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Good, Better, Best Workouts: Home Workout vs Gym

Good, Better, Best Workouts: Home Workout vs Gym

Posted by Meredith Bless on May 28th 2018

Personal Trainers and Gym Memberships or Exercise Videos Online? What if we could have it all--

Out of adversity we can make great discoveries. My computer crashed last week and it took a full 7 days to get my entire business up and running with a new one. In those 7 days I found I had more free time, so I opted in to a few workout sessions at the gym with my dusty membership, rather than work out at home. I’ve never liked gyms, but I live in a small home in a rainy city, so a gym membership made the most sense to me 6 months ago. Despite my personal preference, whenever I’ve attended a gym, there’s always an air of athletic and fitness success purely because I’m standing in a room with other sweaty people all striving for the same basic goal: to cultivate a strong, healthy body so we can accomplish our greatest goals. I’ve always felt that deep down exercise should be a premeditated stress-relief. You can still grunt and groan, sweat your ass off, or sit completely still and achieve the same mindful personal fulfillment.

On a daily basis —with or without a functioning work schedule, I grapple with the question of, do I work out at home today —maybe, or do I take an extra two hours out of my schedule to commute, park, pay, and breath in the thick gym air in order to reach my fitness goals?

In researching this topic more, there absolutely are pros and cons to both locations, but what it comes down to in my opinion is time, cleanliness, budget, personality/lifestyle, and discipline. As a certified yoga instructor, outdoor adventuress, infamous multi-tasker, and afternoon napper I can honestly say there is a time and a place for exercise in my life. I simply can’t exercise everyday —at least I thought I couldn’t until recently. I’ll come back to that, but first, let’s explore what’s best for you on a daily basis. How you feel may change day to day like me, which makes it hard to decide on a steady exercise regime. The questions below might help your sort out your plan of action to stay on track and get in the daily cardio or strength training that keep you going strong in life.

There is always more time than we think to move our body

Work, family, social, and alone time are all valuable. Exercise can be incorporated into any one of these time blocks. I know a nurse who power walks 5 miles a day at work going back and forth between patients. As a family we go for hikes, swims, or jump on the backyard trampoline and believe me that gets your heart rate up. Yoga or barre class with friends can be done anywhere as long as you have the internet or an instructor. An after-exercise lunch or drink creates a solid few hours of social time for most. Alone time, that most certainly can be done at home with an exercise video or out for a walk with your phone shut off.

Ask yourself:

  • Can exercise be included with my work today?
    • Work from home —Do squats at the computer, think while jumping on a fitness trampoline, read emails as you lift weights
    • Work in an office —Swing by the gym next door for a quick power workout, walk outside on your lunch break
  • Do you have kids?
    • Workout at the gym —Requires childcare which gets expensive
    • Workout at home —Include kids into your exercise with a walk/run or in home video streaming workout while they nap or play
  • Is your schedule packed back to back?
    • Yes —Workout from home to cut down on commute time
    • No —Be flexible, stay home or go to the gym if it feels right and you have the time
  • Do you usually run late?
    • Yes —Home exercise might be a better fit
    • No —Enjoy the flexibility and workout from home or gym, you probably have the time to commute if you want.
  • Do you have a flexible or strict schedule you have to abide by?
    • Flexible —Take classes at a gym whenever you want, or take advantage of online streaming classes at your convenience.
    • Strict —Gym classes may be hard to catch if you run a tight schedule, but online streaming can be done anywhere, anytime to work around your availability.

We all sweat—can you dig it?

Some people can’t handle other people’s germs or smells, and that’s fine. It does give a very clear indicator of what sort of exercise locations are a good fit for you.

Ask yourself:

  • Sensitive to body smells?
    • Yes —Workout at home, outside, or learn to enjoy swimming laps at the gym
    • No —Workout anywhere
  • Do you mind other people’s germs?
    • Yes —Stay at home or outside for workouts if germs weird you out
    • No —Workout anywhere 

How much do you invest in your health?

Do you have the budget for a gym membership and class rates that can add up to around $2-3k per person per year? If not, at home equipment and online exercises can give you an optimal work out for under $1k.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your exercise budget for the year? Have you ever considered having one?
    • Figure out what yours is and stick with it.
  • How many $30 boutique gym classes fit within your budget?
    • I have no desire to pay that much for gym classes, so I leave that answer up to each individual. I will however do a drop in yoga class with a friend 4-5 times a year, but usually that rate is about $15 in my neighborhood.
  • How many $10 per month online subscriptions fit into your budget?
    • Just 1 —That's all you really need!
  • How much would you spend on at home equipment?
  • How much would you spend on exercise clothes for gym workout vs. home workout? (vain I know, but the majority of us are more likely to spend top dollar on better clothes/brands if others are watching us work out —fact.)
    • When I got my gym membership, I went out and bought some new exercise clothes, wouldn’t you! At home I don’t care if my yoga pants are old and see-through from excessive washing.

Introvert or extrovert —how do you feel today?

Think about it this way, what rejuvenates and relieves stress more, solo time or social time? I’m an introvert at heart, extrovert on the surface. Part of my personality includes a stark, independent streak which means I have to ask myself daily where I’m at and how to incorporate fitness into my alternative schedule.

