5 Reasons to Build a Home Gym Now
I first stepped foot into the gym to lift weights when I was 15. Like most guys who pick up a dumbbell, I wanted to get buff. These days, I continue to train because it maintains my sanity and staves off the inevitable decline that accompanies old age.
The reasons for being fit have changed, but the logistics have not. For more than half my life, I’ve pushed and pulled, grunted, sweated, and gotten stronger in someone else’s gym. The gyms have ranged from dungeon-like gyms on military bases to stupidly fancy (and expensive) gym chains in Manhattan and Los Angeles.
In late 2018, however, I stumbled upon something that has changed the way I work out forever: I built my home gym!
Read on to find out why you need a home gym now!
Some people love going to the gym and chatting with their fellow gym-goers. I am not and never have been that person. I’m sure you’ve heard of isolation exercises; I exercise in isolation. I’m there to train and go home.
With a garage or home gym, the dynamic changes. What’s great about working out at home?
You don’t have to battle for open elliptical machines with the four dozen Resolutioners or five bros on one bench.
Have you ever waited half an hour for a squat rack? At my last gym, that was a weekly occurrence. Bonus points if it was someone doing curls in the rack or, most egregiously, situps. If I ever forgot my headphones, I’d be forced to try to break personal records while listening to Jason Mraz. Now, I listen to podcasts or blast music to my heart’s content.
You know the rough part of a barbell that helps you keep a grip? That’s called the knurling. For twenty years of weightlifting, I had the impression that all knurling is more or less the same. It helped a little bit but not much, since it was always considerably worn down by hundreds if not thousands of hands gripping the bar over the years.
Then I bought my barbell. The knurling on it feels like sandpaper but without hurting. It helps me maintain an excellent grip when I’m doing deadlifts. So much so that I don’t even bother using chalk anymore (which most commercial gyms forbid, by the way).
I also have a bar explicitly designed for deadlifts. It’s slightly longer to accommodate more plates, and it has more whip (bend) than a typical barbell. I didn’t even know deadlift bars exist. And guess what? Both my bars are blue. Why? Because I fancied blue bars, that’s why.
The point of this little diatribe is that when you buy your equipment, it can often be better than what’s at the commercial gym. You can select the gear YOU need and ignore what you don’t need. I assume you’ll take better care of your equipment than the average gym-goer.
Money compounds. Guess what doesn’t? Time. Having your garage gym or home gym buys back some of that limited resource that no one can save or pass on.
Let’s say you live 15 minutes away from your current gym. You work out three times per week. That’s 90 minutes per week you’ll never get back.
With a home gym, there’s no commute. I walk downstairs and lift. I trained at 11 pm last night because I had a busy day and needed to catch-up on sleep the night before. Did I miss my workout? Hell nah.
Remember that guy I told you about earlier who was curling in the squat rack? Instead of squatting in his curl rack to get even, how about never having the problem in the first place?
Let’s say waiting for a machine or bench to open up eats up another 10 minutes of your time every workout. Going by the earlier math, that’s now 120 minutes or 2 hours per week that you lost. Throughout a year, assuming 40 weeks of training, that’s more than three days!
Get your day back with a home gym.
Putting together a home gym is like buying furniture from IKEA, if IKEA was a tornado that blew through a scrapyard and dumped a ton of metal into your driveway. Your UPS/FedEx/USPS driver WILL hate you with a fire that burns hotter than a thousand suns. Roll your sleeves up, because you’re going to be assembling some equipment!
It took approximately ten hours to assemble the various pieces of equipment in my gym. While this seems to contradict Point 3, consider this sunk cost of time an investment. Spend ten hours, get days (if not weeks) of your life back.
Once you’ve put together your gym, it’s your little escape from the world. Your haven. Hang a flag or two up (mandatory) and decorate it how you see fit. Give it a corny name like “International House of Pain” or “Kim/Jim’s Gym.”
I’m making a custom “Embrace the Suck” flag to hang up in my space. Maybe one from an old unit of mine as well.
Related: Embrace the Suck
Aside from the pride of ownership, you can also bask in the satisfaction of achievement. Once your gym is downstairs, you run out of lame excuses like “it’d be weird to lift at 1 am”, “I don’t feel like driving,” or “I’m self-conscious about the five pounds of holiday weight I put on.” All of those excused goes out of the window. No excuses!
Since I’ve had my gym, I’ve missed fewer workouts than I would have otherwise. I’m generally quite good about being consistent, but I’m not perfect. Now, missing a workout fills me with immeasurable guilt and I can’t stop thinking about how I punked out. I don’t miss many workouts anymore. I feel more accomplished.
One of my primary motivations for building a home gym was money. I’ve been paying dues to a gym for most of my adult life. Since this is a lifelong commitment for me, I don’t like the prospect of continuing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars every year for the rest of my life.
How expensive is it to put together a gym? There are levels to this:
- Frugal Ninja: $1,000 or less
- Efficient: $1,500
- Sensible with Nice Things: $3,000
- Dayum: $10,000 or more
Since I’m participating in a powerlifting meet later this year and have been training for two decades, I need more weights than average. I spent around $3,000 on my gym. For me, the expense is well worth it. It all depends on how important this is to you and how much use you’ll get out of it. How do you build a great home gym on the cheap? I’ll post a follow-up in two days and link here! It has lots of pictures and I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much content crammed into one post.
What’s the ROI on a home gym? It depends on a lot of factors, but in nearly every instance, it’s worth it. I could bust out some fancy calculations to show this, but common sense and some quick mental math prove this out. Let’s say your membership is $50 per month. If you spend $1500, you recoup your investment in around three years. I assume you plan on working out for more than three years, right?
Related: What’s Your Money Multiple?
Now, I understand a home gym isn’t ideal for everyone. As the name implies, you likely need a HOME. If you’re renting a small apartment in a large city, you probably don’t have the space to dedicate to workout equipment. Your neighbors and landlord will also hate you forever if you do deadlifts.
Additionally, if you’re starting in your financial journey or recovering from setbacks, you have higher priorities than building what is admittedly a luxury. Focus on the fundamentals and git you a home gym later.
What if you don’t work out, or don’t work out much? I think that working out is essential for maintaining sanity and self-esteem, but we’re all different. If you don’t work out, you don’t need a home gym. Understood.
I hope I’ve shown you some good reasons why a home gym is an excellent investment in yourself! As I mentioned earlier, I’m releasing another post in two days that will detail what a home gym should have in it, how much it costs, and how to save money without cutting too many corners and staying safe. Keep your eyes peeled on MSoLife and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Related: How to Build a Cheap Garage Gym
If you want to learn more about home gyms, visit the r/HomeGym subreddit for more information and inspiration! I also highly recommend the website/YouTube Channel Garage Gym Reviews for great details on equipment.
Do you already have a home gym? If not, what’s keeping you? What’s the best home gym name you can come up with? Do sumo deadlifts count?