In this article I’m covering 15 of the top reasons to have your own home gym. Sometimes we’re on the fence about doing something and need a little push. This, I hope, is your push.
I’ve been an athlete my entire life and during the recovery from a very intense knee surgery in 2018 (patellar cartilage transplant, Fulkerson and lateral release of my left knee), I very slowly started to build my own mini home gym because I couldn’t walk or drive anywhere. At the time I lived in a top floor, 600sqft apartment in the city and my equipment mostly consisted of things I used for PT but little by little it has grown. Now I live in a house in a rural area and my home gym has everything I could possibly want, for now. Below are most of the reasons I decided to continue growing my home gym.
Benefits of a Home Gym
- Convenience: Are you familiar with the saying, “the best camera you have is the one you have with you”? For most of us that means our phones, even if we have $10k in camera gear sitting in our closet. Well, how about “the best gym you go to is the one where you live”? No? Well that’s because I just made it up but it’s true! Often the act of getting to the gym is half the battle. If you can eliminate that barrier to fun movement, it makes setting a routine much easier.
- Time Efficiency: Time is our most precious resource. So how do you want to spend it? For instance, take this calculation for time spent going to a gym:
- Time driving to gym + time finding parking + time in locker room getting ready + time to pack everything up after + time walking to your car + time driving home = TOO MUCH TIME!
- For some that can mean anywhere from an extra 30-120 minutes each time you want to go to the gym. Let’s say you work out 4 days a week. Now let’s say that calculation above amounts to an extra hour. Over the course of a year that’s just shy of 9 full days just getting to/from the gym!
- Privacy/Comfort/Safety: A gym doesn’t always feel like a safe space for people. People getting back into working out may feel judged. For trans and non-binary humans, locker rooms can feel like a battle ground of discomfort at best, down right dangerous at worse. Women often get harassed or have their workout disrupted by men. Introverts and autistic people can leave feeling drained of energy because they were around so many people. People with any physical impairment may also not feel comfortable or the gym may not have accessible equipment.
- Your Home Gym is YOURS: My home gym is a pretty sweet space to hang out. My wife painted a mural on the garage door that’s our combined name, KEPOW. It’s painted a dark rich grey that I love and has an accent wall with art deco wallpaper. My wife also made me a super sweet color changing LED sign that says “WERK” that is really motivating. I have a massive TV to stream whatever workout program I’m using on my laptop or to watch shows while I’m doing longer steady state workouts. Oh and did I mention our hanging chair hammock, lamb skin rug and infrared sauna? Your home gym can be as creatively designed as you want it to be.
- Hygiene and Cleanliness: Did you know MRSA, an antibiotic resistant staph infection, can be contracted in gyms? One of my rowing buddies got it from gym and had a hole eaten out of his side. I’ve been to some very fancy and expensive gyms where machines are cleaned by employees as soon as someone is done but that’s not the norm for typical gyms. Who knows how many people touched that bench or what they touched before they touched that bench? When you work out in your own gym, it’s as clean as you want it to be. If it is dirty, it’s your dirty self and not a bunch of strangers’ dirty bodies.
- No Need for Child Care: Parents, both new and seasoned, struggle to find time to do things for themselves. Movement time is an important time for your own health and sanity. Your workout may not be totally but being able to workout in your home, where a TV can keep the kiddo(s) company while you sweat and keep an eye on them, removes the pretty significant, and potentially costly, barrier of child care. Shoot, if the kids are old enough they can even play in the gym while you work out.
- Family Bonding: Speaking of kids and family, when you have a home gym it can be a way the family has fun together. When I workout sometimes my step-son will use the heavy bag with me, or use his smaller heavy bag made for wee people. My step daughter may hang on her gymnastics bar or folding balance beam and my wife, who is a movement hating taurus, cheers us on from her hanging chair or our sauna. There are a lot of things adults use for their own workouts, think agility work with ladders, rings and balance pods, etc., that kids can use to make their own obstacle courses.
