Whether joining a gym membership or setting up a home gym is right for you depends on your personality, what gyms are accessible to you, available space to set up a home gym, and your budget.
Something I have learnt from home lockdown during this COVID-19 pandemic is that doing bodyweight workouts at home has to be the least motivating or effective ways to exercise.
Another thing is that a home gym setup suddenly looks a lot more inviting when you don’t want to get COVID-19. You can get in a pretty good workout with a barbell, weight plates, a couple of dumbbells or kettlebells, and some kids to sit on you while you do push-ups.
A gym membership’s advantages are the amount of equipment available to use, access to personal trainers, and social opportunities. Once you get to know some of the others in a friendly gym, the camaraderie makes it much easier to stay motivated.
Many gyms also offer set classes that are popular amongst those that want that sort of training. However, these vary substantially in terms of quality and effectiveness.
The advantages of working out at home are that you don’t have to share equipment and you can do your own thing without leaving your home.
However, unless you have the money and space available to set up a well-equipped home gym, the amount of equipment available to you by joining a gym allows for significantly more training options. Being able to vary the intensity and types of exercise is a key component of periodization. I can easily do a low pulley row, chest supported row, t-bar row, barbell bent-over row, supine bar row, ring row, and pick up a dumbbell of any weight at my gym. It adds variety to the mind and neuromuscular stimulus.
If going to a gym is not your thing or doesn’t fit into your budget, then that’s fine. Either way, I strongly suggest joining a gym for at least a few months. If nothing else, to get a feel for it before going out and spending money on equipment that may end up just collecting dust in your garage. It also allows you to get a good sense of what weight loads you can manage before purchasing equipment.
If you avoid joining a gym because you feel intimidated or self-conscious, that’s fair enough. Joining a gym for the first time, you may feel like a fish out of water, and I have to admit it took a while before I felt comfortable in a gym. However, most people are only paying attention to what they are doing.
These days it is one of the things I look forward to each week. Chatting with fellow lifters and trainers, you can pick up little tips and different points of view. Not all gyms and active clubs are the same. The chances are that there is one that is a fit for you nearby.
If you do join a gym for the first time and don’t want to feel so out of place, getting a personal trainer to introduce you to the equipment and help you with your technique and program helps.