Should I Join a Gym to Lose Weight? Pros and Cons
Should I Join a Gym to Lose Weight? Pros and Cons

Every time I think of personal trainers I think of someone who is shouting in my face, telling me I am fat, and basically shaming me into doing something I don’t want to do.

I have had many trainers in the past that have demeaned me when I was 300 pounds. It was embarrassing and I swore I would never go back to the gym.

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Many people who struggle with their bodies are vulnerable. Degrading someone in public is so NOT OK. I remember a personal trainer telling me while I was touring their facility that I was “on the road to death” because of my weight.

Really? Duh. “That is why I decided to go and tour the facility, ya dillweed," I wanted to scream. Oh, and that trainer, God bless him, was all of 19.

This seems to be a trend and one of the very reasons I lost my weight without setting foot in a gym. I was less apt to be embarrassed, but there are drawbacks to not working out in a gym setting. Let's talk about the pros and cons to this, shall we?

Should I Join a Gym?

Pros of not going to the gym for weight loss:

1. You have no one that is going to harsh your mellow. By this, I mean no one is going to make you feel like you are a second rate citizen or roll their eyes while you try to get down on the ground all the while feeling like a beached whale.

2. It’s so much cheaper to workout at home. Even if you pay for a subscription to get workouts at home, its still likely cheaper than a gym trainer will be. Oh, and no one will be giggling about how you are having problems getting up off the floor.

3. If you join a group activity such as a running group you can meet some really great people with a lot of experience that can guide you in that particular activity.

I joined a running/walking group, and the people there were a wealth of information. They had seminars and talked about all things running and walking. They provided new members with a lot of hands on coddling, too, which was wonderful for me, who was 300 pounds and needed the support and reassurance.

4. Scheduling. If you have a weird schedule, you can pencil in your workout at a time that works for you. Maybe you work swing shift and you workout at 12 am - you can totally do that at home, and not have to worry about another persons schedule.

5. You go put on those booty shorts! You can wear whatever the heck you want to wear at home.

Maybe putting on a tight sports bra leaves you uncomfortable - free those puppies from jail! As long as you aren’t offending your family, then who cares?

6. You know your own limitations. I have had trainers that have pushed me way beyond what I was capable of doing on the first session. I am sorry, but a 300 pound inactive, chocolate cake-eating 40-year-old should not be doing 40 burpees in a session.

Do you want to have to call 911 and tell them you killed someone because you pushed them too hard? I tried hard to do everything they said, because, after all, they were the trainer and I was a lowly fat person that didn’t know anything.

When someone tells you they can’t do an exercise and you don’t know them from Adam, then maybe the trainer should take it to heart and listen to their client.

So even I have to say that the pros are pretty convincing. However, the cons are pretty telling as well...

Cons of joining a gym to lose weight.

1. You may not be doing something the right way and need someone to show you how.

I absolutely needed this help with squats. I needed someone who was more skilled about how you should do squats correctly so that I didn’t make movement patterns that set me up for failure.

2. Variety. I like that there are cardio machines, classes, free weights and weighted machines. You can go three times to the gym a week and do totally different workouts.

It's a little harder if you are having to think up what you are doing. I loved running, but you don’t vary too much your way of running, and the variety only came when you run a different route.

3. If you are strength training you will get maximum gains in the gym. Yes, you can strength train at home, and yes, you can look amazing, but if you are talking lifting heavy ass crap, then you actually have to lift as heavy as you can.

If you have heavy stuff laying around at home, more power to you, but most people aren’t lifting couches and beds at home, they are lifting five pound pink dumbbells.

4. If you have a great gym trainer, they can take your physique to the next level that you likely wouldn’t. I know when I hired a great coach, I found he did stuff I would never have dreamed of doing. He also pushed me (after he knew what I was capable of) beyond what I would have pushed myself.

5. Accountability. If you are going to the gym, you not only have to make the time, you have to make the commitment to do so. If you have a trainer, you are accountable to that trainer to show up, to workout and to do your best - otherwise, why in the world would you be paying him/her?

Weighing the Pros and Cons

So, it seems like a toss up, doesn’t it? Well, my take is that it takes both to blend in to your week.

I see many “meatheads” at my gym that have zero clue what to do at home or when they are on the road. They scoff at bands or low weight dumbbells, and look for a hotel with a gym.

If they don’t find it, they panic.

I find that blending the two together is an excellent way to get stronger. I like body weight exercises and find them highly beneficial.

I also like lifting as much as I can as well. The challenge of doing that gets me all tingly inside... It could be the pre-workout, but whatever.

Find a trainer that is right for what you want to accomplish, but also find a trainer that can relate to you.

That little 19 year old personal trainer may have been awesome for a younger, fitter client. However, I was a 40 year old 300 pound woman that did not have the capacity to do what he had set out for me to do.

I believe everyone from the morbidly obese to the fittest person on earth should research what they want to do with their body so that they can be involved in the process and not let their trainer dictate everything.

I say this, because I have been on both sides of the fence. I have been the one that did no research and blamed the trainer for everything instead of telling them politely “Aww, heck no.”

Once I started doing my research, I sought out people who would not only help me reach my goal, but take it a step further. Not all of these people were trainers, by the way.

I looked to a 70 year old woman who was in my walking group and was a previous PE teacher. She smoked me on every course I did, but was so encouraging when I was losing weight, that I looked up to her.

So, don’t put up with being demeaned by a personal trainer at a gym. Be wary of who you hire and research the crap out of what you are doing and ask a ton of questions - what body part am I working?

Why do you have me doing 40 burpees when I can barely get off the couch and I am 300 pounds? What credentials do you have?

Avoiding the gym is no excuse not to workout - you can workout anywhere, anytime. So if you hate the gym and don’t like the atmosphere, I get it. I totally get it. However, you can do a kick ass workout without a thing except a mat, water and yourself.

So which lights you on fire? the gym or home workouts? I would love to hear your feedback on this!