You’ve made the New Year’s resolution to get in shape. Great! It is wise to avoid becoming part of the U.S. obesity crisis. This National Center for Health Statistics just released data claiming that the U.S. population now has the highest obesity rate in our country’s history: nearly 40% of adults and 19% of youth. But before jumping into a gym membership, take a little time to evaluate your goals, your lifestyle, and your budget so that you can find your best track to good fitness.
Read the Fine Print – Gym Membership Costs
For many people, the decision to become fit automatically becomes a financial decision tied to a gym membership. Statistic Brain Research Institute claims that the average cost of a gym membership is $58 per month, or $696 per year. However, there often are other fees to factor in such as an initiation fee as well as an annual fee. Annual fees come every year, while the initiation fee is usually a one-time cost. You also should look into any associated fees if you need to temporarily put your membership on hold. Another potential “gotcha” is the offer of a discounted pre-payment option. While it may sound good on paper, such as promising 5-10% off the total year membership, what happens if the gym closes? While it may give you some comfort to have in writing a guarantee of a reimbursement in case of a closure, it may not be a reality—so buyer beware.
Gyms can range from upscale clubs with spa amenities to those with bare bones equipment—and the membership price is a reflection of the overall experience. However, there are some definite benefits to being part of the gym culture.
- Access to a wide variety of equipment—keeps you interested in working out and helps you achieve a full-body workout.
- A financial motivation to get your money’s worth.
- The camaraderie of fellow gym rats—powerful motivation and support.
- Access to professional staffers that can help you with proper form as well as the opportunity to hire personal trainers.
There are ,of course, a number of potential downfalls attached to gym memberships.
- Cost—money that could be spent on other necessities. Many memberships lock you into a year membership cycle.
- Diminished motivation—you start off full of determination and then find your sneakers and gym bag sitting in a closet for weeks. (Statistic Brain Research Institute claims that 67% of gym memberships go unused.)
- Time crunch—you find it increasingly difficult to find the time to drive to and from the gym and get in your workout. Who will watch the kids for you? Who will get dinner on the table?
- After work crowding—most people have the same small window of time to get in their workout, causing a wait for your favorite machine or a missed opportunity altogether.
- Chatty Kathy syndrome—perhaps you prefer a bit of solitude when you raise your heartbeat and not having to small talk.
Home Gyms Benefits
Home gyms have come a long way. Not only is there an assortment of equipment options for every interest and target zone, but also many are able to be stored under furniture or fold up for convenience. In addition, technology has provided a channel to a stream of apps, videos, and support groups to keep you motivated and interested in working out.
- Convenience—work out when you want to without a commute.
- Serene solitude— the sounds of silence, and the ability to wear whatever you want without feeling self-conscious.
- Crank up the volume—for some, loud music hits the right note for motivation.
- Fresh air—combine the benefits of exercise with the great outdoors to boost physical and mental well being.
- Avoid the germs—this is especially a concern during flu season.
- Savings—if you hit the trails and streets and use free weights, etc., the investment can be minimal.
Home Gyms Disadvantages
There can certainly be a number of challenges to working out at home.
- Alone again—without the feeling of camaraderie, motivation can wane.
- Space issue—bulky machinery could be a problem if you have small digs.
- Cost—an initial high price if you invest in high-quality equipment.
- Low variety—minimal equipment can lead to exercise boredom.
- Distractions—the kids, the chores, the media; it can be hard to tune out and get into the workout zone at home.
More Options to Consider
- Some gyms (as well as dance centers, spinning centers, yoga studios, etc.) offer a pay-as-you-go or passbook strategy, which is a good way to test the waters.
- See if the gym you are considering offers a “free trial.” Shop around and take advantage of these freebies before making a decision.
- Some employee benefits as well as health insurance providers offer discounts or reimbursements on gym equipment and gym memberships. It is worth checking into this before shopping around.
- Recreation centers offer a low-cost option (again a day rate can be a good place to start).
- Colleges can offer a good deal for their on-site gyms (memberships as well as day rates).
- Form a workout buddy network in your community or office to keep motivated – even a commitment to walk a mile or so three times a week can be beneficial to health.
- There are tons of websites, apps, and streaming videos that offer free or low-cost exercise plans and strategies. Check out Gaia to reach 8,000+ videos on yoga, pilates, fitness, meditation and more; jillianmichaels.com for fitness programs and nutrition; dailyburn.com for apps and tracking tools; fitocracy.com for assessments, workouts, and access to personal trainers. Many of these sites and apps offer free trails!
Two locations in Santa Fe, six in Albuquerque, and one in Rio Rancho. Memberships start at $36.95 per month, 7 day free trial available.
Four locations in Albuquerque, one in Rio Rancho, one in Farmington. No contacts, all month-to-month plans; three-day free pass available. Individual plan is $43.99/month, couple $79.99/month and 60+ discounted to $34.99/month, other plans available. States initiation fee of $75 on website. *Website also claims free membership available through Presbyterian Health Plan.
Equipment, pools, racquetball courts, basketball courts, fitness classes (extra fee), ice skating, and more. Day fees range from child under 10 at $2 per day to adult at $7 and senior at $4. There are a range of memberships such as one-month adult ($69.50), three-month adult ($160.50), 12-month adult ($473), and 10-day punch pass at $63. Discounts for kids, couple memberships, family memberships, and seniors.
Fitness Plus for Women
Offers one-week free trial, various membership plans, such as month-to-month ($35 plus tax), year contract, and enhanced year contract. Located in Santa Fe.
Located in Albuquerque–daily fee $5, or four-month flat $100 fee.
No nonsense approach in Santa Fe—favorite of bodybuilders. Membership options such as $10 day fee, ten-punch $60, $69 month and “super saver” $135 first month and $55 plus tax thereafter.
The Open Gym
Locally owned in Albuquerque, first visit free. Month-to-month plan ($34.99/month), month-to-month couple ($50.99/month), 12-month ($29.99/month), 12-month couple ($45.99/month).
Nine locations in Albuquerque, one location in Santa Fe, one in Rio Rancho, and more throughout New Mexico. Low-cost $10 a month “no frills” plan or perky $21.99 per month “Black Card” rate.
Santa Fe Spa
Lots of options and amenities, flexible payment plans such as one-day pass ($15), one-week ($45), three-week ($60), one year ($699) with 75 days of freeze time.
One of the most important questions to ask yourself is what form of exercise do you like? Is it hiking, swimming, yoga, belly dancing, tae kwon do, tennis? If you are considering a gym membership, find out which one will offer your personal interests in addition to work out equipment. Some will offer classes; some will not. If you think, for instance, you will find belly dancing fun and be committed then search out a local resource for that activity. The important thing is that you exercise. And if your long-standing gym membership isn’t getting the job done, it’s time to take your money and run.