Gym membership- Yea or Nay?


I wasn’t sure where else to put this, but thought you lot could help me work through my thoughts and conflicted money feelings on this.
I have been steadily increasing in weight as has husband. I’m still happy with how I looks with no clothes on so this isn’t a love your body thing, but my clothes have not helpfully expanded along with my waistline. This leads to frustration and anger nearly every day when I get dressed for work as the vast majority of my closet does not fit. I’ve also lost muscle tone and strength which is a pain in the ass. Husband has similar complaints.
The solution that would seem to make the most sense is to get a gym membership and we have one place in town that is pretty amazing. 3 locations, tons of group classes (big deal for me) and heated pool (big deal for husband). We have friends who go to this gym so there would be built in workout buddies for accountability.
Sounds perfect right? Well, it’s around $94 a month with a 2 year contract and $119 early termination fee. My brain slid to a screeching halt when I calculated out that this would be almost $1200 a year! On a gym membership.
As a Frugal Person, I should just buck up and take walks and do body weight exercises or something and not spend over a thousand dollars a year on the gym. This contract will obviously put us into financial straits and when we are eating cat food down by the river, I will be able to point to this moment as the one that led to our downfall.
Counterpoint: We currently have good well paying jobs and are making more money than I ever dreamed of. This would cost less than 1% of our estimated paychecks for the year. Last year I spent more than that on a painting because it was beautiful and made my soul sing. I would probably end up spending close to that if I have to buy a new wardrobe because I have given up the fight on making outfits out of the approximately four bottoms and 3 dresses that still fit in my closet.

But still…Cat Food looms.
Has anyone else dealt with this sort of thing? How did you get over your inner cheapness and just SPEND the money?


The $1200 is for the both of you, yes? If so, that’s not a terrible gym price (at least it wouldn’t be in my area, which is a HCOLA).

Does it help to think of it in terms of cost per use? If you both used it 3x per week, 50 weeks out of the year, that’s $3.76 per use. Are you willing to pay $3.76 per gym workout? If you both used it 2x per week, 40 weeks out of the year, that’s $7.05 per workout. Are you willing to pay that?


Yup, I spend about 4-5% of my monthly income on fitness and struggled mightily with it. So much so that I actually had a part-time job at a gym to get the “free membership” and did weekly worktrade at a yoga studio for a year for free classes. Back when classpass was unlimited, I was OBSESSED with cost per use, getting my $80 a month down to $2.50 per class.

For me, here’s the things that this comes down to:

  • As always, does it fit your values? It sounds like it does; but make sure that this is something that fits in with your values. For me, it does. I only get one body, and taking care of that body with fitness is important to me. And I don’t like running in the rain and dark all winter or bad air quality in the summer. But this also comes in the style of workout I get - I like community based workouts, which usually are a little more expensive.

  • Are you actually going to use the gym membership? Only pay for it if you’re actually going to use it. For many people they convince themselves if they just pay it, that will be motivation to go. It rarely is.
    I pay more to be a member of the gym 2 blocks from my house, even though I could use the gym at my alma mater 5 miles away for free, or less to go to the community center 2 miles away.
    But the only gym membership that’s worth it is one you’re going to use. So set up an actual accountability for going to the gym - make sure you have a time that you’re going that’s in your schedule, a routine that you actually enjoy, that Zumba instructor you’ll always jam to, etc. A big way to encourage this is to make play - not necessarily sports, but something that taps the “play” center of your brain - along with the cardio/strength bit (dance, pickup basketball, roller derby, martial arts, row crew, dragon boating, etc).

  • If you don’t want to spend the money, figure out how to get the result you want (lower weight; more varied exercise) for less. Yes, you could walk or do handheld weights. But once again, that’s only worth it if it’s a thing you’ll actually do. If you like yoga, is there a free or cheap yoga online video services? Is there a community center or a further out cheap mega gym? Can you work-trade at a yoga studio for free classes? Do you have a November Project in your area for free group park workouts?

  • Build in the high cost to your budget for a few months but don’t actually spend it, see if it works for you, and try to do the free thing. if the free thing isn’t working (you’re not doing it/not sticking to it or you’re not losing weight), then reassess. Maybe try the more expensive thing.

