The Cost of Finding the Right Gym

March 15, 2012

Wow… Tuesday’s post was intense, eh? This is where I feel the need be even more honest with you all and say that I’m totally lame and shed a tear or two while writing it. And then your support came in waves… I have been so completely and utterly dumbfounded by it. Not only do I know I can reach my goals with the help of your support, but it’s teaching me that what we tip at on the scale is possibly even more taboo of a topic than what our debt is. I hope you don’t mind if there are many more posts on this, as well as updates on my progress, in the future.

For now, I need to write a post that I can honestly say I never thought I would. It involves me weighing out the costs and differences of the two gyms I’ve been going to, for the last few weeks. Weird, right? I know. I’ll try to keep this post short and sweet, since the last one was a solid 1,000+ words (plus hundreds more in my replies).

To make it simple, let me tell you about both of the gyms I’ve been testing out…

Gym #1
As seen above, Gym #1 is an oldie but a goodie. I say that because it’s one I had been to many times before ever starting this new journey. I felt comfortable going back and it has helped me jumpstart my weight loss. While I’m often blasting music through my headphones, there is a TV for every 3-4 machines and they are always playing hockey games and soccer matches. Also, it’s almost always near-empty. The only con is that it’s a 10 minute drive from my apartment. And during the week it doesn’t open until 6:00 a.m. Then again, it doesn’t open until 7:00 a.m. on weekends but that’s the exact time I like to go at and, again, means it’s always near-empty.

Gym #2
I’ve only been to Gym #2 3 times now and I’m still not sure if I like it. Yes, it’s only a few minutes away from my apartment and it means one of my best friends will go with me during the week… but it’s in the same room as the swimming pool. This adds humidity to the air that I don’t always like. And, even though there are the same number of machines, it can be busy at times. The one thing I really don’t like about this gym is that you can signup to use machines, even when other people are on them. So, partway through a workout, someone could come up to me and say they are booked to start on my machine in 5 minutes. What’s up with that!? A 30-minute max is what I’m used to and it’s first-come-first-serve, people!

The Fees
For Gym #1, I bought a 10x pass for $38. If I decide that this is the gym for me, I will then buy a 3-month pass for $103 (or $34.33 per month). Since I’ve only just started going to Gym #2, I’m paying the drop-in price of $3.75. I can also buy a 10x pass for $30.15 or a 3-month pass for $75.38 ($25.12 per month). That $9.20 difference each month could total a $110 savings each year. But is that enough to waiver my decision one way or the other?

I think this weekend will be my first test. Up until now, I’ve been going to Gym #2 during the week and Gym #1 on weekends. This weekend, I’ll attempt going to Gym #2 to see how busy it is, etc. And maybe next week I’ll see how long the drive to-and-back from Gym #1 affects my morning schedule. Paying for both isn’t cost-effective, but I need to be sure before I commit to anything.

What are your gym membership fees like? And how did you choose your gym?

  • Michelle March 15, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Ugh my comment didn’t go through, sorry if it ends up showing up twice later!

    I just go where my friends work out, it’s only $10 a month.

    • Cait March 15, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      $10!? You’re killing me!

  • Jordann March 15, 2012 at 5:22 am

    Finding a gym that is not only cost effective, but also one that makes you want to work out, is important.

    I ran into that problem all of the time with yoga studios in my old city. Unfortunately, the one I liked the most was the most expensive, but I kept going because otherwise I would make excuses not to go, which was unhealthy.

  • SP March 15, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Mine was just based on location. It was $30/month, but since I only use cardio and it is now light outside until later (daylight savings!) i just quit. Also, my other requirement? No time limit on the cardio. 20-30 minutes isn’t enough if I’m training for a marathon.

  • Tim March 15, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Go to the one you will work out at most. If you think its with friends and conveinence then do that . Or if the comfort of getting the machine you want is what sways you then go that way. I know its frustrating to drag yourself there and not get any machines you want. You don’t want to join a gym that makes it any harder on you to work out.

    • Cait March 15, 2012 at 5:57 pm

      Good point, Tim! Thanks :)

  • Andrea (@nickelbynickel) March 15, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Those are pretty good prices! Right now my membership is free because I’m considered a full-time student, starting May 1st though I go back to paying something like $60 a month and a choice of three gyms in town… they all cost a fortune! Good luck picking one, stick with the one you’ll be most likely to keep going to…

    • Cait March 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      I think I could go to my school’s gym for free but a) it’s 20-30 minutes away depending on traffic and b) the hours suck. The gas + parking costs aren’t worth the trip.

  • Travis Pizel (@DebtChronicles) March 15, 2012 at 9:01 am

    The gym I go to is super, super cheap. $10 month for equipment only, $20 month for equipment from classes. It’s a no frills gym (no pool, racquetball, basketball, etc), but I love it. It’s 2.1 miles from my house (I run to it and back some days), so VERY convenient.

