My wife and I are both fairly active people and when we went to school together we frequently worked out at the fitness centre on campus.  But after moving into the work-force full-time we found ourselves lacking the dedication to continue.  Just after we got engaged, about a year before our wedding date, we decided to get a gym membership at a local fitness centre.  We wanted to look our best for our big day.

Is A Gym Membership Worth The Money?

One of my biggest pet peeves was that to get a new gym membership you typically had to pay a sign-up fee (around $100).  This seemed ridiculous to me considering we’d be paying a monthly fee to work out there.  This particular fitness centre had an offer to waive the sign-up fee if we chose a 5-year gym membership, which also had a low rate of $25/month.

Related: 10 Fees You Can Avoid Paying

So off we went to the gym each morning, committed to getting into shape before our wedding.  And it worked, we both lost weight and found ourselves in pretty close to the best shape of our lives.

We got married 4 years ago in mid-October, and after our honeymoon was over we were determined to get back into our morning fitness routine.

Anyone who goes to the gym in the morning before work can attest to the fact that it is even harder than it sounds, especially in the middle of winter.  It’s dark, cold, and depressing to be out of bed so early, and now that we didn’t have a clear goal to motivate us, we quickly lost focus.

Why We Cancelled Our Gym Membership

By the end of that winter we stopped going all together.  But the $52.50 kept coming out of my account every month, and because of the “great deal” I got on the gym membership we would have to pay this monthly fee for the next 3.5 years.  Talk about depressing.

Don’t get me wrong, we were still motivated to lose weight and stay active. It just became more difficult to get ourselves up in the morning to drive to the gym.

When the weather turned nicer we decided to run in the mornings, and this became our new routine to keep ourselves in shape.  We also started eating healthier by creating a meal plan and cooking more at home.

I almost forgot about the monthly fees that continued to come out of my account.  I thought I was stuck with this monthly fee until the contract expired, or else I would be faced with a huge penalty for cancelling our gym membership.

I quickly learned that you should never assume anything and I simply called the fitness centre to discuss my options.  I was surprised to hear some great advice from a staff member who recommended that I transfer my memberships to another couple who is looking to join the gym.

She said that our low $25/month rate wasn’t even offered to new members anymore, so someone would surely snap up our gym memberships.  I placed an ad on Kijiji, and within a day or two had a couple ready to take over our contract.  They were so excited about the low monthly rate that I was able to convince them to pay for the $100 transfer fee as well.

After our daughter was born, we were again pressed for the time and motivation to stay active.  Not to mention we were trying to find ways to save money.

With so many free or inexpensive activities out there we still found ways to keep fit without forking out monthly payments for a gym membership.  How many of you out there have a Nintendo Wii?  Try the Wii Fit, or Wii Sports, or even a good session of Rock Band and you will get a great workout in your own living room.  And now that we have a toddler on our hands, it’s a workout just to keep up with her every day 🙂

Do you think a gym membership is worth the money?

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14 Comments

  1. N.W.Journey on January 5, 2011 at 9:03 am

    I think gym memberships look great when you have lofty goals in mind, but there are always cheaper alternatives out there that will get you the same results. I am glad you were able to find someone to take over your membership!

  2. Cathy Cleary on January 5, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I agree there are alternative ways of keeping fit, but find it hard to take seriously your suggestion is the Wii or Rock Band. CrossFit is my fitness program and yes, I go to a gym. But when I can’t get to the gym I can do any number of work outs for free at home or where ever I am: an endless variety of combinations of body weight movements – sit ups, push ups, squats, dips, skipping, running. Here’s an example of 50 workouts, no equipment: http://www.crossfitpotential.ca/page/index.php?menu=about&page=bodyweight_workouts

  3. BeatingTheIndex on January 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    It was the sensible thing to do. If you can get the same workout at home with a WII or the kinect, then I bet it’s going to be more fun than having your own walking machine in the basement!

  4. youngandthrifty on January 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Yeah, I was almost contemplating getting a monthly yoga pass, but it ended up being wayy too much ($28/ week= $112 a month). I have resigned to buying some yoga DVD’s and doing yoga at home. I think as long as I schedule it into my calender/ to do list for the day, it seems to be working out okay.

    I agree with you- I don’t know how people can wake up early in the dark dark morning to go work out!

    I have Wii Fit and I like how it tracks your weight etc. it’s like a computerized personal trainer!

    My friend just bought the Kinect and loves it.

    • Echo on January 5, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      @Y&T
      My wife does the pilates workouts while our daughter naps during the day. She likes it but finds that doing the same workout gets a bit stale.

      The Wii Fit is fun, except for when it scolds you for not using it more often 🙂

  5. Financial Uproar on January 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I went to the gym about 4 times a few years ago, wisely paying the drop in rate instead of springing for the membership. The gym bores me. Lifting weights or riding an exercise bike might be the most boring way in the world for me to work out. I knew that if I bought a membership it would never get used.

    What I do instead is play sports. I play soccer on Tuesday nights and floor hockey on Thursdays. I played both sports growing up and love playing both. Best of all, soccer costs $10 per year and hockey costs nothing! So I get to play sports I enjoy without having to break the wallet. Of course, going for a drink after the game can get costly if you go every week.

    • Echo on January 5, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      @Financial Uproar
      I guess a day pass or a 10 visit punch pass would have made more sense than getting a 5 year membership!

      I would love to get involved in some sort of sports during the evenings…I haven’t since our daughter was born.

      Now that I’m an old married guy my wife says I need to take up fat guy sports (her words) like golf and curling. Works for me, but you’re right – the beers afterwards would hurt the wallet for sure 🙂

  6. The Penny Hoarder on January 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    We just got the Wii fit for Christmas and it is awesome. Even the jogging is fun, because they make you chase a little dog around. I don’t know why, but it sure it motivating.

    • Echo on January 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      @The Penny Hoarder
      And I can never catch that little dog no matter how fast I run!

  7. Financial Cents on January 5, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I think you made the right call. I’d love to get a Kinect. Need more “essentials” for the house this spring though, wife said so 🙂

    Cheers,
    Mark

  8. Bill Birnbaum on January 6, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Certainly there are many ways to exercise without going to the gym. Avid runners and hikers can speak on this topic for hours. In addition to hiking, however, I also go to the gym. I do so for two reasons… first, I just plain enjoy lifting weights (no, I can’t explain why). Second, I find it a social event… I simply enjoy visiting with the other weight-lifting retirees. Bill

    • Echo on January 6, 2011 at 8:20 am

      Hi Bill, thanks for your comment. I also enjoyed weight lifting and visiting with the other gym regulars. I liked going to the gym with my wife too, but now that we have a baby at home it’s impossible for us to do that together.

      My point was less “against” gym memberships and more about not locking yourself in for a 5 year committment since so much can change in your life.

      • Bill Birnbaum on January 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm

        Ah yes, avoiding the long-term commitment. I totally agree. Bill

  9. Ashley on March 11, 2015 at 8:42 am

    My wife and I lost a lot of weight on a community healthy weight program and had a free gym membership for three months. When it expired we signed up on a “sign up fee free” day, and now pay our monthly membership, cancelable anytime.

    Yes, we’ve gone from 5 days a week to 3-4, but now we have access to “free” classes, can go when we want, and also have some swim time available at the local pool. My guess is we’ll transition into something later but for now it’s a good deal.

    I am however sorry for the 60 odd others in my program who I no longer see at the gym, maybe 4-6 people I still see around.

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