A few years back, I had a gym membership. I always wanted a place where I can go and lift some weights do a little treadmiling... you know the stuff that I don't nearly write often enough over at Lazy Man and Health. When my wife and I moved into my current apartment complex I noticed that they had a free gym. It's not great, but it has 3 cardio machines and a couple of weight stations.
I always considered that gym I currently have a great value until this past weekend when my wife coerced me to go to her gym. She wanted me to try her Body Pump class (read my Body Pump review). It was probably the best workout I've had in months. (My body isn't shy about reminding me of that with every move I make).
The experience got me thinking, "What are the advantages and disadvantages of paying for a gym over the free one I have?" I made up these two lists. Maybe you can tell me if I missed something.
Pros of a Gym Membership
- Forced Workouts - If I'm paying for a gym, I'm going to want to get my money's worth
- Superior Equipment - I like elliptical trainers (low impact), but that's not an option at my free gym. Everything is upgraded.
- Free of Distractions - When go to my close gym, I sometimes have a idea that I get too excited about. Sure I can bring a pen and paper and write it down, but the excitement of the idea is often greater than the excitement of the workout. If I'm at the paid membership, I'm far enough away to not to be tempted to come back.
- Classes - I really think the Body Pump class could put me in good shape. As my wife says, it's a lot like a personal trainer. Once you are there, you are going to do the workout.
- Motivation - There are always a few people in tremendous shape at the gym. That reminder to see what I'm working towards is a bonus.
Cons of a Gym Membership
- Cost - I don't need to explain this one...
- Potential Commitment - I don't know if the gym is going to work out for me, but memberships often make you commit for a long term before you've had a month or two see if you are going to stick to it.
- Inconvenience - This is the tang to the "free of distractions" above... I can get to my gym in about 3 minutes. I could do so circuit training and get a decent exercise in around 20 minutes. I would mention that going to the gym in the winter would be a hassle, but with mild winters in Northern California, it really isn't that bad. It's not like it was in Boston where there are days you just don't leave the house if you don't have to.
In the end, I think this is going to be a tough personal choice to make. It's hard to say what the right move is - it depends on pricing. If the gym is $100/mo., I don't think it's going to be worth it to me. If it's $10/mo., it's a no-brainer. My wife pays $29/mo., but I'm not sure they'd extend the same rate to me as she's been there for two years. On the other hand, perhaps I benefit from a family plan and get a good deal. I'll have to look in to details and see if the devil is in there.
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