Should you join a gym? My thoughts after a full year of gym membership

One year ago today, I vowed to get back in shape for the New Year by committing to a one-year gym membership for $20 a month.

At the time, I was hesitant. It’s so common for people to join a gym, give up within a couple months, and end up stuck with a monthly bill for a membership they’re not using. Since it’s been a year, I thought it might be helpful for me to revisit my decision to join the gym in case some of you are considering the same decision now.

When I joined the gym, I had three goals: I wanted to get in better shape, work out more, and lose 10-15 pounds.

Weight loss

Unfortunately, after losing and gaining back about 10 pounds or so, I am pretty much back where I started last January. This could be due to the medication that I’m taking or my yo-yo eating habits. But the bottom line is, joining a gym did not help me lose weight.

Regular exercise

For the first time in my life, I have consistently adhered to a workout routine for almost all of 2009. There were a couple weeks here and there where I didn’t make it to the gym due to illness or travel, but for the most part, I exercised at least 2-3 times a week every week (usually more often than that).

Better health

Despite the fact that I haven’t lost weight, I’m in the best physical shape of my life. For the first time in a long time I can maintain a jog for about 30 minutes without stopping. I feel great physically. I’m sleeping better, eating better, and feeling better than I did before I started exercising regularly.

Natural treatment for anxiety & depression

Working out consistently has also done wonders to treat my anxiety and depression issues. I really noticed this during the month of December when my busy schedule and holiday laziness kept me out of the gym for almost 2 weeks (my longest time without working out since last January). I started to feel a relapse in my anxiety that has subsided since I started working out again.

No excuses

Is it possible to get these results without paying $20 a month to a gym? Absolutely. If you have the will power to get outside and run every day through rain, cold, and darkness, then you could certainly save the money by working out without a gym membership. You won’t have access to the same array of equipment and weights, but it’s absolutely possible to stay fit for free.

But what I’ve learned in the past 12 months is that my gym membership made exercise convenient. It’s hard enough to get out and get to the gym when it’s cold or rainy; there’s no way I would exercise if it meant running outside. With a gym membership, there are no excuses. It doesn’t matter if it’s dark before and after work, cold outside, or raining — I can work out when I want.

Invest in your health

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: paying $20 a month for the membership was a definite incentive for me. Because I’m a cheapskate who wants to be sure I get my money’s worth, I started feeling guilty every time I went a few days without using my membership.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re considering a gym membership and you can work it into your budget, I say go for it. I can think of very few things more important or more worthy of investment than good health. This year I spent $240 to develop what I hope will be a lifelong commitment to fitness, and it’s the best investment I ever made.

Photo by yuan2003

3 thoughts on “Should you join a gym? My thoughts after a full year of gym membership

  1. Brittany

    Congrats on the year of fitness! I agree.. you can’t pay attention to the weight. Besides sometimes you actually gain weight by working out since we all know muscle weighs more than fat! You have to really just think about how you feel and not what it shows on the scale!

    Another thing to consider when thinking about gym memberships is whether your insurance will cover it. When I was in NY, my insurance covered something like 60% annually of the cost of my gym membership. I think nowadays, more health care providers are realizing that it helps to pay for preventative things like this that will encourage ppl to have better health. Hopefully it will eventually become a routine thing covered by health care, wouldn’t that be nice?

    Happy new year!

  2. monique

    Congratulations on keeping up this great habit. I joined a gym in October, not so much to lose weight (I also haven’t), but to get healthy and strong. I am very close to my ideal weight anyways, but I was hoping to get a little closer (lose 5 pounds maybe?). At first I was disappointed by this, but now I revel in the strength that I feel. I never ever felt muscles in my lower back before! I hope to shed a few pounds once spring comes, but if not, I will still continue going to the gym because the power and the increased metabolism that it has provided me have been worth it!

  3. Issa

    After 24 months of going to the gym, I am still conflicted. I know it is good for me – my GGT was lowered to acceptable levels, I was able to conceive (our second child) after 8 years of trying, I feel good, better – but whenever I see the bill ($60/month) and look at the past and realize I have only gone for 4 times in a month for a lot of months, and none in some – I go ballistic (well, internally) and want to just stop the membership. I guess the secret is in the commitment – buy a gym membership only if you have a strong resolve to be fit or be healthy, and commit to going at least 3-4 times in a week. Otherwise, that is money in the gym’s pocket and out of yours and it is not very financial savvy.

    I am happy that your experience turned out real good for you. I wish I will have that resolve (and your results). I currently stopped my gym membership because of the pregnancy but I am hoping to go back again – and be good this time.
    .-= Issa´s last blog ..Credit Card Musings (er, Woes) =-.

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