The Benefits of Joining a Gym vs. Working Out at Home

Young woman on cross training exercising. Wearing sports clothing and hijab.

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Making the decision to start exercising is easy. It gets more complicated when you actually have to do it, the first question being: Where are you going to exercise? It's easy to join a gym, of course, but it's also easy to pay for that membership while never using it.

It's also easy to set up a home gym and, of course, even easier to find a hundred other things more important than your workout—laundry, playing a game on your phone, cleaning the lint from behind your dryer, etc.

Whichever you decide, to be successful, you have to actually follow through and part of that is working out in the environment that fits your needs and budget the most.

Home Workout vs Gym Workout

Working out at home means eliminating obstacles like commuting, finding gym attire, and the restraint of operating hours. But working out at the gym provides fewer distractions, a sense of community, access to more equipment like weights and cardio machines, not to mention classes. There are pros and cons to both.

Pros and Cons of Joining a Gym

  • Amenities

  • Classes

  • Community

  • Focus

  • Motivation

  • Cost

  • Hassle

  • Other people

Pros of Joining a Gym

If these factors matter most to you, you have your answer.

  • Amenities: Exercise can be so much easier when you have lots of options to choose from. If you're a cardio machine person, your choices at the gym abound: the treadmill, elliptical, stairclimber, stair stepper, stationary bike, rowing goes on and on. You also have options for lifting weights. You have machines, free weights, cable machines, bands, and more.
  • Classes: Another big attraction is fitness classes. Sure, you can do online classes at home, but it's not the same as going to the gym and being around people. There may be other offerings, too, like a pool, hot tub, tennis courts, etc.
  • Community: There's something about being in a gym,
    sweating along with everyone else, that gives you a boost. We often draw energy from others and it can even push you to work harder. You don't want that guy next to you running faster than you, right?
  • Focus: There's not much to do at the gym but exercise, which can help you stay focused on your workouts. There are no chores staring you in the face, no kids interrupting you, and nothing to tempt you away from your workouts.
  • Motivation: Paying for a gym membership can be motivating,
    but there's also the boost you get from working out around other people. You can pick up on that friendly competitive vibe that you won't get working out alone.

We've researched and reviewed the best gym memberships. If you're in the market for gym membership, explore which option may be best for you.

Cons of Joining a Gym

Gym membership has its advantages, but also its drawbacks.

  • Cost: No matter where you go, you're going to have to pay something to join a gym. Some high-end clubs can cost more than $100 a month, while smaller clubs may only charge $10. Still, you get what you pay for.
  • Hassle: Another thing you have to do if you're going to work out at the gym is get there. Pack a bag, fill up your water, get dressed (you don't have to match, but you do need to wear clothing), drive there, park, go to the locker room, etc. So, your total time commitment is going to be longer, just because of the drive time. 
  • Other people: Here's another thing about the gym: It's full of people. Sweaty, earphone-wearing exercisers who are all there to do their own thing. Sometimes that leaks over into your world in the form of talking loudly on cell phones, leaving sweat all over the machines, not putting away their weights, or choking you with too much cologne or perfume. It's a gym. It happens.

Pros and Cons of Working Out at Home

  • Convenience

  • Cost

  • Variety

  • Boredom

  • Excuses

  • Space

Pros of Working Out at Home

For some people, home workouts are the best option, thanks to these benefits.

  • Convenience: You don't have to pack a bag, drive anywhere, or arrange for child care. You could work out in your pajamas, if you wanted to...something they frown upon at the gym. You can also work out whenever you like, which is perfect if you need to split your workouts or want to work out at odd hours.
  • Cost: There's no membership fee and you can outfit your home gym with a few inexpensive resistance bands and an exercise ball and be set to go. You could even do bodyweight workouts that require no equipment at all.
  • Variety: There's a different kind of variety when you work out at home. You can go outside, do exercise videos, stream live classes, exergames, or download workout apps. You can mix and match all you want—putting weights and cardio together, throwing in some yoga, whatever floats your boat. This is great for more impulsive exercisers who want to mix things up.

Cons of Working Out at Home

Don't let these derail your home workout.

  • Boredom: At the gym, you have lots of scenery to distract and potentially motivate you and, sometimes, we really do need a good distraction. If you don't have enough variety at home, you might just get too bored with your workouts.
  • Excuses: When you exercise at home, there are approximately 4,987 excuses to skip your workout. If you're not very self-motivated, you might find yourself avoiding workouts with silly chores like filing your nails, ironing the sheets, or alphabetizing your book collection.
  • Space: You don't need a ton of space to work out at home, but if you want a treadmill or other large piece of equipment, space is obviously important.

A Word From Verywell

Whether you should join a gym or work out at home often comes down to personal preference and your budget. If you're self-motivated and know you'll exercise no matter what, working out at home may be a good option. However, if you find way too many distractions (e.g., "I know I should work out, but I really need to trim my toenails"), getting out of the house may be a better choice.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Essery R, Geraghty AW, Kirby S, Yardley L. Predictors of adherence to home-based physical therapies: A systematic review. Disabil Rehabil. 2017;39(6):519-534. doi:10.3109/09638288.2016.1153160

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."