Home Friday 5 Friday 5: 5 Reasons To Get A Gym Membership (& 5 Reasons To Say No)

Friday 5: 5 Reasons To Get A Gym Membership (& 5 Reasons To Say No)

by Erika Nicole Kendall

All throughout my journey, I’ve gone from being a gym bunny to a home workout queen and to a gym bunny again. Though I’m a gym bunny again currently, the bulk of my success came during a time when I wasn’t using the gym at all.

That being said, I think there are totally legitimate reasons to get the gym membership, and there are reasons to just say no:

1) Resources. Countless weight training machines? Check. Free weights, medicine balls and kettle bells of varying weights? Check. Yoga mats, yoga blocks, blankets? Check. [Hopefully] knowledgeable teachers, trainers and instructors? Check. TRX bands, cross fit boxes and ViPR tools? Check. A variety of cardio training machines? Check. Steam room? Check. Foam rollers, big giant exercise balls and resistance bands? Check. If you require the extra support, a good gym is going to have everything you need. It’s going to provide all of that for you.

2) Sanctuary. My health club is my sanctuary. It is my space away from the kitchen, away from the family, away from my desk, away from work, away from all the other responsibilities I have to tend to… away from, well, everything. I go there to focus on me. That’s it. No excuses, no interruptions, nothing. Just me, my mat, my weights, my treadmill, my mind.

3) You’re paying for it… use it. Some people are motivated by the old “well, since I paid my money for it, I’d better use it” mantra. If you’re cheap – like me – and want to squeeze every single dollar’s worth of value out of something you’re paying for, then you might be more motivated to use something you’re paying a good portion of money for. Just saying’… ‘because I’ll be damned if I pay a gang of money for something and don’t use it.

4) Classes. If you’ve got a nice, big, quality gym, then chances are you’ve got access to an amazing list of classes that you could take. Yoga, pilates, boxing, Zumba, step aerobics, Ass Kicking 101, spin, hip hop aerobics, soca aerobics… all kinds of stuff. If you get tired of one, you have the free opportunity to simply switch up your schedule and take another one. Gotta love “free.”

5) When you walk through the door, you know it’s time to get in the zone. For me, there’s something about walking in the door, swiping my card, putting down my gym bag… and getting ready for business. In my head… I’m hearing the music from Rocky. In my mind, I’m ducking and dodging like Muhammad Ali. Floating like a butterfly. Stinging like a bee. Ain’t nobody on that floor that can lift like me.

Did I say too much? Whatever. Mind your business.

Like I said – just like there are reasons to take the plunge, there are reasons to just say no:

1) You run the risk of letting little things get in the way on your way there. If you’re a newbie, it feels like every single trip to the gym feels like an opportunity to duck and dodge actually going. It’s hard to get over the initial “Ugh… but I don’t wanna go!” feeling, and things like “Oh, look – the post office! I can’t go to the gym… I need to buy stamps!” can become great ways to wind up not going to the gym at all.

2) It becomes an excuse. If your sole source of working out is, in fact, your gym, then it becomes a problem if something “comes up” and you “can’t get to the gym,” or “the gym closes soon” or even “there’s no gym in the area where I’m traveling.”

3) You’re paying for it… could that money be used wisely elsewhere? Listen – some of us have financial goals, and paying a monthly fee to an outside resource (for something that you could just buckle down and do at home) might get in the way. Totally makes sense for affordability to be an issue, because the prevailing reason behind why I didn’t have a gym membership for a long stretch of time? I was a single parent, and even when I “had the money,” I didn’t “have the money.” I think that’s totally fair.

4) Creativity. It’s nice to have all those classes, but what about all the awesome DVDs you can take advantage of, that’ll help you get your heart rate going and have you set for that full hour? You can just as easily, over time, build a reliable arsenal of DVDs, equipment and jogging paths to get your activity level up. Not only that, but if you’ve got a “fit park” nearby – parks that have workout equipment interspersed throughout the path through it – then you might develop a habit of turning things like benches into triceps dip/side plank/push-up assistants. Just saying’. Every solid structure can easily become a piece of workout equipment, if you’re creative enough.

