With the rising costs of gym memberships and the increasing amount of “fitness on demand” options, a question that is often asked is: should I join a gym or workout at home? The most important thing to consider before making a decision to work out at home or at the gym is the type of workout you enjoy doing and plan to do most. What is your preferred choice of exercise? Is it….

  • Cardio machines (treadmills, ellipticals, indoor biking)
  • Non-equipment cardio-based formats (kickboxing, Zumba, BollyX, BodyAttack)
  • Mind-body workouts (yoga, Pilates)
  • Equipment-based resistance training (bootcamp, Tabata, barre, requiring dumbbells, body bars, medicine balls)

If your preferred choice of exercise is…

Cardio machines (treadmills, ellipticals)

Pros of Going to the Gym: Gyms will always have the latest model of treadmills and ellipticals, which can be 3-5x the cost of an at-home model. You’ll only need to pay a membership fee in order to use the machine and you can rest assured that the equipment has been vetted for safety and effectiveness. You can also switch between machines if the treadmill becomes boring and the elliptical looks more appealing.

Pros of Working Out at Home: It could be  a worthy investment to get a home model treadmill as long as you are using it regularly. With the average gym membership costing around $70/month or $840/year, getting a treadmill for roughly $500 will definitely be more cost effective if that is the main thing you are using at the gym. Other perks include being able to run on your schedule since you won’t have to wait for a machine to free up. And if you need a change scenery, you can take your run outside.

Non-equipment cardio-based formats (kickboxing, Zumba, BollyX, BodyAttack)

Pros of Going to the Gym:  When it comes to kickboxing, dance or high intensity cardio formats, nothing beats the energy and excitement of a live class at a gym!  It can be much more motivating to be working out next to other like-minded individuals who are there to get a workout too.

Pros of Working Out at Home: If you travel frequently and can’t get to your live class on a regular basis, then having “on demand” so you can workout in your hotel room is beneficial. If you have a challenging calendar that doesn’t fit with a gym’s group exercise schedule, or simply prefer to workout when convenient for you, then at-home workouts is ideal. If you’re new to working out, starting at your own pace at home can help you build the confidence you need before dancing in class with others. Having an “on demand” program that you can practice with at home may be a great place to start. Once you are familiar with the choreography, then consider going to a gym to take class with a live instructor and participants.

Mind-body workouts (yoga, Pilates)

Pros of Going to the Studio:  The quality of instruction and corrective cues given by an instructor, and understanding these instructions, are crucial for formats such as yoga and Pilates. If you are new to either of these formats, I highly recommend taking the class at a studio with a live instructor first before doing it on your own at home. Let the instructor know you are new so they can keep an eye out on your technique. When it comes to more advanced techniques like head- stands, elbow stands, bridges, etc, it can be extremely helpful to have an instructor guide you through these new movements.  

Pros of Working Out at Home: The average yoga class is $15: 3x a week at a studio will cost $180 per month.Most “on demand” programs average only $15/month. If you find an “on demand” company where you like the instructors and variety of mind-body classes it offers, it’s definitely something worth considering over studio classes for financial reasons. Once you’ve mastered the basic techniques and feel like you are able to get the same effectiveness from an at home program, then working out at home might make more sense. At home, you can always choose your own time of practice vs adhering to the studio’s schedule.

Equipment-based resistance training

Pros of Going to the Gym:  Unless you have space in your home to store dumbbells, BOSU balance trainers or other equipment, joining a gym to use their equipment may be more convenient. Plus, if you take an exercise class, vs working out on the gym floor on your own, you get instruction from a certified personal trainer or instructor who can observe your form and correct it if needed. While you can substitute the back of a chair for a “barre” at home, you will still be limited to specific exercises without access to a more stable barre at a studio. For those who prefer this type of exercise, I would recommend that beginners start at a gym to learn proper technique from a certified personal trainer or instructor before training at home.

Pros of Working Out at Home: Self-motivated individuals with experience in resistance training will do well at home with a few pieces of key equipment and a good “on demand” program. They will be able to follow the instructor in the video and execute the workout with good form with little to no risk of injury. They won’t have to deal with waiting for equipment, or dealing with crowded floors.


At the end of the day, you know your personality, preferred exercise format, schedule and budget the best. Choosing either to join a gym and/or do workouts at home with “on demand” programs will be dependent on several variables. What you’ll use most consistently is the best choice for you – it could be a combination of the two!

Let us know in the comments your pros and cons of  working out at home or at the gym!

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