The benefits of working out at home
The pandemic revolutionised the home-gym market, but what are the benefits and drawbacks of working out in the comfort of your own abode? Lauren Drinkwater investigates…
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, we had to get inventive with our workouts. Bottles, cans, balls, stairs, even boxes and tea towels were now our fitness equipment while the fitness industry was transformed almost overnight.
Free and easy access to online workouts kept us all sane and if any PT or instructor wanted to keep working, they had to get to grips with social media and filming live virtual workouts pretty quickly else face becoming obsolete.
If home workouts were starting to make their way into the fitness industry before 2020, by the time lockdown hit any prior preconception of fitness as an in-person experience had completely been turned on its head.
Thousands of small fitness centres and studios were forced to close with others struggling to stay afloat, redesigning their spaces and turning towards more personal workouts, including online training.
Loss of fun?
Two years down the road and the pandemic largely behind us, are home workouts still as popular? Interactive fitness equipment maker Peloton says that the trend is here to stay.
Demand for their bikes rose so much during the pandemic that many customers had to wait months for their deliveries.
Although this backlog has now subsided, sales continued to soar, up 141% in the first three months of 2021.
Company founder and CEO John Foley thinks it’s inevitable that technology-driven home fitness will become more dominant, calling the idea of going to a gym “a broken model of yesteryear”.
And yet on the flipside, research from Penn State University found that exertion and enjoyment levels were higher during a live class in the gym versus the exact same workout followed digitally at home.
Despite doing the same class, participants’ average heart rate was 14% higher during the gym class, and participants rated the gym-based workout as 13% more enjoyable and 14% more satisfying than the digital workout.
Top tips for home gym sessions
• If you’re on a tight budget, invest in some cheap equipment (e.g. resistance bands).
• Research health and fitness apps/programmes and choose one that’s right for you (whether you’re building strength or wanting to compete for an event, for example).
• Agree on a time with your partner/family/roommate when you won’t be disturbed.
• Create a combined routine of resistance and cardio training – i.e cardio (run or HIIT session, for example), lower body, upper body, core, boxing, etc.
• Pick up a cheap turbo trainer, spin bike or rowing machine.
New year, new gym
And now we find ourselves at the start of another new year – the most popular time to sign up to a gym membership. But we’re now also slap bang in the middle of a cost of living crisis, so many of us are once again left with no choice but to turn to the home environment for our ‘gym’ sessions.
But that’s no bad thing, as I’ve attempted to address with my list of pros and cons to getting a sweat on from your living room below (note, more pros than cons!).
The pros of working out at home
- The price tag – If you’re building a home gym or investing in machines and equipment, it might have an initial upfront cost that is higher than a gym membership but in the long-term it will be more cost effective for you.
- Flexibility – Fitness at home can be a lot easier to fit in whether you’re working from home or a busy stay-at-home parent.
- Gains – Regular short workouts (whether HIIT or resistance training targeting specific areas) can have just as much impact on improved cardiovascular health, fat burn, and building lean muscle as a gym workout.
- No stress – You don’t have to worry about booking into a popular class, waiting until midnight to find that a slow internet connection has cost you that place.
- Non-communal – No shared locker rooms and showers or awkward towel dances to avoid exposure!
- No queues – No more waiting for your favourite cardio or weight machine, they’re all yours for the taking.
- No self-consciousness – You can roll out of bed and rock up to your workout in your PJs if you want.
- No intimidation – No gym posers, testosterone bravado, sexist remarks from male gym goers or instructors shouting at you that ‘You’ve got to earn those calories, ladies!’
- Your playlist – You can listen to your own tunes, no more headbanging hard-core dance music drilling into your brain during a sprint or heavy lift.
- Healthier eating – Quick access to your own kitchen and cheaper healthy food options at your disposal.
- Less germ-spreading – Let’s be honest, how many people actually properly wipe down their equipment after they’ve used it in the gym?!
The cons of working out at home
- Less space – No matter how much you kit out your house, it’s never going to quite compete with the vast space and variety of equipment that a gym can offer.
- No professional support – There’s no one to offer advice on technique or to correct your form, therefore an increased likelihood of injury and possibility that you won’t be benefiting from a particular move as much.
- Higher household costs – Having to use your own water and energy will add to your monthly bills.
- Lone soldier – No social interaction and motivation from a partner or friend. Gyms are a great way to make new friends and possibly even partners if you’re single.
- Less effort – You might work out harder if you have someone there pushing you or you’re competing with others.
- More satisfaction – A Penn State study found that gym goers felt 14% more satisfaction after a gym workout than one at home.
Lauren’s top-five home video workouts
Arms and Abs
Top image credit: Getty Images