Is a Gym Membership Worth it?

A few months ago, we decided to join our local YMCA. And a week ago, I cancelled our membership. It was really nothing against the Y. In fact, I really enjoyed my time there. However, with recent life changes, we decided that the $75/month just wasn’t going to be worth it.

Here were my reasons for cancelling: 1. We’re buying a house and every penny counts. 2. I’m pregnant and would rather do my workouts in the privacy of my home when I’m a giant, sweaty, heavy-breathing balloon. And 3. We’re moving 10 more miles away, so it won’t be as easy to just bop over for a quick workout.

But, like I said, I did really enjoy having a membership. I think group exercise classes are a blast. And the Y offers free child watch while you workout, so it was great for Lily. And great to have a break as a SAHM. Being around other humans is always good for us too!

Anyway… here’s some questions you can answer yourself if you’re ever thinking about joining (or leaving) a gym.

1- Do you need the motivation?

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Some of us just need a little extra kick in the butt when it comes to working out. And gyms can be a great motivator to get it done. Whether it’s because you want to get your money’s worth. Or you sign up with a personal trainer to take advantage of the guidance, as well. Or group exercise classes are also an easy and fun way to get you moving.

But, if you’re more like me and my husband, you might not need that extra encouragement to exercise. Not to mention, there’s so many at-home workout programs out there these days. My personal favorite is my yoga app, Down Dog! But there’s YouTube videos, programs like BeachBody, or just good old fashioned books like my Yeah Baby! book by Jillian Michaels (obviously geared toward pregnant women).

So, just ask yourself how much motivation you need, and maybe the gym is the right answer for you!

2 – Do you need the equipment?

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You may not have room for the type of equipment you need for your workouts. Especially, if you are one who likes to use a variety of gear. And if you really like to switch it up, buying all of the equipment wouldn’t be worth the money compared to a $10/month membership to Planet Fitness. Like, if you want to be able to use a treadmill, row machine, stationary bike, bench press, pulley machine, and dumbbells… you might just want to pay the fee.

However, it is always possible to get a good workout in with very little equipment. Most workouts don’t require any equipment at all. But, if you do the math, a few simple pieces of exercise equipment are still going to be more worth your money than a gym membership. My husband and I have a bench, a set of Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells, a yoga mat, an exercise ball, resistance bands, and a foam roller. These few things are all we need for a good workout. You could probably pay for these things with a year’s worth of gym membership fees.

3 – What is more convenient for you?

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Perhaps your gym is just a hop, skip, and jump away and it’s super easy to just bop over for a quick workout, or it’s on your way to/from work. Or maybe, you live somewhere that runs/walks are not exactly ideal. Going to a gym might just be the most convenient for you and your way of life.

But getting yourself to a gym might not be the easiest thing to do for you. If you’re like us, and it takes just as long to drive to the gym than it does to actually workout, maybe try an in-home gym or program.

4 – Are the extra amenities worth it to you?

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One of the biggest reasons that I got a membership to the YMCA was for the free child watch. I would just drop Lily off at the little daycare center a minute before my group exercise class started. It was great for her to socialize and great for me to get a break! A lot of gyms also have other great amenities like a pool, sauna, basketball court, jogging track, massage chairs, tanning beds, and snack bars. These might be really worth your money.

It’s really just a matter of if these amenities are important to you. When I was able to get to the Y two or more times a week, the membership was really worth it for the child watch. It’s not as worth it to me now that I can’t go as much, but you better believe I might be rejoining when there’s two little rascals driving me crazy and keeping me from getting my workout in!

Getting your workout in doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to decide what is easier for you… going to a gym or staying at home.

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Exercise (My In-the-Middle Approach)

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Let’s be real… most human beings are not exactly fond of working out. And I’m here to tell you that I’m not much different. I know what you’re thinking if you know me… Cassi, you have a degree in Exercise Science, you clearly like to workout.

Here’s the thing… it’s not that I really enjoy performing the exercises. I specialized in the subject because I know how important it is. I just appreciate the many benefits of exercise and want others to understand them as well.

I could go on and on about the never ending benefits of exercise, but there’s always one thing that I like to remind myself about when I’m not feeling all that up to it. Let me be one of those annoying people that talk about the cavemen for just a second here… human beings are not meant to be sedentary!

