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Considering joining a gym

October 24, 2009

I realized I have an irrational fear of adding recurring monthly costs to my budget, even if a one-time cost is way higher than a monthly cost

This became apparent when I joined bootcamp.  For one month I paid $150.  I must say, it has been really great.  It is more like small group personal training, and I’ve rediscovered all these muscles that I forgot about (basically any muscle not required for running or hiking or biking).

I discovered that many of the bootcamp attendees were semi-permanent bootcampers.  They do bootcamp over and over again as their main way to stay in shape.  Effective, but holy expensive!

Still, it dawned on me that I was willing to pay a one time $150 cost, but I had deemed gyms as unnecessary.  They are unnecessary.   Of course I can do work outs at home.  And run on my own.  But I can’t run in the mornings anymore (too dark/scary) and I’m a loser when it comes to devising my own strength routines.  If I joined a gym, I could work out any time, take  yoga classes, take group strength class, maybe even have pool access… all for $30+/month?  That really doesn’t seem unreasonable.

By the way, $150 is five months worth of the gym, even if it is a monthly cost.  And I can cancel any time (i think…) and my company seems to have several discounts that waive the BS “initiation” fees.

After bootcamp is over, I think I’ll go gym shopping.  I still prefer running outside as my main cardio, but I think joining a strength class would be great.  Some gyms even have a “bootcamp” class you can join for much less than $150/month.

Need:
Reasonable cost:  $30/m is my target, $50 is probably the max.
Location:  Near work, near my apartment, or on the way home from work.
Class offerings: Some sort of total body strength class in evening.  Yoga.
Amenities:  Not too sketchy, machines available at hours I intend to be there.

Want:
Location:  Multiple locations, one near work, one near home
Class offerings:  Yoga for no extra charge
Amenities:  Pool, jaccuizi

I’ve done some research, and this is really hard to come by.  All the $30/month gyms are pretty grungy and all the gyms that actually got good reviews have $75/mo or more price tags.    I probably will start with a more dingy gym and see how it goes.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2009 9:29 am

    I went through the same dilemma – my gym is about $60 a month but I usually can’t make it to any of the classes because they’re all during work hours. So I’m basically paying for the equipment & facilities. Right now I’m also taking a kick boxing class through the gym – a month long & another $60, but I love it so I think it’s worth it to keep me happy & healthy.

    It’s definitely annoying to have to pay for something you can do at home, but will you really do it at home or outside? I know I won’t, especially since winters in Seattle can be pretty harsh.

  2. October 24, 2009 9:37 am

    Have you looked into joining a YMCA? I’ve been a member of two Ys in two different locations, (one in a major city, one in the ‘burbs of that city) at different times and they’re both cheaper than the average gym without being sketchy. Both have had pools, machines and classes and were new and lean for about $40/month.

  3. October 24, 2009 10:01 am

    @J – Yes, the YMCA, it is one of my top few choices. The location is slightly more inconvenient than others and the rate for me would be about $50/month. Thanks for the suggestion, they did seem to have decent facilities and classes!

    @chloe – tell me about it. THe weather here is pretty awesome so the classes are the big draw. I do keep up with running pretty well, but I’ve tried more than once to incorporate weights and I just… don’t.

  4. October 24, 2009 11:03 am

    Is LA Fitness for 24 Hour Fitness an option for you? I have experience with LA Fitness. LA Fitness is $30 a month for me and has classes at all sorts of hours. The other gym chains I can think of are Golds Gym and Curves. Although with Curves I don’t think they really do classes. One last thing – depends on how close you live to a college or university that has a gym, that can be an option.

  5. October 24, 2009 11:19 am

    @S – yes, those are some I’m looking at. I am a half time student and have access to a great university gym, but traffic makes it pretty much impossible to get there during the week. My access ends in December anyway. The LA Fitness that is most convenient got poor reviews and has no pool. I may go in and check it out for myself. 24 hour got mediocre reviews — I’ll probably check them out too.

  6. October 24, 2009 2:45 pm

    Having been a member of several gyms in the area…I can tell you that the higher membership fee is definitely worth it. LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness both suck. The locker rooms are terrible, the equipment is old (and half the time broken), and you have those annoying personal trainers constantly bothering you. It isn’t fun working out when a personal trainer keeps looking at your form, trying to sell himself. Also, the classes fill up very quickly.

    Equinox is very expensive (but clean and newest equipment, and great classes), I first paid $120 a month for just the Santa Monica one, then quit when I moved back to Singapore, and re-joined again when I returned since my company was paying half the cost. So that was reasonable. But now that my company isn’t covering half the cost anymore (only about 1/3 now), i’ve decided to quit and join TriFit in Santa Monica. Membership is around $78/month (half that of Equinox), but I get around $475/year reimbursed from my company.

