Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How Much for a Gym Membership?

How Much for a Gym Membership?How much do you need to pay for a gym membership? And what is the real cost? Signing up for gym membership is actually the easy part.

A couple of months ago I was listening to the pitch of someone from a famous gym in Manila. To avail of their gym's amenities, I had to pay for monthly dues on top of the initial membership fee. Although they said that they could waive the one-time membership fee for me (they're too kind), I still had to pay for a substantial amount on a monthly or quarterly basis.

That may be a good deal for some people, but in my case, I won't get my money's worth. First of all, I already know that due to the inconvenient location of the gym relative to my place, I won't be able to go there as often as I want. Assuming I only go to the gym once a week, I would end up paying for only 4 sessions per month.

Secondly, I also know myself well enough that I may not be able to be consistent in my gym sessions. Less frequent workouts may result in over exertions "to compensate". Which may result in soreness of the whole body. Which may result to even less frequent gym sessions due to physical and psychological trauma.

My advice for people who are thinking of getting a gym membership: Do not get easily persuaded by the salespeople in getting the membership just because it is the right thing to do for yourself. Logic is not the only consideration because we are human beings and we all have limitations

1. Physical limitations. If the gym is more than 1 hour away from your place (as in my case), I don't think it is sustainable to go there 3x a week. Sure, you can try and maybe you can successfully complete 1-2 weeks without breaking your routine. But in the long run it would be too much time investment from you.

2. Psychological limitations. You would need to be consistent in your visits and that needs a mountain of will power. Motivation is not enough. You need to make it a habit. There will be lots of times when something unexpected will come up in your life and will easily screw up your routine.

3. Budgetary limitations. You my need your gym money for something more important like house mortgage or utility bills (it is debatable if cellphone bills are really more important but hopefully you get my point).

Bottomline, you need to be realistic in assessing your fitness goals. Gym membership is only one possible option. Based on your current situation, you need to determine how much is your real Cost of Fitness.


In a study on gym attendance, published in the American Economic Review in 2006, DellaVigna and colleagues looked at people who chose $80 monthly gym memberships over paying $10 a visit. These monthly members actually went to the gym only once a week, meaning they wasted $40 a month because of excessive optimism about how often they'd go.

Moreover, DellaVigna found a spike in gym enrollments around the start of the new year, but the dedication didn't last -- the new subscribers tended to go to the gym more than others for a month or two, and then their attendance dropped off to the lowest.

Photo credit, Rick


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