Tips for cheaper gym memberships:

  • Costco has a much cheaper 24 hour fitness and LA fitness membership
  • Many health insurance companies give you a discount and sometimes even a free membershiip for local gyms, check their “member benefits” or “lifestyle benefits”
  • Perks at jobs. A lot of people don’t know there’s corporate rates for the gym or sometimes even a free or heavily subsidized membership.
  • Sign up near the end of the month/quarter when sales people have quotas to hit an negotiate. Annual fees, sign up fees, etc, everything is up for negotiation.

Gyms aren’t at all the only way to get fit. However, they’ve existed for 3000 years for a reason. It’s a lot easier to work out in a space designed for it than it is to build it in to every day life, especially modern life. (Also as I’ve gotten older, biking to work is no longer enough. Damn aging).


I think it depends on your personality and what you want to achieve. I have a home gym now, but I have paid for gyms in the past. My main reason for not paying for a gym isn’t financial, but ease of getting to it/using it whenever I want, and the fact that I can’t even use most stuff in a regular gym anyway.

TW: fitness, weight (someone tell me if I need to remove this post and I will!)

IMO if weight loss AND toning are your goals you’re better off losing the weight through diet and doing light workouts at home first. This will get you down closer to your goal weight/size and provide you with an easy way back into being active though walking and stretching and body weight exercises. Then when you’re down a few lbs you can reassess and join a gym if you want to up your overall fitness level or create a little home gym and keep going with what you’re doing.

Not the only way to do it of course, but that’s what I would do.


Yea, should probably heap onto that; I partially only pay for a gym membership because I live in an apartment and don’t have room for a weight rack/my downstairs neighbors would hate me if I started doing cardio in my living room. But the best gym is definitely one you use and that’s a good reason to have a home setup if getting there/access to the gym doesn’t work.


I paid for my gym membership year in full. I mostly did this so they wouldn’t have my checking acct info and I wouldn’t get trapped in extra sneaky fees or have trouble cancelling/paying an extra month somehow (you hear horror stories). I don’t go to the gym quite as much as I want to, but I go as much as I need to to make the $30/mo worth it, and I think the paid in full is helping me keep up the habit. If I was paying month to month I honestly would’ve cancelled by now with saving the money as an excuse to get me out of committing to exercise.


If you have friends who belong to this gym, see if you can go on a visitor or guest pass a bunch of times. Also see if they’ll give you a week free trial.

The biggest risk is that you just won’t go at all, so the best insurance is to try and actually GO for at least a few weeks before signing up.


INTERESTING. Can you use someone else’s Costco membership to get a gym membership? Also going to keep in mind the end of month/quarter timing.


The $1200 yearly cost would be for the both of us and I like how you said to frame it as cost per use. Back when we were in the apartment and had access to a gym/pool, my husband would go at least twice a week with jogging filling in probably another 2x/week. I think he will definitely get good use out of it. For myself, making a game out of it to hit that lower per class cost would be the way to go. I think I would aim for under $5/workout so 112 times over the course of the year. Seems reasonable.


Thanks for the reply, I remember the anguish over the gym situation and the eventual solutions chronicled in your old journal. I’ll respond to your points below.

  • Does it fit my values? One of my values is spending time with friends and I have a couple of friends who go to this gym so that gives me built in accountability and friend time. Also I’m not sure this is a value, but I’ve accepted I’m kinda vain and probably care too much about how I look. Getting more fit would help with my self-esteem.

  • Cheaper Gyms? We have cheaper gyms in town (with insurance discounts), but they don’t offer classes and I’ve long ago discovered that running on a treadmill or doing weights does not work to motivate me to go. I will do those things if I’m already at the gym, but they won’t get me off the couch. My job does not offer memberships or discounts. This place doesn’t do sales or specials because it’s so sought out.

  • Try another way I’ve tried to do the free weekly yoga class at work, but it was too easy to stay stuck at my desk and miss it. Also wasn’t a huge fan of walking through my workplace in workout attire. I’ve done the xbox kinect workout “games”, but didn’t have the motivation to keep it up at home when there are couches and netflix and so many books.


Weight loss is probably what is going to get me to go (see above about vanity), but the lack of strength has been bothering me for quite a while. Also I have been making changes to my diet and it’s only slowed down the weight gain, not stopped it. I’ve struggled with eating disorders in the past so making too much focus on diet can take me to a bad place.
I appreciate the advice though and agree that for most people diet would be the way to go. :slight_smile:


Paid in full would probably make me more likely to not go, because the money’s already been spent and that’s that. It’s like when I take cash out at an ATM, it’s is always fittered away on random things because it’s no longer easily tracked.


