Getting fit can be easier than you think, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are now plenty of low-cost gyms all over the country, with no contracts so you don’t have to commit to a long period if you find that the gym isn’t for you. Many classes are usually included too, and some even have fancy extras, like popular infrared saunas. But if the gym’s not your thing, or if you’re struggling to fit workouts in around a busy work, social, and family life, then exercising at home can be a more convenient alternative. Here are some of the pros and cons of working out at the gym, compared to exercising at home, so you can decide which environment fits your needs, routine, and budget best.

What are the benefits of exercising at the gym?

  • Equipment: There are lots of different pieces of fitness equipment to choose from if you choose to exercise at the gym. If you’re working on your cardio, you can choose from: the treadmill, elliptical trainer, exercise bike, rowing machine, stairclimber, stepper, and many more. For weight training, you can use: free weights, chest and leg press machines, various weight benches, and more.
  • Focus: If you’re at the gym, there are none of the distractions you’ll have at home (like kids running around, or the dirty dishes staring at you). The only thing to do is exercise, so you can stay focused on your workouts, with no interruptions. 
  • Facilities: Don’t forget fitness classes too. Sure you can do them at home using online videos, but it’s not the same as having others around you to spur you on, and an energetic instructor to get you through those final few reps. Many gyms and leisure centres also have a pool, hot tub, steam room, and badminton or tennis courts too.
  • Motivation: Paying for a gym membership can be motivation enough to go, or booking a class in advance can encourage you to commit. But there’s also the boost you get from working out around other gym-goers, and a sense of friendly competition which you wouldn’t get at home.
  • Community: Exercising at the gym is a great place to meet others, and potentially a new workout buddy. You’ll most likely see familiar faces if you stick to the same times/days too. And you’ll get to know the gym staff and personal trainers, so you can feel confident in asking for help and advice if you need it. We also draw energy from others, and it can push you to work harder. 

Of course there are a few drawbacks to going to the gym, like the cost of your membership, the hassle of trying to squeeze sessions into a busy routine, and people who don’t follow gym etiquette, which can all make working out at home seem like the better option.

What are the benefits of exercising at home?

  • Cost: You won’t have to fork out for pricey gym memberships if you workout at home, and investing in a few key pieces of home gym equipment can save you money in the long run. You can also do bodyweight workouts which don’t require any equipment at all.
  • Variety: Sure there’s more equipment to choose from at the gym, but there’s a different kind of variety when you workout at home. You can find exercise classes online, or use your smartphone to download workout apps. You can do some cardio, lift weights, and then throw in some yoga if you want for good measure. It’s great to mix things up and add variety into your routine to keep things interesting. 
  • Convenience: You don’t have to pack your gym bag, drive anywhere, or arrange childcare to exercise at home. And you don’t need to wear any fancy gear or even brush your hair if you don’t want to, as there’s no one there to judge...well maybe just the cat! You can also workout whenever you want, even if it’s just grabbing 10-minutes in the morning before work to give you that much needed boost of energy. And it’s much more appealing to workout at home in the winter, not having to go out when it’s cold, dark, and raining.

There are lots of advantages to working out at home, but it might not suit everyone. People who struggle to motivate themselves and find excuses not to workout may find it better to go to the gym. Some may also get bored working out at home if they don’t have enough variety and equipment to use. And of course, there’s the issue of space. You don’t need loads of room to workout at home, but it can be tricky to fit a treadmill or other large pieces of equipment in a small flat. 

What else can I do to get fit?

If the gym isn't for you, and you find it hard to motivate yourself at home, there are plenty of other things you can do to get active. Doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week is enough to keep you feeling fit and healthy. Or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. You can get fit at the gym, your local sports centre, at home, or even at the park. The important thing is to choose activities you enjoy, that will increase your chances of making it a habit.