    • Cait March 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      What’s with all these gyms only charging $10/month!? Darn you, Americans! ;)

  • TiffanyWashko (@TiffanyWashko) March 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I pay $21/month for my gym and that includes fitness classes. I am very lucky at that price! I also grabbed up a Groupon deal for a CrossFit gym this week, $45/3 months at a place that costs $70 a month and up. After my deal runs out I hope to scoop up another!

    • Cait March 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      Awesome price, Tiffany!

  • BrokeElizabeth March 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    I don’t go to a gym – I exercise at home or by walking around the city – but if I joined my university gym, it would be around £65 for off-peak hours for the year. I actually wrote a post about the cost of exercising today (… interesting coincidence :)

  • Maldivian Finance Blog March 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I moved to my current gym because the previous one has very strict time schedules. If I can’t make it on time, then I will have to do a workout that is less than an hour and that is not enough for me.

    I decided to go there in the first place is that the place is very cheap. But due to my current schedules I decided to ditch the place and move to my current gym. I am pretty much happy with the place with all the latest machines and time is very flexible. You just have to pay a fix amount and you can go when ever you want and for any number of hours.

  • Hawaii Planner March 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Just read your earlier post, & I’m with you – it’s hard to make time to work out. I try to stay flexible based on what my running plan calls for, but either run at 4:45/5:00 am, at lunch (maybe 2x/month can I pull that off), or in the evenings after the kids go to bed (like 8:15 pm or so). It’s never perfect, but working out keeps me sane, makes me feel strong & healthy & really helps me manage my stress. You can do this! :-)

    • Cait March 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks for the support! :)

  • addvodka March 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I picked a gym that was cheap and just for women. I love my gym but hate it’s hours. It closes at like 9:00 PM on weekdays and 4:00 PM on Sundays which drives me crazy.

    • Cait March 15, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      Ouch, that’s early! Do you pay a monthly fee?

  • See Debt Run (@seedebtrun) March 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Those are really good prices..

    We go to the YMCA, mainly because of all the kids programs they have..
    The price is ~75/monthly for the family, but kids sports programs are only $15/session.

    Also, they don’t have the best equipment.. But they *do* have a nice pool for lap swimming.

    • Cait March 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      Nice! Our YMCA doesn’t have a pool but it does have classes. It’s $39/month though and is located across from a park full of junkies. Boo!

  • belowhermeans March 15, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I have a gym membership through work for $32 a month. They have the sign up sheets for the cardio machines too and it makes me crazy so I only go during really random off hours in the afternoon, usually after lunch but before 5:00 when I know there won’t be a wait. I feel like if you have to have a sign-up sheet, either stop letting in new members for awhile or buy more machines! Supply and demand, hello?

    Proud of you.

    • Cait March 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      Hellooo? haha, loved that. I don’t mind being limited to 30 minutes, if it’s busy, but I don’t want anyone kicking me off! Ridiculous.

  • shopping2saving March 16, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Sometimes work covers gym membership! But mine doesn’t. Do you have a 24 hour fitness near you? In San Diego the 24 hour fitness gyms are actually not bad at all. In the Bay Area I hate the 24 hour fitness gyms. The vibe is totally different. Now in SD, I love it! There is one near my work, and 3 near my house, and 1 in between! I go to a ton of group classes and use the cardio and weight machines so I think it is extremely worth it. I bought my 2 year membership for $300 from Costco so it comes out to $12.50/month. So worth it in my opinion.

    Have you checked out the group exercise classes at both gyms? Those would be HUGE deciding factors for me, because I have my favorite teachers and I am very picky with classes and the times they are offered at :)

    • Cait March 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      I have looked into the fitness classes, yes! Both offer about the same, as far as what I would be interested in. The other bonus of Gym #1 is that it actually gives me access to four recreation centres all over town. Hmm. I think remembering that helped me make my decision…

  • frugalkerry March 16, 2012 at 9:05 am

    My current gym is a thirty-second walk from my office, which is great – I like going after work and it’s nice to be able to do it literally on my way home. It’s £40 a month and does tend to fill up after work, but if I get there between 5:15-5:30 I can be out by 6:30 or 7. It is kind of small, but I’ve never had a problem getting a machine.

    It also has a sauna, which is lovely – sometimes I just go in to use the sauna. No swimming pool but I don’t swim so that’s all right.

    • Cait March 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      Love a good sauna!

  • Pamela @ March 21, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I feel a bit too intimidated working out in a gym, so I saved up a few years ago & invested in a decent-quality treadmill & exercise bike and some free weights. I like just being able to throw on an old t-shirt & shorts & run down to my basement, but there is the problem of getting motivated sometimes!