One year ago today, I vowed to get back in shape for the New Year by committing to a one-year gym membership for $20 a month.
At the time, I was hesitant. It’s so common for people to join a gym, give up within a couple months, and end up stuck with a monthly bill for a membership they’re not using. Since it’s been a year, I thought it might be helpful for me to revisit my decision to join the gym in case some of you are considering the same decision now.
When I joined the gym, I had three goals: I wanted to get in better shape, work out more, and lose 10-15 pounds.
Unfortunately, after losing and gaining back about 10 pounds or so, I am pretty much back where I started last January. This could be due to the medication that I’m taking or my yo-yo eating habits. But the bottom line is, joining a gym did not help me lose weight.
For the first time in my life, I have consistently adhered to a workout routine for almost all of 2009. There were a couple weeks here and there where I didn’t make it to the gym due to illness or travel, but for the most part, I exercised at least 2-3 times a week every week (usually more often than that).
Despite the fact that I haven’t lost weight, I’m in the best physical shape of my life. For the first time in a long time I can maintain a jog for about 30 minutes without stopping. I feel great physically. I’m sleeping better, eating better, and feeling better than I did before I started exercising regularly.
Natural treatment for anxiety & depression
Working out consistently has also done wonders to treat my anxiety and depression issues. I really noticed this during the month of December when my busy schedule and holiday laziness kept me out of the gym for almost 2 weeks (my longest time without working out since last January). I started to feel a relapse in my anxiety that has subsided since I started working out again.
Is it possible to get these results without paying $20 a month to a gym? Absolutely. If you have the will power to get outside and run every day through rain, cold, and darkness, then you could certainly save the money by working out without a gym membership. You won’t have access to the same array of equipment and weights, but it’s absolutely possible to stay fit for free.
But what I’ve learned in the past 12 months is that my gym membership made exercise convenient. It’s hard enough to get out and get to the gym when it’s cold or rainy; there’s no way I would exercise if it meant running outside. With a gym membership, there are no excuses. It doesn’t matter if it’s dark before and after work, cold outside, or raining — I can work out when I want.
Invest in your health
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: paying $20 a month for the membership was a definite incentive for me. Because I’m a cheapskate who wants to be sure I get my money’s worth, I started feeling guilty every time I went a few days without using my membership.
Here’s the bottom line: if you’re considering a gym membership and you can work it into your budget, I say go for it. I can think of very few things more important or more worthy of investment than good health. This year I spent $240 to develop what I hope will be a lifelong commitment to fitness, and it’s the best investment I ever made.