10 Reasons to Work Out at Home
Get a gym membership, or work out at home? If you're trying to decide what's best for you, here are 10 reasons why home workouts can be preferable to the gym.
Have you recently made a resolution to get in shape, but found you don't like going to the gym? Or maybe you're debating whether that gym membership is really worth your money, instead of finding a way to work out at home?
While there are many benefits to joining a gym, there are also plenty of reasons why working out at home can be a great alternative for achieving your fitness goals. I personally use a mixture of gym and home work out programs and find a combination of both approaches the best for me. Here I'll list my Top 10 Reasons to Work Out at Home. I'll also share some resources you might find useful including great workout videos to try, and the basic home workout equipment you might need.
Image above courtesy Rance Costa on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
1. No expensive monthly memberships or contracts to sign.
A gym membership is not cheap. You are generally looking at anywhere from $20-50/month for a gym membership in the U.S. these days - and that can depend on how long of a contract you're willing to sign, if there are "initiation fees" to be paid first, or cancellation penalties if you choose not to renew...that's a lot of money for many folks! Yet you can work out at home with little more than a few pieces of equipment like a mat, hand weights and an exercise ball.
You can also find plenty of legal, entirely-free workout videos online such as on YouTube. With these videos you can design your own workout program combining everything from walking and cardio to pilates and yoga.
Fitness Blender: My Favorite YouTube FItness Channel
Try out a large number of home workout videos from moderately easy to intense
2. You can get a great workout with nothing more than your own body weight.
A good workout doesn't require fancy gym equipment. You can exercise effectively and efficiently with nothing more than your own body - and perhaps a good pair of sneakers and an exercise mat.
Walking, running, aerobics, kickboxing, pilates and yoga - these are all types of exercises you can easily do at home without any equipment at all. You can also do plenty of strength training exercises without even the use of hand weights - your mind and your imagination can go a long way toward visualization and putting intense effort into your workouts.
BeFIT: Another Great YouTube Fitness Channel
Find lots of great workouts to try...no equipment necessary
3. Work out on your own schedule.
While some gyms in big cities may keep longer, more flexible hours (perhaps even being open 24 hours a day), you may be out of luck if you live in a suburban or rural area finding a gym whose hours fits your schedule. Perhaps you're a night owl and want to work out right before bedtime - yet the nearest gym closes at 9 or 10pm at night. Or maybe you have more free time to work out on the weekends - near me, the local gyms only offer 9am - 5pm hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
If you're gym isn't open when you want or need it to be, then you're not going to get in your workouts - plain and simple!
You might also be the kind of person who finds it hard to set aside 30, 60 or 90 minutes at a time to go to the gym, especially if it's a bit of a drive to your nearest facility. Yet there are lots of great 5, 10 or 15-minute workouts you can do at home whenever you have a little time to spare.
SparkPeople Quick Workout Videos
Lots of 5 and 10 minute routines you can do at home
4. No need to go out in bad weather.
It's cold, it's snowing, it's raining heavily...are you really going to drive or walk over to the gym in that weather?
If the answer is no, then that doesn't mean you have to say no to getting in your exercise. You can stay dry, warm and comfortable in your own living room or bedroom and still get in that daily workout. I know I am very bad about using my gym membership in the winter months, when I just don't want to have to go outside even for a few minutes to drive to the gym and back.
Dream of the Beach While You Workout in the Winter
5. Don't like the workout instructor? Try another program any time you want.
Has this happened to you? You sign up for an exercise class - aerobics, or strength training, whatever - and realize you just don't like the instructor's technique or style. The moves could be too difficult for you, or she isn't good at showing you how to do them. Maybe he plays music you hate, doesn't have enough variety in the room - or you simply don't find him encouraging!