5) Working out at the gym promotes an element of silence – no one wants to be bothered, and no one cares to bother you. Outside is…. well, it’s outside. You can be social. You can make the outdoors your workout center. You can join groups – like Black Girls Run! – and make fit-focused friends and travel that road together. As much as I love my health club, there’s nothing better – to me – than being able to give a smile and a head nod to another person as we pass each other by on the trail. Who knows – you see them often enough, they might even speak… and you’ve made a new friend. The guys can head over to a local basketball court, join a team and make friends… maybe it’s time we started doing the same on the trail.

Even with all the reasons to be an at-home warrior, I’m still a gym bunny. Why?

Do YOU feel this heat outside? No. Thank. You. I like my workouts with a dash of industrial strength air conditioning that I’m not paying for, please and thank you.

All jokes aside, are you a gym bunny or an at-home warrior? Which do you prefer, and why?

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Monica June 22, 2012 - 1:03 PM

In the summer, I tend to take advantage of the warm weather (Ohio winters are snowy and downright brutal). But like you said on a hot humid day like the last 3 have been here, Ill take the gym pumping the free A/C all day haha. Now in the winter, I take the gym because really I have no choice, but also going to the gym to workout on a dark cold day with other people makes me feel motivated and somehow it feels comforting to be around other people doing the same things youre trying to do in those dark months haha. 🙂

Paulette June 22, 2012 - 1:38 PM

I am an “at home warrior” because I love running and love being outside. However, I am slipping with my strength training and thinking it is time for me to spend a little time indoors lifting some weight. Years ago, I had a bad experience with a gym. Hoping things have changed when the new gym across the street opens. Then, I can’t complain about location. 🙂

Eva June 22, 2012 - 2:15 PM

I guess I’m a gym bunny because I swim laps and I don’t have a pool in my living room. LOL

Tai @ StrandedHHJ June 22, 2012 - 2:42 PM

I’m a little of both. When I first started focusing on my fitness, I did Turbo Jam in my house. Nobody was allowed in the room when I did it and I’d usually wait until everyone was sleeping. After about 2 months, I graduated to a gym membership. I knew I couldn’t commit to more than $10/month so Planet Fitness works for me. I don’t usually do cardio there but I can get my strength training on which is cool. Now, I tend to mix it up with my cardio at home and my strength at the gym.

As a side note, can I just say I absolutely <3 your blog? I'm always quoting you to my fellow fit-minded friends and I think you're an awesome writer! Thanks for sharing your journey with us 🙂

Tisha June 22, 2012 - 2:43 PM

The gym IS mandatory and my only option because I hit the iron hard. I don’t like to use the gym for cardio because I like to do cardio outdoors (whether it’s summer or winter- in Ohio) doing a variety of things (i.e. running, bleachers, etc…)

Sherry June 22, 2012 - 3:58 PM

BOTH! I love my gym, but when it comes to running, the treadmill is just plain boring. Three reasons I find myself in the gym vs home workouts right now though, are that 1.)My insurance pays $20 towards my gym membership if I go atleast 12 times per month. 2.)They have free child care for up to 2 hours per day. At this point, my little one insists on pushing her own jogging stroller and will barely ride mroe than 20 mins, so child care is much needed! 3.)I’m obsessed with my spin class, and I don’t have free weight equiptment or a pool at home 🙂

Aja June 22, 2012 - 5:11 PM

I’m a little bit of both. I find that at home I can give myself a lot more excuses for not working out. I intentionally paid a little bit more for the gym right across the street from my job so I can bring my gym clothes to work and I rarely have an excuse for not making it there since I have to drive past it to get home. My gym also has childcare included, which makes going to the gym easier than trying to do DVDs at home while tending to my 3-year-old.

