I often get the question from friends, “is joining a gym worth it.” And I always give the same response. “It depends.”
It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that a large portion of new memberships (think new years resolutions here) goes unused after the first handful of months. People get the urge to get into shape, only to realize that it takes longer than a few months to achieve looking like a cover model.
And this brings me to the answer to the question of, is a gym membership worth it.
If you’re a driven individual who doesn’t need a lot of external motivation and you have a higher than normal level of self-discipline then a gym membership is totally worth it.
If you’re joining the gym on a whim or joining as part of a new years resolution, while I hope the best for you, statistics show that you might be better off not joining a gym.
Getting into shape and sticking to a fitness routine can be difficult. Those that do it, should be proud of themselves. There are always other responsibilities pulling you away from using your gym memberships. Sometimes it’s kids, work, friends/family, or you flat run out of time. Some of these obligations are legitimate reasons to skip the gym, while others are questionable.
You’ll get the most out of your gym membership if you can use the gym frequently and for a variety of reasons. For example, one of my gyms has a sauna and a hot tub, and since I don’t have either it’s a nice accessory to have access to. And I use them frequently. I also use the free weights and cardio machines, so there are multiple reasons why a gym membership works for me.
That being said, I know that some people only use their gym for one or two reasons. And that’s fine too if you’re using the gym frequently. I know some women feel almost guilty for having a gym membership when all they do is use the cardio machines or just go to the same aerobics class every week. You don’t have to use everything the gym has to offer, you’re using the gym because they have or offer something you don’t have at home.
When It Doesn’t Make Sense
For some people, joining a gym could end up being a headache and a waste of your money. Here are a few examples of why you might pass on the gym membership:
- Distance – If you tend to do your workouts before or after work and the gym will take more than 15-20 minutes to get to, I would really consider using a home gym. I’ve found that if the gym is 15 minutes or closer you’ll still use it. But once you lose 30+ minutes in driving time, you start to make excuses for not going. And I get it, time is a precious commodity, and traveling to hit the gym during the weekday can seem like to much.
- On the fence – If you’re on the fence about joining a gym, you might want to see if you can do a month to month option. A lot of gyms try to lock you in for at least a year, but some will allow month to month. It might be more expensive compared to a yearly contract, but if you find that you love it, you can switch to a yearly contract. But if you find that you only used it a few times in the first few months, you’ll be glad you didn’t pay for the entire year.
- Cost – on average gym memberships are around $45/month. That’s $540 per year, and that’s without any kind of sign up fee (sometimes over $100), or annual equipment upgrade fees. You can get some nice home equipment that will last years for that amount of money. If you’re price sensitive and you don’t know if you’ll continue to use the gym, then other arrangements might be best. There are some $10-$20/month gym fees, but they need to be in your area, and they need to offer what you’re looking to get out of a gym.
I don’t bring these things up to sway you from joining a gym or getting into shape, but I know it would suck to end up paying for a gym that you don’t use. There’s plenty of home equipment that might be perfect for you.
For those that think a gym might be a good fit, below is some additional information on why you’ll enjoy a gym membership.
Benefits of Gym Membership
I’m sure most of you are aware of the basic benefits of a gym membership so I’m going to discuss 3 things that I truly love about a gym.
- Escape – I tend to do my exercise after work, so going to the gym is a little escape for me. I like to put my headphones on and get it done. It’s actually a peaceful meditative experience. I feel like i’ve shed the responsibilites of work and have yet to encouter the home responbilities. It’s a perfect escape where I get to focus on myself.
- Like Minded People – I think everyone can identify with being around like minded folks. They tend to be our friends. We like to surround ourselves who see things from the same perspective as ourselves. And gym folk are all there becaues they want to better themselves. Being around other gym members encourages me to keep coming back and to keep pushing myself.
- People watching – I feel like this is almost a guilty pleasure, but if you’ve belonged to a gym for a while, you can relate to what I’m saying. It could be a good looking guy/girl, or it could be something funny happening, or just seeing different faces. The gym is a close second to the airport or county fair when it comes to people watching.
Unknown Benefits of Gym Membership
If you decide to join up, most gyms will offer a free consultation. A free consultation will get you some free information, possible training, and guidance on what kinds of things to engage in at the gym.
The Planet Fitness membership I have allows me to use any Planet Fitness outside my hometown. This is a nice perk when I’m visiting friends or family and I don’t want to miss out on some exercise. Plus it can be a nice little escape like I mentioned above.
Along these same lines when a national chain allows you access to any of their clubs, having access to a shower can be convenient for those outdoorsy adventures. I know people who travel around and stop and use the facilities at the gym. Access to a clean bathroom or shower is a nice perk for the constant traveler.
Finally, some gyms offer health-related classes like healthy cooking, CPR, and free daycare while you exercise.
So, while having access to free weights, cardio machines, and spin classes is nice, it’s the other perks that can make a difference.
How Much Is A Gym Membership
This depends on the gym and your location. Plus, if you can get a discount offered through your work, the range can vary greatly. If you can get a membership for an average of $40/month I would say you’re doing well.
Conclusion of Gym Membership
A gym membership could be one of the best investments you ever make. It could bring you newfound self-discipline, higher self-esteem, and a hot new body. But that’s if you use it. If you think there is a chance it might not get used, I would suggest starting with a home workout. If you continue using the home gym after 6-12 months and would like to expand your fitness routine then join a gym.