Essay About Exercise At Home Or Gym

Planks at home. Spinning at a gym. Which one's better? And which location will best reinforce your 2016 fitness goals?

Whether working out at home or at a gym is for you depends on a plethora of factors, among them cost, motivation and personality.

Some decisions might be straightforward. There's no way your schedule allows a 30-minute drive to the nearest facility, followed by an hourlong workout. You can't afford a steep monthly gym fee. Or you have a nonexistent track record of working out without instruction.

But some people might have a duffel's worth of psychological gym baggage. Forced to run laps in high school, maybe you hate being on the treadmill in front of people. Or maybe an effort to do yoga at home leaves you marinating in self-loathing when you instead laze on the couch.

suedhang / Getty Images

Social anxiety or a simple lack of time can make a home workout a much better fit.

Social anxiety or a simple lack of time can make a home workout a much better fit. (suedhang / Getty Images)

"I think it's finding something that speaks to you and truthfully finding what your motivation is," said Antonia DeSantis, a cycling instructor at Chicago's Studio Three, which offers a variety of interval training, cycling and yoga. "Why are you doing exercise to begin with?"

Holly Stokes, a Salt Lake City life coach and hypnotherapist, works with people to change how they think about things such as fitness, especially any associated fear or anxiety.

"A lot of time people will have mental blocks against working out," said Stokes, who herself lost 40 pounds nearly 10 years ago.

For example, insecurities about wearing tight clothes in front of others during class. Or pressure inspired by previously abandoned fitness goals.

To decide what's best for you, she suggests visualizing yourself in each space — picturing yourself hitting play on a workout video after work versus driving to the gym.

Another factor? Think through your personality and what gives you energy.

"If people are extroverted and they like being around people, maybe they'll find being at the gym more motivating," Stokes said. "If someone is more introverted and they feel more social anxiety, then doing some things at home might feel easier."

And ponder goals. Do you want basic wellness, feeling better? To add muscle tone? Losing a few pounds before an upcoming event?

"If you want to build real muscle, most home gyms don't have the equipment to help you do that," New York City personal trainer Reggie Chambers said.

Think through goals and what feels encouraging. Having relationships with people who will text if you don't show up? Knowing you've got the ability to burn calories whenever, wherever?

Finding out the best fitness environment is the first step toward specific, achievable goals.

And, of course, after that, how do you keep the motivation going past Jan. 30, regardless of location?

Keep a schedule and visualize a goal.

That's good advice for anyone, said Bedros Keuilian, who has been a personal trainer as well as a teenager worried about losing weight to get a prom date.

At his Fit Body Boot Camp franchise, trainers ask new clients to identify one specific goal, whether that's a 32-inch waist or squeezing into a suit for an upcoming wedding.

Then, when someone skips class or that last lunge, the reminder comes in: "Think about the wedding."

Embrace that focus and visualize one specific goal.

Home gym

Best because: You want to work out at home for reasons of convenience, affordability or privacy to avoid intense gym people.

"There's a little bit more flexibility with how you can make it fit your schedule," Stokes said.

If you're using only your body weight — think planks, burpees — it's free. And YouTube videos offer a variety of workout options.

Other ideas might be investing in videos such as P90X, which Keuilian suggests as a solid high-intensity interval workout.

On the pricier side, DeSantis said those who prefer to work out at home can buy a spin bike such as the Peloton and virtually join a studio class.

But beware: First, Keuilian says to acknowledge this: "The idea of working out at home sounds amazing."

But you have to maintain an almost militaristic work ethic, he said.

"When you are home, you have way too many distractions, too many reasons to stop," he said.

Or, as DeSantis said, "It's very easy to find excuses to why I should sit on my butt and eat a cupcake."

At home, it can be hard to get to the level of workout you actually need to see results.

"If I walked into your living room and started having a conversation with you, you would be fighting to get the words out," Keuilian said.

Making sure you have the proper form also is difficult at home versus a gym, where a teacher might cue a class or where someone can spot.

"The only cues to see if you're doing it right at a home gym is to look at a mirror," Chambers said.

Real gym

Best because: You need accountability, gym buddies or just the variety of rowing versus yoga.

For those who might have struggled with staying fit, Keuilian said, going to a gym can be a needed accountability boost.

This is a huge part of his Fit Body Boot Camp experience, and for a reason.

"If you miss more than two days straight, we're the first person to text you, Facebook message you," Keuilian said. "We call that the shock-and-awe system for a reason."

Also, variety might improve a workout.

"There are multiple different kinds of machines. That can break up the routine or habit of doing one thing," Stokes said. "Doing a treadmill at home, if that becomes too routine you may lose interest."

And the monthly payment part might be effective for those who feel indebted to follow through.

But beware: Added effort. A gym requires traveling to a different place, which is already one hurdle to hop.

Also, gyms can mean long waits for equipment, such as packed treadmills.

And many are in that group of feeling intimidated when working out in front of other people. "They don't like to feel like they're on the spot," DeSantis said.

For people with insecurities, the anxiety might outweigh the benefits.

"The meaning attached to a gym is, 'People are watching me, and I don't measure up,' " Stokes said. "They might feel intimidated."

When any kind of block is present — intimidation, time, location — Stokes said, "People are less likely to follow through."

abowen@tribpub.com

Twitter @byalisonbowen

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