That being said, I prefer working out at home, especially running outside, so when the weather is cooperative I’m usually about half and half.

K.B.S June 22, 2012 - 11:17 PM

I like the option of going to the gym or working out at home. Previously, I would get into a groove, running, or walking outdoors, and as soon a rain hit, I found an excuse to stay home. Now, because I have a membership, I have more options and less excuses. Right now, while I’m training myself to run, I only go to the gym to use the treadmill, but I still walk the lake or my neighborhood regularly and do p90x occasionally.

CoCo June 24, 2012 - 4:37 PM

I’m rocking it out at home for now. I’m too self-conscious to work out in front of other people. I don’t even walk outside unless it’s very early in the morning, or after sunset. In addition to walking, I use my WATP, fat girl yoga and dance DVDs. It’s enough for now, but my goal is to transition to a gym after a while because the classes sound like a lot of fun.

By the way, “Did I say too much? Whatever. Mind your business.” cracked me up! lol


Ke June 25, 2012 - 9:44 AM

The gym is a better environment for me because people can help me with my form or techniques. I just started going to the gym. There are so many classes I want to try such as pole dancing at Crunch Park Slope/ Fort Greene. I would like a gym buddy.

Jessica June 25, 2012 - 8:52 AM

Since I’m just starting out,I’ve been working out at home. I find it to be more economical for my budget, plus I can’t make excuses. Do you all have any suggestions for exercise tapes that burn a lot of calories or that have worked for you? I’m starting on a biggest loser one now 🙂

Jean Wr June 29, 2012 - 11:35 AM

Great article. I’m a homebody and work from home. After giving away my money several time to gyms and only attending a few times, I came up with my own routine that help me shed about 5 dress sizes in two years. I simply walk in place(fast), in 5-10 minute increments throughout the day. Works for me.

Nyla July 27, 2012 - 2:14 PM

I work out at home. I do have an inground pool in my back yard. Each morning when I update my facebook status. The quote is ..On my way to (Last Name) Gym & Aquatic Center. (Last Name) Gym & Aquatic Center has helped me to shed 40 LBS. My workouts vary..Leslie Sansone, Supreme 90 and water aerobics/swimming. Love the fact that I don’t see anybody, all I have to do is get out of bed and work out. It works for me, however I can understand if it wouldn’t for someone else.

kim July 27, 2012 - 2:30 PM

I do a little of both. I’m currently doing most of my cardio with Insanity at home but going to the gym on weight training days. I’ve also done all gym or all home at some point in time. I did recently switch gyms because while it was the closest to my house, the hours were starting to be a problem with my schedule so I switched to a club that was better for time and almost half the price (double win!). I am a firm believer in weight lifting (and lifting heavy), so I doubt I will ever go all the way away from gyms for any long stretch of time unless I build a real weight lifting gym into my house.

Stef July 27, 2012 - 2:50 PM

The gym is best for me because I have no excuses. I’m here and I have to work out. Also I’m lucky enough to go to a gym that is very social. People will help you with your form and show you new routines. They also push you to do more or better. It’s my place in fact I don’t even allow anyone I’m dating to come to my gym as its my place.

4dabirds July 29, 2012 - 8:09 AM

While I love to be outside, the weather here in the summer is ridiculously hot and in the winter it is equally cold, so I put all the self consciousness aside and joined our local Y. Going at off-peak hours you see this huge cross-section of people at every fitness level and I have found a huge amount of motivation seeing people with portable oxygen tanks (and an 82-year old fellow with a walker), be there day-in and day-out. If they can be there making it happen, how can I possibly let myself off the hook! 🙂

Andrea August 10, 2012 - 2:12 PM

I have the best of all worlds. I use turbo fire or turbo jam some days. I have a small fitness center in my building with treadmill, free weights and other equipment. When it is nice, I walk outside.

elledub August 10, 2012 - 4:07 PM

thanks for this – i considered a gym membership but it turns out that there’s both a yoga studio and a big rec center in the neighborhood i’m moving to so i figured why spend the money?

