Is a Gym Membership Worth it?

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In the past, we canceled gym memberships to save money. At one point, we decided to turn part of our living room into a home gym and make working out convenient.

However, I found that I am not as motivated to work out on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I like having a home gym, but I am much more consistent if I have a gym membership, especially if I have a workout partner.

Thus, about a month ago, I decided to get a gym membership once again.

Why Get a Gym Membership

I recently joined the Healthy Wage challenge to lose weight and make money. Toward the end of the six-month competition, I was still about 10 pounds away from my goal weight.

So my wife gave me a free two-week pass to L.A. Fitness to help me reach my goal.

These are the reasons I like going to the gym:

  • Swimming in the pool
  • Squatting in the sauna for 20 minutes
  • Playing basketball
  • Working out with friends

Going to the gym is a lot different than working out at home, as you can see.

Learn more: Learn how to get paid to lose weight.

What is a Cheap Gym Membership?

I previously wrote about ways to stay fit on a budget where I mentioned YouFit, a gym that only charges $10 per month to join. If you have yet to join a gym, this is a cheap price.

A cheap gym membership can include these perks:

  • Basic workout equipment
  • Stationary bikes, treadmills, etc.
  • Locker room and showers

An entry-level gym may have classes. But most likely won’t have a swimming pool, basketball court or similar activities.

Don’t get me wrong; I like “cheap” deals to save money. But, sometimes, something has a low cost because it has few perks and benefits.

I had a membership at YouFit at one point in time.

Here are three reasons why I canceled my cheap gym membership:

  1. Location – It was about 4 miles from my house, and sometimes I could get caught in traffic.
  2. Lack of Amenities – They did not offer any classes, they didn’t have a pool, and they didn’t have a sauna.
  3. No one to workout with – No one that I knew worked out there, so I worked out by myself (which was infrequent at best).

Note: YouFit now offers a premium option ($24.99/month) with access to classes.

A cheap gym membership can be worth it if you only need basic equipment and cannot build a home gym. But, if I’m going to join a gym, one with amenities is worth the cost.

Why Choose a Gym with Amenities

image of empty gym pool

Your workout routine may only require a cheap, no-frills gym membership. However, that’s not the case for me.

Increasing my budget for working out up to $30 per month allowed me to have options. I could find a gym that I really thought would work out long-term.

Getting a gym membership is only worth it to me if I get results.

I decided to continue working out at L.A Fitness for a few reasons:

  1. Location – It is much closer to my house as it is only 2 miles away.
  2. It has amenities that I use – They have classes, a basketball court, a swimming pool, a sauna and every machine you can imagine. They also have extras that I don’t use but may someday including Racquetball courts, punching bags, etc.
  3. Accountability – My friend Mike already worked out there, so it made it easy to establish a routine to workout together.

Since I have a workout partner, I am much more inclined to work out regularly because I would feel bad canceling on him.

Ask yourself these questions before signing up for a gym membership:

  • “If I get the gym membership, will I actually go?”
  • “Do I know someone that works out at this gym who I could workout with?”
  • “Will I really use the amenities offered by the gym?

Average Gym Membership Costs

Gym membership costs can vary depending on the brand and available amenities.

A barebones gym or local community center may only cost $10 per month. But a luxury gym with the best amenities and classes can easily cost $100 monthly.

Personal trainer access and other perks, like a juice bar, can cost extra.

Types of Gyms

There are basic, mid-tier and luxury gyms. Each gym has different cost and amenity offerings. Be sure to compare the gym offerings when you price shop.

Here is a summary of each gym type:

Basic Gym

A basic gym has the bare necessities to exercise, along with a changing room and shower.

Some of the available equipment includes:

  • Weight and cardio equipment
  • Free weights (i.e., barbells)
  • Treadmills
  • Stationery bikes

You most likely won’t have a pool or basketball court—entry-level gyms costs between $10 and $30 per month.

Mid-Tier Gym

The mid-tier gyms offer some amenities like a basketball court and swimming pool. Other extras can include classes and a sauna, for starters. However, the options will vary by gym brand.

Expect the monthly for mid-tier gyms to be between $30 and $60.

Luxury Gyms

Gyms with all of the “bells and whistles” like a spa, on-site childcare, and a juice bar are also available. These gyms cost between $60 and $100 per month for a base membership.

Plus, using additional on-demand amenities can cost extra.

image of luxury gym with large lights, treadmills, and view of palm trees

Monthly Fee vs. Annual Fee for Gym Membership

The best deal for gym memberships can be buying an annual membership. You pay for 12 months of membership upfront but save money.

However, you should only decide to buy a year-long membership if you anticipate working out all year. Gym memberships are rigid and almost always non-refundable.

Opting for a month-to-month membership can cost more but are easy to cancel.

Another reason to consider monthly gym memberships is because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many gyms are open despite the risks but can close if the situation worsens.

Beware of Sign Up Fees

Some gyms require you to pay $100 plus as an initial sign up fee. This fee may also be known as an “initiation fee.”

The good news is that many gyms are going to the month-to-month plans. They also offer limited-time deals for one-time discounts.

Shop around when looking for a gym to make sure you are getting a good deal.

Ask for a Free Gym Pass

Many gyms offer a free pass before you join. Try a workout and decide if the commute and amenities are worth it. Also, decide if the equipment quality and quantity is worth it.

Best Gym Amenities

Gyms offer different amenities, and here are some that can be worth using.

