I think this is a question we each need to ask ourselves and it isn't one size fits all. I was a long-term gym lover until things changed mid-2014. I got a new treadmill at home that had an adjustable incline and could be awesome for all of my runs...not just easier days. Before I had a treadmill at a constant incline and too many runs on that, or trying to do speed work etc., wasn't good for the hips. No one should always run uphill but I digress.
With it being approximately 6 months since I have gone to the gym - yikes! - I have been able to truly recognize some pro's and con's of gym memberships that can help you make your decision if this is a good fit for you.
- It is a safe environment to exercise - If you are like me and tend to exercise way before the sun comes up, being able to run somewhere and feel safe is important. I opted for the gym versus dark roadways.
- You can exercise in inclement weather - I know some of you may be trekking in snow and icy patches but for me, it may be an occasional torrential downpour. The gym can allow you a dry and temperate zone to run or do whatever you like to do!
- The staff and other gym goers can be quite motivational and supportive - It is great working out with others either directly or indirectly. I miss the "Hi Erica!" and "Have a great day, Erica!" or "What did you run today, Erica?" that I got at the gym. Some days a little comment could make a HUGE difference.
- Childcare may be available - This is cool when you are a running parent and I used this option almost weekly on Saturday's to get some running down without child distractions. Darling daughter loved the Kids' Club but be warned, it comes at a cost (very minimal) and time restrictions. And yes, some days they don't show. That was not cool but overall, it was a great add-on!
- You have access to a variety of fitness machines and perhaps some group classes - I didn't go off the treadmill very often but it was nice to go to a different machine every now and then and yes, I tried one spin class. If I did this more often I may have reconsidered cancelling my membership.
- You have access to water and other supplies just in case - There were a couple of times I forgot my gels or my headphones broke and it was nice to replace them on the spot and keep on plan. Plus darling daughter loved picking out a healthy snack post Kids' Club.
- There is a monthly fee and childcare may have an additional fee - Honestly, at 24 hour Fitness my fee was about $30 a month so it wasn't extreme; however, that $30 a month can now go to darling daughter's horseback riding lessons.
- You are limited to their hours and time constraints - Holiday hours and Kids' Club hours were my main limiting factors but in the past when I was on O'ahu machines had time limits too during the crowded hours. Just know the rules at the club you are looking into.
- The fitness machine you want may already be all in use or out of service - There is nothing as annoying as wanting x-miles when you have x-minutes and you can't start running. But hey, you could go to another machine and do something else, right? Perhaps. With my training focus I wanted the run, nothing else. It depends on what your after. Fitness is fitness but for marathon training, I need running time.
- You need to get there - The gym I went to was out of the way from my home to work but yet, for many years I made that detour before work. It has a small added cost of extra fuel and wear and tear on your car and does impact the environment. Yes, I try to drive as little as possible.
- Changing room and showers may not be ideal or you have to wait - Fortunately, I ended up avoiding this by showering at work on most days but on the Saturday's with darling daughter I just went with the flow and waited my turn. She didn't want to spend the day with a sweaty mommy while running errands.
- Potential for theft - This was a BIG issue at the gym I went to. Cars were broken into left and right and yes, my car was broken into once. It wasn't a nice experience and I am happy I don't need to park there anymore.
Daily Affirmation: I find balance in my life.