2020 has been an interesting year for us all on many fronts – some positive, some negative but all giving us a different perspective. 

In the case of fitness, 2020 has forced many of us who have grown to love training in a gym to train at home when we never thought we could. It has even forced those of us who didn’t exercise at all to start training at home, just to pass the time.

Either way, for all of the negatives there have been just as many positives, but with luck on our side as we come out of the pandemic we are entering a transitional period where those of us who love the gym can finally get back to it and those of us who have been training at home face the dilemma of whether to keep training there, or not.

There are many reasons to support both so let’s look at the basic pros and cons to begin with, in the hope that maybe we can help you make a decision. 

Training at home

Pros

  • Travel time can be reduced to zero, allowing you to spend more time with your family, friends or keep on top of your responsibilities
  • The convenience of being able to work out in your living room
  • Complete privacy if the gym intimidates you, or you simply wish to work out in your pants 😉

Cons

  • Lack of equipment to offer balance, variation and proper progression
  • Lack of support if your motivation is low, or if you are unsure of something
  • Home workouts are often high impact, affecting joint integrity over time and ultimately increasing your risk of injury*
  • Motivating yourself to train alone can be hard when you are tired, or at the end of a long day when the TV is calling
  • Finding enough space to train can be difficult at home, and you may have to forfeit “alone time” to train in the same room as your partner or kids
  • Particularly easy to be distracted or discouraged when training at home

*LiveUP is specifically designed to prevent this, but most similar plans do not take this risk into account.

Training in the gym

Pros

  • Endless variation of equipment available in a gym to improve program balance, safety and exercise variation, preventing boredom and maximising both short term and long term progression
  • Travelling to the gym to train gives you a more defined purpose, free of external distractions where you can focus on training. It’s “me time”, alone time and, for many people, a release from their professional and personal life improving both physical and mental health
  • In the gym, you are surrounded by like-minded people who are on the same path as you. The power of this cannot be underestimated. You are the average of the people you spend time around, and if you have the right social support it can change everything for you
  • In a gym, you have access to professional support if you are unsure or need to ask questions.
  • Results will always be easier to come by, safer and longer-lasting when training in a gym 

Cons

  • Travel time can be extended travelling to gym, depending on where you live and what you have access to locally
  • The wrong gym can be an intimidating place which is why it is so important to select the one that you feel comfortable in
  • A lack of privacy if you wish to train in your pants – which, incidentally, I recommend you refrain from because it tends to be frowned upon… 

Finally but definitely a more subjective con than an objective one is your perception of gyms, other gym users and your perception of yourself and how you will project that perception to form an argument against going to the gym.

One of the most common objections I hear when talking to people about in-gym training is that they don’t like going to gyms because everyone is looking at them and that makes them feel insecure. 

The reality is that this simply is not the case. Hard though this may be to hear, it is in all likelihood insecurity that makes you feel this – you are projecting your lack of confidence elsewhere.

If you are someone who worries about people watching you as you train in a gym, here is why you don’t need to:

  1. No one is as concerned about what you’re doing in the gym as you think they are. They are concentrating on themselves and their own training more than anything happening around them.
  2. No one is as concerned with how you look in the gym as you think they are. If you do happen to be getting the odd glance across the room, this is more often than not because someone is impressed – by the exercise you’re doing, the weight you are lifting, how hard you are working, or at the other end of the spectrum, how unphased you look by the effort you are clearly exerting.
  3. No one can tell if you don’t know what you’re doing. Further than that, other people often don’t know what they’re doing in the gym either. If you do happen to be following a programme like LiveUP, or carrying out the lessons and form taught to you by a trainer one-to-one, what they will be able to tell – through your poise and form as you navigate the gym floor – is that you do know what you’re doing, and they’ll be envious of that fact.
  4. Even the people that look like they know what they are doing in the gym did, at one point, step in there for the first time not having a clue what to do. We’ve all had a first day in the gym. We’ve all felt nervous, maybe even paranoid, but by sticking with training we all got better until the place that we had feared for so long soon became our new happy place.
  5. In the unlikely event that you are doing something wrong, or are unsure of anything, then ask someone around you for help. That’s how all of us getting better at things, and the amazing thing about the right gym environment is that you will find yourself surrounded by caring, supporting and incredibly friendly people happy to lend a hand and point you in the right direction. If the gym you’re in isn’t like that, odds are you’re in the wrong gym.

Maximise in-gym comfort by entering into the gym with a plan, a programme like LiveUP, our low-cost online plan covering every base of your training, from nutrition to exercise videos. The better your plan going into the gym, the lower your discomfort in trying to figure out what to do for the first time.

As you start taking training serious, be sure to make the right decisions for you based on the factors above. My advice is to push yourself out of your comfort zone, because that’s where we adapt. I have no doubt that before long the gym will be your release from the real world, like it is for so many others. You’ve got this.