  • Basketball court
  • Classes
  • Climbing wall
  • Personal trainer access
  • Racquetball
  • Sauna
  • Swimming pool

Each person uses different equipment and amenities. Gym perks can make it easier to make money as you work out, like high-intensity training.

Gym Membership Alternatives

Joining a gym isn’t necessary for every fitness enthusiast. For instance, you may not be able to afford a gym membership. Or you may not have the time or need to use a gym.

Build a Home Gym

Making a home gym requires an upfront investment, and you need to find space in your home or garage.

It’s possible to buy used equipment on Facebook Marketplace and similar buy & sell apps. You can also buy a brand-new Peloton Bike, which has video-based workouts.

Other items to consider buying include barbells, a weight bench and resistance bands.

Consider buying the essential equipment first and then buying add-on items as money permits.

Once you build your gym, you can use an app like Achievement, which pays you to be healthy. You can make money by entering your workout details.

Run, Jog or Bike

image of woman going for a jog outside next to water

If you like to run, walk or bike, map out a jogging route. Your route may go through parks, beaches or community running tracks.

You can track your progress and motivate yourself by using a free workout app.

During the months of unseasonable weather, think about getting a month-to-month gym membership. Theat way, you can keep working out and spend less than an annual membership.

Watch Workout Videos

Group classes can be another “perk” of a gym membership. However, not every gym offers classes, and the class schedule may not mesh with your schedule.

In this instance, you will need to find another place to watch workout videos.

One option is watching free videos on YouTube. If you don’t want to watch commercials while you work out, you can buy video courses to stream or watch on DVD.

Do Yard Work

Being active in your own yard and improving your curb appeal can improve your fitness. Consider this option if you don’t need access to gym equipment and amenities.

Not every person who goes to the gym lifts weights or swims laps.

Get a Side Hustle

Getting a side hustle that requires physical activity lets you make money and stay fit. One option is becoming a dog walker, as you can get daily exercise while making money.

Are Gym Memberships Worth it?

Is a gym membership actually worth it? Here are the positives and negatives:


  • Specialized weight and cardio equipment
  • Luxury amenities and classes
  • Protected from inclement weather
  • Can have a workout buddy
  • Month-to-month memberships


  • Costs money
  • Require commute to visit
  • Annual memberships are nonrefundable
  • Basic gyms may not offer enough amenities


A gym membership can be worth it if it helps you exercise regularly, improve your health, and meet workout buddies. Choose a gym that fits your needs and budget.

Still, working out at home is good for self-workouts if you need to live cheaply or won’t visit the gym enough to justify the cost.

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  1. Paula jungwirth says:

    I joined our local YMCA. I love it! My husbands employer supports it, and we get 10% for a single or family membership. I go four days per week for pool-classes and tons of classes offered all week. They have certified trainers. I also go with a friend, hence the accountability factor! The winters in Wisco are long, icy, snowy, and cold. I consider this an investment in my health, which is priceless! ❤️??

    1. I’ve never thought about joining the YMCA. I’m glad to hear it is worthwhile!

  2. I have seen people losing weight only after joining a gym. On the other hand, I keep my weight in control without joining a gym…

    1. I am impressed, SB. Not everyone has that kind of self control.

  3. Well, I think I am among the lucky few here since we have a company gym at my place of work. You can hit it whenever you feel like blowing off some steam. 🙂 It’s the best perk of the job so far. Well, we don’t have a pool though!
    Beyond the company one, I haven’t actually explored gym-memberships…I jog a couple of miles some days, mostly weekends, and hit a campus swimming pool nearby…Thats it!
    I think as with all things, you should pay only if you are getting value from it that you cant get with freely available options.

  4. I haven’t had a gym membership in years. I enjoy jogging outside and can do so pretty much year round here. On the snowy days when I can’t jog I try to pop in a dvd.

  5. I have a gym pass. It is worth it for me because it’s really, really low cost ($15/month) and it is all I need. Even if I only go a few times per month it’s still worth it. But I can see how it’s not worth it for some.

  6. When I had a gym membership, I went all of the time. After the gym sued me because of their clerical error, I have not been back to the gym. I am lucky that my wife is an athletic trainer. I don’t get to use excuses at home.

    1. You were sued by the gym? That is crazy. It’s a good thing your wife is a trainer then, for sure.

  7. Many years ago I signed up with a popular gym and unknowingly signed a 3-year contract. The first 6-months, I used it. After that, I didn’t, but still had to pay the fees. It really did not work out very well for me. I prefer taking walks, riding my bike, or working out in the gym in our apartment complex. All three are FREE!

    1. WellKeptWallet says:

      Wait! You have a gym in your apartment complex? I would be hitting that up regularly if we had one of those!

  8. We used to have a membership but don’t anymore. We bought everything for our own home gym and love it!

    1. WellKeptWallet says:

      I’m glad to hear the home gym is working out for you, Michelle!

  9. I totally agree with you. Some no frill gyms just aren’t worth it and if you go with someone else you’re more likely to go AND make better use of your $’s spent. I’ve signed up to 3 gyms through Groupon over the last 8 months and have enjoyed my last one, (a local non chain gym that I go to with my brother). It actually motivates me to go. I got hit with a “sign up fee” which covered my key fob. I wasn’t happy about it, but it’s definitely something to be aware of. Summer offers a bit more of an outdoor workout option. But, you have to be motivated and be a bit more creative with what can be done outdoors, which can often deter people.

    1. WellKeptWallet says:

      I’m glad to hear you found a gym you like. I’m not sure where you live, but summers here are when people stay inside. I actually think more people workout inside in AZ when it is 120 degrees.