Understanding Gym Membership Prices: What Are You Really Paying For?
When you’re looking to get fit, you have a wealth of options, from creating an at-home setup with a few key pieces of equipment and plenty of apps to keep you motivated to taking classes at a boutique studio where you can specialize in one type of workout like hot yoga or kickboxing. Although each of those options might appear more affordable than joining a gym, your membership fee can actually be a larger return on your investment, especially with faster results.
Gym pricing can be unique to a particular locally owned fitness center, or stretch across all affiliated centers nationwide. It can be tiered to reflect certain membership levels based on how often you use the gym or what services you want, or it can be a flat rate that's paid monthly at the type of "no-frills" gyms that offer only equipment and not classes.
No matter what type of gym you're considering, it's important to know exactly what's included in the price, so you can make the most of your membership. Here are some common features included in the cost of many gyms:
A portion of your membership fee goes toward employing qualified staff members who make sure the gym is a welcoming, safe, clean, and motivating environment. They're the ones who handle all the paperwork, answer questions, schedule classes and training, stay on top of maintenance, and maybe even ping you when you haven't showed up in a while. They're there to make sure the whole operation is on track so you can concentrate more fully on your workout. You’ll have access to highly certified trainers who are required to continually keep their education fresh and re-certify whenever possible. That’s not something you’ll find in an app.
Maintenance and cleaning
Sure, you could set up a gym at home with the latest equipment, but what happens if that elliptical gets glitchy, or the rowing machine cable gets stuck? