Pros and Cons of Having a Gym Membership

Every January, millions of people make the same New Year’s resolution—to lose weight. Fitness companies greatly benefit from the public’s newfound desire for a healthier lifestyle. In 2017, the global health club industry grossed $87.2 billion with January proving to be one of, if not the most profitable times of year.

Most gyms prepare for the new year by advertising membership specials. They know a gym isn’t mandatory to lose weight because of the many options available. You can exercise at home, the park, or a community center. Yet, some people are still drawn to the allure of a dedicated fitness facility.

Joining a gym is a physical and financial commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Before signing a contract, weigh the pros and cons of having a membership.

  • Pro: Equipment – A gym membership grants access to a variety of high-quality exercise equipment. From weight machines and dumbbells, to ellipticals and Stairmasters, there’s everything you need to kick start your fitness journey.
  • Con: Commute – Lack of transportation could keep you from the gym and your fitness goals. Public transit is an alternative but it may put a dent in your bank account. There’s also the weather, which can be an unpredictable distraction. It’s hard to stay motivated with six feet of snow outside your door.
  • Pro: Discounts – It is possible to lower your membership costs. Outside of special promotions, some gyms offer cheaper rates toward the end of the month. With quotas to meet, they’re more open to negotiating. Also, check your employer or insurance packages. A lot of gyms partner with companies to provide certain perks. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network have an exclusive program that gives members discounts at over 10,000 gym locations.
  • Con: Contracts – Contracts can be a hassle, so always read the fine print. You want to cancel your membership? It probably won’t be that simple. If you break your agreement, the gym may expect you to pay a cancellation fee. Be sure to ask questions and familiarize yourself with the gym’s policies. There could be unexpected penalties – don’t be surprised.
  • Pro: Trainers – Gyms are full of fitness professionals ready and able to provide expert training. If you’re new to exercising, they’re full of knowledge you can tap into that goes well beyond the gym. Not only do they offer workout advice, some can provide tips about healthy eating. Trainers are a built-in support system and can be a valuable resource.
  • Con: Excessive Fees – Membership rates vary by gym type. Some facilities charge as little as $9.99 per month, while luxury clubs may charge several hundred dollars. Most new members will also pay an initiation fee (unless it’s waived) in addition to an annual fee, which is a recurring charge that applies to everyone. At minimum, three different rates can be presented at sign-up.
  • Pro: Classes – Exercise classes are a great way to socialize and break a sweat. Classes are fun, engaging, and full of energy. They provide a structured environment that allows you to learn something new alongside your peers. You can meet your fitness goals through dance, yoga, kickboxing, Pilates, and more.
  • Con: Overcrowding – A gym is a communal space where everyone is expected to train in peace. That’s hard to do when there’s no equipment available. Or when your favorite class is full. Overcrowding can be an annoyance that dampens your entire experience. Unfortunately, there are only two solutions: adjust your schedule or move to a different facility.

Do you belong to a gym or prefer working out at home or outside? What factors go into your choice? Share with us in the comments. 

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Photo Credit: EmirMemedovski

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Read 6 Comments

  1. That’s a good point that a gym will have a lot more equipment than you would have. I would imagine that the cost of buying the equipment that you would have at a gym would pay for years and years of gym memberships. Plus there is usually someone who can spot you at the gym if you want to use free weights.

  2. Thanks for mentioning that gyms give members access to high-quality exercise equipment, including weight machines, free weights, and cardio machines. My husband and I recently reflected on our health and fitness and made goals to take better care of ourselves. We want to start going to the gym every day, so hopefully we can find a great one in our area that will give us a great variety of equipment!

  3. It’s been a dream of mine to build strong abs and I have finally decided on getting a gym membership. I started looking up gyms here in Chesterfield and this led me to your very informative article. I am most fond of where you highlighted that if you’re new to exercising, these trainers full of knowledge you can tap into that goes well beyond the gym. Anyone interested in joining a gym can definitely agree with this point you made. Thanks for this!

    1. Dean,

      Great to see you following through on your dream. Glad our article is helpful as you plot your course.

  4. Thanks for explaining the benefits of joining a gym. I think that this would be a good option for the winter months because I need to get healthy again. It would be smart for me to start looking for a gym now so I can start getting used to my new exercise routine.

  5. I agree that a gym membership gives you access to a lot of equipment. This is a better reason to join one than the fact that you have to commute is a reason not to. Health is the most important priority.

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