You want to lose weight, so you’re thinking about going to a gym. However, the thought scares you. You’re worried that people will look at you. We understand – it’s a tough place to be if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re thinking: Do you need a gym for weight loss? Or can you do lose weight without it? We’re going to answer these questions and more in this article. By the end, you’ll feel like you can lose weight, whichever path you choose (gym or not). Let’s get started.
How do you lose weight?
We covered this question in plenty of detail here, but let’s do a recap…
You need to be in a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. We recommend a calorie deficit of 100 to 500 calories per day, depending on your starting point and goals. In order to achieve this, you can either eat less, move more (exercise!), or a combination of the two. This is where this article comes in.
Use the calculator below to work out your daily maintenance calories (the number of calories you need to maintain your current body weight).
BMR Calculator provided by calculators.tech
Subtract 100 to 500 calories from this, and this is the total number of calories you should be aiming for.
Use MyFitnessPal to record this, and get as close to this as you can every day. It’s that simple! If you’re not losing weight at the rate you’d like, you’re either not eating at a calorie deficit (are you sure you’re recording everything?), or you may need to reduce your calories further.
Anyway, enough of the science. Let’s get into why we’re here.
Do you need a gym for weight loss?
It’s a great question. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. It depends on numerous factors:
- Your starting point
- Are you able to exercise elsewhere?
- Does being around other people motivate you?
- Are you maintaining a calorie deficit?
Your starting point
We’re going to break this up into three types of people.
- Currently doing no exercise at all
- Infrequently exercising at the moment
- Exercising regularly at the moment
If you’re asking the question “do you need a gym for weight loss?” we’re guessing you’re going to fall into one of the top two categories. If you’re not exercising at all, or infrequently exercising, doing some form of exercise is key. This will help you towards creating a calorie deficit, as well as reaping the other benefits of exercise (see here).
Whether that’s in a gym or not, that’s entirely up to you. It’s safe to say… you can get results both ways. Don’t think about it too much, and just do something. More importantly, do what feels right for you.
If you’re exercising regularly at the moment, but not within a gym environment, you’re probably thinking about whether you can get better results by going to a gym, or not. It depends. Can you lose weight at a sufficient rate by not going to a gym at all? Of course, you can.
If you started exercising outside of a gym, we’re assuming you did it for a reason. You probably didn’t want to go to a gym. So why force yourself to do something you don’t want to do? This may not end well. Instead, can you increase the number of exercise sessions you’re doing? Can you get more on track with your nutrition, to ensure you’re eating in a calorie deficit?
We’d like to add that doing different things, or being in new environments, can help with motivation levels. If you started exercising outside of a gym, but want a change, it may be a good idea to try exercising in the gym instead. Being around new people may help.
Are you able to exercise elsewhere?
Some people are motivated to exercise at home, whereas others wouldn’t dream of exercising anywhere else apart from in a gym. Which one are you?
If you’re the type of person who needs to be out of the house to exercise, then it’s simple: join a gym. If you have the motivation to get your workout in at home, and you don’t want to join a gym, then don’t.
It’s entirely your choice. You have to be true with the type of person you are, and ultimately, work with this. What matters is that you get it done.
Does being around other people motivate you?
Are you the type of person who is motivated by being around other people? Or do you prefer exercising alone?
For some people, going to the gym helps with motivation. If this is you, join a gym. Making friends at the gym helps with long-term motivation, as you’ll feel like you’re letting other people down if you don’t go.
If you’re happy to exercise on your own, then it’s fine to do it this way. Again, be true to the type of person you are.
Are you maintaining a calorie deficit?
This is what matters the most. Whether you’re exercising in a gym, exercising in the park, exercising in your parent’s spare room… are you consistently maintaining a calorie deficit? If the answer is yes, you can exercise wherever you like.
Exercise isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to weight loss. It’s just a tool to help create a calorie deficit.
To add one more factor into the mix… if you’ve just started, you may not even need to exercise in order to lose weight initially. Some people can maintain a calorie deficit through nutrition alone. Whilst this is a good starting point, it won’t last forever, so the rest of this article still applies.
If you’ve just started exercising, you’re going to need a new gym bag or backpack…
What type of exercise should you do for weight loss?
Every day should be either: a weight training day, a cardiovascular day, or a rest day.
Lifting weights is important because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Compound movements, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, shoulder presses, rows, dips, chin-ups, and more, are a good place to start. The reason why we prefer going to a gym at Sports Samurai is that it’s easier to lift weights in a gym. You’ve got more equipment. This may be something you wish to consider when asking the question “Do you need a gym for weight loss?”
This doesn’t mean you have to go to a gym, however. You can always buy some dumbbells and a bench at home, use resistance bands, or do an efficient bodyweight workout. For us, it’s just easier in a gym.
Cardiovascular work (such as swimming, running, rowing, classes in the gym, and more) is important because it helps improve cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps regulate blood sugar, and more. See here for 13 benefits of aerobic exercise.
Rest days are important, so look to plan these around days when it’s going to be more difficult to get to the gym, such as weekends. Rest days help your body recover, but they don’t mean you have to sit on the couch, and do nothing. For example, you could go for a long walk, or try a yoga class.
You should be doing all three for weight loss. Alternate between them throughout the week. If you’re not losing weight at the rate you like, consider increasing the number of weight training or cardiovascular days.
How long does it take to see results with weight loss?
This is what you’ve been waiting for, isn’t it? The killer question.
Again, it’s a difficult one to answer, because it depends on what you define as “results.” If you maintain a calorie deficit, you should start seeing results after a week or two. This will likely be a few pounds at most, however.
If you’re talking about real results, it depends on how much weight you have to lose. A good aim for the long-term is a 1lb of weight loss a week, so work out how much total weight you’d like to lose, and work it out from there.
For example, it would take someone roughly a year to safely lose 4 stones. 4 stones is equal to 56 pounds, and by our formula above, this would take just over a year, give or take. This may seem a long time, but sustainable weight loss takes time. It doesn’t involve crash dieting, and doing things that won’t last. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
There’s no simple answer to the question of “Do you need a gym for weight loss?” because it depends on numerous factors. What is your starting point? Are you able to exercise elsewhere? Does being around other people motivate you? Are you maintaining a calorie deficit?
Pro Tip: Concentrate on maintaining a calorie deficit, and choose the place where you’re likely to stick to exercise, whether that’s within a gym environment, or not.
Do you use the gym for weight loss? Or do you exercise in other ways? Let us know in the comments section below!