If you were a gym-goer who had to adjust to at-home workouts during the pandemic, or if you're newly interested in a gym membership after spending so much time indoors, it could be tempting to join a gym with so many back in business. But is it worth it? Can you get the same results without paying a monthly fee? Sure, spin classes are fun, but the convenience of an at-home workout is hard to beat.
If you're on the fence about a gym membership, this article will explore the benefits and downsides of joining a gym, plus alternative ways to work out and how to incorporate a blend of both into your routine.
Pros of using a gym
There are plenty of benefits of a gym membership. Depending on the type of person you are and your schedule, it might be a more attractive option than working out at home.
When you're surrounded by fit and focused individuals, or you have somebody encouraging you to keep moving, it motivates you to continue at a strong pace. There can be a lot of distractions when you work out at home. Kids, pets and the calling of your comfy couch can throw off your workout. Consumer Reports research found that 40% of people who purchase home workout equipment use it less than they thought they would. A gym could help you stay on track.
Extroverts and anti-homebodies love social interaction, and the pandemic already put a significant limit on that. A lot of people are still working remotely and haven't moved back to the office, and schools haven't looked the same since the pandemic started. If you can regain a sense of normalcy at the gym by surrounding yourself with people and making face-to-face interactions, it might be a plus for you.
Options and resources
You'll have to fork over a monthly fee, but a gym membership gives you access to more machines, equipment and space than you have at home. Most gyms also offer extra perks we can't fit or can't afford in our own homes, such as tanning beds, swimming pools and steam rooms, that make a membership even more worthwhile.
Cons of using a gym
Like anything, there are a few downsides to joining a gym that may (or may not) be a deal breaker for you.
Money is one factor that often prevents people from joining a gym. There are countless ways to get a good workout by yourself or with a friend without having to step foot inside a gym. Budget-friendly workout options include jump ropes, compact dumbbells and weights that you can use at home and put away once you're done with them. You can also turn to the great outdoors and run trails or take advantage of your regional terrain with a local sport.
We aren't quite out of the woods yet with COVID. While there are vaccines, the virus and its variants still pose a threat to public health, and mask mandates are in effect in multiple states across the country. Although gyms are open, the CDC suggests they are risky due to poor ventilation and large numbers of people sharing surfaces without having been sanitized. The risk is especially high for those who aren't vaccinated.
Convenience and flexibility
To make a gym membership worthwhile, there needs to be one nearby offering memberships, and you'll need a way to get there. Having equipment ready-to-use at home makes it easy to work out on your own time and schedule. Unless your gym is open 24 hours, working out at home or outside may be more realistic if you have trouble fitting a workout into your busy schedule. You can get the same results without a gym as long as you work out with the same intensity and consistency at home.
Consider a hybrid workout routine
If you're vaccinated and prepared to follow the guidelines for staying safe against COVID at the gym, you can consider a workout routine that incorporates both the gym and at-home equipment. The key is staying motivated and committed to your health goals.
Below are four recommendations to get your gym fix, while still enjoying a workout occasionally from the comfort of your own home.
- Join a gym like Planet Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness or any other facility offering cheap memberships that don't cost more than $60 a month. Use it on the days you want more out of your workout than what your in-home equipment can offer.
- Get a membership to a premium gym, and then use at-home equipment or work out outside during peak hours. That way you avoid the crowds.
- Consider investing in a personal trainer. They may have equipment and expertise that you can find in a gym, but in a more personal one-to-one setting.
- Ask for a guest pass or a free-trial membership to test the waters and determine if the gym is right for you. If it's not, invest in a treadmill or exercise bike to help bring the gym experience inside your home.