The Pros & Cons Of At-Home Gym Equipment

Almost nine out of 10 Americans who exercise regularly say that they will continue with at-home workouts even after they feel comfortable returning to a gym in the future, according to the Future of Fitness survey conducted by Wakefield Research. Ninety-seven percent of the people who took the survey have tried working out at home, and 92 percent of them work out at home at least once per week. The survey found that the top benefits of working out at home were convenience (44 percent), privacy (41 percent) and cost (40 percent). Eighty-five percent of the people surveyed also agreed that there are convenience and accessibility benefits to at-home workouts that they can’t get at a gym.

“Despite the economic downturn, consumers have been splurging on large, expensive at-home fitness equipment as they continue to work and workout from home,” according to “Most Americans plan to continue at-home workouts even once gyms fully reopen” for Fortune.

Knowing that most of us are planning to continue working out at home, and that we’re committed to investing in expensive home exercise equipment, we’ll take you through the pros and cons of creating an at-home gym. We’ll also include the positives and negatives of specific equipment for your home gym, such as treadmills, spin bikes and elliptical machines.

PROS TO CREATING A HOME GYM

Convenience, privacy and cost are all benefits to having a home gym, as well as an overall sense of freedom.

CONVENIENCE:

“You don’t have to pack a bag, drive anywhere, or arrange for child care,” according to “The Benefits of Joining a Gym vs. Working Out at Home” for Verywell Fit. “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.” The Art of Manliness article “The Pros and Cons of Garage vs. Commercial Gyms” explains that you might be spending 30 minutes of your life each day either driving, walking or biking to and from your gym, which means that if you worked out 5 times per week for 30 years, that’s 162 days of your life that will go to your gym commute. The Art of Manliness also points out that you can work out on days that your gym will be closed (even if it’s 24/7), such as holidays or days when there’s inclement weather.

PRIVACY:

“Sure, you might be interrupted by your family when you work out in a garage gym, but you can also be interrupted by your fellow gym patrons at the commercial variety,” according to The Art of Manliness. “There was a lady at my gym who frequently wanted to talk to me for 10 minutes at a time, which introduced a significant and unplanned break into my routine, and sometimes prevented me from getting in my full workout before I needed to go home.”

FREEDOM:

“Home gyms allow you to do things your way, with no club rules to follow,” according to “Building A Home Gym: The Pros and Cons” for At-Home Fitness. “You are also spared having to lay on a bench, or sit on a leg extension machine, following ‘ultra sweaty man.’” At-Home Fitness also points out that you get to choose the music that you listen to (if you like listening to music while you exercise), plus you don’t have to deal with people coming up to you and offering suggestions, or telling you which exercises you should be doing or how to do them. You also don’t have to wait to use equipment, since you’ll be the only one in your personal gym, according to The Art of Manliness.

COST:

“Although it will cost you $500 at the minimum and up to $1,000 or more to get a decent set-up going at your home gym, you will make back your money over the cost of a gym membership (around $600 a year) in a matter of just a few years,” according to At-Home Fitness. “It’s truly a life-time investment.”

CONS TO CREATING A HOME GYM

Some of the top reasons not to create a home gym are lack of space, lack of self-discipline, loss of community, limited equipment and difficulty getting some of the equipment you want due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

LACK OF SPACE:

While Verywell Fit says that you don’t need a ton of space to work out at home, they’re also aware that if you want a large piece of equipment like a treadmill or an elliptical, then space is extremely important. And if you decide to create a garage gym, you may have to park a car outside, according to The Art of Manliness.

LACK OF SELF-DISCIPLINE:

If you don’t have a lot of self-discipline, you might find yourself skipping workouts due to chores that you feel compelled to do around the house, according to Verywell Fit. On the other hand, if you bike, walk or drive yourself to a gym or a sports club, you’re almost certainly going to work out when you get there, according to At-Home Fitness.

LOSS OF COMMUNITY:

“For someone who works at home like I do, even making a little small talk with folks at my larger gym was a nice way to reconnect with humanity!” according to The Art of Manliness. There’s also usually someone around at the gym to spot you on heavier lifts, according to At-Home Fitness. You potentially lose this perk when you create a home gym, unless you work out with a partner, have friends come over to lift with you or start using a machine instead of free weights.

LIMITED EQUIPMENT:

“Unless you’ve got a lot of room and uber deep pockets to outfit your garage gym with tons of different cardio machines and pieces of equipment, you’re probably going to have just a few things at your disposal,” according to The Art of Manliness. “While a barbell, plates, squat rack, and bench is just about all you need, in my opinion, others like having choices.”

DIFFICULTY GETTING EQUIPMENT:

“Fitness equipment like kettlebells, hand weights and dumbbells – hot sellers at the beginning of the pandemic – continue to be on backorder in many local stores and are being joined by pricier purchases like elliptical machines, treadmills, bicycles, and even kayaks, according to multiple store managers throughout Long Island,” writes Laura Albanese in the Newsday article “As more people work out solo, new fitness equipment is hard to find.”

PROS & CONS FOR DIFFERENT AT-HOME GYM EQUIPMENT

There are various pros and cons when it comes to acquiring different at-home gym equipment, such as treadmills, spin bikes and elliptical machines, which we’ll take you through. Just keep in mind that some of the equipment that you’d like to purchase may be out of stock or take longer than usual to arrive at your door due to the coronavirus pandemic, as mentioned above.

