Club or Home Gym?

Some people love going to the gym. I’m not one of them. It’s not the exercise that bothers me; it’s the actual facility. While others see treadmills, elliptical machines and free weights, all I notice is sweat, germs and stress.

Rather than join a place overflowing with bodily fluids and a lack of personal space, I prefer to work out alone in my extensive, home-based workout space. And by extensive, I mean a treadmill, an orange exercise ball and three free weights (I lost one in a move).

Binge watching on the treadmill fits my lifestyle and budget.

So does flailing my arms like an inflatable tube man outside a car dealership to an outdated video featuring a woman wearing pink leg warmers. The video also serves another purpose: to make me grateful that ’80s workout fashion died along with velour track suits and shoulder pads.

No gym, I do not love you. @forgottotell Click To Tweet

Recently my significant other joined a new gym and asked me to go with him on his first day. As we pushed the hefty doors open — was that part of the workout? — we were greeted by a tall, over-caffeinated woman in yoga pants and a golf shirt. She welcomed us and shared the highlights of the club. As she ticked off the list of member benefits faster than an announcer reading the side effects of a new drug, I looked over my left shoulder. The place looked like Barney had coated every machine with purple vomit and a club logo.

So far, I was feeling confident there was no need to dismantle my home gym and every reason to renew my Netflix membership.

Armed with a new gym t-shirt, my workout buddy headed for the treadmill and I chose the stair climber. After a few minutes, I looked to my right and realized I was inches from another machine. The woman next to me was half my size and breathing twice as hard as I ever did during labor. Within a few minutes, I, like her, was straining to catch my breath. How was I able to help my son move into his dorm on the fourth floor (without elevators) the week before, but on a machine pretending to be actual stairs, I needed oxygen?

I can’t take a break when I need to pee!

Ten exhausting minutes into my stairway-to-nowhere session, I realized I work out on machines the same way I watch movies at home. If I need water, I push pause. If I have to take a bathroom break, I can suspend the action. The machine had a pause button, but the eager vulture waiting for me to finish would have snagged my machine.

Forty minutes later, we were ready to leave. As my sweat-covered soulmate and I reached the exit, the same happy woman at the desk asked if I wanted a three-minute trial of their water massage machine. “Hell yes!” I yelled, which apparently was overkill and the point at which my partner probably wished he had visited the gym alone.

She set the timer on the machine to three minutes and as I sunk into the squishy, vinyl-covered bed, I heard the water whooshing under me, pulsating from my head to my toes. I felt like a toddler who screams, “Again! Again!” as his parent throws him in the air. I wanted more time with the magical piece of equipment. Couldn’t I take my significant other’s massage session? I was thinking of every way I could game the system. It wasn’t me talking…it was my relaxed torso.

I think I prefer my home gym

Although I left the gym with a tingly body and rubbery legs, more so from the massage, than from working out, I still wasn’t a club convert. My home gym is fine for me, for now. When I’m ready to exercise, my workout space is seconds away, there’s no hyped-up associate greeting me (unless you count my son’s cat who waits around the corner to jump me whenever I walk into the room), and if I need a few short breaks, no one will take my place on the treadmill. I have everything I need to get my heart rate going.

Although I wouldn’t mind a home version of the massage machine.

Lisa Kanarek is a freelance writer, the author of five books about working from home, and writes the blog Forgot To Tell You. Her work has been featured on various sites including, Sammiches and Psych Meds, BonBon Break, Parent.co, Grown and Flown, Ten to Twenty Parenting, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and MockMom. She is the mother of two sons in college and has lived in Texas half her life, but may be breaking state law by not owning a pair of cowboy boots. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
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