Pros and cons of gym membership

TV, movies and magazines all tell us that being a member of a gym is as much a part of being a grown up as having a bank account, drinking coffee or complaining about work. It’s something that’s expected of us – we have to talk about our gym, our PT (don’t ever say ‘personal trainer’), our therapist, our portfolio, and our fundraisers, which are designed to raise as much interest in ourselves as possible.

Some people really do love going to the gym, though. It’s kind of like an addiction for them. Certain people need to watch TV sports. Others need to hit the nightspots. Some of us enjoy nothing more than taking life-sized effigies of our coworkers up into the mountains, far away from anything and anyone, and bayoneting them, decapitating them with a screwdriver, shredding their bodies with bullets as we encircle them with an AR-15, before arranging their remains in a pentagram, dousing it in gasoline and setting it alight. Then there are those who like to go to the gym.

For every single person who enjoys regularly going to the gym, there are probably ten or twenty who visit a few times before giving up and never going again. These people try to like it – they’ve paid money and they want something in return. The fact is that gym membership is not for everyone.

So how are you supposed to know whether you’ll like it, and be able to stick at it? Many gyms offer a free day pass. You can use this to check out the place itself, find out what equipment they have, see how busy they are. Sometimes gyms can be stuffy or smell bad – something you’d be better off knowing before you pay a year’s membership fees.

Aside from checking out the gym, you should also weigh up several considerations before making your decision, if you want to be sure it’s the right one.

Firstly, is it money you can afford to spend? Some gyms can be very expensive, depending on where they are, what facilities they have and what their brand is. An average gym membership fee might be around $50 per month. That’s $600 a year – not a lot for some, expensive for others. On top of that you have gasoline and parking which you’ll probably have to pay for. That takes time, too.

You could save all that time and invest the money you would spend in some home gym equipment. Take a look at to see what you could get for the same money. You might actually be saving even more money if you consider that plenty of people expect you to get dressed up in your gym fashion.

The other side of that is that working out at home is lonely. Some people go to the gym to show off, pose and socialize. If you’ve already got a six pack or excellent thighs, you only have to do a few reps before you can hang out by the water dispenser and laugh at all the out of shape people drowning in sweat on the elliptical trainer.

Another good reason to go to the gym is that you can have your own personal trainer, who will stay with you and pay attention to your needs. On the other hand, why would you want to pay even more money to have someone you’ve never heard of tell you to find your grit, when you could work out at home, put on YouTube and have Mitch Buchannan or Cher do the same for you – for free!

At the end of the day, you should let your personality determine whether or not you join a gym. If you want people to think you’re cool, if you are about image, rather than substance, you should definitely join the gym. You’ll feel obliged to keep up appearances and impress people with similar priorities. In doing so, it’s likely that you will actually make some progress towards getting into shape. Another reason might be that you need to use a variety of weight-training equipment, which is all conveniently located together in one place at the gym. It’s easier to build muscle at the gym than at home.