TREADMILL

Treadmill

PROS:

“Treadmill training provides a completely controlled environment,” says Selena Samuela in “How Effective Is Running on the Treadmill vs. Running Outside?” for Runner’s World. “You can accurately control the pace, incline, interval, and recovery. For example, getting used to running at certain speeds because you’re forced to, is much easier to do while there’s a belt moving under your feet.”

If you struggle to find the motivation to pick up your pace without manual controls in front of you, or if you love the accuracy of doing a structured workout indoors, a treadmill is a good option for you, according to Runner’s World. It’s also an ideal choice when running outdoors can be impractical (like bad weather) or dangerous (little visibility at night)

“It’s not just extreme weather, but running in the dark alone, running where you’ll encounter sharp turns with blind spots for cars, and dealing with wet or icy roads,” Samuela says in the Runner’s World article. “With treadmill training, you won’t encounter any of those variables.”

Runner’s World also recommends the treadmill for runners coming back from injury who aren’t quite ready for the ground reaction forces of running on concrete or asphalt. Treadmills are designed to absorb ground reaction forces, which can help save your joints from the impact associated with running.

CONS:

Some runners don’t like the monotony of the treadmill, which has led to it being referred to as the “dreadmill” instead, according to Runner’s World.

Treadmill running also can’t substitute for running outdoors, according to “The Pros and Cons of Treadmill Training” for ACTIVE.

“For example, the maximum speed of most treadmills is 12 mph, which is slower than sprint speed for most runners, making it impossible to perform sprints and very short, very fast intervals on a treadmill,” according to ACTIVE. “Also, it is impossible to simulate downhill running on most treadmills, so one cannot use a treadmill to prepare for races with extensive downhill sections such as the Boston Marathon.”

Most runners who run on treadmills do so at fitness clubs, according to ACTIVE, because treadmills are expensive. The cost of treadmills that are of comparable quality to fitness clubs usually are in the range of $3,000. However, ACTIVE points out that to some runners, the cost is worth it because it means that they can run at home anytime they want.

SPIN BIKES

Spin Bike

PROS:

Spin bikes can help you burn calories (a typical class lasts about 45 minutes and you’ll burn around 500 calories); help you tone up (spinning works your core, quads, bums, arms – depending on the workout – legs and thighs); and relieve stress, according to Spinbikeexpert.net.

Spin bikes also help you track your progress, since they have a monitor that shows your cycling speed, the calories you’re burning and the distance you’re covering, according to Spinbikeexpert.net.

They fit a smaller footprint than other cardio equipment like ellipticals, rowers and treadmills; they’re quieter and lower maintenance than most other cardio equipment; and they’re durable – “a good spin bike can last a lifetime of exercise with very little service,” according to Fitness Town.

The spin bike is also easy to use and has a lower injury risk than the typical upright bike, as long as you simply use it to sit and spin, according to ExerciseBike.net. This is because the flywheel is much easier. It helps keep the bike in constant motion and is therefore less impactful on the joints. ExerciseBike.net says to keep in mind that standing and spinning is always going to put you at a higher injury risk than sitting and spinning.

CONS:

“Even though spin bikes are great as they allow you to work multiple areas in your body, it is very important to be careful regarding the state of your back,” according to Spinbikeexpert.net. “The use of the machine will mostly force you to hunch forward, which can be quite painful on your back and associated muscles, or lead to strains and worse conditions.”

Spinbikeexpert.net says that one of the best things about spin bikes – that they’ll give you a continuous workout – is also one of the worst parts about them, since they don’t allow for intermittent breaks that you can use to rest between exercises. You can risk pushing yourself too hard, since you’re moving non-stop for close to an hour.  can also be uncomfortable.

“They are not the friendliest of machines to use in certain cases, as many people complain of pain in the pelvic bones,” according to Spinbikeexpert.net. “In addition, it can be uncomfortable for pregnant women to use – but in all cases, you can change this by adjusting the seat to a comfortable height and the handlebar positions.”

ELLIPTICAL MACHINES

Elliptical

PROS:

The elliptical trainer is a low-impact machine that’s easy on your joints. It allows you to get both an upper body and a lower body workout (as long as you use the arm handles), and it offers the option to work on different muscles like your calves and hamstrings by switching direction and working backward, according to Healthline.

Healthline also explains that even though low-impact exercise puts less stress on your joints than high-impact exercise, a study on aerobic exercise found that a 24-week program of low-impact workouts improved the body composition, physical fitness and cardiovascular fitness of the study participants.

Elliptical machines are generally safer than treadmills, since your feet remain planted the entire time. They also require less maintenance than treadmills, according to Total Fitness Equipment.

CONS:

“If you haven’t worked out on an elliptical before, it may take some getting used to,” according to Healthline. “The movement may feel awkward and unnatural at first.”

Total Fitness Equipment says that the downside of elliptical machines is that they offer zero versatility, since they lack the ability to increase anything other than resistance. Plus, on lower levels, you can basically get enough momentum going on an elliptical to negate the effects of working your muscles.

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