I’m sure that for the last week, your Facebook and Twitter timelines were full of memes poking fun at people who notoriously make new year’s resolutions and almost never stick to them. The resolutions in question include joining a gym with the hope of getting in shape and maintaining an overall healthier lifestyle.
It’s no secret that the beginning of a new year is when gyms and health clubs get the most new business, but let’s just assume that at least ¾ of all those new members will stick to their commitment to working out regularly. Are there any significant benefits of joining a gym?
I froze in utter shock the first time I heard a person say, “I hate exercising.” As someone who goes to gyms, uses workout DVDs, takes the stairs and refuses to get in a vehicle when a destination is less than a half hour walk, I couldn’t believe such blasphemous words were coming such fit and athletic looking people! How else do you look like that and not hit the gym twice as much as I do? I’m not bitter. Do I seem bitter? Oh, okay.
But after presenting this topic to more athletes, I learned that keeping active and “working out” doesn’t always have to be the same thing. The first “I hate exercising” I ever heard was followed by, “doing reps for hours is boring. I have more fun just getting out and playing soccer.” That is when I started to realize that it’s more important for me to find a safe form of exercise that I enjoyed rather than pumping and ellipsing away in a gym just that is the unspoken standard and it makes me look cool on Instagram.
So, instead of boring you with another “New Year’s Resolution” post, I’ll give you a list of some of the pros and cons of joining a gym and using the gym as your main form of getting exercise.
Why Gyms Suck
1.A bad crowd can throw off your workout. Not all gyms are the same and that’s okay. Dear deadlifters and fitspo models, whether you mean to be or not, you’re intimidating and some of us find it hard to focus around you. But, hey, you were all here at Hollywood-esque Fitness Gym first, so I’m just going to head over to Planet Fitness with all the housewives and fitness newbies. It’s all good. (Shop for gyms like you would a new car. Try not to knock anyone else’s madness while you find yours.)
2.Getting to the gym can be a chore in itself. There is no gym where you live and seeing as you live in a major metropolitan area, your morning and evening commute is at least an hour and a half a piece (oh, and you also work from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.). You could join the gym 30 mins from your job, but it’s bad enough your commute time is cutting into dog-walking, house chores and studying for the LSAT. (Most of what you can do in a gym, you can do in the privacy of your own home. Sports bra, running shoes and a set of free weights.)
3.Gyms can get expensive. This doesn’t need much explanation. Gym membership is like having a Netflix account, taking money out every month. Much time had gone by before I realized I was paying $13 instead of $8 every month.
Why Gyms Are Great
1.Great way to meet people. In some very rare cases, a little peer pressure can be a good thing. Knowing that your workout buddy is expecting you is a great motivator. And you’d be surprised how many trainers hang around gyms, scoping out new clients (hopefully in a non-creepy, non-obnoxious way).
2.People take pride in what they pay for. Which would you hate to waste more? A gross $10 meal you bought with a gift certificate, or a $60 gourmet meal that you paid for yourself? You just signed a contract ensuring that x amount of dollars will be taken out of your bank account every month whether you use what you’re paying for or not. At this point you have very little to lose. You’re going to go to that gym and justify the cellulite out of that $30-$50 a month.
For those looking to get more fit and active this year, figure what’s comfortable and enjoyable for you, then sit down and make your own list of pros and cons of certain options. If you find yourself following a trend, so what? Your health is for you and no one else. The new year’s gym membership trend wouldn’t be a trend if there weren’t any success stories.
Jiell Richardson is a web designer/developer, fat yogi padawan, and blogger based in Washington, DC, USA.