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Have you ever thought, “Is a gym membership worth it?” You are not alone. Many people wonder if the steep gym membership fees are worth it. A gym membership absolutely might be worth it for you, but the answer will be different for everyone.
With North Americans spending nearly $38 billion on gym memberships in 2019, those without gym memberships might be wondering, “Should I join a gym?” Yet those with gym memberships might be thinking, “Should I cancel my gym membership?” The answer to these questions comes down to how much you truly use the features a gym membership provides.
There are a variety of different types of gym memberships for people to choose from at a variety of price points. Often the more expensive memberships offer additional features outside the basic weight and exercise machines. Depending on how you utilize the facilities your gym membership provides you, you may be paying more on membership then you should.
Is a Basic Gym Membership Worth It For You?
A basic gym membership will provide you access to weights and exercise machines. For some people, that is all they need in a gym membership. If you are one of these people, ask yourself what additional features you may pay for as part of your membership that you aren’t using.
You may be surprised how much extra you pay each month for these features that go unused. Depending on where you live, you may not have too many gym membership options. However, it is worth looking into what other options are available in your area to see if you can get a lower rate.
If all you need is the basics that a gym membership can provide, ask yourself should I join a gym or workout at home. Look around your home for an empty corner that you could use to setup a small at-home gym. Overtime a home gym would:
- Save you money (any upfront cost on dumbbells and/or a treadmill would negate the membership savings initially, but eventually you’d be banking money).
- Save you time in physically commuting to the gym. I recently canceled my gym membership altogether and now utilize a 6 ft by 4 ft area in the basement to exercise. I bought a treadmill and a couple free weights and am easily getting the same exercise in that I got at the gym.
Is a Standard Gym Membership Worth It for You?
A standard gym membership will often provide exercise classes in addition to weights and exercise machines. Some memberships will include an extensive list of classes, while others just a few options. Other memberships might provide a set of classes with membership and the option to pay for special classes since you are a member of the gym.
Classes can provide variety and push an individual to challenge their fitness level in a way machines can’t. However, you don’t physically have to go into a gym to participate in exercise classes. There are endless workout videos you could do at home and even more streaming options for classes and workouts through Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, etc.
Not everyone utilizes the classes their gym offers. If you are one of those people, you are probably paying more than you need to on your gym membership. The instructors must get paid and since there’s not an additional fee to take the class, their paycheck is embedded in your gym membership.
Fitness Classes at the Gym verses At-Home
Giving up your gym membership to do exercise videos at home may not be the right decision for you if:
- You live in a small cramped apartment. Unfortunately, finding enough space to properly exercise could be challenging, as you would likely need ample space to move around.
- You’re the type of person that needs a bit of a push to exercise and a group fitness class helps get you motivated. If you know you won’t exercise without a group fitness class, then don’t cancel your gym membership.
Exercising is important for your well-being. The decision to forgo a gym membership should add value to your life, not remove it.
Is A Premium Gym Membership Worth It for You?
In addition to exercise classes, weights and exercise machines, a premium gym membership may provide an indoor track, pool, hot tub, sauna or a monthly session with a trainer. These are all fantastic features – if you are using them.
I remember how excited I was when I signed up at the last gym I was a member of and learned there was a hot tub and sauna I could use. They were intriguing features that I figured I’d check out at some point.
As it turns out, I never used either even once. It’s important not to get caught up in the luxury of something if you won’t be enjoying it. I mean, I hate sweating so why would I want to sit in a sauna just so I could do more of something I hate?
For avid swimmers who have a gym membership just for access to a pool, you should look in your area to see if there are pools that offer open swim times. This could be a much cheaper option then having a gym membership when you don’t use all the other gym facilities.
Our park district offers swim classes and open swim times for a fraction of the cost of a gym membership. There may be similar options in your area if you do a little digging.
Additional Gym Membership Features at a Surcharge
When asking yourself should I get a gym membership, some gyms offer even more features for you to consider. These features include a kids’ area and a juice bar.
It’s hard to say for sure if these add on features (which you pay extra for) drive up your base membership fee though. It is reasonable to think they may because they add a touch of convenience other gyms do not. And in my experience, convenience usually means extra cost out of your pocket.
Is a Home Gym Right for You?
If you’re asking yourself should I join a gym or workout at home, there are a few factors to consider. As discussed earlier, a home gym will save you time and money in the long run.
If you have any heartburn with the cost you currently pay towards physical fitness, then the desired health effects are clearly not working. You should re-evaluate what your gym membership offers and what features you utilize.
Another important aspect that a gym membership provides is a sense of community. Belonging to a gym gives some people a sense of community and helps motivate them each week to exercise.
The mental health benefits experienced with belonging to a community can be profound. If you would not workout without your community than keep your gym membership. Just make sure you belong to the right gym for you.
For those self-motivators that go to the gym for a sense of community, it may be time to look for a different type of community. Most people will save about an hour and a half each week working out at home compared to the gym.
This additional time should give those community seekers more time to find the right community for them and give them enough time each week to enjoy it.
Get a Better Price on Your Membership
If you like your gym but don’t use all the features, ask your gym if there are different membership options available. If not, shop around your area for better pricing options.
Then, let your current gym know you are thinking of switching to another lower cost option. You might be surprised what your current gym is willing to do to keep you at their facility.
Cancelling your Gym Membership
Are you wondering should I cancel my gym membership? Depending on your gym, there may be a few hoops to jump though if you decide cancelling your gym membership could be the right move for you.
When I went to cancel my gym membership I was told I had to do it in person, during the work day, between the hours of 8am and 5pm when a manager was at the gym. Weekends weren’t even an option.
My alternative was to mail a letter to corporate letting them know I wanted to cancel my membership. Neither was a convenient option but the first was the lesser of two evils.
There was yet another surprise in store for me. I had been a member of that gym for several years and was surprised to learn (rather be reminded) that when I initially signed up I paid for the last month of membership. So, even if I didn’t go back to the gym again, my membership was valid for another 30 days.
Also, they wouldn’t allow my gym membership to be cancelled starting the day I notified them. Instead, I had to finish out the current 30-day cycle before the cancellation would take effect.
Essentially, I had over a month and a half of membership paid when I decided to cancel. So, it’s good to familiarize yourself with your gym’s cancellation policy to avoid surprises when you go to cancel.
An at-home gym is a great option for the right individual. The long-term monetary savings with this option is obvious. However, there are other potential benefits to working out at home that are often overlooked. So, make sure to consider the costs of gym membership from every angle before signing up for one.
Whether you answer yes or no to, is a gym membership worth it, make sure to keep active and stay healthy!
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