Take-out, Hy-Vee Aisles, and Hello Fresh have not always existed. Yeah, unfortunately, we used to have to work for our food. And water hasn’t always come out of a tap. And our homes have not always been maintained by someone we pay.

So, since we’re spoiled nowadays… we have to make up for it by doing our own physical activity. And yes, this would involve a mix of aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (weight-lifting). Unless, you’d like to go hunt and gather for your food everyday… be my guest!

Because I’m also not the biggest fan of working out, here is my #1 way I get myself to do it at least 5 days a week…

Mixing it Up!

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When it comes to exercise, I love all different kinds of activities. And I like to do them all to mix it up and keep it interesting. Who wants to go to the gym everyday, run for 20 minutes, lift for 40, then go home? I mean maybe that’s what works for you… but I’d get pretty bored.

Every week is a little different for me lately, but I highly recommend at least setting a designated time each day to workout. Whether it’s before work (which is what my husband does), after work, during lunch, or a different time everyday (like me). Just try to set aside the time beforehand.

Then, just make sure you’re getting a good mix of both aerobic and anaerobic. You can do this by doing them every other day or incorporating both into one workout.

Aerobic/anaerobic Every other day

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This is typically the approach that I take, but it will take some planning ahead. So, for example, I might lift weights on Monday (usually half of the muscle groups)… then on Tuesday, I go for a walk/jog… Wednesday, I lift the other half of the muscle groups… Thursday, I go to the zoo or for a hike… and Friday, I do a yoga session.

You can do this however you want… you can lift 4 days and go for a run once or twice in between lifting. Or if you’re a fan of running, go for a run 3 days and lift twice in between.

And you don’t have to workout just on the weekdays… if it works better to workout on the weekends and take Wednesday and Friday off… then do it! Sometimes, I don’t feel like working out after a long week on Friday, so I workout Saturday morning instead. Whatever you need to do to get the job done.

Also, if you want to give yoga a try, or don’t want to pay for a membership, or if you’re like me and don’t like doing it in front of others… try this awesome yoga app!

Down Dog is great for any level yogi. You can choose all different options for your workouts and it’s all from the comfort of your home. And the free version is perfect for amateurs!

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Click this icon to download the Down Dog App!

aerobic/anaerobic in same workout

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Now and then, when I’m a slacker I have to incorporate both aerobic and anaerobic into one workout. I, personally, like to do this through circuit workouts. So, working quickly through bodyweight or lightweight exercises. Many of the classes at gyms like HIIT or Tabata are like this. They get your heart rate up while really working your muscles. These are great if you don’t have a ton of time.

But, if you do have plenty of time in your day, you can also get your cardio in and follow it up with weights. The key is to make sure you get enough of both when you do this.

make working out work for you!

My point to all of this is… working out does not have to be boring. It should be fun/interesting/exciting! Don’t be afraid to try something new. Try a new class at your gym, download a workout video you’ve never done before, find a new place to go for a walk/run, or get the Down Dog app and try yoga!

Just make a weekly plan… what time of the day will you workout? What activities on which days? Do you have some aerobic and some anaerobic? Are you staying active at least 5 days a week?

Here’s a couple of my sample weeks…

MondayLift – chest, back, legs, abs
TuesdayIt’s a beautiful day – Push Lily in stroller at Zoo.
WednesdayLift – biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs, abs
Thursday30 minutes full practice yoga
FridayI’m a slacker
SaturdayStill a slacker (but hey, we went shopping and I walked a lot)
SundayOkay, okay… I’ll go for a jog.

MondayCircuit Workout
Tuesday40 min full practice yoga
WednesdayLift – Full Body
ThursdayWalk with Lily
SaturdayGo for a Hike
Sunday30 minutes restorative yoga

So, as you can see… I am not perfect by any means! Everyday is different for me, especially since my schedule is never the same and I have a one-year-old that isn’t exactly easy to workout with. I honestly don’t even plan a week ahead since my days are so random. I literally plan out my next day during my shower the night before.

All I can do is TRY. Try to be active everyday and try to challenge myself in every workout.

And if you want any workout tips or even a personalized plan… I would be happy to put this Exercise Science knowledge to use and help you out! Give me a shout on social media or go to my Contact Me page.

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