Many people find it more convenient to pay for a monthly or annual membership to a commercial gym than to create their own gym at home.
Sometimes, this is a perfectly reasonable price to pay for convenience. Other times, it makes less sense in the long term.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both garage gyms and commercial gyms.
What you ultimately decide to do should depend on a variety of factors. Both options turn out to be somewhat expensive, but depending on how you intend on working out, one will ultimately be more expensive than the other.
At a commercial gym, you’re forced to work with what they offer and you won’t always be able to do things on your own terms.
While this may seem like a downside, you’re getting some sweet bonuses in the trade-off.
Commercial Gyms are Easier on a Fixed Monthly Budget
Starting a garage gym will most likely cost thousands of dollars. If that amount of money will be difficult to save up, it’s probably easier to budget between $30 and $60 a month for a commercial gym membership.
Sometimes, companies partner up with gyms to offer a slight membership discount for their employees. If your employer is partnered with a suitable gym that’s nearby, you may get special benefits through your company or reduced fees.
Commercial Gyms May Offer Fitness Training
If you’re new to fitness and unsure how to monitor your progress, the whole thing can seem kind of confusing.
What workouts should you be doing, and how often should you be doing them for?
How much cardio and how much strength training do you need to customize the way your body looks and maximize your health?
If you don’t know a lot about how fitness works, a lot of that seems complicated.
Though it sometimes boosts the price of your monthly memberships, some gyms employ personal trainers for gym members. Being able to consult with a fitness expert about your goals can make things much easier.
He or she will be able to advise you of what you should be doing, and teach you how to use the equipment properly. This is perfect for a workout newbie.
Commercial Gyms Provide a Sense of Community
Some people go to a commercial gym specifically because of the social atmosphere. Everyone at a commercial gym has at least one thing in common: they’re looking to get fit.
Some people feel that meeting others at the gym with similar goals helps them stay motivated and accountable. Fitness is a journey, and you may enjoy sharing your journey with others.
Commercial gyms also fulfill a social need for people who don’t get out much. If you work in an isolated cubicle or if you work from home, you probably don’t get to talk to others as often as you’d like.
With commercial gyms, a lot of people go because they like the sense of community they feel when they’re working out with or around others.
Commercial Gyms Include Some Special Perks
Some commercial gyms offer perks for premium members. Sometimes, this includes access to massage or sauna amenities.
Gyms with smoothie bars often offer free or discounted power shakes to people with these memberships. Sometimes, they’ll give away workout gear or special consultations to premium members.
While you’ll be paying top dollar for the treatment, you may find that you like the feeling of being pampered.
While purchasing and assembling all of your own equipment can be somewhat of a hassle, there are still some undeniable benefits you’ll receive if you’re willing to go the extra mile.
Garage Gyms Save Time
Having a garage gym will save you time, in more ways than one. If you don’t have the time to work out every day, a garage gym makes it easier to squeeze in a quick session or two between your regularly scheduled activities
For example, if you have a lengthy work commute or you need to supervise your children when they come home from school, you may not have the time to drive to the gym, work out, and drive home.
Another way home gyms may save you time is by reducing your wait. You won’t have to wait for a machine to open up if it’s your own personal machine.
You can hop from machine to machine without worrying about anyone else interfering.
When you need to hit the showers, you can simply run inside your house and hop in.
Garage Gyms Are Fully Customizable
When you’re paying for a gym membership, you’re paying to access all of the equipment.
How much of that equipment do you actually use?
When planning your workouts at a commercial gym, you’ll have to plan them around what kinds of machines are available.
You may have to spend a disproportionate amount of time working with a piece of equipment to get the same results you’d get with a more specific piece of equipment.
Would these machines help you meet your fitness goals quickly and efficiently?
Specialized equipment can help you see results faster. You won’t have to settle for what’s available at the gym.
Garage Gyms May Save You Money Over Time
Even if you opt for a basic, no-frills gym membership that doesn’t come with a personal trainer or access to special amenities, the average cost for that membership is about $800 a year.
You can pay $800 a year for the bare minimum, or invest your money into a custom gym with equipment that’s yours to use forever.
Instead of paying to rent that equipment, you’re paying to own it. You’re also cutting out your cost of transportation (like gas money, or wear and tear on your vehicle) by having a gym at home.
Even if you spend $4,000 on home gym equipment, that’s like paying for five years of gym membership and getting the rest of your life for free.
Garage Gyms Are More Sanitary
This is something that people don’t often think about, but it’s also very important. When you’re working out on a machine, do you know how often it’s been cleaned?
The bench you’re laying on is probably covered in the sweat of strangers, and it’s been accumulating all day. People have spread germs and sweat all over everything you’ve touched at a commercial gym.
According to a multitude of independent scientific studies, well over half of surfaces at the gym were covered in rhinovirus, which is the cause of the common cold.
During different times of the year, you’ll also find a higher prevalence of influenza, or even more dangerous bacteria such as those that cause MRSA or staph infections.
Garage Gyms Are More Convenient
It’s snowing outside, and you need to get in some cardio to burn off the excess of calories you’ve consumed during the holiday season. It’s impossible to jog in the snow, and the roads are covered in ice.
How are you going to get that much-needed cardio?
