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As you drive down the road I’m sure you will pass many health clubs. Depending on where you live, it can seem like they are practically on every single corner. Health clubs are not just trendy, but they can be expensive. If you are going to spend the money, you want to be sure that your dollar is being well spent and with so many choices, you really do have the pick of the litter. But are they worth the costs that are associated with membership?


As someone who has been a gym membership holder to a variety of health facilities, let me help you out. Places like an ‘Anytime Fitness’ or a ‘Planet Fitness’ pride themselves on not being an intimidating facility to work out in. Yes, there are personal trainers there to assist you, if you make an appointment, but otherwise, you can come in and work out and go as you please, without too many ‘frills’ to the membership. You are paying for the convenience of a facility that is open 24 hours. As some of these facilities are privately owned, the equipment after initial purchase can become worn and might take some time to be replaced if it breaks. If your favorite machine stops working, you may leave your workout feeling a little bummed out.


Other health club memberships like a YMCA or a Recreation Facility are much bigger, but that also means more people will be there when you are. Some of these facilities offer classes, which are great, but when you are in a class with 50 Zumba people and you have 5’ of space to move around in, you might begin to feel like a sardine. Another downside to larger facilities is the equipment, depending on how busy it is when you get there, may require a waiting list to be able to use it. One of my favorite things to use is a treadmill. But I can’t tell you how many times I got to the gym, with my plan in mind, and a set time schedule, and ended up being ‘held up’ because I had to wait to use a piece of equipment. It was frustrating and it took twice as long as what I planned to spend at the gym.


Another big thing for many people is the cost. Some folks simply do not have the additional coin to spend on a gym membership. Many memberships can cost upwards of $40-$100 per month, depending on where you go. Basically, it boils down to what YOU want. If you WANT a personal trainer, if you LIKE big classes, if you LOVE seeing people when you go to the gym, perhaps a membership is for you, if you can afford it. But if you can’t, have no fear. There are a variety of workout plans you can research online or you can even start up your own club, amongst your friends. You can gather a group of friends and go for a run. You can ask around work and see if anyone is into cycling and get on a bicycle and take in some fresh air with like-minded folks who enjoy the same. You DO NOT have to spend the cash if it’s simply not there in your budget. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to find something you love, get out there, and get moving!


While health clubs are fun, you can meet great people and sometimes you can enjoy top of the line equipment, you can be just as successful at home, using things around your home to get the same desired effect. You can use steps and run up and down them a few times. You can go for a swim in your own pool. You go for a bike ride. You can lift bricks (used as free weights). Or you can even just go for a walk. Whatever you choose, you will still burn calories, still break a sweat, and still feel the same as if you just stepped out of the gym. Also, there’s Meetup, for all you social ones.


The decision of using a gym is a personal choice. It just depends on what YOU are looking for.