The short answer: probably not, unless you’ve got a lot of money and space for equipment, along with superhuman discipline and drive.

One of the biggest barriers to getting a regular fitness program underway is simply getting out to a gym. It can be intimidating for a number of reasons. The first time you enter one, it just looks like rows upon rows of medieval torture devices, the function of which are not readily apparent. There can also be a sense of discomfort with your body image.

So a lot of people begin wondering if they can simply replicate the results they’d get at a good gym at home somehow.

Home workouts are the bonus, not the main course

Now, there’s nothing wrong with working out at home. There’s a lot of beneficial supplementary exercises that people of any fitness level can do. And it’s especially good as a way to ease in if you’re coming off a long sedentary period.

But you just can’t match the results you’ll get with access to a wide range of quality gym equipment,  unless you’re willing to spend thousands to get that same equipment at home. The key word in the above paragraph is supplementary.

Many people also find it’s actually easier to stay motivated and stick to a routine if they have to leave the house — there’s just too many distractions and temptations at home! Further, gym success is most often based upon a solid mix of both consistency, variety, and intensity — consistency in going, but variety in exercises — and home workouts make all three of those difficult to maintain!

The Cardio Advantage

Cardio at the Gym

This is Myokem Athlete @shaleen_k – How do you get your cardio in? The Stepmill is the most underrated piece of equipment in the gym.

It’s true, you can jog or bike to get your cardio in at relatively little expense. These options don’t work for everyone, though, especially those with knee, shin and ankle issues.

Gyms are climate-controlled

You’re also at the mercy of weather. Not so much a problem if you live on the California coast or in Hawaii, but if you live in an area where it’s scorching hot or there’s snow and ice for a third of the year, that’s a major obstacle to keeping your routine regular.

A myriad of choices

A gym gives you a range of equipment to choose from in a climate-controlled environment — ellipticals, treadmills, bikes and stair steppers among others. While you can get some of these for home use, the cheap ones are driven by belt systems that wear out fast and probably also have other flimsy parts.

Cardio equipment that’s comparable to the stuff found in gyms starts at around $500. Well-made equipment is especially important if you want to incorporate HIIT into your routine, since you’ll need a machine that can handle extended sprints at high resistance.

Many gyms also have lap pools, so that you can liven up your cardio routine with some swimming when it gets stale – and swimming is another great place to get HIIT involved once your technique is good.

The Strength Advantage

As a beginner, you’ll likely find the range of machines that a good gym offers really helps you to set incremental goals and ease back into regular workouts.

When you get more advanced, you’ll want a squat rack, and those are expensive and take up tons of space. Odds are your floor at home won’t take too kindly to having weights dropped on it as well.

The home workout “wall”

Fact is, home workout videos are good for some issues, but at some point, you’re simply going to be too strong to get any more lean muscle mass out of bodyweight movements. Unless you feel like spending all day doing hundreds upon hundreds of bodyweight squats and pushups!

Finding The Right Gym

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The key to success in sticking to a gym routine is finding a gym you’re totally comfortable with.

If you’re new to fitness or easing back in after a long break, you’ll find there’s some that you aren’t comfortable with.

There are gyms that are geared to advanced bodybuilders, and while these guys are actually often quite welcoming, it can nevertheless be too off-putting to be struggling with low weight while you’re surrounded by a bunch of Mr. Olympias. Some of the more “hardcore” gyms also have lower-quality equipment (which should be reflected in the gym’s monthly fees being lower).

Some other gyms may have policies that you’re not comfortable with, like setting off noisy alarms to shame people or handing out free pizza slices.

But there are also plenty of gyms that are made for regular people of all different fitness levels, yet have all the equipment you’ll want even when you hit the more advanced phases of strength training.

Gyms often have day passes you can use to check the place out, and some will let you work free for a day in return for getting a hard-sell pitch from a member of their staff.

Hours are a huge concern!

Another important thing to consider is the gym’s hours. Some aren’t open as long on Sundays, or some open or close too late if you like to work out on the edge of your day. So keep that in mind on top of everything else.

For most beginning lifters, you can negotiate some personal training into your contract to get you started on the right foot.

Don’t forget about the YCMA – they’re not just places for kids swimming lessons! A local YMCA is a great place to get a balance of quality machines, friendly and non-intimidating lifters, a pool, and solid free weights.

So What’s Good At Home?

Empty Stomach Workout

Medicine balls are also good for some auxiliary home exercises. This is Myokem Athlete Shaleen K (@shaleen_k) to the Team

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a DVD cardio workout or yoga routine, but you shouldn’t rely on them by themselves.

There’s also some light, inexpensive equipment you might want to keep on hand in case you can’t make the gym for some reason. Look into a good set of push-up bars, a kettlebell, a stability ball, a big yoga mat, stretch cords, and a jump rope to cover the absolute basics.

But at some point, you’re going to peak out on what you can do at home. And the second you start getting bored, it’s time to get to the gym, because we have gains (and losses) to make!

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