Gym memberships aren’t worth it


Courtesy LeeAnn Gustafson | NIU Athletics Department

NIU students and DeKalb residents are able to utilize fitness equipment at the Rec Center and other fitness centers on campus.

By Ally Formeller

When making New Year’s resolutions, pledging to exercise more and eat well is often at the top of the list. For many, making good on that resolution means paying for a gym membership.

While gyms and health clubs can offer a positive atmosphere, gym memberships are not necessary to become fit — I know from experience. 

For some, a gym membership can definitely help persuade them to go to the gym — money is leaving their pockets for no reason every time they skip — but many go unused anyway.

I began going to the gym in late 2018. I was paying $10 per month to use the facilities, but my attendance was scattered. 

I’m not alone in occasionally skipping the gym. According to a study, 30% of respondents said that they were paying for a membership but not going to the gym. 

40% of respondents said that their membership was too expensive. Even $10 per month adds up, especially if you aren’t using what you’re paying for. 

However, because of the comfortable atmosphere and the variety of equipment, some find gym memberships to be helpful in their fitness journey. 

“We have about 650 students who scan into the rec center every weekday, and…about 350 check-ins for group fitness classes last semester,” said Natalie Summerfelt and Joshua Perez, two graduate students who assist fitness classes at NIU’s campus rec center. 

On-campus, students can take advantage of a full gym, as well as fitness classes and other resources as a part of their fees for each semester.   

“We believe having the fitness center resources, regardless of the age of equipment, is still better for students than at-home equipment, as you can perform a wider variety of exercises with heavier weights or different cardio machines,” Summerfelt and Perez said. 

As a former gym-goer, I find home workouts to be just as satisfying.

While gyms and fitness classes offer equipment, companionship and personal trainers, unless you need specific machinery to complete your routine, home workouts can provide the same results depending on your fitness goals.

Bodyweight and cardio exercises can easily be done at home, even in a relatively small space. Following YouTube videos and purchasing small weights or resistance bands can also help increase the intensity of a home workout. 

As someone who previously paid for a gym membership, there absolutely are benefits to them. However, many people simply don’t use their memberships enough for it to be worth it, especially since fitness can be achieved at home for a much lower cost. 

Instead of paying $10 per month to (not) go to the gym, I paid less than $15 for a few resistance bands. Not only is it more comfortable to workout at home, I also feel more motivated to workout, since I know I can do so whenever I want. 

Keeping your New Year’s resolution and staying fit doesn’t have to be expensive. Paying for a gym membership that’s going to be unused won’t make working out more appealing, but finding ways to make it more comfortable and fun for yourself will.