Gym Memberships: You Get What You Pay For

One would argue that mentally committing to a fitness routine is just as important as the physical time you put in. Gym memberships can range from as low as $10 a month to as high as $170+ a month in the Washington Metro Area. To most people, the upper end of that range is just too much considering that all gyms offer the same thing. But do they?

About two years ago, I became extremely committed to working out (specifically running) and started out my weight loss journey with LA Fitness. This club seemed like the perfect fit because it had the latest in exercise equipment, was never too packed that I couldn’t get on a machine, and their showers were spotless! I decided to leave the gym after a year because of the way the gym scheduled their fitness class schedule and the nearest location to my house was 20 miles away. The first issue with their class schedule was almost something I can tolerate, but who is going to drive 20 miles to run for an hour and lift weights? I was convinced there was a better option and thought I had found it in Planet Fitness. Or so I thought…

As advertised, Planet Fitness offers gym memberships for as low as $10 a month and comes with some “perks”. For one, if you upgrade to the Black Card Membership, you’ll be able to visit any Planet Fitness and bring in a friend absolutely free. Cool, right? Further icing on the cake is that they offer free personal training (you have to sign up and there are limits on the amount of folks that can join each session). When I heard I could get all this for half the price I was paying LA Fitness with no long-term commitment, it seemed like a no-brainer. I switched immediately and found that sometimes you get what you pay for.

Upon starting at Planet Fitness, I began to notice that the place was mostly filled with cardio machines! Somehow I had missed that part while being tempted by the low, low price. They had a weights section, but it was super small compared to the one at LA Fitness. To make matters worse, you could barely get your hands on a cardio machine or a pair of weights because the place was always packed! I mean…completely packed! I’m not going to say every Planet Fitness failed to have a set amount of time each member could be on a cardio machine during peak hours, but the one I went to surely didn’t! To make matters worse, Planet Fitness had so many rules to be a place where people paid for a service! I could not wear a head scarf, which is super important if you’re black, and they seemed against letting gym-goers wear just sports bras.

After learning that the grass was not greener on the other side and that you get what you pay for, I have decided to head back to LA Fitness where I might not be able to make all of the workout classes, but at least the gym is well-balanced with weights, cardio machines, a pool, racquet ball courts, and sensible rules about being considerate while sharing the equipment. One of my friends had the same problem as me recently, and decided to make her own home gym. Pretty cool – no fighting for equipment, no travel, and no monthly membership bills. She said she researched the best equipment to get for the best prices, like treadmills and such. You can read more about the best treadmills here if you’d like. It looks so cool in there and I’m definitely going to go and give it a try. I’m just gutted I don’t have the space at home to do the same. Can you tell I’m jealous? If you’re in the market for a gym membership, remember that there is a reason why some gyms are cheaper than others and give equal consideration to how motivated and convenient the gym feels before signing on the dotted line.

Image: ABCNews

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