- Customized Equipment: Building a home gym is fun because you get to play around with different interests. You’ll notice my home gym looks unlike a lot of other home gyms you’ll find on sites like mine. That’s because my interests are different. I love martial arts so having a heavy bag and holding pads is a must. I think battle ropes are both murderous and fun and I enjoy rowing and cycling. My gym is always changing because I change but it’s always full of stuff I find enjoyable.
- No Membership Fees/Cost Savings: Gym and studio memberships can be costly. Creating a home gym eliminates monthly or annual membership fees. Over time, that can amount to a significant savings. It can be a larger investment upfront but over time the home gym pays for itself.
- Here’s a great example from my own life. I spent $200 a month on a spin studio membership. It was fun but also a chunk of change. I had a vintage racing bike so I bought a Smart Bike Trainer ($600) and signed up for an online cycling program that had structured workouts ($20/month). After only 4 months I was saving money and since I was following a structured program and wasn’t blasting myself every ride, like spin classes do, I was improving more efficiently.
- Flexibility: Do you work from home and have some downtime between meetings? Why not step into your home gym and do a little workout? Doing short workouts feels more feasible when you have a home gym. You don’t need to take gym hours into consideration and if you live in a single family home you can workout whenever you want. If you live in a multifamily building (condo/apartment), you can work out virtually whenever you want, taking quiet hours into consideration.
- Nutrition: It’s imperative you fuel your workout with the right macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein). When you go to a gym you may need to buy a smoothie or bring a protein shake for after your workout. When you workout in your home gym your fridge is right there so you have access to all the food you need. You still may reach for that protein shake but a smoothie will cost a lot less when you make it yourself. If your body is jonesin for that red curry chicken you made the night before, the leftovers are there, waiting for you.
- Planning for Future Self: Having a home gym means you can prepare for your workouts in advance, which helps build consistency. I have my socks and shoes for erging (rowing machine) in the foot stretchers. My bike shorts, heart rate monitor, bike shoes and cadence sensor are on my bike so all I need to do is show up and start. I also have electrolyte packs and quick hit energy on a shelf next to my bike. This can only happen in your own home gym. Each time you remove a barrier it helps build a consistent routine. At the end of your workout, make sure you set things up so you just need to show up for your next workout.
- Better Focus and Concentration: In yoga it’s important to practice eyes on your own mat, meaning you’re in your own experience, paying attention to your body and what it feels. Looking all around is just a distraction and takes you out of your own practice. The same can be said for a gym. There is a lot to distract you and sometimes you can tell if you are someone else’s distraction, which then becomes a distraction for you. If you’re the only one at home with the kids, your workout may not be uninterrupted. If you can steal away time for just you, it’s just you and the work ahead.
- Workout Routine Flexibility: Doing a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout that requires different pieces of equipment may not be possible at the gym. Things you want to use, like a rowing machine, weights and a pull up bar, are nowhere near each other. If it’s super busy, you may get glaring eyes as you use one piece of equipment while another piece of equipment is not actively in use (even if you are literally using it in 30 seconds). At a gym you need to tailor your workout to what’s there, what’s convenient and what’s within gym etiquette. In your home gym, everything is right there, no one is waiting for you to be done and you can do what you want.
- No Rules: Ok, maybe not NO rules but if there are rules they are ones you made. I have a rule of no street shoes on the mat and if you use something it has to be put back where you got it. I don’t want to have to vacuum as much and I want to make sure I know where things are. Other than that we all wear what we want from the ankle up. The music volume is whatever and if you’re doing a 2k time trial on the erg (rowing machine) and DYING, you can let it all out and not just look like you’re dying but also sound like you’re dying. Holding it in seems to make it hurt even more. If you want no rules though, you can have no rules.
If you’ve been on the fence about whether to slowly, or quickly, build a home gym, I hope this list provided some additional insight on the benefits of having a home gym. If you’re feeling a bit stuck in your exercise journey, I have a terrific list of fitness ideas you can try if you crave something new.