Home Gym Vs. Gym Membership
As millennials, we felt inclined to write a cost-benefit analysis on the home gym vs. gym membership debate.
Millennials take a lot of heat for their spending habits. It may all seem like avocado toast and artisanal turmeric lattes, but there’s a clear trend on wellness that speaks volumes about the priorities of our demographic group. NOT a bad thing.
However, one statistic hit me: millennials spend more money on their health and fitness than on their college education. The health and fitness total clocks in at $140,000 over a lifetime.
When we ran our numbers, we were shocked at how much we have saved by using a home gym since 2012.
In this article, we’ll break down our home gym vs. gym membership costs and show you how could save between $7,050 and $37,939 in 8 years by working out at home.
home gym vs. gym membership
While I’m all for prioritizing health, $140,000 in a lifetime seems excessive.
According to surveys from before the coronavirus pandemic, 45 million Americans had gym memberships, which is about 14% of the population.
Yet, nearly 67% of monthly gym memberships go unused. If you’re wondering, that is $19 billion yearly in paid gym memberships of which millennials make up the largest group at 36%.
In the future, this may change as a recent poll by OnePoll found that nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents wouldn’t return to the gym even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
Maybe people are learning that working out at home is better for their wallet, schedule, safety, and health.
The goal of this home gym versus gym membership cost-benefit analysis is to help you make the smartest decision.
My Gym Membership Cost and Experience
I have always been more of a penny pincher than not. When I started my first engineering job out of college, I wanted to save as much money as possible to invest for retirement.
To begin, I chose a modest membership at the local YMCA for $500 a year (or $42 a month) which included their gym, free classes, and use of the swimming pool. I went a few times but honestly didn’t know what to do with the gym outside of the treadmill.
As for the free weights, I never even touched them. About once every two months I’d be inspired to join the 6:00 AM spin class. Overall, I used the pool about six times while training for an Olympic-distance triathlon.
After my first year was up at the Y, I figured my problem was that it was too busy and the hours didn’t fit well with my schedule. Instead, I opted for a bare-bones MMA gym that my friend Jennifer was going to for $35 a month. There, I had 24-hour access to their machines and weights.
So, I did a quick Google search, made up a DIY weight training plan, and went to town… for about three times in 3 months.
Not only was I constantly wracked with guilt for never going, but I honestly had no freaking clue what to do. I was cobbling together the moves I remembered from my high school track coach and copying what other people did on the weight machines.
Clearly, I didn’t make a smart investment for my health and the gym membership costs were not worth it.
My Home Gym Cost and Experience
Ryan introduced me to home workouts in 2012. We invested in the equipment needed for a variety of workouts. And everything changed.
I’ll talk more about my positive experience with our new home gym in a few minutes. First, let’s focus on the biggest difference: the cost.
Ryan and I calculated the real cost of going to the gym. We calculated the cost between 2012 when I left my $35 a month, bare-bones, 24-hour, MMA gym, and present day, which is January 2, 2021.
Because of the $450 home gym investment we made back then as well as moving to Beachbody On Demand for $8.25 a month, we have saved $7,050 in the last eight years.
So, let’s dive into the cost analysis and show you how we saved $7,050 by working out at home.
Home Gym Versus Gym Membership Cost Analysis
So, how do you calculate the REAL cost of a home gym vs. a gym membership?
Outside of the very real health costs I was inflicting on myself with a poor fitness routine and diet, I was squandering away my money.
Analyzing the real cost over time is essential because it’s too easy to rationalize paying the monthly rate. So, here is what our calculations look like now:
Year 1 (2012):
Total savings = $291 (principle investment)
Years 2-9 (2013-2020):
$99 annually for Beachbody On Demand
= $99 spent annually on home gym
$35 on a monthly gym membership * 2 people
= $840 spent annually on gym membership
Total savings= $741 (annual addition to principle investment)
At a 5% modest compounded interest rate annually over 8 years = $7,505
In other words, investing the money we saved from the gym by using Beachbody On Demand and our home gym over 8 years yielded $7,505.
Of course, these savings could be more significant had we opted for a boutique or CrossFit gym. Also, we didn’t adjust for the inflation of gym prices.
So, let’s take a look at that cost analysis.
Since our barebones $35 gym membership was pretty budget, let’s look at two other examples.
1. Average gym membership cost.
In 2020, the average gym membership cost in the United States was $58 a month. So, here is an updated cost analysis, using $58/month, according to the above calculation.
