Working Out at Home or at a Gym

Posted: July 9, 2014 in General Fitness
Tags: , , , ,

This post is going to have to two parts. I workout at home, and I’ve had some folks ask about my home gym so I’m going to start with a little virtual tour of my home gym in it’s current state. After that, I am going to talk about some of my thoughts on working out at home vs a gym.

My Home Gym

7.8 (2)

A tidy looking view of my home gym

My home gym area is not particularly large and nothing really fancy about it. I don’t have a ton of equipment, just the basics mostly.

This is a photo of what it looks like when I'm working out though- set up for squats here.

This is a photo of what it looks like when I’m working out though- set up for squats here.

The space is just big enough, which also means that I’m constantly moving around my barbell and bench for each exercise. I would love if I could get another barbell so I could leave one in the squat rack and one outside it, but for now I have what I really need, and it’s not too much of  a problem to move the bar in and out of the rack as needed, along with moving the bench as needed.

So I also want to talk briefly about cost. I love my home gym for a number of reasons I will get into later, it did require  a fair bit of cost total. Though in the long run I think cheaper than gym membership for me. In total I think my gym cost around  $1,136 to me. That’s an estimate because I’m guessing at how much some of the older items cost me. That was not paid all at once, I got parts of my gym at different times.

Average gym membership cost according to my googling is $55/month. So a year gym membership is cheaper, mine works out cheaper after the 2 year mark. I expect my equipment will last me that long, though by then I will probably have more. A fair bit of my stuff is over a year old already. I’ve spent $895 about in the last year- and that was for all the big stuff.

Within the past year I have bought puzzle mat pieces for the floor which ended up costing me around $100 for the space covered here.  I bought my bench new on sale for $75 (it’s incline and decline adjustable if you can’t tell from the photos). My power rack was $370 new (actually as cheap as many second hand options I found, I might have been able to get it cheaper but my ceiling in the basement is low and most racks were too tall. This one just barely fits.) And I got my barbell set for I think it was $350 second hand off craigslist.

My weight plates, weight rack, and ez curl bar.

My weight plates, weight rack, and ez curl bar.

This was good deal since my barbell set included a standard 7ft olympic barbell, an ez curl bar, 435lbs worth of plates for the olympic bars, and of course the rack for the weights (which also can hold the barbells) as seen here.

To me those are the basic- barbell, plates, power rack and bench. Before having these it was hard to really do much real strength training. I consider these the basic necessities you need if you want to do weight training. The power rack is important for safety working out alone. I’ve had to explain this a number of times to people I know who acted like I was being frivolous in my spending when money is tight by buying the rack. But without it, I couldn’t really go heavy. Working to increase my bench I’ve several times failed that weight- a power rack means I have bars next to me that catch the barbell if I fail a lift instead of it coming down and crushing me. And the weight on my bench isn’t that heavy, it probably wouldn’t kill me if 95lbs fell on my chest, but I’d rather just avoid that injury. And the higher I get my weights, the worse those injuries could be without the safety of the rack. (plus for things like squats, it means I can do heavy weights. I can’t clean what I’m squatting right now and definitely can’t press it overhead. I could clean to a front squat but before my rack to get the bar on my back I would clean and press then lower to my back. That works for bar only or light weights- it doesn’t work for heavy squatting.)

I also have a weight cheat sheet telling me which plates I need to have a total weight number on the bar (counting the bar weight)

I also have index card cheat sheets telling me which plates I need to have a total weight number on the bar (counting the bar weight)

Prior to these main pieces of equipment I’d had some dumbbells, standard size plates, resistance bands and an exercise ball.

Dumbbells and exercise ball.

Dumbbells and exercise ball.

Resistance bands and extra plates for adjustable dumbbells.

Resistance bands and extra plates for adjustable dumbbells.

These were bought peice by peice years ago when I didn’t have the space for a full gym area.

The latest addition to my gym: a fan!

The latest addition to my gym: a fan!

Treadmill residing in a different, uncleaned-up area of my basement.

Treadmill residing in a different, uncleaned-up area of my basement.

I also have  treadmill. This was not factored into my prices above since it came free to me (it was my mom’s before). I have not gotten this set up to use yet though (mainly would like it for winter, until then I just run outside).

If I ever get the money for it next up on my wishlist for gym equipment would be kettlebells, foam rollers, and medicine balls (probably in that order) (I do have an actual home gym wishlist too! lol).

