging, especially if it is more than 30 minutes one way. I have been a member of many different gyms, and have had to spend as little as 5 minutes and as long as 45 minutes one way.
If you like to use your time efficiently (who doesn’t?), then this can feel like a massive waste of time. With a home gym, you simply step in the next room and you are all set.
Because distance is not a problem, you might also feel more motivated to train and the extra hours you save from travelling can be spent on other responsibilities.
#2 Work-out at your own time
Most commercial gyms have their operating hours. Unless you enrol in a gym that is open 24/7 which sometimes are hard to find and can cost extra.
It is great to schedule your training sessions, but if you have a demanding job, family and also want to enjoy your private life, I am sure your schedule is not always as predictable as you would like.
If you have your own gym you do not have to worry about the opening hours, peak hours, or holidays. Your gym is always open and waiting.
#3 No Monthly Membership
Saying goodbye to your monthly membership fee is one of the highlights of owning a home gym.
The fee can vary a lot depending on the gym and location. Budget-friendly gyms might charge you $20+ a month while elite fitness clubs can require $100+ per month. Sometimes that price might even include amenities you don’t use but can’t opt-out of.
If you workout at home, in one year you could save from $240 up to $1200. Once you set up your own home gym you can cancel that membership and put the money to better use!
Fun fact: according to a study published in the American Economic Review (abstract), gym-goers who pay a flat monthly fee of over 70$ attend on average 4.3 times per month. That is more than 17$ per time! Also, the subjects in the study could have saved large amounts of money by getting a 10-visit pass at 10$ per visit. This suggests overconfidence and overestimation of personal gym attendance. Click here for the entire document.
#4 Your gym, your rules
Have you ever been to those gyms where the staff tell you to be quiet when doing heavy deadlifts? After many years of lifting, I am still not sure how that can be done.
Unlike commercial gyms where there are dress and conduct codes to follow, you can do whatever you want in your own gym without having to worry about what other people might think of you.
If you wish to train in your pyjamas, go ahead. Also, you can yell as loud as you want when you make a new personal record.
If your smell stinks after only a few minutes of working out, it does not matter. No one will know. If you feel more comfortable working out while listening to loud heavy metal or techno music, no one can stop you.
#5 No waiting for equipment
Waiting for your turn to use the dumbbell, weight machine, bench, etc. is a common scenario in a commercial gym.
Then comes the awkward communication with your fellow gym-goers about who was first in line.
This can mostly be avoided if you hit the gym at off-peak hours, but with your personal gym, it will never be a concern. Besides that, you can take as much time as you want with the equipment without getting any stares or mumbles that you are being too slow.
#6 Make some money
Want to do a side hustle?
Get yourself an impressive home gym and you could potentially charge other people some money to use your space and equipment.
If you want to get real serious, you can follow the latest trends in commercial gyms and offer both protein shakes and free massage!
I am not suggesting you do the massage yourself, but that you instead get one of those popular handheld massagers that more and more gyms are offering their members to use for a small fee.
I use them myself and they do make a difference. If you want to learn more you can check out this comparative review I wrote of two popular massagers.
Regarding the protein shakes, you simply buy a good quality protein powder in bulk and you are good to go.
With all that being said, it is your gym and you make the rules. You set up the operating hours and limit the number of users so that your own privacy and convenience remain.
The Cons Of Having Your Own Home Gym
While it can be super exciting to have your very own home gym, it does have its downsides. Below I have listed the 6 biggest concerns.
#1 Requires initial investment
The biggest drawback of creating a home gym is the huge amount of money that you have to spend as a one-time investment. Obviously, it will depend on how ambitious you are but it quickly adds up.
Here is a quick estimate of what basic weight training equipment will cost on Amazon. Foam tiles cost around $40 – $80, dumbbells $200 – $300, barbell and plates for $200 – $400, power rack for $200 – 400, and an adjustable bench for $100 – $200.
Generally, you can spend from $740 to $1380 for basic equipment and the amount can go much higher depending on the brand and style.
For more information, you should check out this buyer’s guide on equipment needed for a compact home gym.
If you also want machines like a treadmill, rowing machine or elliptical you need an even larger budget. You can read more about cardio machines here.
You better be sure about your goal before you buy any equipment.
Do you want to become stronger and build some muscle, or do you just want to lose some weight? By answering this question, you can direct your spending towards equipment that will help you achieve this goal.
#2 Takes space in your home
I have been living in apartments since I moved out of my parents’ house.
While the money I have spent on gym fees since then could have bought at least 2 impressive home gyms I would have nowhere to put it all.
A home gym will definitely take up a good chunk of space and that is something you need to consider. If you are to set it up in the garage or in an existing room, be ready to give up that space in your home.
#3 Limited equipment
Limited space and budget will affect how much equipment you can get. This is a major disadvantage of having your own gym.
Unlike commercial gyms that will have various machines, equipment and all the weight you will ever be able to lift, you will be limited to a few things.
#4 Maintenance is your responsibility
Gym membership gives you the perk of not caring about cleaning up or maintaining the machines.
Once you set up the home gym, all these things become your sole responsibility. You have to make sure that everything is in order. If a major problem occurs, you have to shoulder the repair and that adds up to your expenses.
#5 All Alone
Another downside of a home gym is that you are on your own. There won’t be any kind person to spot you or give you a few tips on how to improve your form.
Unless you already know a lot about working out, doing it all on your own without assistance can be difficult.
Are you easily distracted at home? Perhaps you have difficulty working or studying from home because there are so many other things you could do like household chores, saying hello to the neighbour, or watching television.
If you are easily distracted, it could prove difficult for you to work out efficiently from home.
Working out requires focus, and without it working out efficiently become difficult. That transport time you saved ends up being wasted.
Home gym and gym membership both have their pros and cons. While membership works great for some people, a home gym might be better for others.
If you like the idea of having your own home gym, but still a bit unsure about fitness goals or something else, I would suggest you start small and get a feel for it first.
Marcus is the owner of the site Strengthery where he likes to write about weight training, weight loss, and other health-related topics. He prefers a balancing approach to health and fitness where the amount of effort needs a corresponding gain in order to be worth it. He is also a massage junkie.