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Home Gym Vs. Gym Membership: Which is Right for You?

April 21, 2023

The ARENA Team

home gym vs. gym membership

The home gym vs. gym membership debate reached a fever pitch during the last few years–with no signs of slowing down.

Many Americans work-from-home part-time or full time now, and so staying fit at home has never been more relevant!

While gyms and studios have returned to pre-pandemic operations, at-home workouts are still on the rise and have emerged as an attractive alternative! Choosing between investing in a home gym or opting for a gym membership can be tough.

There are several factors to consider when choosing between investing in a home gym or committing to a gym membership. Your choice of workout setting will depend on multiple points, including:

  • Your fitness level
  • Training goals
  • Available space
  • Lifestyle!
Both options have their benefits and costs - so you will need to assess your personal circumstances to determine which option is right for you. Read on to see how home gyms compare to gym memberships to determine which is right for you and learn why we believe home gyms are the better choice.

Table of Contents:

Pros of choosing a home gym

There are a number of benefits to investing in your own home gym - specifically cost savings, convenience, privacy, cleanliness, and personalization.

arena home gym

Cost Savings

Gym memberships are not cheap. According to MoneyCrashers, the average gym membership ranges from $50-$100 a month (and several hundred dollars if you live in a major city).

What's worse is that these fees don't include the additional training or class packages that many gyms offer! It also doesn't cover the additional fees one may encounter (initiation fees, maintenance fees, cancellation fees, etc.).

Additionally, most gyms require you to sign long-term contracts and/or charge a premium for month-to-month options. These costs add up over time.

Besides the fees charged directly by the gym, there are several ancillary costs associated with a gym membership. For example, even if your gym is just a few miles away, you still need to spend time and money before even picking up a weight!

Your transportation and gas expenses can quickly add up too, especially if you go to the gym very frequently.

Another expense that can add up is the collection of gym clothes one can accumulate. Gyms have become the new runway, but the truth is, you don't need to spend $100 on workout pants to get in shape. After all, Rocky Balboa trained in a simple pair of gray sweatpants!

rocky balboa didn't have a gym membership!

Here's the bottom line:

We firmly believe that investing in your health is always worth it.

However, if you end up skipping lots of workouts, the money you’re spending on your membership won't get you any closer to your goals.


There’s no question that home gyms offer unrivaled convenience when it comes to working out. Here are the most common benefits we hear as it applies to the home gym vs. gym membership debate:

No commute

The average gym-goer commutes 4 to 6 miles to get to their gym. That’s a significant amount of time and money that will add up over the year!

Additionally, commuting to a gym can make it more likely for one to justify skipping a workout, especially if your gym is far away. Setting up a home gym eliminates the need for commuting and makes it more difficult to rationalize skipping a workout.

    No more waiting for equipment or machines

    This one is a particular pet peeve of ours! Nothing breaks up the rhythm of a workout like having to wait around for equipment to become available.

    We all know that one person that hangs out with weights while scrolling on Instagram, or even worse, those who lurk over your shoulder waiting for you to be done with your set.

    Sure, you can put yourself through grueling mornings or late nights just to be at the gym at off-peak hours.

    Alternatively, you could save yourself the hassle and try working out from home!

    With a home gym, all the equipment needed is always available to you. Not only will you never need to wait on equipment or rush through your workouts again, but you'll come to find that your workouts become way more efficient.

      No need to arrange for childcare

      If you have young kids, finding time for exercise can feel nearly impossible. Unless your gym has a childcare program, it is easy to fall off the exercise wagon.

      A home gym can give you the flexibility to sneak in workouts without having to worry about finding someone to watch your little ones!

        More time doing what you love

        With no more commutes and more efficient workouts, you’ll find yourself with a whole lot of extra time on your hands. That’s time you can spend doing more of the things you love to do!

        arena home gym in living room


        The gym can feel like an intimidating and judgmental place - especially if you are new to fitness or trying to get back into shape.

        Avoid discouragement

        Although some people are motivated by the communal environment of a gym, many can feel intimidated by the large crowds, or self-conscious working out around others. With a home gym, you don’t need to muster up the courage to ask anyone if they’re still using equipment or feel discouraged if you don’t know how to use it.

          Work out at your own pace

          When you’re working out at home, you can freely dictate your own pace. Whether you want to go all out or lift at a leisurely pace, you don’t need to worry about anyone but yourself.

            No risk of harassment

            Gyms can be an environment for harassment and more. In fact, according to a study conducted by RunRepeat, 56.37% of women and 21% of men have experienced harassment while working out.

            The vast majority of these instances go completely unreported, making it even more difficult for those who have experienced harassment to feel secure.

            With a home gym, you are afforded the security and privacy of your own home!

            Cleanliness and hygiene

            Despite the best efforts to provide clean facilities, gyms are not always hygienic!

            While some gym-goers thoughtfully wipe down equipment, most aren’t as meticulous about keeping the gym clean. With a home gym, you don’t have to worry about anyone’s germs or sweat–except your own, of course!