    Bodies in Motion is around $60/month and my roommate loves it. She says it’s clean, the people are friendly, and no annoying trainers harassing you.

    Good luck!

  7. October 24, 2009 4:49 pm

    @la daze – thanks! I’m just completely unwilling to pay $120/month to work out. $60 might be doable. My company covers nothing (boo!), so we’ll see. I am still going to try the crappy gyms (at least for their “free trial”) to see. I did read other good thing about trifit

  8. October 25, 2009 1:25 pm

    I don’t think I could survive without a gym membership! As a student, I just go to the gyms on campus 🙂 but I used to pay about $30/month. Yoga wasn’t free, but it was really pretty inexpensive. I did have access to free aerobics classes (step was super fun).

  9. El Cheapo permalink
    October 25, 2009 4:53 pm

    I’m a 24-HR Fitness fan, but I look mainly at weights and cardio versus utilizing classes. Though its probably not feasible for you SP, I myself and others have gotten a 3-year membership paid upfront for $600, plus $30 yearly after that. That works out to less than $17/month and even less the longer you stay.

    I’ve taken a few months off from time to time, but I’m surprisingly already into the fourth year of that deal. Its worked well for me.

  10. October 25, 2009 8:28 pm

    Chad and I were members at Bally for a long time (well, we quit and then rejoined when they offered us the ridiculously awesome price of $10/month), and I actually think we need to join a gym here. I have gotten so out of shape since we stopped using it – even though we were only going maybe 2x per week.

    The thing to consider is what you’d want to do and what you think you’d actually do. I am much better if I have a set time I have to be somewhere, and I prefer cardio classes since running on a treadmill is too boring. But if you don’t need classes, a bare-bones gym probably won’t hurt. If you do like classes, see if you can try to price out the cost of taking the classes a la carte.

  11. October 26, 2009 7:09 pm

    I am the same way – HATE recurring costs and long contracts! I’ve never belonged to a gym, so can’t offer any advice. $30 a month is crazy cheap though.

  12. October 27, 2009 2:40 pm

    I was a member of 24 Hr Fitness for years (in Dallas) and paid $30 a month to go to any of the non-sport locations in town (i.e. the locations without pools). I think it’s just $15 or $20 more to add the sport locations OR you cany pay around $30 a month for a membership to only ONE sport 24 Hr fitness that would have a pool. The thing about 24 Hr fitness is that it varies by location – some of the newer ones are clean and great, and some of the older ones are not so much. Plus class schedules can vary dramatically (one location may have 2 yoga classes a week and another might have 2 per day).

    But I ditched them earlier this year for Equinox and absolutely LOVE it. So worth the $135 a month I spend (and I’m like you I am SUPER anti- monthly expenses). But now I go to the gym around 5 times a week compared to maybe dragging myself there twice before. I actually want to hang out there – it’s so zen and spa like, and the people are all polite and good looking. The classes are great, and they have a full yoga schedule every day (nothing costs extra) so I look at it as a yoga membership with an entire gym and spa for free. Plus the classes are designed and led by professionals, not just some college girl who took a weekend seminar to get “certified.”

    It’s so clean that nobody even wears shoes in the locker room/steam room/showers. And all the equipment is state of the art – you can track your workouts online and even plug in your ipod or other tracker to any machine and it will upload your calories burned, speed, etc and chart it over time on your online profile. I’ve never been a gym person, but I love Equinox! Speaking of which I think I’ll head over there now!

  13. October 27, 2009 2:51 pm

    @meg – i totally remember your post about that!

    I still insist on starting with the cheap one and see how it goes. I do understand what you are saying of course — if it gets you to the gym, 100 extra might be worth it. But if I can get myself to the 24 hour fitness (i think here 30/mo includes all sport, but not some “super sport” — whatever that is?) for $30, I”ll do it.

    If not, I’ll try out more expensive gyms in the area (that LA Daze recommended!), and perhaps finally end up at equinox, the deluxe gym! 🙂

  14. October 28, 2009 7:24 am

    I think that reoccurring gym expenses are okay – AS LONG AS YOU GO!

    And that has always been my problem. I will go for 2 or 3 months, then stop, then end up paying for 8 months of a gym membership that I haven’t used.

    I think if I were to calculate it all out I would spend less paying BY DAY (the gym closest to me is $4/day or $20/month) than to keep it on a reoccurring contract in which I’d be paying $20/month over the 8 months that I don’t go.

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