Once upon a time, a membership to this gym was the only useful benefit that came out of a really crappy job I had when we first moved here. I ended up using the gym probably 2x/week, but that was when my friends were only going once a week and my husband didn’t have a membership at all.


Several years ago when I realized the giant financial hole I’d dug myself into, I cancelled my gym membership. And resolved to do the same workouts at home with weights I was given. Yeahhhhh you can guess how many times that happened.

It took me a long long time to figure out what really works for me fitness-wise and what I truly enjoy. I currently pay $120/month for my gym - I just started going in November 2018. It is one of the best spending decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve seen a ton of progress already, and can see myself doing this for years and years. I adore the people there, and I have a few buddies that keep me accountable if I start skipping days.

I’ve put it in perspective for myself that $120/month is a higher bill than anything but my mortgage, but what I get out of it is also exponentially higher than anything but my mortgage. It definitely puts a dent in my overall financial gain, but the physical and emotional benefits have been worth that tradeoff. I think that it’s ok to spend the extra bit to go to classes that you look forward to, rather than trying to save $30 and end up bored and demotivated.

Maybe it would help you to commit to one year, and then re-evaluate? I sometimes think it’s easier to commit to spending $1200 on a week long vacation than it is to spend $1200 on our own health.


I just signed up to a gym, they had a $30 for 30 days promo and then a pay for 2 months get 1 free.
Its $64 a month including swimming pool/ classes/ regular gym and it close to my house. It has inspired me to exercise more.

I am not motivated to exercise on my own so having classes helps, and then the fact im paying for the gym/pool makes me go cause I dont like to waste money


Ok, so I am new to using the forum and only 20% sure I am replying correctly, but…

I want to amplify some of the voices you’ve already heard from and say that if it helps you both meet your goals and enriches your life, than it is very well spent money.

$120 for two people is a fair price for an enriched sense of community (you mentioned that you have friends that go there) AND you enjoy and benefit from the gym experience (classes, strength, etc.).
I previously cancelled my gym membership for over a year in an effort to save more money and to over-optimize my finances.
I ended up being pretty darn miserable, and for me it tipped off some mental health things that had been somewhat managed previously by regular exercise (not the end all/ be all of course, but exercise has always helped me juuuust enough to keep a few MH things self-manged.).

I now pay $92/mo and I pay it in one big lump sum each year.
I spoke to the owner of the gym and they offered me a reduced price by paying yearly vs doing monthly drafts, and they threw in an extra month. Everyone else in the gym who pays monthly pays $140 I think?
… and it’s so worth it for me. One of the best decisions I will ever make. Also, it’s a big chunk of my income.

My social life begins at the gym and it also offers a platform for better physical and mental health for me. I can’t believe I went a year without it.

I too have struggled with eating disorders, so refocusing my efforts toward STREGTH has been a big help for me personally.
Good luck! I think you should try it, but that’s just my opinion.


I love the idea to ask them if I could pay in one lump sum for a discount. They have it set up as a bi-weekly charge, probably so people see $25 and $16 a charge instead of $82 a month.
We have family visiting this weekend, so I might plan on going and talking to them on Sunday.


Definitely try it!
it’s advertised on our gym membership website, but it’s in the TINIEST font down at the bottom of the page.
I think they said that I’m the only one who pays that way. But they also said that it saves them on multiple processes of credit cards each month, helps them get projects done by inputting larger deposits at once, and they wish more people paid that way. Win Win.


You would think they would advertise it bigger if it benefits them, I am sure a lot of people would take them up on the offer.


Unfortunately, no discount on paying in advance, but at least I was able to put it on a credit card instead of giving a bank account auto-debit situation. Gonna get some cash back from the charges at least.

I went ahead and joined up yesterday and we spent over an hour at the gym. I’ve gotten a spreadsheet set up which will update with our cost per use every time we go. I’m aiming for under $5 a visit which comes out to around 10 visits a month for each of us. My husband has agreed to make sure he’s taking the dog out for a walk at lunchtime so I can go straight from work some days and I might experiment with going in the morning before work to see if that works for me.