Do you love the pounding beat of vibrant music, surrounded by your fellow exercisers, chrome machines and rows of iron dumbbells?
Or do you prefer to have a room and a few pieces of equipment at your disposal with no one to encroach on your space or exercise sequence?
Statistically, people who work out at home are more consistent with their programs. That’s why low-cost gyms make money – they sign up multiples of their facility capacity (often between 20:1 and up to 100:1 ratios). So, if you’re one of those people who pays his or her membership fee every month but don’t go regularly, congratulations. You’re financing the workouts of those high school students who never miss a day.
But working out at home isn’t always the answer either. Owning an exercise bike that’s so old and dusty that it looks like something your grandma tried to unload at her last garage sale isn’t the same as actually using one.
So how do you determine which option suits you best?
First, write down why you want to work out. Is it to lose weight? Do you want to look good for a wedding or high school reunion? Forget it. If anything less than life-long health and wellness is your goal, prepare to waste money and be disappointed as well. It has to be a positive state or a measure of improved circumstances that you are deeply committed to and intend to maintain for the long haul if you want it to stick.
Assuming you’ve done that, the next step is to remove your obstacles to success. One of the first may be where and with whom, if anyone, you exercise.
Here are a few plusses and minuses for each approach:
Working out alone
(+) Fewer distractions
(+) Freedom to train at your own pace and do what you want to do
(+) An internal sense of achievement as your driving force
(-) No accountability to anyone else
(-) No social engagement
(-) No shared experience/peer support for maintaining the lifestyle
Working out with others
(+) Social connection and interaction
(+) Peers to “compare notes” with regarding training
(+) Accountability to others while serving as a touchstone for their accountability as well
(-) Much greater potential for distractions
(-) Competition for equipment and classes (especially at peak hours in a gym)
(-) Increased potential vulnerability to “ego” based motivations rather than intrinsic value
Now that I’ve laid out some of the advantages and disadvantages of working out alone or with a group, how do you determine which is right for you? Well, I suspect you may have already had a pretty good idea, and this article has simply reinforced your gut instinct on that. But if you’re still on the fence, consider the list above and ask yourself which of the plusses are more important to you, and which of the minuses are least likely to become a deal-breaking obstacle.
And if you’re still not sure, try both. Most gyms and studios offer, periodically, a free week or at least a three day pass. I know Club Sport does, as do we at Tri Valley Trainer. If the place you’re thinking about checking out does not, it’s well worth the day rate to go once on one of the days/times you’re most likely to actually use it. See if it’s a fit. If you’re leaning more toward working out at home, see a qualified personal trainer who can start you off with a simple, low cost, minimalist equipment program and see if it sticks before investing hundreds or thousands in stuff you may be selling at your own garage sale in a few months.
E-mail me or post on our Facebook page to let us know your experiences and if you’re a “solo” or a “groupie”!