Are gym memberships worth it?


Fact Box

  • Zippia reported that there are 64.19 million Americans who are members of a gym, which is about 19% of the US population. 
  • The United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom make the most money off of gyms each year, ranging from a high of $35 billion to a low of $6 billion.
  • Close to half of new gym members end up quitting in the first six months, which is a monthly attrition rate of 3% to 5%. 
  • On average, it costs about $50 a month for a gym membership in the United States, which totals to $600 a year. Lifetime Fitness, YMCA, Goodlife Fitness, and Gold’s Gym are the most expensive gyms in the Strong Home Gym review.

Maria (No)

While cheaper in the short run than home gyms, gym memberships are not worth the yearly cost. Oftentimes, 'pre-committing' through membership doesn't motivate members to attend the gym or work out more than they already were, letting their memberships go to waste. Cheaper memberships only cover basic gym amenities that lack perks like a pool or sauna that would make a membership distinctive. 

Likewise, unforeseen additional costs are another factor to be wary of, as they can quickly become gouging. Most gyms tack on sign-up and cancellation fees, resulting in a bigger budget bust than most members expect.

Gyms also aren’t necessary to achieve a good workout. You can do squats, lunges, planks, cardio (like running or dancing), and many other body-toning exercises for free anywhere. No gyms mean people can work out while enjoying the outdoors and fresh air, like their local park, allowing them also to avoid the commute back and forth from a gym. This saves both time and fuel. Exercising outside also increases a person’s daily vitamin D intake, giving them a break from being inside another stuffy building, among other benefits. Healthwise, forgoing the gym avoids germs found in dirty locker rooms and on equipment, as the cleanliness of a gym is always a guess. 

Lastly, gyms are crowded, and people can waste time waiting for their turn on the equipment. Additionally, some people don't feel comfortable working out in a public environment. Sexual harassment towards women is common, which is why there are women-only gyms in all 50 states. For many, the need for comfort and privacy coupled with the bargain of working out anywhere for free is the better choice.

Andrew (Yes)

Unless one is willing to pour thousands into a personal home gym at the onset, actual gyms have all the equipment, classes, and amenities while covering upkeep costs. Unless one’s a wealthy fitness fanatic, they’ll unlikely have access to all of the weights, machines, pools, saunas, etc., that come with a gym membership. It's doubtful that personal gear will be of the same professional quality found at gyms. Access to various machines and weights can lead to better health results through more thorough and targeted exercise. Also, gyms take care of maintenance and sanitation and are free from distractions and diversions that can keep us from working out at home.

Exercise requires motivation, and the public nature of gyms can go a long way to keep exercisers on track to reach their goals. The other members and staff are great for motivation and accountability. A study of over a million individuals in Nature Communications found that exercise is 'socially contagious' and that those who work out with others are more likely to continue. This can be especially true in gyms, where various group classes are typically offered to members and motivation from personal trainers. 

Gyms offer safe spaces in which to exercise. This can be very important for those starting new exercise regimens who might be more prone to injury or need clarification on how to use equipment safely. They are also safer for those working out early or late at night. For example, running in a climate-controlled environment on a treadmill is often much safer than an early morning run outside before sunrise. Gyms are the most effective, safe, and complete place for anyone to find a good workout and achieve the body results they want.

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