Do you pay a lot for your gym membership?
You aren’t the only one.
Gym memberships cost a pretty penny, especially when you attend a quality gym with high-end amenities.
We will cover the top 10 reasons gym memberships are so expensive.
Why Are Gym Memberships So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Gym Equipment
Many people go to the gym since they don’t want to pay for their own equipment at home.
A Peleton bike is usually anywhere from $1,750 to $2,500, and that’s only one machine!
The gym must pay for a wide range of equipment, and instead of buying one machine, they need to pay for multiple machines to accommodate all guests.
While there are a lot of variables that may determine the final cost of a gym’s initial equipment, a fitness center generally spends $50,000 on start-up equipment alone.
The studio must also pay for regular maintenance on all of the equipment.
Machines must be checked for safety and functionality.
When a machine breaks down, they must also pay to replace it.
Common Gym Equipment
Gym equipment falls under the categories of “cardio” or “strength training.”
Cardio machines tend to emphasize heart health while strength training equipment tones and builds muscles.
Some of the most common cardio machines include:
- Treadmill: A machine with a moving walkway that offers various speeds and inclines for running, jogging, or walking.
- Stair Stepper: A machine with moving steps that allow the user to continuously walk up steps.
- Elliptical: A machine that allows users to walk, jog, or run with less impact than a treadmill.
- Stationary Bike: A bike you ride in place indoors with two options: upright and recumbent.
- Rowing Machine: A machine that mimics the movements of rowing a boat, combining cardio and strength training.
Some of the most common strength training equipment includes:
- Barbell/Dumbell Set: A collection of weights that come as a set (dumbells) or as a single unit (barbell).
- Cable and Pulley: Adjustable machine with two cables designed for a wide range of workouts.
- Lat Pulldown: Machine with a seat and an interchangeable bar designed to focus on the latissimus dorsi muscle
- Leg Extension Machine: Machine with a seat and mid-shin bar that works the quadriceps and hamstring.
- Leg Curl Machine: Machine designed for a curling motion as opposed to an extending motion that works the hamstring and glutes
- Leg Press Machine: Machine with a reclined chair and a foot platform attached to weights where the user bends and extends their legs, similar to a squat.
- Bicep Curl Machine: Machine with a seat and a shoulder-level padded bar attached to weights that focus on the biceps.
It’s imperative for gym members to use different types of equipment under both categories in order to work out all of the different parts of the body.
If you only run on a treadmill every time you visit the gym, you are missing an opportunity to strengthen your arms, shoulders, and back.
Furthermore, while most people think the best way to look good is to focus on cardio, you’ll see better physical results when you combine cardio with low-level strength training designed to tone instead of increase muscle (low weight and high reps).
2. Personal Trainers And Classes
Some people walk into a gym with a confused look on their face and shyly make their way to the machine that looks the least complicated, such as the treadmill, and never learn more than that.
They stick to the machines that make them feel comfortable, potentially missing the opportunity for a much better workout.
When you utilize more of the gym equipment at your disposal, you will get more invested in your workouts and keep your membership longer since you feel like you’re getting more out of it.
This is good for you, but it’s also good for the gym.
Plus, the gym doesn’t want you to get hurt by using a machine incorrectly.
That’s why many gyms offer a personal trainer to teach you how to use the different machines and even provide nutrition tips.
Some gyms include trainers in the membership fee.
Other gyms offer a limited number of free classes as a thank you for signing up with their gym.
Alternatively, you can pay for your own personal trainer either through the gym or privately.
Not only do personal trainers teach you how to work out safely and effectively, but they also help to motivate you.
Even after a personal trainer explains how to use the different machines, you still may not know how to create an effective workout plan.
Personal trainers create thoughtful workout plans for people with different health goals in the form of group classes, such as a full-body boot camp, spin class, yoga class, or water aerobics.
When you attend a professional class, you know that a qualified person developed the class with safety and specific health goals in mind so you know you can’t go wrong.
