Home Gym or Gym Membership? Let’s Work it Out

Whether you’re a gym rat or weekend warrior, a wannabe yogi or a kettlebell die-hard, we all know that working out is good for both your physical and mental health.


However, the last year has really challenged us with staying committed to our physical goals with fitness facilities closing periodically and shortages on at-home equipment. As provincial governments begin to reopen (again), it’s time to figure out if setting up a home gym or staying with your gym membership is the right move for you.


The Home Gym


Let’s face it. We don’t all have the large space to set-up a Pinterest-worthy gym. But, as long as you have some space to do some lateral (side-to-side) or vertical (up-and-down) movements, you’re set. And bonus? You get to pick the playlist!


At-Home Gym Equipment


How much equipment you actually need depends on your fitness goals. You don’t need a lot of equipment or a big budget to start your home gym.


Some items you should invest in include:

  • A couple of sets of dumbbells or kettlebells. A variety of weights from 5lbs to 20lbs should be sufficient for a while,

  • Fun Tip: Use your kids or pets for chest presses or bent-over rows if you need some heavier weight. Backpacks filled with heavy items are also great!

  • A mat for stretching or for exercises done on the ground,

  • Bands are great for resistance training. You can find them in a variety of tensions to suit your fitness level.


If you have a bit more space and money, you could purchase cardio equipment like a treadmill, rowing machine, stationary bike or elliptical trainer. These are especially nice when temperatures dip to below Arctic levels.


There are also cool tools, like stands for your regular bicycle, to use inside, saving on space and money! A bench is nice for step-ups, rows or chest press, but not necessary as those exercises can be modified to be done on the floor, a coffee table, or a set of stairs.


What’s the Actual Cost of Setting up your Home Gym?


Again, this is all going to depend on what you want to accomplish. If you’re focused on primarily body-weight training, your setup costs could range from free to a couple of hundred dollars. However, if you want to lift weights, update flooring and lighting, etc., you could spend a couple thousand dollars.


Think of it this way; the money you’re spending a year on a gym membership could go into setting up a home gym. And, you might even be able to save more money by buying used equipment online.


Take the work out of planning your workout each day! Don’t forget to make room in your budget for online training services. These services range from free to $20/month on average, so once your space is set up, staying on track can be relatively inexpensive.


Home Workouts For The Fitness Class Junkie


If there’s anything we’ve learned from the last year is that there is no shortage of online fitness classes you can do at home. From yoga to barre to HIIT to strength training, there are great free and paid memberships for online workouts.


Personal trainers have also moved their services online, so if you thrive on guidance, search for a trainer that offers online coaching. Many online options also offer free trials, so you can test them out for a week or a month to see if they are a fit for you.


The Gym Membership


Aside from not having space or an up-front budget to set up a gym, going to the gym is the motivation some people need to get their workout in. That rush of secretly competing with the person on the treadmill next to you or lifting more than the guy three benches away.


Or maybe going to the gym is a break from the kids, dog, work, chores—whatever it is, it’s nice to just get out of the house (which we’re all craving these days).


Gyms have very stringent cleaning protocols and expect members to wipe down equipment before and after use. And as we move further into 2021, most gyms will have physical distancing protocols so there will be space between you and other members while you exercise.


All the Equipment in One Place


The nice thing about a gym membership is that you have access to any type of equipment to suit your needs. Pull-up bars, stair climbers, barbells, fitness classes, you name it. Whatever your fitness preference, you can probably find it at the gym.


If you don’t want to purchase equipment and enjoy the social aspect of going to the gym, then sticking with your membership is probably the best option. Most gym memberships also include their fitness classes, which have moved online, for now, so you get that added benefit of a trainer-led workout.


The cost of a gym membership? Similar to setting up a home gym, the costs vary. There are options from $10/month, like a Fit 4 Less, to $200/month for boutique-style gyms like F45 Training.


Tip: Check with your employer if they offer payroll deductions for a gym membership as part of your benefits package.


Which Gym Option Should You Choose?


Honestly, the answer comes down to your level of motivation and commitment. The question of home gym vs gym membership is usually debated because you’ve paid for a gym membership that you’ve hardly used. Logic says that moving the gym to your house will make you more motivated to exercise, right?


But, we’re not really talking about ‘usual times.’


If you’re comfortable working out in public or need the motivation of others to get it done, renew that gym membership. But, start building a smaller area at home to do workouts. With the unpredictability of our world right now, you don’t want to lose your momentum if the gyms close...again.


If the thought of travelling to the gym, getting changed, waiting for equipment isn’t appealing, then take the money from your gym membership and invest it into your home gym. If you want to go big, let us know and we can see if there’s a way to make your finances work.


Whatever you choose, just make sure your stationary bike doesn’t become your new, expensive clothes rack.


3 Tips to Keep Yourself Accountable at Home or in The Gym


We all face motivational blocks when it comes to working out. Here are a few tips to keep you accountable in your gym.


  1. Find a workout buddy. Even if you are working out at home, a workout buddy can keep you motivated. Pick a workout routine, hop on Zoom and sweat it out together.

  2. Put it in your calendar AND keep track of what you’re doing. It’s hard to find time to work out, so block time off in your calendar and make a date with yourself. Turn off your email and text notifications on your phone and get it done. Using the same calendar event, keep track of what you accomplished in each workout like distance ran or the number of sets completed.

  3. Reward yourself. Set a goal for the week or the month, like the number of workouts or walks you want to complete. Keep track and when you reach your goal, treat yourself—some dessert, a second glass of wine, or another month of membership on your favourite yoga app.