Money Wasters: Gym Memberships

Gym memberships drain bank accounts with monthly fees or a hefty lump sum each year, and in many cases they can be just be another waste of money even if you work out regularly.

Gyms may offer access to treadmills, elliptical trainers, a weight room and fancy new machines, but you can workout at home and spend far less out of pocket than what you’d pay to use a gym.

What You Pay

About 41 million Americans had gym memberships contributing to $17 billion in annual revenue for these facilities in 2007, but it’s likely that far fewer members actually used the facilities.

Expensive gyms can cost more than $200 a month. Your membership fee may offer fluffy towels, razors, soap, shampoo, access to a sauna and possibly even a smoothie bar, among other amenities. But it’s easy to rack up other charges including paying an extra $20 a month to have access to other gym locations and locker rental charges that can nearly double your monthly fee at some pricier gyms.

And if you want personal training, you’ll have to shell out even more. A single session might cost you about $90, but if you buy a pack of 10 sessions, for instance, that price may be dropped to $850. But even then, it’s a hefty price to pay.

At less-expensive gyms and recreation centers, you might pay about $75, possibly less, for an entire annual membership. But for some, that may still be a waste of money. If you’re serious about working out but also serious about your budget, you can have much of what you look for in a gym at home.

Here are a few ways to get fit while saving both money and time.

Get Going With Cardio

It may take a bit of motivation, perhaps with some friendly competition among workout buddies, but running and cycling outdoors may actually be a better workout than doing cardiovascular exercise at the gym.

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