Should You Join a Gym?

Kathryn Vera
Woman at the gym

Before signing up for a gym membership, consider the potential pros and cons. While there are a number of benefits associated with exercising at a gym, the potential drawbacks should not be ignored.

Pros

The benefits associated with joining a gym are numerous, particularly for people who want access to a variety of equipment, programs and support.

Variety

When it comes to exercise equipment at a commercial gym, the sky is often the limit. Active notes that most gyms offer a wide range of exercise equipment to suit the various needs and desires of their clientele and may far exceed the basic treadmills, stationary bikes, pools and ellipticals that were once a mainstay.

In the American Council on Exercise's Personal Trainer's Manual (Page 87), the American Council on Exercise reports that commercial gyms often provide dumbbells, kettlebells, Therabands, exercise balls, BOSU balls, balance boards, and a host of other equipment designed to promote a challenging total-body workout.

In addition to obtaining access to a plethora of exercise equipment, individuals who join a gym may be able to participate in group exercise classes, free of charge. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that depending on the gym in question, a number of exercise classes may be offered:

  • Indoor cycling
  • Step aerobics
  • Zumba
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • "Bootcamp"
  • Kickboxing
  • Weight training

Expert Advice

According to Daily Finance, the availability of health and fitness experts - including those who have a certification or degree in the field of exercise - is one of the most significant perks associated with joining a gym. These professionals can not only provide advice when it comes to the design and development of an exercise program that will help you meet your fitness goals, but can also offer tips and guidance on proper exercise technique. Gym employees are often trained on proper spotting techniques during resistance training and can ensure safety during higher-intensity weight lifting sessions.

While all exercisers may benefit from the services provided by these experts, beginning exercisers may find gym staff especially useful. For optimal results when it comes to tapping into this resource, be sure to be clear about your exercise history and fitness goals.

It is important to note that while most gym employees will likely be willing to offer basic tips and recommendations free of charge, personal training sessions, in which staff members work one-on-one with exercisers for an extended period of time, will likely require additional payment above and beyond the basic monthly gym membership.

Community Support

Though some individuals find that going to the gym is one of the best parts of their day, for others, it is a chore. These exercisers may find that going to a gym and working out with those who may be in the same boat provides them with the support and motivation that they need to make exercise a part of their regular routine, reports Daily Finance.

Social exercisers may especially appreciate the sense of community associated with participation in a group exercise class. In many cases, the same group of individuals attends these classes week after week and after a period of time, your presence or absence will be noted.

Cons

Though the benefits associated with joining a gym are significant, it is also important to keep the drawbacks in mind.

Cost

The significant cost associated with joining a gym is a major drawback to many individuals, and with good cause. According to Active, gym memberships may range in price from $20 to $120 per month, for a total of $240 to $1440 per person, per year. These individuals will therefore have to dish out much more money than exercisers who walk or jog outside or perform body weight exercises at home.

Even in cases when gym memberships are subsidized by employee medical insurance plans, there will still likely be some out-of-pocket expenses associated with joining a health club.

Inconvenience

Individuals who exercise at home can generally do so with ease, any time, day or night; unfortunately, those who possess a gym membership may find that it is not so convenient. In addition to having to physically get themselves to the gym, those who hold a membership may also have to deal with other inconvenient logistics, such as arranging childcare.

Getting to the gym during their hours of operation can also prove challenging for some exercisers, though it is important to note that more and more gyms are now beginning to operate 24/7.

Lack of Privacy

Though some individuals may appreciate working out in a group setting, this may not be for all. In fact, some exercisers may find that working out in a large group may be quite intimidating, especially if they are new to exercise. In contrast, exercising at home can be done in private, away from prying eyes.

Comparisons

In addition to evaluating the pros and cons of joining a gym, comparing a gym workout to a home workout may also be helpful for those who are considering the purchase of a membership.

Aerobic Exercise

When it comes to the differences between aerobic exercise at a gym and at home, the differences are substantial. Individuals who walk on the treadmill at a gym, for example, may easily control the intensity at which they walk by making changes to incline and speed, and can enjoy the benefits of air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter.

In contrast, those who walk or jog outside often benefit from the vitamin D that they obtain from sunshine exposure, and experience more visual variety when it comes to their workouts.

Strength Training Exercise

As with aerobic exercise, strength training workouts can vary drastically, depending on if they are done at home or at a commercial gym. Individuals who exercise at a gym, for example, can engage in strength training with a wide variety of equipment, including weight machines, dumbbells, cable machines, and other similar gear. In addition, gym-goers can maintain safety by working with gym staff or experienced fellow exercisers.

While home exercisers may have access to some resistance training equipment, it usually pales in comparison to that offered by a gym. Home exercisers may be able to use the equipment that they do possess at their own pace, however, and have access to it in whichever order that they desire. These perks are hard to come by in a commercial gym, where clients are often competing for the same pieces of equipment.

Other Forms of Exercise

Exercisers who belong to a gym generally have access to various group exercise classes. These classes are generally taught by a trained professional who can provide guidance and recommendations for advancement as needed.

Home exercisers may be able to participate in activities similar to those offered in group exercise classes through the use of exercise videos. Doing these videos at home allows beginning exercisers to get a great workout away from prying eyes, and can be done over and over until they are perfected - something that is not always possible with changing curriculum in group exercise settings.

Gym Versus Home

While a gym offers a variety of exercise equipment, expert advice and community support, it can also be expensive, inconvenient, and often lacks privacy. Individuals should be sure to weigh these pros and cons before deciding if a gym membership is right for them.

Should You Join a Gym?