Google “should I get a gym membership?” and you will found countless opinions on either side of the debate. You’ll find articles on five reasons you should get a membership right next to articles on why you should never, ever pay for one. I land in the middle, a gym membership, for some people, is a great investment and has helped so many achieve the fitness goals they are striving for. Equally, for some people, having a gym membership is like throwing money away in the garbage every month. Here are some things to consider when thinking about purchasing that membership or deciding whether or not to cancel it:
1. How far is the gym from your home (or work)? The closer the gym is, the more likely you are to use it. Don’t get a membership at the huge gym thirty minutes across town because it has a hot tub when you know it’s not likely that you will make the drive more than once or twice in the month and even then you will probably not use the hot tub…or you drive to use it once or twice to justify hanging onto the membership. Instead, join a gym that is only a couple minutes from home to increase your odds of using it.
2. If you are in a place where you have more than one gym within a few minutes from home tour all of them…compare not only pricing, but environment, hours, cleanliness and friendliness of the staff. Then take a few minutes to evaluate what you will realistically use in the gym. You don’t want to pay for amenities you are never going to use. If you will use the rock wall, and pool and all the other bells and whistles…and I mean actually use them on a regular basis…go for it. But if you know that you just want to come in, hop on the treadmill and then lift some weights, opting for a smaller, cheaper gym is the way to go.
3. Evaluate your reasons for getting a gym membership. It is entirely true that you can get and stay fit without ever stepping foot in a gym…and actually without ever owning a single piece of “workout equipment.” If, however, you are among those that need or want that separate space dedicated to working out a gym could be right for you. Additionally if you stick to a regular schedule you can build some camaraderie with fellow exercisers at the gym and a group class might be just the thing you need to keep you motivated.
A gym membership is a great option for some people and many have found it to be what they need to accomplish their goals, but it isn’t for everyone. If you are going to use it, that’s great! Don’t let people bully you into feeling bad for paying for a gym membership with their talk of how wasteful it is…after all, I’m sure we could find things they spend money on that we consider wasteful. Consider it an investment into your health, because it is! However, if you know you aren’t going to use it, don’t get it just to have it or to have it “in case” you want to use it – use that money for something else…say a race entry fee, a massage, shopping at the farmer’s market or your retirement account. A gym membership is for some, but not everyone – and whichever side you land on – it’s okay!