A full-body boot camp class is usually the most intense and touches on all parts of your body.
Those who make it out of boot camp walk out sore but also very proud of their accomplishment.
A spin class provides you with a cardio class of varying difficulty levels where the majority of the class takes place on a stationary bike.
Yoga class teaches members to strengthen their core and improve flexibility while also practicing mindfulness.
Yoga classes also vary greatly in difficulty from beginner to advanced.
Most yoga classes don’t provide a cardio workout.
Water aerobics makes it easier for people with orthopedic issues, such as a bad hip or bad knee, to get a good workout without hurting themselves since there’s less resistance in the water.
3. Additional Amenities
Most gyms offer a lot more than basic gym equipment.
Some gyms also offer things like a lap pool, spa pool, sauna, and sports equipment/courts to appeal to more guests and offer multiple ways to get healthy.
Always compare amenities when choosing a gym.
You don’t necessarily want the gym with the most amenities but the amenities that appeal to you the most.
Many of these amenities take up a lot of space, which contributes to one of the largest costs associated with the gym: rent.
Gyms take up a lot of space.
In fact, the average gym member uses a facility of around 3,400 square feet.
Large spaces equal large rent.
If the gym owner has the backing, they may want to buy the space outright.
However, they should expect to pay upwards of $800,000 (depending on the size and location of the gym).
During the recent pandemic, many gym members couldn’t go to the gym due to local mandates.
Most gyms had to refund that month’s fee to the members.
Many people canceled completely.
When gyms opened back up, they had far fewer members.
However, they still had to pay rent.
Some gyms were forced to increase prices a bit to get themselves back into the green.
Gyms run on the employees who keep things clean and safe for visitors.
The employees also assist with questions about equipment and handle all membership issues.
While expensive, the employees are extremely valuable to the gym and its members.
If there aren’t enough employees at the gym, visitors may not be able to sign up for a membership.
Members may also see a mess, discouraging them from returning.
Therefore, gyms make sure to hire enough people.
Pay varies based on the position and the skill level of the employee.
However, payroll does make up a significant amount of the gym’s expenses each month.
At locations that stay open 24/7, the facility has even higher payroll expenses since they must pay for staff during late-night hours.
In order to pay the employees, they get money from membership fees.
When working out at the gym, there’s a certain level of risk.
People may overexert themselves to the point of fainting.
They may also slip when gripping a sweaty handle or walking in a puddle of sweat.
Finally, they may get injured by using equipment incorrectly.
While members usually sign a waiver that releases the gym from any liability in case of injury, there are some situations where the gym may find themselves liable, such as if they failed to properly maintain a particular machine.
At the very least, a gym will need at least $12,000 in commercial general liability coverage.
However, most gyms have higher coverage.
Staying Safe At The Gym
You can avoid most accidents at the gym by using common sense and following some basic safety precautions:
- Wipe down all machines after use.
- Stop exercising when your heart rate reaches a certain level.
- Educate yourself about machines before you use them.
- Wear the proper gym equipment.
- Give other guests space.
- Stretch before and after working out.
What To Do If Injured At The Gym
If you do find yourself injured, stop working out immediately.
Additional stress on the body may exacerbate the injury.
Make an employee aware of the situation, whether you believe the gym should assume responsibility or not.
If you do suspect a machine malfunctioned or there was a spill, the employees need to know so that they can prevent other guests from getting injured.
Provide a formal report of the incident with the gym and gather evidence on the spot.
If you had a moderate or severe injury, visit a doctor at the first reasonable opportunity to get a proper diagnosis and professional opinion about when you should start going to the gym again.
Follow the doctor’s orders and reintroduce yourself to the gym slowly and carefully.
After you heal, you may think you have a case against the gym.
Since the gym works hard to protect itself against lawsuits, you may get the best results with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
7. Gym Contracts
Gyms are notorious for high-pressure sales and signing guests up for six-month or one-year contracts whenever possible.
