Should you join a gym? Pros and cons of gym membership

Almost exactly eight years ago I started hitting the gym as part of a rare new year's resolution that I had made. I was turning 30 and was done having kids and one of my older friends kept telling me how much your metabolism changes once you hit your 30's and lawd knows, I didn't need that catching up with me!

I've never been the most athletic person. I like being active and being outside but if you are playing a game, I don't blame you for picking me last. I had never stepped onto an elliptical before, never really used weights to work out with and outside of a PE class in high school where we did a Cindy Crawford workout video, I had never done a group fitness class ever.

But, with three small kids at home, my attempts at finding time to workout weren't working out, so I took advantage of the great deals in the new year and found a gym that offered a free three week trial. I got comfortable with the idea of going to the gym and then joined a different gym that was closer to my house that had everything that I needed.

If you are like millions of Americans who resolve to get healthy in the new year, I have a few thoughts if you are considering gym membership. It may save you a ton of money!

Pros of gym membership

1. You may feel obligated to go

Gym membership can be expensive {I know this is sounding like a con already but bear with me!} but if you have paid your membership fee {usually through automatic bank withdraw}, you may just feel obligated to go. 

2. You get out of the house

As a young mom, this was top on my list of reasons! I needed an outlet and going to the gym was a great place for that outlet. Some gyms offer child care or kids programs that are fun for the whole family. Now that my kids are older, going to the gym still gives me a great reason to get out of the house and start my day off right.

3. You can meet new friends

I started meeting friends in the classes that I took and they started inviting me to run with them or to join them at a new class. I had a routine time that I went to the gym and generally the same people came at the same time. I started to get to know new people. It was a great social outlet when I was starting to feel isolated with young motherhood and people start to hold you accountable if you miss a day or two.

4. Your new friends can encourage new habits

Before joining a gym I had never run more than the mile that was required of us during the presidential fitness test in school, but once I joined the gym, I had new friends inviting me to run with them and while I didn't love running, I did love the social aspect of it...misery loves company so they say. On my 30th birthday I ran my first 5k and took 3rd place in my age division and since then, I've run 5 half marathons and countless 5k's.

5. All the expensive equipment is there

I change up my routine quite often. I use the treadmill, the elliptical, the stair climber, bikes and the rowing machine. I lift free weights, I use the Bosu and medicine balls and I use the weight machines. I haven't had to buy or replace a single piece of gym equipment for my home. I don't have the clutter or the storage of big bulky pieces of machinery. Everything I need is at the gym.

6. It can cut down medical bills

I was dealing with a pretty nasty case of post postpartum depression when I started working out. I was on depression medication, but I attribute starting a fitness routine with the success of that medication. I was able to go off of the medication less than six months after I started my fitness routine and have been able to stay off of the meds since. Going to the gym has been a sanity saver for me. Not to mention, I have been in the best shape of my life since. I was thin before I started working out, but I wasn't healthy. I would huff and puff when I took a flight of stairs and I didn't have the endurance to do any type of activity for long. While I don't know how much this new healthy lifestyle has saved me, I do know that I have never been healthier.

7. You work out harder

I've been running next to someone on the treadmill and upped my speed just to keep up. I've taken classes where I've looked over and seen the woman who is twice my age grab a heavier weight and challenged myself to do the same. I find that having people around me who are challenging themselves, help me to challenge myself.

Cons of gym membership

1. You have to leave your house

I have friends that are hooked on the 30 day fixed. They love that they can work out at home after just having rolled out of their pajamas and they don't have to add the drive time to the time that their workout takes away from their day. I get that. However, I will say, that when I have attempted to work out at home, I am usually distracted by the million things that I have to do here and usually cut my workouts short.

2. It's expensive

Some gyms can be quite expensive. It doesn't cost you hardly anything if you are working out at home. You can stream workouts from nationally known trainers on your laptop and you can download apps on your phone to help keep you on track. Thankfully, I have found a local gym that is running distance from my house that costs only $10 a month, so affordable gyms do exist.

3. You may not know what you are doing

Like I said before, I had never worked out at a gym before. I was a total newbie. I was afraid to use some of the machines for fear of not doing them right. If working out is new to you, this may be a real hindrance for you. However, I have found that most gyms have trainers that are happy to show you how to use the equipment for free. And if you want to try a class, you usually won't get called out for being in the back row and doing your best. While it feels like all eyes are on you, they usually aren't.
I'm a frugal gal and I like to spend my money wisely, so an added expensive like gym membership has to be worth it for me to rationalize paying for it every month. I think that the pro's far outweigh the cons for me and probably for most of you, but before you get into a hefty monthly contract, make sure you have made your new healthy habit of hitting the gym a priority before you link that bank account.  I would love to hear what you think.
Is joining a gym worth it? I would love for you to add your list of pros and cons.

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