            Avoiding sickness

            In light of the recent years, many of us may still not be comfortable being in a potentially germ-filled environment such as a gym.

            At home, there's much more control over your environment, and avoiding the gym is a much more achievable task!

              Your own bathroom

              Many find the shared bathrooms in gyms to be overwhelming, uncomfortable, or downright unsanitary.

              Whatever the case, you can bid farewell to those experiences for good!


              One of the biggest perks of setting up your own home gym is the ability to personalize your workout space and experience to fit your personal taste and needs. You have total control, so you can create the perfect environment to keep yourself motivated!

              Choose your own music

              With a home gym, you can listen to whatever music you want, as loud as you want. Just make sure your neighbors are cool with it.

              Feel free to wear anything from pajamas to a full-on tuxedo, as long as you're comfortable. Your home gym etiquette is whatever you want.

              Cons of choosing a home gym

              Although home gyms are becoming more prevalent for fitness, there are still legitimate obstacles that steer people in the direction of a gym membership.


              If you live in a small space or apartment, it can be challenging to build out an effective home gym.

              Unless you compromise on your living space, you probably are not going to maintain a squat rack or a smith machine in your small space!

              Dumbbells are certainly a suitable option, but they are bulky and you will need multiple sets in order to train effectively.

                Lack of accountability

                One of the main drawbacks of having a home gym is the lack of accountability.

                Let's face it–it's just easier to slack off and find an excuse not to work out at home than it is at the gym.

                  Equipment clutter

                  Many people avoid home gyms because they don't want their living space filled with workout equipment.

                  And we understand the concern - gym equipment doesn't always make for the most aesthetically pleasing furniture.

                  Pros of a gym membership

                  Gyms offer a number of benefits, including equipment and amenities, that are difficult to replicate in a home setting.

                  Equipment variety

                  Gyms provide access to the widest variety of weights, equipment and machines you'll find! No two gym sessions need be the exact same.

                  This helps to give you flexibility in creating a dynamic workout routine. 

                  Leg day? Arm day? Cardio? No problem.

                    Group mentality

                    Gyms offer a social outlet and a chance to become part of a community.

                    Social motivation can be a powerful way to motivate yourself and maintain accountability!

                      Additional add-ons

                      Many gyms offer luxurious accommodations and amenities to attract you to sign up for their gyms.

                      While steam rooms and saunas are certainly nice, they typically come with higher monthly membership costs too.

                        Breaking up your day

                        Many prefer the gym simply because it offers an escape from the daily routines of their lives.

                        Traditional gyms offer many grounds upon which they can release stress and channel energy into fitness outcomes!

                        Cons of a gym membership

                        Although commercial gyms may still appeal to many based on their lifestyles, fitness goals, and needs, they also have considerable disadvantages, including:

                        Gyms memberships can be expensive

                        As the cost-of-living increases, so too does the cost of a gym membership.

                        Between membership costs, miscellaneous gym fees, transportation costs, etc., a gym membership can end up being a more costly investment than most realize!

                          Class waitlists

                          When it comes to group workout classes, don’t let a waitlist stop you from breaking a sweat!

                          A spot at the workout class is not always guaranteed. Your fitness goals could suffer because of it.

                            Daunting environment

                            Gyms can be intimidating places, especially if you're just starting out on your fitness journey.

                              Gyms are not clean

                              In fact–they tend to be a hotbed for bacteria and germs. 

                              Verdict? Ditch the gym membership

                              Ultimately, the decision between a home gym and a gym membership depends on personal preference, budget, and lifestyle.

                              Gyms can offer a range of benefits tailored to individual wants and needs. If you are committed to regularly attending the gym and value the social aspect, then a gym membership may be ideal for you.

                              However, it is important to note that gym memberships can end up being costly and offer no privacy or security to those who need it most!

                              On the other hand, building a home gym requires a significant upfront investment and a lot of space to properly equip with necessary equipment. We surely understand that limited space and access to capital can present difficulties when it comes to building your home gym!

                              Ultimately, we believe that investing in a home gym is the best option for those who prioritize flexibility, convenience, and privacy. It will absolutely save you money, time and stress in the long run.

                              Elevating your home gym experience with ARENA

                              The ARENA platform is not only a very compact home gym, but it’s also highly portable, allowing any space to become a home gym in a matter of seconds.

                              home gym vs. gym memberships comparison

                              Due to its small size (about 3 feet long by 2 feet wide), the platform can be stored virtually anywhere–even in a tiny New York apartment!

                              If you’re interested in working out from home, but have very limited space and cash to invest in gym equipment up-front, check out an ARENA lease.

                              You'll get access to our all-in-one platform, eliminating the need for most home gym equipment, as well as access to your own concierge and trainers.

                              Start today for $99 per month.

                              Train smarter anywhere

                              Your goals, your schedule, your ARENA.


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