Getting in shape used to mean getting a gym membership. But with the recent pandemic reshaping the world as we know it, if may be time to rethink this monthly service. Here are some reasons why you should seriously think about ditching your gym membership, and what you can do instead.
Memberships are pricey
You’re probably spending about $800 per year on your gym membership. But realistically, you’re wasting half or more of your fees by simply not showing up. 67 percent of gym members don’t go to the gym, according to Statistic Brain. Even more people don’t use their memberships regularly.
According to the 2005 study, the average gym attendance is lower than 4.8 times per month. And, guess what? Your “no-show” is greatly appreciated. Commercial gyms create their business model around people who don’t attend regular workout sessions. That’s because, according to Planet Money, commercial health clubs need 10 times as many members as they can actually fit in their gym to make money. Low-cost gyms are the biggest example of this.
Let’s take Planet Fitness. They average about 6,500 members per gym. Yet, the average gym only holds about 300 people. In fact, it’s for this reason that most gyms target people who they believe won’t show up. Just think about that next time you’re tempted to sign on the dotted line.
It’s almost impossible to cancel
The two most dreaded contracts to break are phone contracts and, of course, health club contracts. And anyone who’s ever tried to get out of gym membership knows all too well how painful that experience is. According to CNBC, there’s an obvious trend between when people stop going to the gym and when they cancel. That’s because gym cancellation procedures generally require you to jump through hoops to cancel, like having you show up in person and supplying a certified letter. Even then, there’s no guarantee the automatic withdrawals won’t continue to leak from your bank account or credit cards.
Okay, so there may be more hanging out at the gym than you, and that creepy gym stalker. A study on gym cleanliness found that free weights actually had 362 times more germs than the average toilet seat. Germs are everywhere, but fitness facilities, in particular, can be hotspots for bacteria to flourish. Every time you pick up a weight or grab an exercise bike handle, you’re at risk of catching an illness or infection, according to the study.
Another study published in the journal MDPI found several potential disease-causing bacteria. Thanks to the poor hygiene of gym membership or poor cleaning practices, bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (often found in skin infections), Staphylococcus saprophyticus (which can cause urinary tract infections) and salmonella (a common cause food poisoning) were found. In these trying times, with a pandemic still ravging the world, the thought of infection is even more concerning.
The gym can be a little boring
Let’s face it, most people don’t find walking on a treadmill much fun. The gym can be very boring. If it wasn’t, we’d all be standing in lines to get in as if it was the hottest nightclub in town. Enough said.
Going to the gym takes a huge chunk out of your day
The average number of times a gym membership owner goes to the gym is twice a week, according to Statistic Brain. One probable reason: it takes a huge chunk out of the day! I’m not saying that exercising isn’t worth your time — it is. Yet, between the drive to and from, exercising for at least one hour, not to mention the showering and blow drying, “gym time” uses up a lot of your time.
So, what can you do instead?
We all need exercise. Without it, we would have a hard time maintaining our weight and combatting conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. But while it may seem like working out at the gym is the only way to get in shape, it’s not the only option. Here’s what you can do instead:
Build your own home gym
You can build a home gym for less money than you might think. But just remember, it may be hard to commit to working out at home when your kids are screaming for dinner. So, set aside time each day for exercising in a space that’s your own. Preferably, you want a dedicated room with a door that you can close so your workout isn’t interrupted. You can add a stereo to block out distractions, a few floor mats and least one full-length mirror so you can see yourself from head to toe. And, don’t forget, you can wear whatever you like.
With a home gym, you have no more excuses, like “I don’t have time,” “It’s too cold to go to the gym,” “It’s too hot to go to the gym” or “I don’t have anything to wear.” When you have a home gym, none of these excuses apply.
Take it outdoors
No home gym, no worries. Exercise is always better with fresh air. Working outdoors is a great mood lifter. According to Science Daily, exercises like nature walks are linked to significantly lower depression, less stress and enhanced mental health and well-being. And with all that resistance to the wind and uneven ground, you’re sure to burn more calories.
Check out YouTube
YouTube is a great resource for hundreds of free video tutorials for everything from yoga to strength training, to so much more. You can even search “exercise tutorial” on Pinterest, and you’ll find hundreds of easy-to-follow exercise routines. Search “fitness” on Instagram and you’ll find even more videos and image tutorials.
Workout apps galore
There are hundreds of smartphone apps available that can also help you get in shape at home — without ever having to set foot in a gym. Why waste your money on a gym membership? For some people, joining a gym may not even fit into their budget. Either way, you can always exercise at home, indoors or outdoors, for less money and fewer germs, when the mood strikes. And that means your workout sessions will be a lot more fun!