I hate paying for things that we don’t use.

There is a new LA Fitness opening up 2 miles from our house. Every time we go grocery shopping around the area, we see a few LA Fitness employee’s walking around promoting the gym’s grand opening and trying to sign up new members. Girl Ninja is intrigued and wants to look in to signing up. I however, hate paying for things we don’t use.

This is exactly the reason we don’t have cable. We realized we were watching maybe one to two hours of TV a month. Which when you’re paying $60/month for cable, works out to $30/hour to watch TV. How stupid is that?

Or what about Netflix. We signed up for it when we decided to forgo cable, thinking it would be the best thing ever. It was… for about a month. Then we got bored with it, and there are like no movies that we actually wanted to watch. Netflix may have only been $9/month, but when we weren’t even averaging one movie a month, it had to go. We now Redbox it. I like the pay as you go, instead of pay even if you don’t go, plan way more.

Heck, in San Diego I frequently listened to a Christian radio station that was 100% user supported (meaning there were no ads or commercials). As a frequent consumer of their product (the music they played), I decided to donate $100/month to the station. Then, two years ago, we moved to Washington. I no longer had access to that station while I was driving, so while it may be terrible to say, I cancelled my donations since I was no longer using the service.

And this is why I get scared of gym memberships. I’ve heard rumors that the employees that sell memberships are more tricky than used car salesmen. You walk in thinking you are going to sign up for a three-month trial membership, and walk out having committed $1,500 to a non-refundable four-year membership.

What’s more, aren’t Gyms really crowded during typical “gym” times? I get that we could wake up at 4am, or go in at 10pm and probably have access to all the equipment and facilities, but my suspicion is that ideal times (like 4pm to 8pm) are probably slammed with all the 9 to 5’ers? And maybe I’m crazy, but I also imagine a lot of dudes go to the gym to flex and try to pick up chicks. Not super pumped about the idea of paying $50/month for Girl Ninja to get hit on by a ton of creepy/sweaty/hair dudes all the time.

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Basically I need to know the following…

Do you have (or have you had) a gym membership? If so, are you (or did you) actually getting your monies worth? Meaning, are you going frequently enough, and is the gym experience pleasant enough, to make the cost worth it?

41 thoughts on “I hate paying for things that we don’t use.”

  1. I got my gym membership at 24 hr right after 9/11 when they were sloowww. $750 for three years, then $20 a year for the rest of my life. Ironically I rarely used it the first three years, now I use it much more often now when it only costs me $20.

  2. Three months is my magic number, and I will actually pay a higher per-month fee to make sure that I am only committed for a three month period.

    A great new gym opened up near us. When I only signed up for a three month membership, I was there at least 3x a week. Once that ended, I figured that I had clearly gotten into the habit, so I signed up for the full year.

    Big mistake. I think I went 5x the whole YEAR.

    Three months is just short enough to make it feel urgent, and just long enough to actually get a benefit.

    Spender, know thyself.

  3. We had gym memberships for years (we bought a 2 year pass to 24 hr fitness from Costco for $350), we used it probably 5 days a week and I liked it for the fact that my husband travels and works lots of hours so I had access to cheap fitness at a place where I felt safe when he wasn’t able to go with me. At the time it was worth it but then we adopted 2 dogs. After that I never used it because I ran with them and I felt guilty leaving them for another hour or two at home since they had been alone all day while I worked. Since you re planning on getting a dog that is going to need a high level of activity, maybe wait until after and see if you really need to add more workout time.

  4. I’m of the same opinion regarding not spending on things we don’t use.

    I signed up with my wife to a gym that is within a mile of where we live. Its quite expensive per month (joint membership is £118 a month) but we do literally milk it for everything it’s got. We go every morning before work, as well as 3 nights in the week, plus both days at the weekend. Benefit? You do feel much more awake in the day after doing some exercise early morning. Bigger benefit? I can’t remember the last time I showered at home, Free water and towel!

  5. Before we had our baby, we were both avid gym goers and had a 24 hour membership to our areas “Globo Gym”, Once we had our baby and moved into a neighborhood with its own gym facilities, we cancelled the gym membership. However, about a year ago, I began taking yoga in the neighborhood and got hooked, I was paying $48/month to go to 1 yoga class a week. So I sucked it up and rejoined “globo gym” since that is where my yoga instructor is the yoga director at and I go onl 2 – 3 times a week and run outside the rest of the time. But I still pay less than I would if I started to take more yoga classes in our neighborhood.

