Finding My Exercise: Home Exercise and Traditional Gym

by Tiffany Pan, M.D.

Finding My Exercise: Home Exercise and Traditional Gym

Last week, we discussed being more active and finding recreational sports to participate in as ways to exercise. This week, we’ll talk about two very common options: exercising at home and traditional gyms. They can include similar types of individual exercises, but many people prefer one over the other. 

Home exercise class, including Peloton 

Home exercise classes are an excellent way of getting an effective workout without having to come up with your own program. During COVID times, they allow you to work out while social distancing. The intensity and effectiveness of a home exercise program varies significantly and can be tailored to your needs in a convenient and COVID-safe way! For example, Peloton is the name of a popular brand of home exercise bike that is internet-connected and has classes on the screen. You follow the on-screen instructor and can interact with other participants in the app. 

There are dozens of free and subscription video and text programs available online for at-home cardio, weights, yoga, and more. You can also use a treadmill, elliptical, dumbbells, or find exercise programs that don’t require any special equipment.  

Benefits 

  • Having a structured workout that can be done in the safety and privacy of your own home while still maintaining a sense of community  

Risk of injury 

  • Low to moderate; there is no direct supervision and if you’re unfamiliar with an exercise or with equipment, such as free weights, you may be at risk of strain or sprain type injuries 

Challenges 

  • Cost of investing in equipment needed at home  
  • Keeping up your motivation to exercise when surrounded by the comforts and distractions of home  

Traditional gym 

Joining a gym is a popular method of improving access to different types of exercise. Your commitment level can increase as well since you have signed up for a membership. The cost of membership varies but can be quite reasonable. Membership may include access to group classes and opportunities for personal training, sometimes with an additional fee. Gyms can be an excellent option for people who are very self-motivated and are able to maintain an interesting and varied exercise program for themselves to avoid loss of interest. 

Benefits 

  • Access to a wide variety of machines, free weights, and other gym amenities 
  • Schedule flexibility 
  • Exercise program flexibility 

Risk of injury 

  • Low to moderate; there is no direct supervision and if you’re unfamiliar with an exercise or with equipment, such as free weights, you may be at risk of strain or sprain type injuries 

Challenges 

  • Designing your own balanced fitness program 
  • Avoiding overuse injuries from repeating the same familiar exercises 
  • Relatively low accountability and external motivation  
  • Potential for inefficiency 

At-home exercise is easy to get started with free online videos using items around the house. If gyms are safely open in your area, many gyms have free trial periods or low sign-up costs so you can try them out to see which you prefer. And as always, you don’t have to choose one way to be active. You may prefer to lift weights at the gym where there is more equipment but do yoga at home. 

Next week, we’ll finish this series with a discussion of HIIT programs and CrossFit.