Joining a Gym Vs Buying an Elliptical

Joining a Gym Vs Buying an Elliptical

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Can an elliptical trainer effectively replace your gym membership and eliminate the need to go to the gym altogether? This guide will help you weigh things up before making the leap to join a gym or invest in a home workout equipment such as an elliptical machine. 

To come up with a smart decision, you’ll need to consider several factors—your goals, current fitness level, available time, and overall budget—and the pros and cons of buying an elliptical vs joining a gym.

The Pros and Cons of Elliptical Trainers

Ellipticals are popular exercise machines offering full-body workouts for burning calories and improving general fitness. Overall, they’re simple to use, versatile, and safer than using a treadmill.

Elliptical Trainers

Elliptical machines are designed for low-intensity cardio and aerobic exercises, making them great for beginners and those recovering from injury (especially knee and hip-related joint injuries).

Ellipticals primarily train the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles, while the secondary muscles worked include the arms and upper back. Working these muscles on an elliptical can help you attain your weight loss goals.

The Pros of Ellipticals

  • Ideal for beginners looking to lose weight and improve general fitness
  • Beneficial for those suffering from joint problems (particularly knees and hips)
  • Easy to use
  • Can exercise anytime with greater flexibility

The Cons of Ellipticals

  • Not the best option for fast and effective weight loss or muscle building/toning
  • Can be expensive depending on the elliptical model
  • Mostly large – can take up space at home
  • Require regular maintenance 

The Pros and Cons of Joining a Gym

Most gyms are fully equipped with the necessary machines, weights, and accessory equipment to cater to different workouts and training. Check your local gym, and I’m sure you’ll find elliptical trainers among the many pieces of equipment they have.

For the price of a membership, you can expect to have everything you need. You’re not limited to one machine or exercise routine, and the environment and camaraderie can be motivating especially if you choose to hire a personal trainer to help in your fitness journey.

People working out in a gym using ellipticals

The Pros of Joining a Gym

  • Provides all the fitness equipment you need, including elliptical trainers
  • Presents a variety of exercises for all kinds of fitness training and body goals
  • Can be more motivating
  • Gives you access to professional coaching

The Cons of Joining a Gym

  • Can be intimidating and confusing for beginners
  • Might involve traveling
  • Memberships can be expensive
  • You may need to wait to use certain machines, especially during peak periods

Other Important Factors to Consider

Besides the pros and cons, you’ll also need to consider some personal factors, such as your goals, current fitness level, available time, and budget. We’ll look at each of these items in detail.

group of people using elliptical trainers


It’s worth thinking about your goals before starting any exercise program or routine.

Do you want to lose weight, tone up, or improve your cardiovascular fitness? You might also be looking to lose weight now with the plan to achieve muscle definition in the future.

For losing weight and improving general fitness, the elliptical machine is a good way to kickstart your health goals. However, it might not be the best option for toning up and increasing the intensity of your workouts.

Current Fitness Level 

If you consider yourself unfit, overweight, or no longer in your prime, it’s high time to improve your general fitness at a steady pace.

Investing in an elliptical can be all the motivation you need to achieve this. You won’t need to consider different workout routines, exercises, and machines, which can be confusing for beginners. 

Also, joining a gym for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you are going to go alone. The idea of exercising at home using an elliptical can be a welcome thing for beginners and reduce the likelihood of skipping workouts.

Available Time

How much time do you have to exercise? Work and other responsibilities can easily get in the way, so it’s important to decide upfront how much time you can allocate to work out and when you can do this.

Of course, going to the gym involves spending time, which many people don’t have a lot of. Waiting times for certain machines during peak periods will also stretch your time in the gym. On the other hand, working out at home can be done instantly, at any preferred time, with greater overall flexibility.


Depending on the gym facilities and the specifications of the elliptical machine you’re thinking about buying, both can cost several hundred dollars.

man using credit card for online purchase

For high-end elliptical machines, for example, this can set you back upwards of $1000. Most commercial gyms already have premium elliptical machines, with monthly fees of $50 on average. Still, it all comes down to which you consider more beneficial to you, based on your preferences, goals, and available time.


There are benefits to both investing in an elliptical and joining a gym. Aside from assessing your fitness goals, fitness level, available time, and budget, you can also decide based on whether you prefer to work out at home or at the gym.

Gyms, while offering everything you need to achieve any fitness goal, can be intimidating and confusing for beginners. Along this line, you can find home workouts more appealing. Exercising at home using an elliptical may save time and money overall, but does come with limitations. 

Elliptical machines are great for low-intensity cardio and ideal for beginners, but they can present limitations once fitness improves and goals progress.

Overall, if you can see yourself wanting to try other exercises and workouts over time to tone or build muscle, the better option might be joining a gym.