  6. I purchased a membership a few years back at a local gym. Close to $400 for the year. I would go 2-3 times a week to start but after a few months I stopped going. I will will never enter into a year long contract again.

  7. I paid an annual fee to access at my college’s fitness center until I bought my house. Now I have access to the rec center in my town for about the same cost 370 a year but the rec center is obviously closer to me. I haven’t using the weight room as much as I should but I swim 5-7 times a week so I find the cost worth it.

    Having said that I have found that the gyms aren’t crowded on a schedule like you think. Gyms tend to have a near constant number of regulars at all time the only times gyms are truly crowded it between New Years and February due to the resolution crowd. The drop off is like an exponential decay function which I observed one year so now the first week or two of the year I stay away from the gym. Also even at my college I never saw anyone with muscles cruising for chicks at the gym and one of the other alums was a local mr universe winner who was training 5 to 10 guy at any given time. Most of the guys looking to pick up girl at the gym stayed in the Cairo area and looked like they were going to hurt themselves when they were using free weights and didn’t know how to use the circuit machines which is funny because those machines had pictures of the proper exersize on them.

  8. I have a gym membership but the company I work for pays the bill as sort of a benefit for working for that company.

  9. Before we had my son, I was at the gym 4-5 times per week, minimum, for a few years. Sometimes I went every day. That $50/month was certainly money well spent. I put the membership on hold for 6 months when my son was born (meaning I didn’t have to pay) figuring by the time he was 6 months old I’d figure out how to get back there regularly. I paid for 3 months and never went once. It just wasn’t happening. I was working, pumping/nursing, my husband worked out of town… the stars were NOT aligned for me to get there ever, so I cancelled, and haven’t had one since then (almost 2 years now). I know people will argue that gyms are worth the money or not, but it so depends on the person, what they enjoy, etc. I loved the classes at this gym way more than working out at home with my DVD collection, so I went all the time and enjoyed it. I was fit, happy, energetic etc. It was worth the money to me. But throwing away $50 a month for nothing-no way! If you’re someone who likes to run outside, why pay to run on a treadmill (SO boring), but if you like to use weights and don’t have room/inclination to build a suitable system at home, why not pay someone else for the space/equipment? One day when my second child is a bit older, we’ll probably get a family membership to our nearby YMCA. It’s affordable, the kids can take swimming lessons included in that membership, and DH and I can work out and they can hang out in the kids area with supervision, etc. But until then, it’s me in my basement with my DVDs, or walks with my kiddos and running around the park to get exercise 🙂

  10. My husband has a gym membership. LA Fitness $32/month, He plays basketball about 3 times a week. He would play more if his schedule allowed it. I don’t have a gym membership because our apartment has a nice gym and offers fitness classes. I go to the fitness classes. I’m not really a gym person. I get bored really easily. I would get a gym membership just go to the fitness classes. But I could easily just run outside for exercise.

  11. I’ve had mixed results with gyms. Some have made me feel “ripped off” and others have worked out well. I’m pretty sure that had more to do with me and my habits, or lackthereof, than the gym though. Some of them make you jump through hoops if you decide to cancel, even if your contract is up, so I would just make sure you read that section of the contract very closely.

  12. My husband and I have so far opted out of a gym membership for many of the reasons you listed (including him not wanting creepy guys chatting it up with me, haha, which I find ridiculous). I think it’s only worth it if you more or less work out on a daily basis.

    Where we live now has a workout facility, so that has solved our problem for now. And since my husband is not really a lifting weights kind of guy, he’s considering a rock climbing gym as an alternative. But we’re *still* debating whether that will be worth the money spent!

  13. We used to have gym memberships, but now we just have a full home gym. We have everything that you would need, and it cost less than $2,000 altogether (we have a power cage, weights, treadmill and so on – got everything at more than 50% off). The upfront cost is high, but now we don’t have to leave our house or pay for gas to go to the gym.

      • I’ve seen good deals on Craig’s list but nothing over 50% off for the same model of gym equipment. I don’t know much about cardio equipment but if you use free weights I’ve found that if you do any exercises in the 200-300+ pound range you need to start looking at load ratings for benches, bars and racks because you+the barbell will be over the load rating on a lot of home equipment. Also, at that point I would make sure you get an Olympic weight set. In store they cost 10% – 15% more than the standard sets but the bars you put the weights on are so much more sturdier its worth it.

