Buy a Gym Membership or Build a Home Gym???

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I draw ideas to write from every little conversation and every daily experience. 

I recently had a longtime friend ask me this very question:

“I am just getting back into working out, would you recommend getting a gym membership or should I buy some simple pieces of equipment from a sporting goods store”.

This is a really good question actually.  The funny thing is that if someone would have asked me this 5 years ago, I would have said get the gym membership.  


Home gym equipment sucked.  Honestly, home gym equipment was really shitty.  You were stuck shelling out thousands of dollars for a treadmill or a elliptical trainer, or maybe a universal gym that companies touted as the “greatest thing ever”.  

The problem is two-fold for this type of equipment:

1)  You’re buying a $2,000 coat rack.  Most people buy a treadmill and 2 months later they are using it to dry their laundry.  This might be some of you reading this blog right now.  Same goes for a universal gym or elliptical.

2)  It provides an inferior training effect.  We know this!  You only have to maintain the speed of the belt on a treadmill with zero ground force production and a universal gym is a machine with fixed angles that place a much lower demand on crucial stabilizing muscles that fire in reaction to daily physical demands (whatever they may be).  A weight machine has very little real world carryover.  

Fast forward to my response to him today…

Without a doubt, I said go with the home gym set up.  I have been training at home for the past 5 years and it has been refreshing.  Absolutely refreshing.  I don’t like being around people when I train.  I don’t like the little conversations about my “toe shoes”, I don’t even like people asking if they can work in with me or when I am projecting to be done with the equipment that I am using.  I don’t like the music they play in gyms, blah blah blah.  

I just don’t like it.

Now, the second reason that I recommended the home gym is because quite frankly, home training went to another level with the introduction of:

  • Suspension trainers
  • Kettlebells
  • Dumbbells (Powerblocks)
  • Jump Rope
  • Weight-vests
  • Battling Ropes
  • Sand bags
  • Sand-bells

These are some of the more popular pieces of training equipment that is widely available to the public today.

Now, you’ll spend a decent chunk of change if you bought one or two of all those items that I listed, so will trim down the list to what I believe are the most impactful pieces of equipment.

1)  Suspension Trainer

2)  Kettlebells

I would go with those two items.  If you’re a male, start with a 12kg and a 16kg kettlebell (be prepared to make a quick jump to a 20kg) and a LifeLine Jungle Gym XT suspension trainer.  Females, start with a 8kg and 12kg kettlebell (be prepared to make a quick jump to the 16kg)   The exercise variations that a person can come up with from just these three pieces of equipment will blow your mind.  Endless combinations, workouts, etc.  Total body training that lends itself to not just stripping fat and building a lean physique, but also promotes the building of athleticism.   

The suspension trainer alone will keep you progressing for months.  It’s the single best piece of home training equipment on the market.  The portability and simplicity of a suspension trainer make it ideal for those who travel or those who wish to initiate the home training experience on a budget.  I love suspension trainers for folks that have banged up joints from years of grinding it out lifting big weight.  Reputable brands are TRX and Lifeline Jungle Gym, although i can’t say enough about the quality of the Jungle Gym XT and it’s unbeatable price point ($99 or less).  Watch for sales.

I buy my kettlebells from Lifeline also.  They are high quality, great surface finish and the customer service makes ordering a breeze every time.  Plus Jon Hinds is local to my location so it feels good buying a product from someone in my own backyard.  Trust me, it is possible to buy a shitty kettlebell.  Buying kettlebells is just like buying everything else.  You’ve got quality and then you’ve got imitation, then you’ve got plain old cheap.  Stay away from the latter two.  You’re only buying your kettlebells once, so make the purchase count or I can promise you that you will wish you had.  At least your hands and wrist will wish you had.As for the durability of suspension trainers and kettlebells…  you should have both for a lifetime.  The only reason the suspension trainer would crap out on you is if you were using it improperly, maybe having excessive loads on the straps or stringing it around a coarse/sharp edged anchor point, which would cut through the straps.  Shouldn’t be an issue if you use your head.  


Kettlebells are a one time purchase that will last forever.  Period.  Well worth the money.  

The bottom-line is this…

The options for training at home were terrible even just a couple of years ago.  That has all changed with the evolution of improved equipment options.  More and more people are seeking alternatives to the commercial gym, and I fully support this movement.  Obviously the best approach is to analyze your budget and what you desire from your training efforts.  I would also evaluate your personality.

Are you the kind of person that can give an effort without anyone watching?  If not, home training is not for you.  At least not yet.  

If you can, and you have the money to invest in some simple gym equipment… well… welcome to the club.







One thought on “Buy a Gym Membership or Build a Home Gym???

  1. I agree with your treadmill assessment, few weeks later people do use it for laundry so I guess the will to keep on continuing is as important as to having a home gym.

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