Dominique September 21, 2012 - 1:20 PM

I’m a gym bunny for one reason and one reason only…. ‘Atmosphere’. Sure, I COULD pop in the workout dvd that I bought some odd years ago but have yet to open because, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’, but I wont. Simply put, I am pitiful. Very rarely I’ll take a walk around the block or stay indoors playing Dance Dance Revolution, but unless there’s a friend with me, I won’t budge. With that said, I applaud the hell-o kitty out of you at-home warriors!
The gym is where I can forget my woes and see others around me kicking major booty. That’s what helps me stay fueled and focused. It’s like a support group without even trying.

Monica November 2, 2012 - 11:59 PM

I am a home warrior. Honestly because at the time I lacked the experience with the equipment, time, and consistency to go to the gym. I had a membership it was only $20 per month. In the future I will most likely go to the gym again now that I know more about what I am doing but right now at home works well for me because I don’t have to be constrained to my husband’s schedule. Workout starts at 5 am, M-F. Saturdays, sometimes I run about 2 miles.

Rooo May 18, 2013 - 12:22 PM

Both. I get homework from my instructor and I have props at home; if I’m *really* on track I do my homework on all my off days and go to class the other days.

When life gets in the way I can always do homework instead of class. But I’ve found sometimes though my homework is hard (anybody else find it’s harder to do your fitness with your best form instead of phoning it in? LOL) I sometimes push myself harder in class b/c I’m a little more competitive than I thought, LOL, and don’t want to be the only one not doing the exercise at the level requested (assuming I’m strong enough and feel well, which also requires staying tuned in to how the body is feeling that day).

Justine June 18, 2013 - 1:23 AM

My college supplies us with a free membership at a local gym, so when i’m in school, i’m definitely a gym bunny. However, since I’m out of state, when I go home I have miles of roads and fields at my disposal, plus my mom’s old Body Electric tapes. It definitely depends on the time of year for me. As with Rooo it depends on homework as well. Though for the next year i’ve scheduled out hour blocks during the week I can go, those will probably degenerate into doing a workout in my dorm while studying for finals.

Janine June 21, 2013 - 8:18 AM

In the summer, definetly an at home/outside workout person, in the winter- gym bunny. Pittsburgh winters are brutal!

Michelle Watkins June 21, 2013 - 10:21 AM

Don’t do the gym because I’m lazy. If I feel tired on the treadmill, I get off. If I’m deep in the park, I have to walk home- tired or not.

Lauren July 17, 2013 - 9:11 AM

I’m a gym bunny. I like the routine and accountability that it gym membership requires. I do Zumba, the elliptical, the recumbent bike, stretching, machines, and free weights. I have, for about 15 years. maintained a membership. There were times when I didn’t go for a period of time but in general, I’ve been consistent and feel that it’s the right situation for me.

Cassandre September 28, 2013 - 9:28 AM

I am a little bit of both. Earlier this year, I ended my gym membership and worked out at home and the park. I lost most of my weight during that time. Something about exercising at home and outside alway pushed me to go harder. Also when I work out my home my daughter gets into it with me which makes me so happy. She now loves a plank (which i hate lol) and she loves jumping jacks. She also now associates the park with not only play time but jumping jack time… I recently joined the gym because of the classes and the weather changing soon.

Teshawn December 2, 2013 - 10:43 AM

I workout at home for budget reasons, also because I am not comfortable at the gym yet. I am thinking about joining a gym once I shed more weight.

Erika Nicole Kendall December 3, 2013 - 10:09 AM

“…also because I am not comfortable at the gym yet.”

This always makes me SO sad. Here’s looking forward to the day when you can go where you want freely and tell anyone who doesn’t like it, to piss off. *hug*

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