It has been a little over a year since I started to put together our home gym, and it was around this time that I transitioned into working from home. Here are some of the pros and cons I have experienced with working out in my home gym. If theres something you feel like I missed, let me know in the comments!
Pros of a home gym
Let us begin with the advantages of a home gym. This is probably what you came for, right? Here are some of the positive aspects that come with a home gym setup…
Work out any time
Having a home gym means that you can work out whenever you want. Feel the urge to do some squats? Go right ahead! No worries about the gym closing before you get time, or having to wait for the gym to open.
No travel time
I used to go to CrossFit Oslo, which I lived fairly close to and later was the next door neighbour to the office I worked at. When we moved out of the city and I changed jobs, going to any CrossFit gym would incur some logistics. In fact, going to my regular box would be an hour and a half round trip. Now though, it’s just a walk down the stairs.
Never wait for equipment
From the time I was 18 and into my early twenties, I used to go to a conventional gym. This is when I established a habit for working out in the morning, since there would be far less people there, rather than after work when the place would be packed (except for after new years, then it would always be packed). This meant that during morning workouts, the equipment I needed would be more likely to be available. At a home gym, the equipment you want to use is always available – if you have it.
It’s your space
You can customise everything to your liking and do whatever you want. You choose the type of barbell, the aggressiveness of knurl on the bar, the type of cardio equipment, the music on the speakers and whether you want a t-shirt or not. It’s your space, and you have the freedom to do whatever you want with it.
Flexibility and squeezing in a workout
Even when I lived a short walk from CrossFit Oslo, going to the gym required a block of time. Now on the other hand, I could go for a squat session when I put the baby down for a nap. If she woke up early or anything required my attention, I would be right back there.
Cons of a home gym
Getting started with your own home gym isn’t exclusively positive and it will take some getting used to. Here are some of the negative aspects from my point of view…
Everyday when I walked into CrossFit, around 7:00 in the morning, I would meet the group of regulars that frequented the morning workout at CrossFit Oslo. Like most people understand, a bond does form with the people you work with. You suffer together, you overcome challenges together. Despite working out and home, and enjoying it, the community aspect isn’t there. For that, I will have to go to CrossFit Oslo every now and again.
Cost of getting started
To get started with a home gym, you probably need to buy some equipment. There is a lot you can do without equipment, but I do find that a certain amount of equipment and variety is recommended for motivation and variation in exercises. Things like squat racks, barbells, weights, kettlebells, benches, rowers or treadmills all cost money. While you might not have to pay a membership fee, although I would recommend some so you can save up money for additional equipment, there is a cost of getting started to consider.
Competing and being pushed
This may be more geared toward CrossFit athletes, those who join classes at their gym and those that have a personal trainer. In my personal experience, it requires way more, and a different kind of motivation to push yourself as hard at home as you would at your gym or CrossFit box. When I join a WOD, I find that both the push of the community and having someone to compete against helps me push my performance. It takes less mental power to sustain a higher level of intensity. However, you could just see this as mental training.
Just because the home gym is just a few footsteps away doesn’t mean it is much easier to “head to the gym” than when you have to pack a bag and drive there. In fact, most of us have the possibility to do push ups, squats, sit-ups, pull-ups or go for a run any day at almost any time. Yet, many of say we don’t have time to work out at all.
When you are at a location where there is a gym, the “might as well” factor might help a lot. While, at home the activity might have a hard time competing with things like TV and the internet. There are so many other things and excuses to choose from.
Changing the habit (getting started)
When I started to put together our home gym, I already worked out 5+ times a week and had done so for the last years. However, going to the gym was a part of my “going to work” routine, it had become a habit. An automated form of discipline with hardly any decision involved. Now on the other hand, I needed to make a conscious choice of getting up from the couch and go for a workout. Even though I was plenty motivated to work out, this was associated with going to the CrossFit box, and didn’t directly translate to the home gym. In essence, this meant that I had to build a new habit from scratch which took quite some effort. It took several months actually.