How to Know if Your Gym Membership Is Worthwhile

Three Parts:Calculating the Average CostEyeing the AmenitiesBalancing Cost and Convenience

Do have a gym membership? Have you had second thoughts that it might not be “worth it”? Before you give up your card, be sure that the gym is a good value for your money as well as for your time and exercise goals. After all, value isn’t just in the cost. It’s also in the amenities and convenience.

Part 1
Calculating the Average Cost

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    Average your weekly visits. If you’re like most people, you probably started strong in your membership but tapered off several months after your fitness resolution. That’s OK. You might still be visiting the gym enough to make it worthwhile. First, though, you’ll need to know just how often you work out.[1]
    • Mark down your visits in a calendar if you don’t normally keep track. Do this for a couple of weeks to get a rough sense of how often you work out.
    • Take an average of your sample. For example, if you keep track of your workouts for two weeks, divide the total number by 2 to get your average visits per week. Divide by 3 if you count for three weeks.
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    Calculate your cost per visit. Gym memberships usually cost hundred dollars for a yearly membership, with an average cost of about $55 dollars per month. You’ll want to get a sense of how much you’re paying out of pocket and how much, given your usage, you are paying per-visit.[2]
    • Take your total membership cost. Say that you pay $700 per year – this is your total cost, which works out to $58 per month. Divide by four again to get your cost per week: $14.50.
    • Now take your average visit per week. If you’re going twice per week, your cost-per-visit is the weekly price-tag divided by two, i.e. $7.25.
    • Note that with a fixed membership fee, you get better value with use. For example, your per-visit price drops to $3.63 if you visit four times per week.
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    Keep your eyes open for weekly or monthly deals. Gyms often have a variety of ways to pay, including day, week, or month passes in addition to yearly membership. Decide whether you are getting a good financial deal for the use you make of the gym. To do this, simply compare your cost per visit with other prices, especially periodic special offers.[3][4]
    • For example, say that your gym has a yearly rate of $650. You go three times per week and your per-visit cost on a yearly pass is about $4.51. If your gym has a special offer of $50 for a month pass, you’d end up saving about 50 cents per visit if you switch. Keep in mind, however, that such an offer won’t necessarily last.
    • Consider getting a Fitness Passbook. For $85, the American Health and Fitness Alliance offers passbooks of about 400 one-time admission tickets to gyms, fitness studios, and spas in major cities.
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    Pay as you go, alternatively. It may seem odd, but it’s even possible that you can save by canceling your yearly membership and going pay-as-you-go. The idea is the same: compare your per visit price with the price you’d get if you bought a day pass each time you work out. Do the calculations and to see if it’s more worth your while.[5]
    • Say that your membership costs $800 dollars per year but you average one visit per week. That’s a per-visit cost of about $16.67. This might be more than a day pass, which will probably run between $10 and $20.
    • Consider, too, that this can help you commit. According to one financial advisor, people who pay as they go are actually 17% more likely to stay enrolled in a fitness program for a year than those who sign on up front.[6]

Part 2
Eyeing the Amenities

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    Survey the studios and gear. There’s more to deciding whether your gym membership is “worth it” than just the price. Namely, are you satisfied with the equipment? Does it meet your exercise needs? Ideally, you’d have done this before signing up. Now’s your chance to reassess, however.[7][8]
    • Ask yourself: is there at least one big exercise studio? You’ll want this, or else classes might get overbooked.
    • Does your gym have enough cardio machines for the number of regulars? Do they have free weights?
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    Keep track of what you use. The next question you should ask yourself is whether you are paying for “extras,” i.e. equipment that you never use but still have to cover in your membership fees. Try to keep a running list of the amenities that you use and those that you don’t use. Doing so will help you see if you’re getting “full use” out of your membership.[9]
    • Do you attend classes at the gym or are you only there for the machines and free weights? Why pay more if you don’t make use of one or the other?
    • Does the gym have a pool? Pools have a high upkeep cost, so you’re likely needlessly paying more if you don’t make use of it.
    • Keep a list of what equipment and amenities you use, if it helps. Do so for a week or two to get a rounded understanding of your usage.
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    Go a la carte, if you can. In other words, be willing to pick and choose what you want in order to create the best gym experience. Once you’ve surveyed the amenities, decide whether you are happy with your gym’s offerings. Then see whether you can tweak your costs. Talk to the front desk and see what options, if any, you might have.
    • Ask about class cards if you’re into exercise classes and don’t really use the equipment. That way, you’re only paying for the instructor and space.
    • If you go the gym for the equipment or pool, you might have to shop around for a place better suited to your needs.
    • You might also pursue your fitness goals outside the gym. You can build a good home gym and save in the long run, for example, if you really only use free weights.

Part 3
Balancing Cost and Convenience

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    Assess the gym’s location. When judging your membership, another thing to keep in mind is the gym’s placement – location, location, location. Is your gym close, easy to access, and convenient for you? All of these factors can increase the value of the gym to you, even a mediocre one.
    • Is the gym in your neighborhood? Maybe it’s even within walking distance from your house? Consider this a big plus.
    • Ease of access is another bonus and can keep you working out even when you’re not feeling motivated. Is it near your workplace or on the way? Can you get there easily by transit or car?
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    Decide if you like the hours. Like location, your gym should also ideally suit your schedule. Whether the gym has limited daytime and night time hours or is open 24/7, you should be able to work out on your time and whenever is most convenient, otherwise your membership may not be worth the price.
    • Do you feel like you’re able to workout on your schedule? Say that you like to drop in on your way to work in the morning. Does the gym have early hours to accommodate you?
    • You might also be a night owl – are the facilities open late at night for your midnight workout?
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    Shop around. Tally up all of the factors that go in to your membership – price, but also the use you make of the amenities and the gym’s location and hours. Is it worth your while, once you’ve weighed your satisfaction with costs? Why not shop around? There are plenty of gyms, some of which might fit you better.[10]
    • Commercial gyms are not necessarily the best choice. Many cities have public gyms or community centers that are subsidized and charge lower fees. Try one of these if your main qualm is price.
    • Look for a gym closer to your home or office if location is a deal-breaker. The closer it is, the more likely you’ll be to work out on a regular basis.
    • Ask each gym about their prices and plans. Make sure to find out about different access levels, weekly or monthly passes, and what the price includes, like classes. Then compare these with other gyms.

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