It can be a bummer if that's the only instructor offering the kind of class you want to take at your gym. But at home, you can simply try a different workout video any time you want. Along with the videos on YouTube, your cable provider may have free workout programs in their On Demand section ... or you can often pick up used exercise DVD or vhs programs cheaply on eBay. There's no excuse to stop exercising just because you don't like one instructor's style or approach.
Some of My Favorite Home Workouts
These are especially good for beginners
6. Work out at your own pace.
When you take a class at a gym, especially when you're first starting out exercising, you might find it difficult to keep up with the instructor's pace. And that might make you feel uncomfortable if you have to stop to take a break, or even leave the class early because you just can't handle it.
At home, it's much easier and less awkward to take a break when you need it. Just hit the pause button on your workout video, or take a run to the kitchen for some more water, then come back to the program whenever you're ready (you can't hit "pause" on a live instructor or class!) This can make it easier for you to stick with a challenging workout in the long run, and increase your feeling of accomplishment and pride when you're eventually able to complete the workout without break.
More Workout DVDs I Recommend
More advanced programs...for those who need a serious challenge at home
Read my review of the Insanity workout program
7. No need to feel self-conscious about your appearance or skill level.
Have you ever tried to take an aerobics class and felt completely awkward about your lack of coordination/ability to do dance-style moves? Or felt self-conscious because of your weight or other appearance issues, compared to other people in your gym class?
When you exercise at home, there's no one there to "judge" you, or make you feel self-conscious. You can "let it all hang out", flail and jump around, or look more like an awkward chicken hopping about then a polished Zumba dancer. I always hated seeing myself exercising in those big mirrors in aerobics classes; I'm much more comfortable doing cardio with only my TV or laptop in front of me to look at.
8. No waiting for equipment or classes to be available.
This used to drive me crazy when I went to a small yet popular gym in Philadelphia. There were certain high-traffic times of the day (typically weeknights between 5-8pm) where it could be impossible to get access to the cardio machines you wanted to use without standing around waiting for them to become available. There were also strict time limits on how long you could use the machines - no more than 30 minutes and yes, people would walk around and scowl at you, or ask to look at the clock under your book or magazine to make sure you weren't "cheating".
Even some of the popular cardio classes had nightly sign-up sheets, and if you didn't get to the gym a half-hour before the class began to sign up, then you likely wouldn't get in the room. At home, there's no sign-up sheet for your favorite cardio DVD or video! And if you are serious enough that you buy your own elliptical machine or cycle, you can use it whenever and for however long as you like.
Cardio Equipment for the Home Gym
No waiting for equipment...use it whenever you want!
9. No being "creeped" on or dealing with other gym annoyances.
I hate it when I go to the gym and just want to work out on the stairclimber or elliptical machine, and some guy comes along and tries to hit on me - or thinks I want to engage in other lengthy conversation with him when I'm exercising so hard I can barely catch my breath. It's awkward and it's annoying if you're there to workout and not use the gym as a "meat market" - and sometimes you don't know if that's going to be the atmosphere at a certain gym until you've been a member for a while.
There can be other annoyances to deal with, too - like the corporate types who want to hold loud business conversations on their cell phones while on the treadmill (my current gym has put a cell phone ban into effect - but many people still choose to ignore it). The macho guy lifting weights who has to grunt and groan loudly every time he lifts to make a show of himself. And let's not talk about the heavy sweaters who don't bother to wipe down the machines after they use them...
10. Because you need to start exercising. It's just that simple.
Stop making excuses - just do it! If you're putting off starting to exercise because you don't want to go to the gym, or can't afford the gym, then you need to realize those aren't good excuses at all. There's no reason you can't start exercising on your own at home - whether it's walking outside and around your neighborhood, or doing exercise routines and programs in your house.
Of course, as they always say be sure to get your doctor's advice and recommendations before you get started, based on your current state of physical health. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you need to be cautious about high-intensity cardio, running or jogging due to joint problems, or take care due to other concerns. But once you've gotten that go ahead, then go out there and start working out!
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