If you have a garage gym, you can get it from your treadmill. You won’t have to navigate a dangerous blizzard or try to run through swaths of ice.
The convenience of a home gym may even inspire you to work out more. Maybe you stop at the commercial gym before work in the morning because that’s the easiest way to work out. With a garage gym, you may be able to get a little strength training done after work.
You won’t have to keep making stops or cut your workouts short if your gym is in your home.
Commercial gyms offer easier-to-manage monthly membership fees and access to amenities and trainers, but they aren’t always the best bang for your buck.
Commercial Gyms Are More Expensive Over Time
Fitness is a lifelong commitment. Once you reach your desired level of fitness, you’ll need to maintain it. Going to the gym is something you’ll need to do for the rest of your life, at least a few times a week.
Over time, this becomes far more expensive than owning your own gym equipment. You’ll only have to pay for your personal equipment one time, but you’ll have to pay your monthly gym membership forever.
Commercial Gyms Don’t Offer Flexibility
In bigger cities, 24 hour gyms exist. If you work irregular hours, you’ll have to hope you have a 24 hour gym close by. If you work a midnight shift and you need to sleep during the day, finding a gym that can accommodate your schedule may be a chore.
You may also have to schedule your life around your gym trips if a considerable commute is required to get there. Needing to travel back and forth complicates the process.
Commercial Gyms Are Often Crowded
Commercial gyms, especially in heavily populated cities, are often packed with people. You may have to wait to use popular pieces of equipment.
If you enjoy solitude and silence to concentrate on your workout or count your reps, you may not be able to hear yourself think in a big, bustling gym.
If you aren’t a very social person, you may find the groups of people to be an annoyance.
Commercial Gyms Lack Privacy
If you’re self conscious, the last thing you want is the prying eyes of strangers watching you as you work out. Because areas like locker rooms and showers are all open, you won’t have a private place to get changed.
You may not want to use the gym’s amenities for that reason. If you’re not comfortable being observed or you value you privacy, you won’t like the openness of a public commercial gym.
Though they’re more economically efficient in the long run and they’re highly customizable, there are still some noteworthy downsides about setting up a gym at home.
Garage Gyms Require Adequate Space
With a garage gym, you’re a lot more pressed for space. Your gym can only be as large as the space you have to put it in, and sometimes, this means larger machines may take up a significant portion of your workout area.
You’ll have to look for equipment that can be folded and stored if you don’t have enough space to put it all out at once.
If you have a three car garage, you’re probably not worried about the issue of square footage, but people with single car garages who also need space for their laundry machines may find it difficult to create a functional gym in such a small space.
Garage Gyms Are Expensive to Start
Where commercial gyms offer monthly memberships, a garage gym won’t. Everything you buy will have to be paid for at once.
It’s great to only have to make the investment one time, but it’s certainly a large chunk of change to lay out from the beginning. It may be more feasible to buy your equipment slowly, but this means you’ll have to wait in order to have access to everything you need. It’s a double edged sword.
Garage Gyms Need Regular Maintenance
At a commercial gym, the machines are routinely tuned up by the gym employees. If something gets broken, the gym pays to fix it.
That won’t happen in your garage gym. You’re responsible for tightening up loose bolts and tinkering with equipment that isn’t functioning properly. If you somehow manage to break a piece of equipment, the cost of replacement comes right out of your pocket.
Garage Gyms Use Up Your Garage
This may seem obvious, but it requires some thought. If you’re going to use the entirety of your garage for a gym area, where are you going to put your car?
It may be fine in the driveway during summer, but what about times of extreme weather?
If there’s a tornado or a hail storm and you want to protect your car from potential damage, you won’t be able to put it in your garage.
If you live in an area that’s prone to these kinds of storms, you’ll have to figure out how you’re going to protect your car if it won’t be able to go into your garage.
You may have to install a covered carport or find another place to store your equipment during inclement weather.
Considerations You Should Make
The pros and cons may not be the end of the line. In many cases, there are workarounds and other things you should think about before making a commitment to any gym, whether it’s a garage gym or a commercial gym.
There are some important questions you should ask yourself.
How Often Will You Work Out?
If you don’t see yourself following through on your workouts, it’s not very economical to purchase all of the equipment.
You may be better off buying the least expensive gym membership and giving it a try. If you find that you follow through, you can either upgrade your membership or start purchasing gym equipment.
If You Have a Garage Gym, Who Will Use It?
If you have other family members, roommates, neighbors, or nearby friends who would make use out of your home gym, maybe they can help you split the cost. It may be expensive for one person to purchase a whole gym full of equipment, but if trusty workout partners all pitch in, it’s even more economically efficient.
How Long Will It Take You To Reach Your Fitness Goals?
If you’re only looking to lose 30 pounds and build a little muscle definitions, you may be better off experiencing the best of both worlds.
Start with a gym membership to meet your main goals, and then purchase a smaller amount of home gym equipment to help you maintain.
If you aren’t looking to continually improve your physique, but rather just maintain it, a combination of a gym membership and a few equipment purchases is the best way to approach the situation.
Making The Big Decision
The only person who knows what’s right for you is you!
Weigh the pros and cons, make your special considerations, and come to a determination about what’s best for your fitness and your budget.