Ask yourself today:

  • How does going to the gym make you feel right now?
    • Strong, motivated —Workout at the gym
    • Self-conscious, uncomfortable —Workout at home
  • Do people stress you out?
    • Yes —Workout at home
    • No —Either
  • Does driving stress you out? Is your window of opportunity during rush hour?
    • Yes —Workout at home
    • No —Either
  • Do you have cabin fever? Need a change of scenery?
    • Yes —Go to the gym, sometimes we introverts need to be around people, even if we don’t talk to them.
    • No —Stay home, it’s cheaper
  • Feeling kinda blah today?
    • Yes —GO OUTSIDE! The answer to this doesn’t matter, it means you need to move no matter where you are or how you do it. I tell myself, I can nap if I workout first. Usually I’m not tired after my workout —go figure.
    • No —Workout anywhere
  • Do other people motivate you just by being around them?
    • Yes —Workout at the gym
    • No —Either
  • Are you a homebody?
    • Yes —Workout at home, unless you are trying to branch out
    • No —Go to the gym, unless it’s too distracting to accomplish your goal then stay home for focus.
  • Do you prefer indoor or outdoor exercise?
    • Indoor —Either
    • Outdoor —Workout at home, get outside and find a cool trail, do your fitness in the backyard on a mat or trampoline.

Let technology motivate you to succeed

No person is the same when it comes to discipline. Like I said before, I regularly think I need an afternoon nap or TV show and I’m not ashamed to take it. Laziness has always been something I’m prone to because I love to be peaceful and in a totally relaxed state, day or night. BUT this doesn’t mean I don’t have discipline. I set goals, lots of goals. In fact, without goals, my laziness completely takes over. If I set goals as part of my daily routine I’m more likely to accomplish everything I need to do by dinner time. I use a mix of apps or online streaming to help me stay on track at home or at the gym.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you need someone to tell you what to do?
    • Yes —Both gym and home are great options with online streaming or a gym class, the price difference varies greatly
    • No —At home is great if you like to fly solo
  • Are you self motivated?
    • Yes —Lucky duck! You may be one of few so take advantage and never lose this valuable skill
    • No —The gym may be a better fit with an instructor and classmates to help keep you accountable to reach your goals.
  • Do you work best with a set, repeated routine?
    • Yes —Classes on or off line offer consistency, however online classes do take more research and effort whereas gym classes are more ‘you get what you get’ even if it’s the wrong muscle group to work that day for you.
    • No —Take advantage of picking and choosing what YOU want to do that day with online classes at your convenience.
  • Can you follow through with goals on your own? Or do you only go halfway?
    • Follow through solo —Save some money and keep up the good work from home
    • Need help —Utilize a fitness coach to keep you on track
  • How motivated are you to be in your desired state of strength, fitness, and health?
    • VERY motivated —Great, keep it up, you probably know what to do!
    • Some days motivated, some days not —Welcome to my personal struggle. This is why I check in with myself daily to see where I’m at. If I’m less motivated, I either go to the gym and reward myself by watching a show while I powerwalk or jump on the trampoline at home because it’s fun and gets my blood pumping which helps me find motivation to do a more structured workout. If I’m more motivated I stay home and stream a fitness workout or yoga video.
    • Never motivated —I’m surprised you’ve made it this far in this post if you aren’t motivated to exercise! For those who can relate, try spending time outside in nature to find what motivates you. Getting your heart rate up should be a fun activity. Laughing is a great start.
  • Do you see exercise as a way of life or something people tell you you should be doing?
    • Way of life —You’re on the right track, keep it up!
    • Because I’m told —This makes exercise a daunting, almost negative task. See if you can flip the purpose of exercise around so it’s a positive, fun part of your day.
  • Does having an instructor in person give you more confidence?
    • Yes —Head to the gym or call a friend to go for a walk
    • No —Save some money and exercise at home
  • How do you make yourself accountable with the follow through of goals?
    • Sometimes we need rewards for our hard work. Think about what your indulgence is —sugar, a TV show, or a glass of wine for example. Instead of looking at these things as a right, look at them as a privilege, something you have to earn.
  • Do you need help setting goals?
    • Yes —Personal trainers are great for this if you have the money, otherwise family and friends can be a great support system to help you set and reach your goals.
    • No —Keep setting and meeting those goals!

One factor that is of utmost importance to me is exercise needs to be fun. If I’m not having fun while I workout then I simply won’t do it. That means at the gym I’m watching my favorite show while I powerwalk a 13 minute mile for an hour straight. At home I hike, bike, or trailrun outside because that’s when I feel most alive. In the Pacific Northwest we have plenty of rainy days so I invested in a fitness trampoline that has taken exercise to a whole new level of fun —in and out of doors, everyday. All these questions should help you know right away, within your own daily routine, if today is a home workout day, a gym day, or a rest day. You don’t have to be one or the other, you truly can have it all.

Meredith has been a certified yoga instructor since 2013, taught outdoor leadership since 1999, and guided athletic adventures around the globe. Her choice of exercise these days include sunny days on the trails or jumping on her backyard AlleyOOP trampoline and fitness trampoline (while streaming JumpSport Fitness TV) for their strength, quality, and smooth rebound.