6 Reasons a Gym Membership Is Not Always the Solution

Is The Gym For You? Six Signs It May Be Time to Try Something Else.

gym membership woes
Getty Images/John Fedele

Let’s face it—gym memberships don't fit everyone’s needs. Maintaining a membership and paying your dues won't necessarily yield instant motivation or fulfillment. In a perfect world, these factors would instantly change your mentality and help you hoof it to the gym, but, unfortunately, this isn't a perfect world. Living a healthy, gratifying life doesn't come part-and-parcel with a gym membership.

Living a healthy, gratifying, lifestyle comes down to internal motivation and diligent, hard work. So if a gym membership isn't helping you prioritize your fitness, that's okay. Here are the signs it might be time to ditch the gym, and solutions for prioritizing activity on your own terms. 

1. Gym Fees Are Killing Your Budget

Gym memberships don’t often come cheap. Paying hundreds of dollars, especially if you live on a tight budget, only increases your stress levels, especially if you're letting that money go to waste. This added stress can feed your lack of motivation, ultimately affecting everything from your physical appearance and daily outlook, to your mood and contentment.

Anti-Gym Solution: Even if you can’t afford a gym membership, you can find excellent alternatives to help you reach your fitness goals. One alternative lies in your surroundings. Work out outside. Nature doesn't charge by the hour, and mountains and trails remain open for hiking.


2. Solo Gym Sessions Aren't for Everyone

People often go to the gym alone. The decision to get off the couch and head to the gym is yours. How hard you work remains dependent on your own willpower. These solo sessions can prove difficult, and holding yourself accountable doesn't always produce the best results.

Anti-Gym Solution: Instead of going to the gym alone, try joining a fitness groups—walking clubs, running groups, hiking groups, cycling clubs. None of these groups meet in the gym. They meet at a park, at a beach, or on a road. They find times to meet that work with most people’s schedules. Members motivate each other and hold each other accountable. You don't have to feel alone in your fitness journey. 

3. Gym Anxiety Is Real

Performance anxiety isn’t just found in the bedroom, it's a very real part of daily life, including life at the gym. Whether you're anxious about your performance in a class setting, or you shy away at the thought of sweating in front of others, perceived embarrassment can be detrimental when trying to find a gym routine.

Anti-Gym Solution: Videos, DVDs, and the internet are the ultimate solution for the anxious exerciser. With thousands of websites featuring online videos, countless phone apps, and DVD sets sold at reasonable prices, you never have to step into a gym again. The instructors act as your trainers, the participants your peers, and your home, your own personal gym.

4. Gym Routines Can Be Horribly Boring

The gym is a fixed workout environment. The machines don’t change, the faces usually stay the same, and the fatigue which accompanies monotony can easily set in.

Avoiding boredom requires knowledge, planning, and creativity. Even still, the struggle endures. You may find yourself in a constant cycle of, "Step one, do cardio. Step two, lift weights. Step three, cool down and do abs. Lather, rinse, repeat." When you feel stagnant, your drive falters and before you know it, you end up at the dreaded exercise plateau.

Anti-Gym Solution: Instead of getting a gym membership, try to find a specialized group fitness studio that reflects what you love. For instance, you could join a yoga studio, a CrossFit box, or a boxing gym. At these types of boutique studios, routines vary daily and they're led by certified trainers, which enables you to focus on what interests you most.

5. It's Easy to Feel Intimidated at the Gym

Sweaty, scantily clad, muscular men and women. Sometimes this is all you can see when you walk through the doors to the gym. When you compare yourself to those around you, a very real feeling of intimidation can set in. Working out should feel empowering, stress-relieving, and positive. Intimidation shouldn't derail your goals, and yet it remains a very real reason why the gym isn't the best fit for everyone.

Anti-Gym Solution: If the gym contributes to feelings of self-doubt, avoid the source of your anxiety altogether. Again, exercise in your backyard, your living room, or your hotel. Find others who share your feelings and find a safe place where you can give it your all. Go ahead and sweat heavily, struggle, and succeed without comparing yourself to others. Exercise with like-minded people and hold each other accountable. If you stay the course, even outside of the gym, one day your intimidation will fade away.

6. You Don't Know What to Do at the Gym

Developing fitness knowledge takes time, especially since information on health is constantly evolving. Without proper knowledge, you can risk injury, or simply fail to achieve optimal results. If the cost of a gym membership already weighs heavily on your wallet, hiring a trainer to help you learn the proper skills may be completely out of the question, and you don't want to aimlessly walk around the facility without a clue what to do.

Anti-Gym Solution: If you can’t afford personal training, use all the free resources you can find. Technology is an amazing thing, and knowledge exists at your fingertips. Thousands of videos flood the Internet with more popping up every day. Many personal trainers are committed to helping spread their fitness knowledge, without looking for a payment in return. While the amount of information available online may overwhelm you, you can find solace in social media. Reach out to friends to ask for suggestions on their favorite fitness YouTube channels and Instagram accounts

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