Which is better? Working out indoors in a home gym or a commercial gym? Is it better to exercise indoors or work out outside?
While each location has its advantages and disadvantages (with outdoor training providing some unique benefits), the choice is often made for you by your particular circumstances.
The best place to train depends on your situation, geographic location, and the time of year. Keep reading to learn how to tell which training environment is best for your circumstances and personality.
When Outdoor is Best
During warmer weather, when the sun is shining, and the wind is blowing lightly, it’s hard to spend time exercising indoors. You’ll likely spend less time training because you’re anxious to get out and enjoy the day.
The prospect of spending time wiping down your (and other people’s) sweat from machine to machine, and waiting for a bench to become available, is unpleasant.
Use the great weather to your advantage and take your training outside. Instead of being locked in a sweaty room, breathing in body odor, you can enjoy a local beach or park.
There are many great ways to get an effective workout outdoors; calisthenics, running, battle ropes, and kettlebells all provide a fantastic training stimulus, and all can be easily taken outdoors.
The Benefits of Outdoor Training
Research shows that exercising outdoors provides a host of health-enhancing benefits.
According to one study, people who exercise outdoors report feeling revitalized, with increased energy levels.
Participants in the study also reported that training outdoors lifted their moods, reduced negative emotions, and increased their sense of aliveness, optimism, and enthusiasm.
Vitamin D is a critical nutrient with a slew of health benefits. Training outdoors will expose your body to sunlight; ramping up production of this vitamin and improving your health.
Precautions to Take When Training Outside
When conditions are ideal, outdoor training isn’t just more fun, training outdoors is healthier and can provide valuable health benefits that indoor training simply cannot.
But you need to be careful.
Before training outside consider these factors and prepare:
- Water - You won’t have a water fountain conveniently nearby, ensure that you carry enough water with you to remain hydrated.
- Weather - Make sure you know the weather forecast, avoid getting caught in a thunderstorm or battered by hail.
- Sunscreen - Protect your skin with sunscreen, while some sun exposure is good, a sunburn is not.
- Dress appropriately - Wear appropriate clothing and footgear for the location and weather.
Use your common sense and some thinking ahead to make your outdoor training session fun and safe.
When to Stay Indoors
For many of us, our outdoor activities are curtailed for a considerable part of the year by winter weather. During spring and summer; rain, high winds, and other severe weather will sometimes make outdoor exercise inadvisable.
Even when circumstances are perfect for training outdoors, work will frequently keep us locked up until after the sun has set. This is when training indoors is the only safe option.
You are better off training indoors when:
- Work or other commitments keep you indoors until it’s too late to safely train outside
- Inclement or severe weather makes training outdoors hazardous
- Frigid winter weather makes training outdoors unappealing
Indoor training has important advantages over outdoor training under certain circumstances.
Why Indoor Training Can Be Better
Indoor training has advantages over outdoor training that go beyond avoiding bad weather.
- Training indoors is training in a controlled environment.
- You don’t need to worry about finding a stable surface or improvising an exercise to make up for unavailable equipment.
- You have a restroom and water nearby.
- Training indoors means you have all the equipment you need easily available, making your training session more efficient and productive.
The Advantages of a Commercial Gym
So indoor training can be done at a commercial gym, or in your home. But which is better? Both have their their unique advantages. Let's start with going to gym.
- Commercial gyms (especially if they are massive globo-gym) will be filled with every imaginable option in training equipment; from barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells to advanced variable resistance training machines.
- Once you step in the door you’ll have a classy locker-room, nice lockers, and opportunities to make friends with the other members, making your training sessions fun and social.
- If you want to try a new training protocol, the equipment you need will be there.
- If you get bored with your routine, changing things up is as easy as walking across the gym floor.
- A commercial gym can be a great combination of self-improvement and social club, making exercise a way to make new friends and network.
Note that not everybody can see that as an advantage, some may actually consider that a disadvantage. (Check the article Home Gym vs. Gym Membership to see which type of suits your personality)
When Should You Exercise at Home
As great as training in a commercial gym can seem, there are drawbacks, and situations where you’ll stick to a fitness program better, and get better results by training at home.
- Cost - Cost Many people find the yearly cost of a gym membership to be restrictively expensive. The money many gyms charge per year can easily equip a home gym with equally effective equipment.
- Time efficient - Time can be an issue for some people. If you work an overnight or rotating shift; making it to a commercial gym (at a decent hour) consistently can be inconvenient if not impossible.
- Whenever you want - Having a home gym setup will allow you to train whenever you can without worrying about making the trip from home to gym, then gym to work at odd hours.
- Keeping your privacy - Privacy is a good reason to keep your training at home. There is a lot to be said for training without people staring at us and being judgmental.
- No showoff - Training at home will take your ego out of the equation, ensuring you don’t attempt a movement or weight to impress someone else (and consequently hurting yourself).
If you are thinking about exercising at home, you may wish to read about Exercise Resistance Bands as a versatile and cost effective option for working out at home.
Evaluate Your Situation to Make the Right Decision
Whether you should train indoors or outdoors, or in a commercial gym rather than at home depends on many factors.
Evaluate your situation to decide which option is best for you.
Don’t forget to be flexible; just because training at home is the best decision one month, doesn’t mean that you’ll never need to join a commercial gym. Just because you spent the past 2 months training outdoors, doesn’t mean you have to find a way to keep training outdoors when the weather turns cold, or severe.
There is no best place to train, only the best place to train for your unique situation.
Use some common sense and what you’ve learned in this article to decide on the best location for you.
And remember this:
The best place to train is the place you would actually train at
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