Total savings including the principle investment, compounded annually over 8 years (5% interest rate) = $13,592
2. Boutique or CrossFit gym membership cost.
We have dozens of friends and family members who spend between $100-200 a month on their boutique studio or CrossFit gym. So, let’s use $150/month for this cost analysis, which is the average CrossFit gym cost in the United States.
Total savings including the principle investment, compounded annually over 8 years (5% interest rate) = $37,939
Home Gym Vs. Gym Benefits Analysis
In our experience, the gym membership cost is not worth it. Maybe it’s a different story if you love your community and show up daily. But, you still need to be wise with your money.
So, right off the bat, the home gym takes the lead with a huge benefit: cost-efficiency.
According to our cost analysis, the upfront investment in a home gym is quickly recovered within months, and over 8 years a home gym will save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, especially if that money is wisely invested.
This amount of savings is insane. Especially since the calculations don’t include the cost of driving to the gym, the time spent commuting and waiting for equipment, nor the new workout clothes that we would feel compelled to buy… and lost water bottles, anyone?!
However, it’s important to note that we’re all unique, with varying fitness needs and wants. So, in this section, we’ll highlight the top four benefits of the home gym versus a gym membership that have nothing to do with money.
Additionally, after reviewing the benefits, we’ll review the great downfalls of both the home gym and the gym.
Top Benefits of The Home Gym:
1. Freedom and Convenience
You work out whenever you want. The weather, traffic, class times, and class duration don’t matter. Long-term, home gym users are much more consistent because it’s so much more convenient.
Plus, you don’t have to deal with the stress-inducing commutes. Also, if you invest in Beachbody On Demand, you can take your workouts with you anywhere.
More freedom and convenience means fewer excuses.
You get to work out in the privacy of your home. You don’t have to be worried about feeling self-conscious in yoga class or while learning how to use free weights.
Additionally, you can work out in your underwear, which saves time (laundry) and money (buying new clothes) and therefore the planet!
3. Influence Family
When you disappear to the gym, your family doesn’t see how much effort you’re putting into your health. When you’re sweating it out in the living room, they take notice and quickly realize how important health is.
We have helped thousands of couples start working out together, and working out at home is key! When one sees their partner determined and working hard to achieve their fitness goals, it encourages them to join.
The same thing happens with kids of all ages.
You’re in charge of cleaning your home gym. And, since it’s just you and a select few, you’re not sharing germs with hundreds of people.
Now that we have all become germ freaks during the coronavirus pandemic, there is more data on the cleanliness of gyms.
Let’s ignore the cleanliness of the showers, locker room, and water fountains for now and look at just the cleanliness of the equipment.
According to Mark Dalman, Ph.D., lead researcher in a Kent State study, where 16 different gyms were swabbed, nearly 40 percent of all surfaces harbored staph, a bacteria that can cause serious infections.
WHAT?? That’s disgusting. And if you’d like to be further grossed out you can read this Men’s Health article.
Top Benefits of a Gym Membership:
1. In-Person Instruction
This is a highly valid benefit for gym memberships that include classes. The instructor can physically adjust your body to help correct your form, especially in a yoga or weightlifting class.
You don’t get this in a home gym. This is why we recommend having mirrors in your home gym so that you can see when you’re misaligned, imbalanced, or arching your back too much.
2. More Equipment
A good gym membership usually comes with a variety of equipment (as long as it’s available when you need it). You get free weights, weight machines, cardio machines, bands, pull-up bars, medicine balls, plyo boxes, and squat racks.
That’s great because challenging your body with a variety of exercises is important to prevent injury, boredom, and plateau. But, make sure you know how to incorporate all that equipment into an effective structured plan.
Also, the human body is architecturally amazing! Our bodies are so advanced, a million times more than even a high buck Bowflex machines. Your body is the best piece of equipment you have.
We proved that in our cardio experiment. Where a professionally designed bodyweight cardio workout was 90% more effective than the stationary bike (which equals 23 additional pounds of weight loss in a year).
3. Increased Social Interaction
The community that comes with some gym memberships is truly incredible. When you sweat together, you forge a strong bond and connection.
If you’re the extrovert who cannot live without this community and social interaction, then, by all means, keep investing in your membership! It’s good for your physical and mental health.
However, if you can bring this community into your home gym, by working out and spending more time with your spouse, a brother-in-law, or neighbor, it would be even more beneficial. Plus, there are ways to get involved in online community gyms as well (just ask us about our free BODgroup community!)