  14. My gym membership is easily one of my most important monthly expenses. I pay $40/month for an LA Fitness membership. If you are committed to fitness and a healthy lifestyle it’s a no brainer. I go 5 times a week and yes it can get crowded, but I love working out. It really depends on your motivation and commitment level. If working out isn’t part of your lifestyle than it’s going to be a waste of money.

    Also, the “creepy guy” thing is not really a big issue if you go to a reputable gym with decent staff and clientele. I honestly think its what girls say to give themselves an excuse to NOT go to the gym.

  15. I’ve been afraid to pay for a monthly gym membership because I’m afraid I’ll never go. Instead I find classes in the area (dance class, self defense class, etc) and pay to take those I work out at least 5 times a week this way because I very much going and learning something, but at a gym unless they have free classes with the membership wouldn’t get as much use.

  16. I used to have a gym membership because I liked taking the classes they offered. But once I moved, the gym wasn’t across the street from me anymore, and I never went so it was just money down the drain. But I never got hit on when I was there, and I am no troll. And yes, it is more crowded outside of 9-to-5, unless you have a crazy short commute and can get there like, right at 5 before anyone else has had a chance to go home and get changed or whatever.

  17. I say if you don’t have the discipline to get out of the house and exercise on your own then you will not be disciplined enough to actually drive to a gym. Be creative and fine a community center or local college with no contracts.

  18. Vision Quest! There’s one in Edmonds (and a few more in the area), and it’s only $19/month. So even if you only go once a week, it’s totally worth it 😀 and I definitely go once a week, more in bad weather. May not have all the fancy extra perks as LA Fitness, but I just go for the workout (treadmill + weights), so it’s plenty for me.

  19. I dropped my $21 and my wife dropped her $24 a month memberships to LA Fitness and we signed up for Crossfit. Best decision we have made when it comes to fitness and health. Small classes, 1 on 1 training, they design your program, and a sense of comaraderie.

    • This. I’ve been doing CrossFit 3x per week consistently since January and it’s one of the best health decisions I’ve made.

  20. Depending on what you do its cheaper to buy the equipment.

    I used to adventure hike with my ex-wife and most of the equipment we needed were cheaper to purchase at less than the cost of two people with one years membership.

    Freeweights, yoga matts – Cheap
    Eliptical = $1200

    $50 month x 2 x 12 = $1200 on its own. Also – contracts!!.. its the monthly payments that kill you in the end.

  21. I use the $350/2 year Costco membership for 24 Hour Fitness. I’ve gone over 150 times in the last 14 months but I’ve really declined lately. Instead, I’ve been going to a Pilates studio and a barre studio almost every day. Pilates is $129/month on 12-month autopay and I go 3 or 4 times per week. so it works out to less than $10/session. I buy the barre classes whenever they have a special and string them all together. I’m usually there three or more times per week as well.

    I work so much harder in classes than I do by myself.

  22. I had a gym membership back in high school. I went every day and it was great. Well, that gym tried to sue me for not paying, when they stopped pulling money out of my account. I tried to pay with cash and check, but they wouldn’t accept it. I haven’t been back to a gym since and I don’t regret it. Not worth the money.

  23. I was a member of GoodLife Gym (here in Canada) for many years; I was at the gym about 4x/week and really enjoyed it, especially the group classes. Our building had a “gym” in the basement, so we figured rather than spending the $68/month for our memberships, we’d cancel them and use the “gym” that was included in our condo fees. It was OK, but the equipment was old and not a lot of variety.

    On Sept. 16, a small chain gym opened up about 3.5 km from our home in the town we moved to a year ago, so we joined. Hours are very accommodating, and even though it’s considerably smaller than the gym we used to belong to, there’s plenty to keep us interested… I may even dust off my spin shoes and take a class tomorrow night. I did alot of walking this past summer, which helped a great deal in losing the 75 lbs I’ve dropped since last Sept.; soon, it’ll be dark at 5PM, and winters in Southern Ontario can get ugly… another reason for us to join.

    Because I’m diabetic, good heart health is very important; that’s my motivation to go. Gym’s been open 10 days… I’ve been there 8 times, and really enjoy it.

    My Dad, on the other hand, has not used his $28/month membership since about 2006. We keep harping on him to cancel (so, he’s thrown away over $2700), but he insists, “I’ll get back into it one day”.

