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Joining a Gym is OK. Really.

gym membership, joining a gym, fitness goals

Over the weekend I committed a cardinal sin for personal finance bloggers.

I joined a gym.

I know, personal finance bloggers are supposed to write about dumping gym memberships because they aren’t worth it. I’m supposed to list ways to work out at home for pennies. Oh, but wait, it’s even worse than you think. You see, the wife and I already belonged to a gym. We quit our old gym and joined a more expensive one.

And we’re totally OK with it.

The Old Gym

Chain fitness facility without many amenities or options. It did have lots of strength training equipment including a good free weight area. For cardio machines it had a ton of treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes. Included in our membership were a wide variety of group fitness classes including studio cycling, my personal favorite.

Price: $40 per month ($20 each for my wife and I).

The New Gym

Full service health club with all the things the old gym has plus basketball, racquetball, an indoor track, tennis, a restaurant, and an indoor and outdoor pool. It also has a huge area for kids of all ages that has activities such as mini-golf, a golf simulator, table tennis, air hockey, a basketball court and batting cages.

Price: $150 per month (for the entire family)

Why Switch?

The $110 dollar question is (See what I did there? It’s the difference between the two membership prices), why would we pay so much more for a gym membership?

Too Busy:

There used to be two locations of the cheaper gym within a few miles of my house. One of them closed causing a sudden influx of people using the location closer to my house. The gym is now packed every time I walked in the door, and it’s been difficult to get time on the equipment I want to use, even when I reorder my workout.

Unbearably hot:

I don’t know what temperature they have the heat set at, but it’s uncomfortably hot. So hot that it actually hinders my ability to get in the workout that I want. Rumor has it they keep it hot to shorten the average time a person stays in order to better accommodate the large number of people the use the facility.

Shower Facilities

Calling the shower facilities at the cheaper gym sub-par is generous.  I normally just went home to de-stinkify myself, but sometimes that was very inconvenient.  The facilities at the new gym are what you would expect from a full service health club.

The Teenager:

The cheaper gym had nothing for kids. They have child care for very young children, but nothing that interests our teenage son. Many of his friends also belong to the new gym and kids over thirteen can roam the club without an adult. This club is the kind of place that parents drop their kids off,  allowing them to spend the afternoon hanging out, rotating between the batting cages, basketball, and the pool.

Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle:

  • I workout every day. The variety of ways to workout at a gym is not only what keeps me going, but actually makes me excited about going to workout.
  • My wife hasn’t been very active lately, and is trying desperately to be more healthy.  We thought upgrading our gym membership would give her just the kick in the pants to get going again.
  • I used to play a lot of racquetball and am hoping to get into league play.
  • Going to the gym as a family is an event.  It’s like going on a “mini trip” that’s not only a workout, but actually entertainment as well.  We’re planning to spend a lot of time as a family in the afternoon after work and on weekends being active and enjoying all the facilities as a family.

It is a lot of money to be paying for a gym membership, but we think we will get our money’s worth out of if we go regularly and take advantage of all it has to offer.

But don’t worry, I haven’t completely lost my mind. It’s only a summer membership that ends after Labor Day weekend. We can reassess at that time, and we may just be headed back to the cheaper gym.

What do you think about gym memberships?  Do you have one and do you think it’s worth it?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock.

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  • I agree that if you use a gym, it’s worth it. Imagine trying to buy the equipment AND store it in your house; it’s just not practical for many people when you consider all the variety you can get at a gym.

    My wife and I spend about $30 a month for both of us, and have been for years (it used to be $20, but it goes up 10% each year). It is a chain (bought out by another chain…I wonder if we’re talking about the same chain here), and the closest location closed, leaving me in the dust, and my wife to use an overcrowded option a mile further south. So the next closest gym is 6 miles away, and with DC traffic, it’s just a pain.

    I’ve considered trying out the gym across the street from us, but it’s just so hard going from $30 a month to probably $60 (with some hard negotiations), but if it means I’ll USE my gym, then it’s worth it. We have an elliptical machine (bought used), but it takes up so much space and I’d love to get rid of it. So I can’t imagine also getting a weight machine and treadmill into our small home.

    So yes, a gym can easily make sense. It gets you out and perhaps meeting people with the same interests (not that I go and talk to anyone while working out, but eventually you begin seeing the same people there and might strike up a friendship), and for me, encourages me to push myself harder when I see others pushing themselves.

  • Brock,
    If you’re using the gym, then it’s an investment in your health now. Being healthy also means being financially responsible because you’ll likely pay less for health care costs.

    I understand paying for a gym as it helps some people establish a routine. The cost is worth starting the routine.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  • @cleverdude We could be talking about the same chain….I can’t remember if our cheaper gym was in the DC area or not. I know there are several national chains that have that price point ($10 for the base membership, $20 for the “platinum”).

    I know exactly what you mean regarding seeing other people push themselves makes you push harder too. Just like hanging out with people who handle their finances well motivates a person to do the same, being in the same physical location as people working hard at their health has the same effect.

  • @christian – reducing health care costs is definitely one of my goals….my family has a history of some major health issues. A good diet and consistent exercise is a great way to help keep those issues at bay as long as possible!

  • They’re definitely worth it – I go at least 3x a week. THe quality of your workout at home just can’t be compared to the one you get at the gym.

  • @Troy – I think it’s possible to get a great workout in at home, but I think there are some significant challenges such as cost of quality equipment, storage of that equipment and motivation. It’s very convenient to pay a monthly fee to purchase, maintain, and store professional grade equipment for us. Thanks for your comment!

  • We both have gym memberships. If you use it and can afford it, it’s worth it! Using a professional-level elliptical and stair-stepping equipment is NOT the same as running around the neighborhood. And the options for weightlifting at home vs. in the gym are enormously different.

  • @Jenny – True story – it would be cost prohibitive for someone to put a full gym worth of professional grade weight lifting equipment at home. I actually had a pretty good setup at home several years ago, but it took up sooo much space and it wasn’t anywhere near what is available at a gym.

    I’m not personally in the DC area – but @CleverDude is (the original blogger here).

    As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  • Hi Brock,

    Joining a gym is really OK for the people can afford, and I think for those who really need to have gym.But for me as a student and willing to have fit body.
    I think it’s better to buy equipment or do the basic exercise like pushup, sit ups and jogging. It can work right?

    Anyway thank you so much for sharing Brock, I hope you can give some tips for me?

    Thank you Brock.


  • @kim – it’s amazing what you can do with your own body weight if you don’t have or don’t want to spend the money on a gym membership. Running is definitely a great way to exercise, as is biking, rollerblading or even just walking. For overall body fitness you do want to incorporate some strength training in your routine to help keep those muscles strong – and it’s amazing what you can do with just your own body weight. Search the internet for body weight resistance exercises and see what I mean. Things like push ups, situps, lunges and squats can have great results too.

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