If you are considering working out at home on an exercise bike you may well be asking yourself the the following question, which is better, cycling at home vs cycling at the gym? Both have their pros and their cons, from convenience, to cost, to motivation. The following article sets out these pros and cons, with the aim of helping you with your decision making process. After all there is no wrong or right answer, it is different for each person and their individual circumstances and goals.
Things to consider when comparing cycling at home vs cycling at the gym:
In general the equipment at the gym is superior to standard home exercise equipment. Firstly people are paying a monthly subscription to use the equipment, so expect the best. Secondly a machine at the gym is expected to get far more use, as there are many people using it, not just one. Therefore commercial equipment is built to a very high standard, using top level materials and technology.
That’s not to say you cannot get gym quality equipment to use at home. It is just that gym level machines are at the top end of the price range. Therefore many people decide to use a lower priced piece of equipment. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the exercise bike does not need to be so well constructed, it will have far less usage.
There is an obvious trade off, the price of an exercise bike vs the price of a gym subscription. Although on a monthly basis gym membership may not seem too high, over the course of a year, or several years, it can add up. The average annual gym subscription would pay for a very good mid range exercise bike. While two years membership would pay for a top of the range exercise bike of gym quality.
This does not factor in the other equipment at the gym in addition to exercise bikes. Ask yourself, are you only planning to use an exercise bike? Or would you take advantage of the other equipment such as treadmills and weights?
Many gyms have more than just the gym floor, with the exercise machines and weights. There is often a swimming pool, a sauna or steam room, and studios with classes such a spinning. Consider if you would be likely to use any of these facilities. Would a swim and sauna help you cool down and relax after exercising? At home you would likely stop cycling, do some stretches and get straight into the shower. Is that more than enough for you? Would a hot bath do you just as good as a sauna? Maybe, for many people it would.
A gym will have a wide range of equipment, it will probably have three types of exercise bike, upright, studio and recumbent. Plus all of the other equipment such as treadmills, rowing machines, weights etc. Would this be helpful to you or not? For some people variety is the spice of life! Taking advantage of all the equipment motivates them and builds all round fitness. For some other people too much choice leads to confusion and indecision. Carrying out a disjointed, unorganised exercise program, where a more single minded approach may be better for them. Have a think about which camp you fall into?
For some people working out amongst others can be a motivating factor. When it comes to cycling at the gym, spin classes are a great option. They create an atmosphere of friendly competition that can motivate you to push yourself to your limits. Even of you are not going to spin classes but are cycling amongst others on the gym floor it can be motivational. Who wants to get off of the bike before the person that sat on the bike next to them and started cycling 10 minutes beforehand? Many people make friends at the gym and the social interaction can also help them train more often.
At the same time many people prefer to work out at home because they do not enjoy the competitive atmosphere at the gym. For them workouts are about results, and they achieve results with single mindedness that is hard to foster with distractions at the gym. It can be harder to concentrate with the noise and activity around them, cycling at home provides little interruption.
For some people, deciding to train regularly on an exercise bike is due to their body composition. They are doing so in order to lose weight. For these people the gym can feel a little intimidating. Lots of athletic people walking around in tight fitting gym clothes, showing off their muscles and their six pack!
Working out in the privacy of home is perfect. You can wear what You want, with no fear of others seeing and judging. The nervousness of the changing room and shower disappear when they are your own bathroom!
Both the gym and the home can provide distractions when you train on an exercise bike. At home the phone can ring and you are tempted to answer it. You finish early because you realise a show you want to watch on TV is just starting. Your other half is in the next room and they keep coming in to talk to you. But there can be distractions at the gym too. The person next to you may start up a conversation. The music may be loud and not to your taste. The sauna becomes too tempting and you finish your routine early!
You can do what you want at home, at any time! Feeling hot and want to cycle without a top on, no problem. Enjoy cycling to loud techno music, who’s going to stop you? Feel like letting out a cry of joy or pain after hitting a milestone, there will be no funny looks!
Some gyms can become crowded, especially at busy times. In some cases you need to queue to use exercise equipment. Sometimes there are time limits on the length of time you can use one piece of equipment for, often 30 minutes. You do not have this problem at home. Unless maybe your other half has seen the progress you are making and wants a piece of the action, using the exercise bike when you planned to!
Working out at home means your towels, your shower, your puddle of sweat on the exercise bike! For some people the idea of sharing towels or a communal shower is off-putting. It can also be unpleasant to have to wipe someone else’s sweat off of an exercise bike before using it. Gyms have a policy where they expect you to wipe clean exercise equipment after you have used it. However it is not always done, and even if it is, it’s just a wipe with a towel. Not a thorough clean.
There are a lot of gyms around, most neighbourhoods have some sort of gym or health club. However if you live outside of towns or cities, the numbers drop. The likelihood of being within reasonable travelling distance falls as well. Every person has their own limit as to how far they are prepared to travel to go to the gym. Personally I would never join a gym that took more than 15 minutes to travel to. Once you factor in a two way trip, half an hour several times a week does not make sense for me. This is where home exercise equipment is a perfect solution. A 15 second trip to the other side of the house!
Most gyms have set opening and closing times. Often in the range of 6 am to 10 pm, but this varies. An exercise in your home is available 24 hours a day. With a home exercise bike, want to cycle before you go to work? No problem. Want to cycle late on a Sunday evening? No problem. Have just 30 minutes to squeeze in a cycle? No problem. An exercise bike at home is ultra convenient. That can be the difference between cycling a couple of time a week and every day.
Trainers / fitness professionals
If you are just starting out, advice from the fitness professionals in the gym can be really helpful. You can even hire a personal trainer to guide and motivate you for your first visits. This approach does not work for everyone however. If your goal is simply to cycle for an hour a day, five days a week, you do not need any more help! Understanding different ways of training on an exercise bike can be done on line. In fact we have a number of articles on exercise bike workouts. Plus many exercise bikes have built in routines allowing you to focus on heart rate, calorie burning, hill climbing or intervals. Plus much more.
Choosing to use an exercise bike at home or at the gym is a 100% personal decision. The factors above mean different things to each person. With everyone valuing some higher than others, in a way unique to themselves. The best thing to do is to consider all of the different factors. Decide what is important to you, Then make a judgement call from there. If you are still undecided, why not find a gym with a short membership period, or rolling monthly contract. Or alternatively by an exercise bike at the lower end of the price scale and see how much you use it.
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