At some point, everyone who trains in a commercial gym dreams of having their own gym – a place with all their favorite equipment instead of the standard beat-up treadmills and benches; that plays good music instead of generic Top 40 hits; and, in short, feels like home. Now, opening a commercial gym is obviously a huge endeavor, and it’s not one that’s right for, or possible for everyone. But if the goal is to have a gym that feels like home, then why not build it at home? It seems obvious, but many people write off a home gym as just as much an impossibility as opening a commercial one.
In reality, owning a garage or basement gym is a very realistic goal, and doing so can have a lot of benefits that many people might not think of. This article won’t break down the specifics of setting up the perfect home gym – that’s a topic for another article – but it will explain some of the reasons why you should at least consider doing so, and it’ll give you a few suggestions for getting started.
Everyone has different preferences for their training. Some people like to blast heavy metal and rock music to get pumped up; others prefer to focus in silence. Everyone has their favorite style of barbell, rack, bench, and really, everything else you can think of. Heck, if you’re like me, on some days, your preferences might change from day to day!
When you train in a commercial gym, you’re at the mercy of the whims of the gym owner and the other members. But with your own gym, you can pick and choose exactly what you want from your training environment each and every day. That can actually provide a huge advantage over the long haul: if each training session is even just a little more productive for it, over time, that increase in productivity can add up to some huge gains.
Man, one of my biggest pet peeves is how difficult it can be just to get to the gym sometimes. Whether it’s weather, traffic, or just finding time in your schedule that’s holding you back, the convenience of being able to walk down to your basement and start smashing the weights can’t be overstated. For very busy people, this can be a crucial factor in productive training, but it’s an advantage for everyone.
Just think: how many times have you skipped a holiday workout because your local gym was only open for a few hours early in the morning? How many times have you been discouraged from getting in your evening cardio because of the half-hour a trip to the gym would add to your commute? Sure, these might be relatively rare occasions, but again, over the long haul, they really add up.
When you go to a commercial gym – even a specialized one, like a powerlifting gym or a Crossfit box – you’re introducing a new variable into your training. If there’s one specific rack, barbell, or other tool you prefer to use at the gym, there’s never any guarantee it will be available: another member might want to use it at the same time as you, or (unfortunately) it might get bent, worn, or destroyed in the course of even normal use by thousands of different people.
But, with your own gym, you know you’re always using the same equipment, day in and day out. That means that your progress will be easier to track over time: you don’t have to wonder about whether the lack of knurling threw off your grip on a heavy deadlift, or if you were slipping around on the bench more than you were the week before. And, when you can more accurately track your progress, you can better adjust your program to make even more progress.
I’m calling these benefits the “three Cs,” because it makes for a somewhat clever-sounding title. In reality, though, there are way more than three advantages to a home gym, and if you have your own digs, I’d love to hear what made you take the leap and what you’ve gained from doing so!
If you haven’t already found your own place, but you’re thinking about it, know that it’s actually a lot easier to get started than you might think. FringeSport offers the Ultimate Garage Gym package that has everything you need to put together a solid home gym for a surprisingly low price. Now, if you go that route, I highly recommend that you go the extra mile here and snag the commercial rack. Over time, you’re going to get a lot stronger than you realize, and so there’s a lot of value in investing in a product that will be able to meet your needs now and in the future.
Even more importantly, if you go with the Ultimate package, you should pick up a pair of Safety Spotter Arms. One of the few major drawbacks of training at home is that it can be difficult to find a spot when you need one, and if you happen to miss a rep, you want to make sure you have some sort of failsafe mechanism in place to prevent injury. Trust me: no matter where you train, nothing will derail your training faster than getting hurt!
About the author: Ben Pollack competes as a professional powerlifter and is finishing his doctoral degree in the history of the gym and fitness industry at the University of Texas at Austin. Ben holds several all-time world records in powerlifting, and has won best overall lifter at the world’s most prestigious competitions, including the US Open. He writes for Elitefts and Barbend. You can contact Ben through his website, phdeadlift.com, or at firstname.lastname@example.org