Stuck in morning traffic and finishing up your third breakfast burrito, the hosts of your favorite morning sports talk show finally go to a hard commercial break. An over-adrenalized voice comes over the airwaves: “Come by Boulderneck’s Gym today, and we’ll waive your initiation fee AND give you the first three months FREE!” Conscience guilt-laden and interest piqued, you cue in. Just as the fine print, Speed-talker Guy blows past the “Only applicable for membership commitments of two years or more” line, scrambled egg falls into your lap. “Twenty four months or more?”
Costing anywhere from $30 to $90 a month, at twenty-four months, that comes to a total of somewhere between $720 and $2,160 – MINIMUM – of your personal-sacrifice-heavy, hard-earned cash going to a gym that has to pay for that commercial and somehow fund their revolving door of meathead membership salesmen. And how often do you think you’ll actually use that membership? Four days a week? Five? No. According to the 2006 issue of the American Economic Review (Vigna, Malmendier), the average person with a yearly membership goes to their gym only three to four times… per MONTH. That’s roughly $7.50 – $22.50 per visit. Surely you can find a better way to improve your body, mind, and overall confidence than that!
Home gyms are an excellent way to transform your life, right there in the comfort of your own home. They offer a convenient and highly effective way for you to regain your physical strength, be it after a few years of neglect, or an injury that’s had you sidelined for some time. Since there are so many types of home gyms from which to choose, it is a highly competitive market, and you can get what you need at a reasonable cost that performs well and looks great.
So, what types to choose from? Here are two popular styles:
The Free Weight Home Gym
Free weights are exactly that: free. There are no cables or pulley systems available to provide better leverage during your movements; it’s just you versus gravity and resistance, and that can be a beautiful thing. Things like dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells, barbells, and weight plates are considered free weights, as is any apparatus that allows for you to pull against the weight of your body, e.g. bars for dips and chin-ups. They’re usually sold in sets, but you can buy what you need at first and easily accessorize as you regain strength. Though they are the prototypical “gym,” they do come with a safety concern, especially barbells. Always perform barbell lifts (squats, shoulder and bench presses) with a spotter, or partner, nearby. If you live alone or must work out during off hours when no one’s available, a good pursuit would be to base your entire home gym around dumbbells. That way, if one arm fails, the entire bar won’t come crashing down on you, and if nothing else, that’s fantastic peace of mind.
Resistance Home Gyms
This is the realm of the gyms weary travelers find in hotels and showcased on infomercials endorsed by Chuck Norris. They are the Bowflexes, Total Gyms, and Weider Maxes of this world; they are sleek, space-saving machines that offer a total body workout without the clutter and safety worries associated with free weight systems. They usually involve the manipulation of leverage against gravity to lift weights, and are downright great conversation starters.
The Bowflex is arguably the most popular type of resistance home gym, and it utilizes a system of flexible weight bars or coiled straps that simulate free weights very well. Range of motion is why free weights are so wonderful, and Bowflex has done a great job providing that range of motion and coupling it with microfiber activation (smaller, supportive muscle use). The downside to the Bowflex is both its cost (which can range from $550 to $1,000), and the fact that you can not add weight beyond its supplied stack or available resistance pulleys depending on the model. An example of the popular Bowflex Resistance home gym is the PR3000. If interested in learning more about this style of home gym, be sure to read our Bowflex PR3000 review.
Both styles are excellent choices for your home, and yes, both have their positives and negatives. But nothing – NOTHING – will work if you don’t stay committed to a workout regimen. No machine or weight can do your workout for you, so don’t go spending that money you thought you were saving by not joining a gym if you don’t plan on committing to this fully. Do yourself a favor and commit, and you will be exceedingly pleased with your rewards.