Health
Consumer Reports

Why Waste Your Money: Gym Membership vs. Home Work Outs

With millions of members paying just $10 a month, Planet Fitness earned more than $400 million in 2017. But some gym businesses are struggling because people realize that a monthly membership is not necessary to get a healthy amount of exercise.

Working out at home or even taking a workout class can provide better, more cost-effective motivation. Before you invest in a steep membership fee, consider these pros and cons to your various workout options.

1. Joining a Gym

Pros: You're bound to find something that suits you with the variety of equipment offered at an exercise facility. For cardio, you can hit the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, or the like to find the machine best suited to you. For lifting, there are a variety of free weights, cable machines, or bands to choose from.

Also, a gym environment can't distract you from exercising. Your focus is solely on working out. Being surrounded by others focused on the same goal can motivate you to work harder or extend your workout.

Cons: Aside from paying anywhere from $10 to $100 a month in membership fees, there are sometimes hidden fees or restricted services. Not only is that financially unfeasible for some, but it's also inconvenient. Likewise, depending on the facility, a gym can be over-crowded with sweaty people talking amongst themselves or loudly using the equipment. Not to mention some gyms blast loud, distracting music.

If the combined inconvenience of getting yourself to the gym and then being too unfocused to exercise isn't worth the fee, then a membership isn't for you.

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2. Work Out at Home

Pros: Obviously, the comfort of your home is much more convenient, especially if you have a limited time to exercise and can't commute to a gym. In your controlled environment, you avoid the distractions of other people, which can let you stay focused.

Cons: There's such a thing as being too comfortable. Finding the motivation to switch from your daily routine to a workout can be challenging. Even once you begin exercising, being at home can remind you of errands you need to run or chores left undone. You also may not have the space available for a good workout or the necessary equipment. Investing in your health takes money, and depending on your preferences, you could be better off paying for a gym membership rather than buying an expensive machine.

3. Take a Fitness Class

This can be an affordable middle ground if you feel more motivated exercising outside your home but don't want to commit to a full gym membership. Services like ClassPass offer specific fitness activities like spinning or boxing under the guidance of a trained professional. You can pay by the class or purchase a flexible package, but you never have to commit to more than one hour at a time.

Ultimately, the best workout option depends on your fitness levels and exercise preferences. The only way to find the most worthwhile option for you is to experiment with classes, home workouts, and trial gym memberships.

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