9 Reasons Not to Join a Gym

Exercise is important, but joining a gym isn't for everybody. Here are 9 solid reasons why you should not join a gym when everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon.

Don’t let the headline deceive you. This is not an article that will provide you with excuses to sit in the recliner, eat chips and gain weight. It does not give you a list of reasons to avoid exercise. No, it gives you reasons to get in shape — without succumbing to the come-ons to join a gym.

Last week we offered many good reasons why you should sign on the dotted line and become a member. But that’s not for everyone. You can be an exercise fanatic and never set foot in the gym, and when your buddies try to pressure you to join them, here’s your ammunition to say no.

1. It Will Blow a Big Hole in Your Budget

Even though you can get some good deals, especially this time of year, membership can still be costly, and it usually involves a commitment for an entire year or two. Many gyms have a membership fee just to join, and then they hit your credit card with a monthly charge. That usually runs from $10 to $60 a month, depending on the gym’s size, amenities, and staffing. If you pay $30 a month, plus a one-time fee of $100, that’s $460 for the first year. Some boutique gyms can cost much more.

2. You’ll Probably Drop Out, Anyway

Despite good intentions, most people who sign up for a gym membership don’t take full advantage. In fact, by some estimates, four out of five people rarely or never use their gym, as the thrill wears off about a month after joining. A gym will only help you get in shape if you use it, so be honest with yourself and determine if you really believe that you will get there at least two or three days a week, all year long.

3. The Yuck Factor

Most gyms do a pretty good job of keeping the place clean and sanitary. But you must be comfortable sharing, touching, and wiping down the same equipment that dozens of others handle, some of whom just wiped their runny nose.

4. I Don’t Need to See That

Some men and women in the locker room don’t have the same sense of modesty that you might have. Really — I don’t have to see that. Also, locker room etiquette often leaves something to be desired. Some people spread their stuff out so that there’s not a lot of room left for anyone using a nearby locker.

5. I Don’t Have the Time

“I don’t have the time” is not a good enough excuse to get out of exercising. But I understand that factoring in time for travel and changing makes a big difference for people with very demanding jobs or a full plate of family responsibilities. If you’re working out in the basement, the time commitment is just the time it takes to exercise itself, not go back and forth to the gym and socialize with people you may not really care about anyway.

6. I Hate to Wait

When you want to do bench presses, you want to do them now. You don’t want to wait for someone else to finish and then spend time wiping down the bench that they left dripping with sweat. A home gym certainly won’t offer the variety that the commercial gym does, but there’s never a wait to use the equipment.

7. I Love the Fresh Air

For some people, especially those who spend their days confined to an office, the allure of exercise means getting outside. The gym may be more spacious than your office, but it’s still four walls with a great view of a parking lot. Going out for a run, hitting the ski slope, running around in the park with the kids or grandkids — that’s the combination of exercise and stress relief that many people favor.

8. I Can Build a Home Gym

Building a home gym doesn’t necessarily take a lot of money or space. For about the price of your first year’s membership, you can buy a bunch of basics — a doorway pull-up bar, an exercise ball, a jump rope, some dumbbells, or a set of kettlebells. If you have the room, you can add a treadmill or an elliptical machine to keep up with aerobics on days when the weather keeps you from getting your run in. According to the New York Times Wirecutter service, the deepest discounts on exercise equipment can be found in January and February.

9. I Have a Trainer 24 Hours a Day

One of the benefits of belonging to a gym is having access to professional trainers who can work with you, push you, and design an exercise routine specifically for you. That’s great if you like that sort of thing, but if not, there’s this thing called the Internet. Search for home exercises, core exercises, bicep exercises, and back exercises. You get the idea. Far more exercise programs are available online than you’ll ever have time to do. The one downside is there is no one to review your form and instruct you how to adjust to avoid injury and get the most out of the exercise.

The bottom line is that it does not take an expensive gym membership to have a regular exercise routine. What is required is some motivation, determination, and imagination. We recommend that you take the (p)lunge.

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