March 9, 2011

To gym or not to gym?

This morning, I was catching up on an episode of the Biggest Loser (episode 7, for those of you who follow along), wherein some of the contestants lost the use of the gym for a week and had to make do without it. Bob and Jillian threw a hissy fit when that happened, talking all about how the gym was an integral part of getting in shape. In the end, they resorted to shoulder pressing lawn furniture, and they all seemed to lose a decent amount of weight that week (no spoilers from me about whether they won or not). However, for the second time this season, I was shocked at the reactions of the people on the show. I understand that you are trying to lose weight, but the gym is NOT the only way to do that!

Fortuitously, Fit Bottomed Mamas posted an article today on how to turn your everyday chores into calorie burners. I didn’t think they were the best tips (how many people are in your house/what kind of clothes do you wear that would require an hour of ironing to burn just 156 calories?), but I really liked the spirit of the article. There are truly many, many ways you can get a decent workout in without having a gym, which is part of why I thought it was so ridiculous that Bob and Jillian were upset about not having gym access. If I can figure out how to do bicep curls with the lamps in your hotel room, surely Bob and Jillian can come up with some even better ideas. And since this is a running blog, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that you can get cardio in pretty much anywhere, anytime – either by running in circles or even doing something like jumping jacks in your living room. I feel like I’ve been harping on this a lot lately, but it’s something I absolutely believe in and think everyone needs to understand: if you truly want to get in shape, there is really no excuse for not doing so.

Now, while we’re on the subject, I’d love to solicit a bit of advice from you all. With all the travel I’ve been doing as of late (both for work and for pleasure), I’m only home about 6-8 days/month. Furthermore, those days are typically on weekends, when I’ve already gotten in my strength training for the week and I would mostly only do cardio anyway. Given that my gym is $79/month and a day pass is only $15, I’d likely be better off canceling my membership and just getting day passes whenever I do want to use it. Plus, not being committed to one gym would allow me to get day passes to other nearby gyms (Equinox, New York Sports Club, Reebok Sports Club) and try the classes there, if I were ambitious enough to leave my building instead of being lazy. However, the downside is that I’m pretty frugal, so I worry that if I knew I had to pay $15 for the privilege of using the gym, I wouldn’t use it nearly as much (even though I’d be spending less than the prepaid option).



10 thoughts on “To gym or not to gym?”

  1. Can you put your membership on hold and try out using other gyms occasionally? Or if you have a month to month, maybe it be worth it to cancel and give the pay as you use plan a try. When I travel a lot workout dvds and the NYC Ballet Workout book are my favorites.

  2. I think this is a great question. (I’m totally frugal and only have a membership because my work will comp at least 50% of it.)

    My suggestion? Cancel the membership or put it on hold. Usually if you fight with them, a club will waive an initiation fee, especially if you were a prior member. The money that you would spend on the gym? Set that aside every month and use it specifically for single gym days or race fees – if you can’t convince yourself to use it for single classes, I’m sure you can justify using it for a marathon!

  3. I’m a runner too and I HATE the gym. I run outside whenever possible and do all my abs and strength training at home. I’m a college kid so I get to use the Rec center at school for free and I love to go there and swim and it’s good on days that are cold. I don’t know if I’d pay for a monthly membership though.

  4. I have the same mentality about the frugality and 15/day as you do. When I go home for holidays I never end up going to the gym because I refuse to buy a day pass.

    But, it’s getting warmer and with so many ways to workout outside, I would probably ditch the membership.

  5. I’m finding that to be a big problem I have with TBL. They send a lot of mixed messages about how to lose weight/be healthy/stay fit. I have a couple of friends who view Jillian & Bob’s advice as gospel and, while I think it’s fantastic that they are motivating otherwise sedentary people to get off the couch, they don’t mention that there is more than one path to weight-loss success. (I could rant on, but I won’t.)

    I definitely was in much better shape when I did not belong to a gym. I did weight training at home and I ran. Simple, but effective. I joined a gym to be more social and connect with a few friends outside of Happy Hour. I like it because it encourages me to break the monotony and try different activities/work different muscles. If your next three months look as busy as the past three, I’d cancel. Try all the new gyms with the day passes. Maybe you’ll fall in love with one of them!

  6. I don’t travel as much as you, but I definitely thought a lot of the same things when deciding to cancel my last membership. That, and it was so pricey that I knew I had to scale back for a while. So I’m doing discounts to gyms only (not to be confused with discount gyms). Between GroupOn and LivingSocial, you can get one month memberships to the big names; and with some of the smaller group buying sites you can get passes for one or multi-classes to a variety of studios. I definitely go more when the places are near me, but as long as it is near something I do in my life (friends, on route to work, etc) then so far it has been successful. And I have put gym memberships on on hold before; but they still charge you a fee which I don’t appreciate. Good luck deciding!

  7. GREAT advice, everyone! I’m going to try to cancel my membership next weekend. I’m on a month-to-month anyway so there’s no downside to canceling.

  8. You’re absolutely right. Any place can become a gym because you can use your own body weight as resistance. Push ups, dips, lunges, etc.

    I keep my gym membership although I have been once in 3 months. It’s for the pool this summer for me at this point. My gym, though, will allow me to put my membership on hold for $10 per month and then I don’t have to pay the fees to rejoin and all that.

    Angela/Pretty in Orange

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