Are Home Gyms Worth the Investment? (Part 1: The Pros & Cons)

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Sick of waiting for your favourite machine at the gym? Join the club! If you're like me, you love going to the gym but dread the lineup for the bench press. Especially on a Monday!

 
You might even start wondering “is the monthly gym membership fee even worth it anymore?”
 
When you're ready to actually do something about it you might think: "Aha! I'll build my own home gym!"
 
And those thoughts are becoming ever more prevalent these days. Especially after the life shake-up that was the COVID-19 pandemic.
I never thought I’d ever want (or need) to build a home gym. Nor was I interested but, the rolling gym-closures during the lockdowns made it critical for anyone looking to somewhat keep up a regular fitness routine.

So, I started doing some research. After some trial and error with my equipment set-up, I was able to gather some notes I hope are helpful on the pros, cons and the what equipment to consider if you're thinking about building your own home gym.
 
So, if you’ve been flirting with the idea of investing in your own home gym, read on!  
 
The Pros of a Home Gym
Let’s be honest. We’ve all had the thought of a building our own home gym at one time or another. Maybe in the garage, or the basement? Maybe we'd transform that empty spare room we use to stow random stuff? Or perhaps we'd make use of that empty nook in our apartment or condo.

And once you get it set up, it truly can be an incredible alternative training option to the gym.

Here are some of the top pros I found:

  • It’s convenient…you have 24/7 gym access right in the comfort of your own home.
  • It’s less expensive than a gym membership
  • You don’t have to do mental gymnastics calculating what ungodly hour you need to get to the gym to dodge the crowds

 
I'll elaborate...
 
Pro: Freedom to Workout On Your Own Terms
 
Say goodbye to the momentum-killing disappointment you feel when you walk into a large gym only to see a horde of others waiting for the machine you want.
This is a big factor to me because not only can it be a bit annoying, I feel like I am being robbed of quality pumps due to the longer rest times between sets while waiting for a particular machine or piece of equipment.

 
I found this to be an area where home gyms shine: You have more freedom to use whatever equipment you please, whenever you please. I enjoyed having more precision with calculating and applying my rest times as it suited me every session.
 
Pro: Less Distractions During Training

If you’re anything like me, when you go to the gym your first order of business is getting in the zone so you can focus on your workout.
The problem is, getting in “the zone” isn’t always easy. Especially if there is a lot of ambient noise around you.
In the case of a large gym that could include people slamming the racks, grunting, having long-winded conversations, hovering over you asking how many sets you have left, and so on.

 
The easy fix is headphones to minimize these distractions.
 
However, headphones can only do so much.
What about visual distractions? Like when someone is impatiently hovering over you waiting for you to finish your reps. Or worse, you standing by waiting for the machine you want, armored in your contextually hopeless headphones while someone leisurely sits at said machine taking their time and snapping selfies.

I happily enjoyed NONE of these distractions training in my home gym.
The only thing that can potentially be distracting is family, roommates or pets - which, to me, are relatively much more digestible distractions!
 
Pro: Your Own Workout Music & Playlist
 
Who else has forgotten their headphones at home only to get stuck trying to workout to the unbearably energy-draining jams the gym is blaring?
Not an ideal situation for driving up motivation or getting in the zone.
We each have our favourite songs and genres that get us going so, I get that the gym's music isn't going to please everyone. Honestly, though, having control over the music is one of the biggest benefits I enjoy most while working out in my home gym.

 
Having a customized playlist to grind my reps out at the volume I like is a huge momentum driver and it really amps up the quality of my sessions. 

Now, the Cons of a Home Gym…
 
Overall, having your own gym is a fantastic option. However, there are some disadvantages I experienced.

Con: Diversity of equipment available.
Due to budget and space limitations, it’s not always possible to stock a home gym with every machine/piece of equipment you love. 

Like me, most people will be limited to more accessible equipment options for home use.

Con: Higher potential for unwitnessed injury.
Another potential issue is that training alone isn’t without risk (unless you’re seasoned, or have someone at home to spot you every time you want to train).

I am pretty experienced and even I had a little bench press mishap that ended with my finger being smashed...I'll spare you the details but, the point is that you'll have to be more alert in a home setting (or ask someone to spot you).

Con: The social nature of a gym's atmosphere.

This one shocked me as an introvert but, here goes...
 

I was surprised that I found myself missing having other people around during a workout. Whether we want to admit it or not, the social energy you get in a gym atmosphere adds extra motivation and ultimately, drives better performance. 

I realized that the gym has always been a social hub for me. No matter how I tried to slice it - that setting just couldn't be replicated at home.
 

Conclusion on Home Gyms

 
Overall, I feel that building a home/garage gym is certainly worthwhile. It gives you a solid alternative option to working out at the gym while still achieving great results.
 
I personally loved having that private space to myself to get away from all of life's distractions and truly focus on zenning out with exercise for an hour or two.
I did find myself missing the ambiance of the gym some sessions but, of course the home gym experience will vary based on your own preferences.
 
Now that we’ve discussed the pros and the cons, that leaves the question of “what equipment should I get for a home gym?”

Luckily, I have a few notes that can answer that question.

Stay tuned if you’re interested in finding out which equipment is actually worth the investment, as well as what to avoid - I’ll be sharing all of that in the next article!


‘Til then, fight on warriors.


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