Hey Angels and Alphas,
You know that when it comes to training, there are a gazillion routes you can take. A lot of people in the fitness community often advocate that training outside is better than training inside a gym, and they do have their reasons for it.
However, as with anything, there are two sides to every coin. Today, we’re here to explore both sides.
We’re going to talk about the pros and cons of training outside, and the pros and cons of training in a gym as relating to each other.
Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll know that *both* these training environments have their own benefits that you can use to your advantage (and you should.)
But ultimately, what it comes down to is that neither is objectively better. It all depends on what matters more to you, how you workout, and which one outweighs the other in your subjective view.
Let’s start off with gym training.
The pros and cons of training in the gym
Now, you know me. I always strive for balance, and I believe both gym training and outdoor training are essential in order to reach training progress and an overall healthy lifestyle. That being said, the gym has some pros and cons that differentiate it from training outdoors, so let’s take a look at them one by one.
Pro #1 – Facilities
In the gym, you’ll find a lot of those facilities that just aren’t present outdoors. If you ever need a rest area, restroom, changing room, shower, sauna, and so on, you have all of that available in a lot of (if not most) gyms.
You can easily slip in your workout clothes, do your routine, shower, dress up, and leave the gym clean with your workout done.
Pro #2 – Equipment Variety
Probably the most obvious plus of the gym is that most of them have more equipment than you’ll ever need to have a productive workout. You might need a bench press, squat rack, dumbbells, bars, even a smith machine.
They are all there to help you do precise exercises and target specific parts of your body, whereas your options for doing this in the outdoors are limited.
If you have a particular routine you’ve created for yourself, the gym is the best place to do it.
Pro #3 – Weight Variety
I decided to point this out separately from equipment variety because it really is *that* important.
When you’re progressing, especially in any type of strength training, you want to be able to accurately track the weight you’re lifting. You need all the little plates and dumbbells available to you – from the 20kg down to the 1kg plates.
This is absolutely crucial for those who desire to improve their strength training, as it will give them a clear idea of how much they’re lifting and progressing through time. This is extremely difficult to do outside.
Pro #4 – Fitness Group Classes
The gym, just like the outside, is a place where everyone can exercise.
Nevertheless, because of all the pros we’ve established so far, gyms have become a place where groups get together and train, and coaches go to practice with their trainees.
This means you can jump in a group class or find a trainer nearby and not only socialize but make your workouts a hundred times more productive.
Con #1 – Self-consciousness
Have you ever heard the term “gymtimidation?” Yes, it’s a real thing. A lot of people spend the first few months of their training at home before they even go to the gym. And that’s okay!
They do it because they feel self-conscious. They do it because they think the lifetime gym-goers will judge them.
What you have to realize is that, regardless of where you work out, people *will* see you. There’s nothing wrong about that. Being seen is a completely irrational fear among gym newcomers, and even though it’s completely unwarranted, that’s a topic for another time.
Con #2 – Costs
Most gyms nowadays offer “premium” plans for those who want to get the most out of their training. Some of them even bind you with a contract!
Gyms can be pricey sometimes, especially the good ones, and if that’s not a commitment you want to make, you’ll be better off training outdoors.
Con #3 – Transportation
Going from and to the gym can sometimes be a pain.
If you’re living in a crowded place, you have to pay a bajillion dollars for gas only to spend an hour fighting traffic and dealing with bad weather only to *get* to the gym.
Not to mention, I’ve heard a lot of people use it as an excuse not to go!
The pros and cons of outdoor exercise
Now that we know how training in the gym is better (or worse) than training outdoors, let’s get the other side of the story. We’ll break down the pros and cons of outdoor exercise, once again, starting with its advantages.
Pro #1 – Environment Variety
Yes, maybe not in machines and weights, but the outdoors provide incredible variety when it comes to training. This is precisely because the environment itself is so varied.
There comes a feeling of ambiance when you’re just jogging around, and you see all the different parks, houses, buildings, and the nature around you. This makes the entire experience more alive and just makes you want to be more active.
This will keep you engaged and motivate you to push yourself more. Also, if you do your jogging around the same route every day, you’ll start creating milestones for yourself as you pass specific landmarks.
This is also a way to track your progress, and these psychological aspects of outdoor training shouldn’t be ignored.
Pro #2 – Elevated Mood
This sense of being outside, being active, and tuning yourself into your environment have been researched and proven to elevate mood. The air, the sun, and the feeling of being out in the open promote the production of dopamine, improving your mood and motivating you to feel more active.
It’s a natural sense of reinvigoration that you get just by being outside, and as long as the weather is perfect, you can lose yourself in your training really easily and have the *best* work out experience of your life.
Pro #3 – Socialization
Meeting friends for a training session feels much more casual and fun when you’re training outdoors.
Sometimes, the gym can make social exchanges seem awkward, but running into a friend outside or joining them for some jogging or a park workout makes for a really revitalizing bonding experience.
Con #1 – The Weather!
This is by far the biggest problem you’ll run into when training outdoors. You can’t control it! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve decided to work out outdoors and it started to rain.
Without any consideration of your fitness schedule, the rain can ruin your training session and, even worse, give you the sniffles.
Not to mention, the other extreme. Working out in hot summer days can be potentially dangerous. You know how dry heat sometimes causes you to become dehydrated without you even realizing it.
Con #2 – The Public
When you’re working out outdoors, you’re in a public space.
It’s pretty much the same as if you were in the gym, but most likely, there are going to be even more people around. (Unless you jog in some park that’s secluded.)
This doesn’t really help with the idea of “gymtimidation.”
You can still feel like people are judging you, even more so when you’re outside. Once again, these fears are entirely unwarranted, but they *are* there.
Con #3 – No facilities
It’s a fact – gyms were created to create convenience. For that same reason, if you need to use the restroom while you’re out working out, you’ve run into a problem. Same as when you need a shower, or when you want to enjoy a few mirror selfies after your workout.
Depending on where you are, you might not have immediate access to the things you need to have a productive workout.
Even though this seems like a small con, it turns into a *big* disadvantage when you’re actually experiencing these facilities not being available.
What it really boils down to is do you want to have the (1) reinvigorating experience of outdoor workouts, or (2) do you want to have the convenience that gyms bring.
In my opinion, you need a balance of both.
Often, gym-goers get so caught up with making progress that they forget fitness is about living a healthy lifestyle. And other times, those who only focus on working out outdoors forget that you need access to a more structured organization of equipment to make real progress.
Both these training methods have their ups and downs, and that’s exactly why we should be trying both of them. Only this way can we find out what we really like doing, and of course, make that a part of a sustainable training lifestyle that brings us progress and enjoyment.