About a year ago I decided to switch from using commercial gyms to my own garage gym. As I mentioned in that original post, the unreasonably high cost of the local gym membership is what made me switch. But I had always kind of dreamed of building my own gym, so the economic issue was more of a catalyst than anything else.
I decided to write this follow-up post because . . . well, because the mood has hit me. Maybe it’s because I recently found a sweet deal on a really nice elliptical machine. Or maybe it’s the used weights I bought for about half price and restored a couple of weeks ago.
Whatever the reason, now is as good a time as any to make an assessment.
A a couple of things that I miss about commercial gyms:
Comradery: I’ve always gone to the gym to train, not to socialize. But I must say I’ve met some really cool people and made good friends at places I’ve trained. I even landed a good job (back in the 90’s) through a direct result of networking at a gym.
Having said that, things have changed significantly over the years. It’s very common for trainees to put their earphones in and tune everyone out, making even short conversations much less common. I’m not sure how many new friends I would really make if I was still training at a commercial gym. But I still miss that aspect of commercial gyms.
Equipment: I’m pretty happy with what I’ve put together in my garage gym so far. But it was nice to have access to pieces of equipment like a high-end leg press, seated calf machine, etc. I may add some of these to my garage gym in time, but it just isn’t very practical for now. I’ve spent as much as I’m comfortable with for the time being.
These are the only two things I really miss. I’ve heard more than one person say he just doesn’t feel the energy or motivation when training at home. This was an adjustment for me as well, but I’ve never really had much trouble getting motivated to work out.
One Year of Garage Gym Training
Here’s my assessment after about a year of training at home: it’s pretty awesome! Every advantage I shared in the original post has been a big plus for me. And I think I’ll be more consistent with cardio training now that I have an elliptical machine in my garage (I used to have a really hard time getting motivated to go to the gym just for cardio). Getting my cardio in has become more important to me as I get older.
Below is a video I shot a few days ago. But before that, let me share some of the things I’ve added to the gym since I started:
Inexpensive Garage Gym Upgrades/Additions:
Trap Bar: This has been a great investment. I’ve always wanted to train with one of these–great for some variation in deadlifting and for farmer’s walks.
EZ Curl Bar: I prefer this to a straight bar for curls and “skull crushers.”
Clamp Collars: These are much easier to use than the old wire versions.
Weight Rack: I spent a few bucks to get some of the weights off the floor.
Used Plates: I bought (and restored) 300 lb. of used plates for about half of what they would cost new.
Elliptical Machine: I found a really nice, fully functional Precor machine (on Craigslist) for a fraction of what it would cost new (or even refurbished).