The benefits of working out with your spouse boost your physical (sex-life included) and mental health, as well as your relationship.
4. Change of Scenery
Maybe you need to go to the gym to get out of the house. Or maybe you need to go to the gym because you get too distracted if you stay home. Also, it could be that you need to go to the gym to get motivated.
If you’re sure about this, and you can honestly say that you are advancing your fitness and health by going to the gym, great! Keep it up!
But, I have news for you about the above “needs.” They are not actually needs, they are just your current habits that you have the power to change.
For example, you could designate one room in your house as the home gym, make it a phone-free zone, follow a structured Beachbody workout to eliminate decision fatigue, set out your workout clothes the night before, and place your alarm clock on them away from your bed so that you have to get up to shut it off.
Then all you have to do is find your way to the home gym and press play.
Sure, we hear from many that they can’t jump in their apartment because their neighbors will complain. We know it’s tough, and have been on the butt-end of this before when our neighbors upstairs used to exercise at 2 AM. Honestly, we still think of this as an excuse and something you can mitigate in advance by asking your neighbors if its okay to work out at certain times.
The Greatest Downfall of Both
1. No Plan
To reap substantial results from your fitness, a plan is 150% necessary. If we had invested in a home gym and tried to start consistently working out at home without Beachbody On Demand, we wouldn’t have achieved much.
In our case, the home gym shines as the clear winner in this cost-benefit analysis, but that’s only because we added streamed workouts that include a structured plan, complete with a calendar and nutrition guide.
A structured plan tells you what to eat based on your age, weight, and activity level and what workout to do on what day. The workouts should provide variety and periodization so that you don’t plateau, as well as modifications based on your fitness level.
It should also offer tracking sheets, so you can record your weights and continually challenge yourself as you progress.
Yes, to be fair, many gyms offer great personal trainers that can provide you with all of this. But typically that’s in addition to the gym cost, so you’ll spend at least $100 per month for a fully customized plan.
Do you really want us to run that cost analysis?
Beachbody On Demand has enabled us to work out at home effectively for 8 years while saving us thousands.
Cost-Benefit Analysis Winner
For us, our home gym equipment and Beachbody On Demand membership is an incredible alternative to paying for a gym membership.
In addition to the massive savings I calculated in this analysis, Beachbody On Demand trainers taught me how to use free weights, follow a nutrition plan, advance my yoga practice, and develop the habits needed to work out consistently.
Also, the fact that I now work out 25-30 days a month instead of 3 is the biggest money saver and win for my health. Therefore, I reduced my workout costs to just $0.28 each time compared to the $35 workouts I did at the MMA gym!
Of course, we could go even more extreme and spend far less if we worked out for free with no equipment, but, in this case, be honest about the progress you’re making.
While walking, free YouTube videos (we have those too) and biking are better than no exercise at all, it doesn’t replace a structured program with meal plan, cardio, and weight training designed by a top trainer to target all areas of the body.
Exercise isn’t a “one size fits all” scheme where an hour of biking to work can replace a full program that incorporates cardio, weight training, and flexibility in a structured plan designed by a trainer (especially at just $8 a month!)
If you relate to our cost-benefit analysis of the home gym vs. a gym membership, try starting with a 14-day free trial of Beachbody On Demand. It could change the game for your fitness as it did for us.
There are ample programs that require no equipment at all so you can try it without investing in home gym equipment.
If you’re ready to set up a home gym, check out our article titled, ‘How To Build a Home Gym.‘
We have set up numerous permanent home gyms and “home gyms” to keep us on track while we travel full time. Don’t worry, you don’t need to invest in dumbbells right off the bat. Exercising with resistance bands is just as effective.
Just remember to always have a plan. To help you start building strength with resistance bands, we created a free Resistance Bands Workout Routine.
Want to learn more about the workouts that we do (at just $8.25 a month)? We provide a data-driven Beachbody review in our article titled, ‘Is Beachbody On Demand Worth It?‘
Resistance Bands Workout Routine
Download and instantly access the full workout calendar and resistance tracker sheet.
- Videos of 55 leg, core, back, arm, shoulder, and chest exercises with resistance bands.
- Professional instruction to ensure proper form.
- An 8-week calendar and weight tracking sheet with built-in variety and periodization.
- Access to all future revisions to the program.
- Support. We're always here to help.
Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
Optimize Your Life, One Friday at a Time
Enter your name and email address to sign up for our free newsletter, the Duo Life Letter. Each Friday receive evidence-based tips to elevate your health and relationship.