Ok I know I just told you to start working out as a way to stay healthy and wealthy, but listen up: you can do it all without a gym membership.
Gyms are smelly, crowded, and over-priced. Their hours are sometimes inconvenient, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a turn on the equipment you want to use or fit into that over-crowded aerobics class.
Even the most affordable, at $30 a month, are a big chunk of change that you could surely use for more lofty goals. And while the most expensive ones also offer things like saunas and in-house massage therapists, do you really use those services often enough to justify paying $500 or more a month?
Answer’s no, snowdrop. When you get right down to it, a gym membership is a great way to tell the world “My New Year’s Resolution was to lose ten pounds by going to the gym six days a week, but it’s February 10th and there’s a new season of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix and I’m too ashamed to cancel my gym membership so HERE WE ARE.”
You can achieve your fitness goals without a gym membership, and you’ll save a whole bunch of money while you’re at it.
No you may not.
But I don’t know how!
It’s cool, my jewel-encrusted starfish of optimism, for you have resources right at your fingertips! There are all kinds of people who make their livelihoods by posting instructional videos about exercising to YouTube. That’s right! You have only to watch a free website to have a personal trainer right in the comfort of your own home.
If you prefer a personal touch, or if you’re worried you’ll injure yourself by not knowing how to do it right, go all out with the gym membership plus an on-staff personal trainer for a few weeks. Tell them you’re looking for an everyday routine for whole body health. Ask specifically for exercises that you can do without equipment, or with very little equipment. Then once you’ve got it down, cancel your membership and take your personal routine home with you.
Invest in equipment, not membership fees
With the money you’re not spending on a monthly gym membership, you can buy any special equipment you need for working out in your home. Cancel your membership and use that money to buy running shoes, a yoga mat, and some weights, in that order.
“But what about the cardio machines?” What about the cardio machines? Most of them just simulate non-machine cardiovascular activities, like running, biking, or climbing stairs. So you should just… run, bike, or climb stairs like the glorious Olympian you are.
But it’s not safe out there!
I absolutely sympathize with this fear. A few years ago a woman’s murdered corpse was found in the weeds along my favorite running path. So if you feel unsafe exercising outside, then you should absolutely find ways to avoid it or make it more safe.
For me, that meant only running outside when I could bring my dog. I feel very safe with my loyal beast by my side. Plus, I’m motivated to run farther if I know he’s enjoying himself too.
For you, this could mean running the stairs in your apartment building, or power walking at the mall, or finding a buddy to bike with for safety.
But sometimes the weather’s bad, or it’s dark out, or you just don’t feel like leaving the house. Then what?
Remember this fundamental law of the universe: almost everything can be purchased secondhand. Craigslist is just lousy with the broken New Year’s Resolutions of lazy people who reached for the fitness stars only to find that by March their elliptical had transformed into an expensive and unsightly drying rack for their clothes. These people are desperate to unload their barely used exercise equipment.
And that’s how I got myself a free treadmill! Now I can run in my basement without fear of the Babadook jumping out of the bushes at me. We got my husband’s weight bench the same way, and we’re now a completely gym membership-free household.
Even if you faithfully use your gym membership, you should ask yourself “Is this worth it? Is there a cheaper, freer way I could be staying fit? Can I do all the same exercises without shelling out any money nor getting an eyeful of strangers’ gonads in a locker room?” Yes. Yes you can. Now flex your financial muscles and make it happen.