  24. I used to have a gym membership through work for $6 a week. I used it all the time. When we moved I cancelled it and we joined a new gym. We had to pre-pay for 18 months to get our rate of $32 a month. I felt good prepaying since I had already committed to a gym before and successfully gone. My biggest advice would be figure out why you are going. A gym membership makes sense for us because I love group fitness and my husband needs a pool to train for triathlons. If you don’t have a specific reason for joining, I would forgo the membership. You can always run, bike, hike, practice yoga outside or at home for free.

  25. I love my gym. I go to a smaller 24hr gym and paid $188 for a year. I can go anytime I want and even during peak hours, I never have to wait to use a machine. The only downside is I can only use 2 locations but that isn’t a big deal since it is near my house.

    I’ve been going 3-4 times a week for the last year and a half. Definitely getting my money’s worth.

  26. I’m mostly a runner, but have used gyms to supplement winter running in the past. The first year, i used it a lot. The second year I ended up going to the track and didn’t use it so much. Last year I got a 10 pack pass on groupon for a really nice gym for $60 or $80 and definitely used it

    I usually went after work (peak time) and never had problems (except maybe january joiners time). It is more crowded, but you can certainly test visit during the time you expect to regularly go. There is usually a “guest pass” for first time visitors or something (but expect a hard sell after).

    I also hate paying for things I don’t use, but more, I just hate recurring fees / bills.

    Also, in Cali I think there is a law about not being able to force you into long term contracts, so you can cancel any time. I repeatedly only used the gym for 4 months at time, then canceled . My employer had a deal where they waive initiation fees (which I’m not sure LA fitness even has). Try to get out of paying those if possible

  27. My fitness buff friend told me that it gets her motivated more when she pays for gym because she feels she needs to get the most out of the membership she paid for. Unlike when she was working out on her own she claims she didn’t feel like she owes anyone anything.

  28. I just joined a gym last week, after going for a week on a trial pass. This particular gym and their offerings match my needs almost perfectly. First, the cost was reasonable. It’s slightly higher than a couple of other gyms, but the other gyms have ‘activation’ fees that you pay up front. Typically $79 which raises the price quite a bit even if you spread that out over a year. The reason they do this is because if you cancel the membership, you’d have to pay them again if you ever wanted to go back. So it keeps people paying their membership dues in fear of having to cough up another $79. My gym is just pay for the membership and when you’re done, you can renew or not, and if you want to take a break and come back later, no problem. The location I picked is perfect because I go at 5:30, get my workout, swing back by my house, take a shower and get dressed, and am back out the door and on my way to work where I’m still there way before my self imposed start time of 7am.

  29. Well, you can do a lot of things for free: running, sit-ups, etc. Or during the rainy season (meaning all year except August), you could get a treadmill off craigslist. Ours was one from a health club for $200. And you can get exercise videos from the library.

  30. I have a gym membership that’s $10/month. No other fees other than the monthly except for a $20 once a year membership fee (in October) on top of the $10/month, so it’s $140/year. I go about 5x a week. My gym has no pool, no steam rooms, or any other “amenities”, which I LOVE since I never used them when I paid $38/month for the Y. They do have other amenities if you’re willing to pay extra for them. All I need are cardio machines and weights. Everything is clean. I do miss not having towels readily available at the gym, but that’s easily remedied by bringing my own if I weren’t so forgetful.

    Another perk? No children are running around the gym, like the Y.

  31. My workplace has a gym that employees can use for free, but I still signed up for a franchise gym. It was kinda weird huffing and puffing on the treadmill next to the VP of Operations, and it’s a very small area with limited equipment and limited hours. My new gym is just so up-to-date and clean, with all these fancy extras (pool, sauna, women’s only weight room). Plus I get 50% reimbursement from my workplace if I choose to pay for a different gym. So it comes out to like $10/month. Yay!

  32. Groupon – that is what we use for our fitness. We get to try new places, do new activities we never would have tried (like Bollywood dancing) and spending time together is the goal. Plus, the money we save is tremendous compared to a local gym membership.

  33. Agree with some of the comments, a “home” gym is the way to go. Some free weights and a mat and you’re good to go. I am using p90x and it is officially kicking my ass into shape! I would have to spend 15-20 minute each way to drive to a gym and that ain’t going to happen for more than 1 week. I save a bunch of money and get to work out when it fits in my schedule.

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