Whenever I’m with someone and we start talking about lifting weights or anything along those lines, the question is always asked – “So, what gym do you go to?” My response has been the same for a long time – “My basement.” There are a number of reasons why I bought my own equipment instead of going to a gym.
That’s not to say that I never went to a commercial gym. Of course I did. I went to the YMCA for a little while, I went to it’s competitor, the “Wisconsin Athletic Club”, for about a year, and I went to a hardcore bodybuilding gym a half hour away called “Animal House”. They all had different problems for me, and in the end I decided to invest in some good equipment and just deck out my basement. I had a few weights sitting around, a bench, but I didn’t have the main piece of equipment that kept me paying commercial gyms to use. The squat rack. Once I bought a rack I never looked back. (Hey, that rhymes!)
The reasons I finally pulled the plug on commercial gyms vary quite a bit. Some problems were minor nuisances, others annoyed the hell out of me. Here’s a short list of the reasons why commercial gyms suck.
1. Limited Hours. Most gyms are not open 24 hours. I don’t expect that to change. While there are a few gyms (Snap Fitness, Anytime Fitness, etc) that are open all day, these gyms usually lack the equipment I use. When I gym is open 24 hours the owners don’t always have someone working there. That means they have to limit the type of equipment they have. Anything that can be stolen isn’t there. That means there won’t be dumbbells, barbells, plates, or kettelbells. It’s most just machines.
So, we’re back to gyms that have the equipment I want, but aren’t open 24 hours. I work late some nights, and I occasionally get the urge to work out after midnight. I can’t do that at most gyms; but I can do it at home.
2. Driving Distance. Again, this isn’t always a problem, but for a picky lifter like myself, it is. The coolest gym I found was an old school bodybuilding style gym. This place looked like it hadn’t changed since the ’80s. It was (and still is) awesome. The problem? It was a half hour away. It’s hard enough to find a gym that’s made for people who actually want to exercise (instead of socialize), but finding a gym like that in a comfortable driving distance? Not likely.
Driving became a real pain. Get in the car, drive for 20 minutes, work out, then be sore and tired and have to drive another 20 minutes home. Forget it.
3. Equipment Availability. Ever have to wait to use the machine that you want to use? I’ve been there countless times. It’s especially frustrating when you’re timing everything out. I should only be resting for 30 seconds, but I’m forced to wait for some idiot that’s been hogging the pec-deck all night. Not only are the machines often not available, but when they are available they’re covered with sweat. Just great – I had to wait 5 minutes to use the machine, and now I have to sit in some strange guy’s ass-sweat.
Why wait for equipment? Just buy it, and that way it’s available whenever you need it. No waiting ever again!
4. No Annoying People. I don’t want to hear your cell phone ringtone. I don’t need to hear about your party this weekend. I don’t find your laugh the least bit tolerable. People annoy me. They especially annoy me when they wear white wife-beaters, smell like cheap AXE body spray, and talk loudly. I can’t handle it. Then there are the other people. The disgusting old people that walk around the locker rooms butt-naked. Their junk is just hanging out, and they come over and talk to you all nonchalant like. These are the same guys that choose to use the machines right behind the girls on the ellipticals, just so they can look at some young girl’s ass.
All these kind of people I can do without. I think we all can. Unless you’re on of them. Then you deserve to be around people just like you.
5. Music. I love music. It’s a huge part of my life. And like most people, I like listening to music while I work out. I don’t, however, like to listen to Top 40 while I work out. I don’t have anything against Ke$ha, or Katy, but it’s just not good workout music. Give me some DevilDriver, Pantera, or Rage Against the Machine, instead. I also hate earbuds. For one, it’s damaging to have music going directly into your ear (instead of using the entire earlobe, like it was designed), but it’s also a pain when I’m working out. I move when I work out. When I do power cleans those earbuds come right out. Music from external speakers is a must.
I don’t put up with music I don’t enjoy when I work out. Therefore, I work out at home and I can blast heavy metal or gangsta rap all I want.
In the end, I invested about $4000 in my home gym. I slowly bought little pieces of equipment, until I had everything I wanted. If you are seriously interested in lifting, I strongly encourage you to get out of the commercial gyms. For me it changed the way I work out, it changed my mood, and it saved me time and money in the long run. If you can invest a little money at a time, and slowly build a good gym, you’ll reap the benefits for a lifetime.