Home Gym vs Commercial Gym

There are a few things that go into this sections on my thoughts between a Home Gym vs Commercial Gym. For me, personal preference has me preferring a home gym hands down.

With a home gym I don’t have to worry about gym hours (great since I workout late at night and so I would otherwise need a 24/hr gym. I also don’t have to worry about limited holiday hours). I have no commute time to get to my gym. I can wear whatever I want to workout- now that it’s summer and it’s overly hot inside my home gym, I usually stick to a sports bra with no shirt which I would not be comfortable in at a gym. I’ve also been known to forgo pants, because hey- it’s just me. Sports bra and boy-short style undies and I’m good to go! I doubt a gym would be ok with that! A big one for me is not worrying about people watching me or judging me. I never have to wait for equipment either. And the newest thing I like about my home gym is that I can yell during heavy lifts, which I’d probably be too self-conscious to do in a gym.

There are some things I think gyms have as benefits. They more equipment available- if I was a member of a gym I would likely have access to a larger range of dumbbells and cardio equipment. I might have access to Kettlebells, medicine balls, and with some gyms even things like a pool. And while my home gym offers flexibility, on plus of a gym I’d have to go to is that I could go after work and tell myself I’m not going home until after the gym rather than currently when I go home, decide I should eat first, sit around for a bit, and then it’s later than I planned on it being to start a workout.

That’s all kind of basics though. In ranked order, the issues of feeling comfortable are probably top in reasons I prefer my home gym. I don’t have to worry about people judging my workouts, I don’t have to worry about people mocking me or even posting photos of me behind my back, I don’t have to deal with men in the weight room being condescending or acting like I don’t belong. Anecdote time- when I was working out at my University’s fitness center in undergrad one time I was doing bench presses when it was crowded- I usually tried to avoid crowded times when I would have to deal with waiting for equipment. I managed to get a bench and a bar though and I start a set. Some guy asks if he can work in- yeah, no problem. Well he stands there while I’m doing my sets acting annoyed at having to work in and share with me, and then starts telling me how the gym has chest machines I could use instead. I don’t want to use the machines- I prefer free weights. You can use the machines! Getting unsolicited advice from men and annoyed looks that I was using equipment they wanted as if they had more right to it that me was common. And I hear the same thing from women all the time in gyms- many men act like women do not belong in the weight room and can be downright rude and offensive as a result.

This is where I feel some internal conflict though. Individually, being able to avoid this is a huge plus. There are times though I feel like I should workout at a gym just for this reason. Because more women in the weight rooms will help make other women feel comfortable in them, and by choosing to avoid the issue by working out at home that’s one less woman in the weight room. Also more women in weight rooms I think can help teach men that weight rooms actually don’t belong to them alone.

There is also the fact that in the age of smartphones, it’s becoming more common for folks to take photos or videos of people at the gym and then posting them online to mock them. So glad I’m not in those by working out at home. Sometimes though I feel a similar conflict there, about taking the easy way out, but less so because I don’t feel like I owe it to anyone to have my body mocked online. And as a fat person if a photo or video of me at a gym made it online to a place were people make fun of people like that, my body size would almost certainly be a target.

  1. lozette says:

    You have such a nice home gym!!

    I don’t work out at home – I don’t have the room (a garage probably adds £60-100k to the value of a house in London!) and I don’t think I’d want to work out alone anyhow. My powerlifting gym is more like a club/squad, so while I’m restricted by the very short opening hours (it’s not a commercial set-up so not open normal hours) I benefit from knowing everyone there & being able to work with a coach. I have no desire to spend hours reading workout sites & weighing up the benefits of various programs (too lazy!) so it’s easier for me to just do what my coach says 😉

    I do belong to a commercial gym as well, where I do my conditioning & holistic stuff, and it’s nice (it has towels and nice showers and a sauna and is CLEAN, all things my lifting gym doesn’t have!). I’m v lucky that I don’t have to worry too much about cost though.

    • ebay313 says:

      Yeah, getting coaching would definitely be a plus! When I was moving the main thing I loved about my current house was the basement, because it meant room for a home gym! (apartments and other houses I saw in price range did not.)

  2. […] posted before about how much my home gym cost me and how it relates to average gym membership costs, so I won’t bother going over all that again. But for most people, if you want to work out, […]

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