When you first decide to join a new gym, you probably have ambitious goals, especially with the salesperson encouraging you.
At this time, a year-long membership probably sounds like a great idea, especially if the commitment comes at a discounted rate.
Unfortunately, some people end up taking a different path for whatever reason, and the membership card stays in their wallet as a reminder of the wasted money.
Many people end up paying for a gym membership that includes a contract only to regret it when they find themselves not using it.
The gym is in the best position.
They have your money, but you aren’t even using the machines or other amenities.
Naturally, they don’t want to let you out of the contract.
Canceling when you’re not under contract is difficult enough.
They may make you write a cancellation request and submit it in person only to have a trainer guilt you into sticking to your health goals.
Only the strong make it out of the gym with their membership actually canceled.
If you’re under contract, you don’t stand a chance until the contract expires.
Look for gyms that offer commitment-free programs to acclimate to gym rat life before you decide to commit to a gym for an extended time.
When you do choose a long-term commitment, pick a national chain just in case you move and need to change your gym location during your membership.
Making The Most Of Your Gym Membership
Avoid the desire to cancel your gym membership by setting yourself up for success from the beginning.
Pick a gym that is easy for you to get to every day, which allows you to work out at the best time for you, even if you have an unconventional schedule.
Join the gym with friends or family members so that you have other people with you to motivate you to go to the gym.
If you don’t have other people to help motivate you, find other ways to motivate yourself, such as an accountability journal and self-help books/blogs.
If you do find yourself putting the gym lower and lower on your priorities, don’t get discouraged.
Shake it off and get back in today! When you take it one day at a time, the progress you make each day will add up and hopefully turn into good habits.
8. Gym Gear
Appropriate gym attire is not only required for safety reasons but also gives you confidence and can even encourage you to go to the gym more often.
Some basic gym staples include gym shoes that protect your feet and provide a cushion along with moveable, breathable clothing that won’t absorb sweat.
Those with long hair should also remember to include hair ties or headbands to keep their hair out of their eyes.
Furthermore, you will need a gym bag to carry the clothing from home or work to the gym.
You’ll also need a lock for your gym locker and a water bottle.
Optional add-ons include wrist weights and headphones.
While basic gear will suffice, most people like to get something that is not only practical but also attractive.
After all, you never know who you may meet at the gym.
9. Social Scene
The gym is more than just a gym.
It’s a place to meet new people and meet up with old friends while also doing something productive.
A lot of people make a trip to the gym a social occasion, often going to lunch or getting a smoothie afterward.
Some gyms really emphasize the social aspect of the gym by having a wide range of group classes and even social events for members.
People will also pay more for memberships at gyms known to attract a certain social class of people or celebrities.
It’s a chance for some of the members to rub elbows with people seemingly above their station and maybe even make some valuable connections.
10. Improved Health
Healthcare products and services often come with a high price tag because how can you put a price on good health?
People want to pay the price since they see it as a small price to pay to feel good and prolong their life expectancy.
It doesn’t hurt that the results usually look pretty good, too.
Working out is not only good for the body, though.
It’s also good for the mind.
Going to the gym and seeing health goals become a reality will increase a person’s confidence.
Many gym classes, such as yoga, also emphasize mindfulness and stress-relief on top of core strength and flexibility.
Finally, when people work out, the brain releases hormones known as endorphins that encourage a positive mindset.
A good workout can be the best anti-depressant or anti-anxiety solution when used properly.
While there are discount gyms out there, such as Planet Fitness, high-end gyms with the best amenities cost a lot of money each month.
The price continues to add up when you add the cost of your gym equipment, personal trainers, and classes.
Increase the value of your membership by taking advantage of the different amenities offered to you and using the gym for its social opportunities and mental health opportunities on top of the equipment.
As long as you use your membership regularly and educate yourself on the different equipment, you are getting the best deal of all: improved overall health.