A few years ago, just about everyone needed—and wanted—a home gym. Being stuck at home, sequestered from life, was beyond challenging. Boredom and lassitude bred desperation for movement. Home gym equipment prices skyrocketed. If you could get your hands on it, you would expect to pay two to three times its value. And if you were lucky enough to score some new toys, the shipping lead time was months out.
While the craze of creating a home gym has somewhat reset back to normal—with many people returning to the communal environment of gyms—many people still consider establishing a place to work out at home. After all, some days it’s more convenient, either weather-wise or time-wise, to exercise at home.
Here’s what you should consider before canceling your gym membership and clearing out your garage or basement.
How committed are you to training?
Here is what’s interesting after working with many people in a home gym, and doing so myself for nearly three years. The convenience of staying at home leads to procrastination.
When you go to a gym, there are several barriers to entry. First, you have to pay for your gym membership! Then, you have to get dressed, leave your house by a certain time, sign up for the class or time slot, and buck the traffic. There is certain prep involved; otherwise, you might miss your opportunity. Counter-intuitively, these barriers to entry actually encourage the likelihood that you’ll go. (There is, after all, a sense of obligation.)
When your gym is right downstairs or in the garage, the barrier to entry is diminished. But there are distractions: “Another 15 minutes straightening up the house,” “after I check these emails,” “one more episode of ‘Succession.’” Before you know it, your window has closed and your enthusiasm has vaporized..
Overcoming the ease of procrastination that comes with a home gym, you have to ask yourself: “How committed to training am I?”
If training already is a non-negotiable fact of your life, and you miss sessions only under very abnormal circumstances, you’ll be just fine.
But if you are already having commitment issues with your training, I bet that having a home gym eventually will make that problem worse.
Experience vs Budget
Let’s assume your commitment checks out. You have to evaluate where you are and where you want to go in your fitness journey, and compare that to your budget.
If you are into CrossFit-style training or frequent the globo gym and have been doing so for some time, you’re probably pretty experienced. You love to hit all the machines, lift the heavy dumbbells, use the gymnastics equipment. If so, you are going to realize that it’s going to cost you a pretty penny to assemble all of the equipment needed to keep you progressing.
On the other hand, if you are newer to fitness and typically stick to dumbbells, kettlebells, cardio equipment, and bodyweight exercises, you can set yourself up pretty nicely at home without over-taxing your budget.
So break it down for yourself by asking: “Is what I can afford going to limit my potential or my engagement when I train?”
Coach Steven Fritsch wrote an article during the peak of Covid, titled “An Effective Home Gym for Any Budget,” in which he recommended what to buy in several price ranges. Take a look there, but also keep this in mind: “Will a $300 home gym keep me going?’’
Introvert or Extrovert?
Extroverts typically gain energy like a snowball rolling down a hill when they are engaged with other people. Chatting with front desk staff and seeing other people training around you can help boost your energy and performance when you visit a gym. If you're an extrovert and are thinking about replacing your group fitness, training partner, or friends at the gym for a home gym, I would encourage you to think twice. You may not appreciate how much even the smallest interactions are helping you train.
On the other hand, if you are an introvert you might notice that these social interactions drain and distract you. You don’t need others around you to help you stay engaged in exercise. You love being able to pop in your headphones, put your head down and just go to work. If this sounds like you, don’t be discouraged about training solo in your home.
Finally, there’s the middle ground: a few simple, inexpensive pieces of equipment at home (for “emergencies”), and a reasonably-priced gym membership.
Ultimately, the decision to build a comprehensive home gym is a decision only you can make. Believe me when I tell you it might not be the ideal situation you think it is. So before you go and create your dream gym, take some time to consider if it’s really the best environment for you!