Gym Memberships

08 Jan 2015

We’re a whole week into the new year. How are you doing with those resolutions and goals?

If you’re like me (and a lot of other people), you decided you want to be healthier. And that likely includes eating better and getting more exercise.

How are you going to do those things? Could joining a gym be a potential solution?

Like investing, I started seriously exercising way too late in life. But it’s never too late. I figure today is better than never, and there is no time like the present to make a change.

I always thought gym memberships were too expensive, until I started researching them.

Years ago I had tried jogging; I hate jogging. I tried an exercise ball and elastic bands, DVDs and TV exercise routines and an in-home bike and treadmill. I even tried a circuit-training program for women, I found little motivation to go. None of these worked for me.

Now that I’ve found something that works, I’ve stuck with it.

That is a key!

What’s the best exercise for you? The one you’ll actually do.

If you live in a place with a lot of nice weather, daily walks, hiking or swimming may be great for you.

Or maybe you’re self-disciplined enough to follow an online program or use your own equipment.

I found that actually GOING to a gym helped me. There is nothing like seeing other people workout to convince you to do the same. Somehow being with others who care about their bodies enough to workout motivates me.

Here are some options you may not have considered:

FREE – Is there a gym you may have free access to, like at school, work or where you live?

BARE BONES – I found there are gyms with memberships as little as $10/month. Planet Fitness is one such chain in the U.S. that has more than 900 locations. Their basic membership gives you access to a bunch of cardio machines like bikes and treadmills. For double the price, the premium membership lets you visit other locations (besides where you live) and also gives you access to massage chairs, tanning booths (NOT good for you) and ½ price drinks. Unless you travel a lot, the premium membership looks like a rip off to me. Figure out what is important to you and what you can really afford.

COMPREHENSIVE GYMS – Variety is what keeps me going to my gym because it offers machines, group classes and a pool (with hot tub, sauna and steam room). I like to mix up my routine, so I’ve found this variety works very well at 24 Hour Fitness. I think it’s expensive with monthly dues starting at $30, but I found a bargain by purchasing a 2-year membership through Costco (wholesale club). It was $299 for 2-years when I started, and has slowly crept up over the years. But the price is still cheap at $369.99 for two years, working out to just $15.42/month. I use the machines and pool and attend Pilates and yoga classes. And did I mention that I’ve used multiple locations in various states? Unfortunately, I never found any of their non-U.S. locations to be where I traveled.

YMCA – The “Y” as it’s called is in more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the U.S. and in many other countries. Started in the 1800s as the Young Men’s Christian Association (a refuge for men flocking to cities during the industrial revolution), the YMCA has become a place of empowerment for kids and families. Fitness is a key part of their current offerings, with loads of exercise programs. I think their memberships are expensive for individuals, but make more sense for families who can justify the expense between family members. Financial assistance is available for some who would otherwise not afford their services. Search locations in your area.

WOMEN ONLYCurves offers circuit-training for women who feel uncomfortable working out in coed situations. Their philosophy is based on cardio (elevating heart rate) and machines that work the entire female body in just 30 minutes. It didn’t work for me, but I know it does for many. Reciprocal agreements often allow you to use other locations when you travel.

LOCAL AND SPECIALTY– There are many small gyms that are locally owned. Some specialize in bodybuilding, boxing or other specialties like power yoga. It’s worth doing some research to find out what’s available in your area, especially if you don’t need the convenience of a multi-location chain.

TAKE A FRIEND – Working out with a buddy can be very helpful. A friend of mine and I often swim on Friday nights, then watch a movie. Don’t discount the social aspect of motivation and follow through.

Most gyms offer you a free pass to try out their facility and services for a few days. Try before you buy is a great idea.

If you get a membership, don’t be intimidated by the people there who seem to know what you’re doing. Some memberships offer a free session with a trainer; I used this to show me how to use the machines. Watch what others do, or research techniques online.

Listen to Podcast #5 Get Moving with Sandi Watkins for tips on mixing up your routine and keeping good form (also available on iTunes and Stitcher).

Again, what is the best exercise for you? The one that you’ll actually do!


Royalty-free image uploaded by Ned Horton; retrieved from



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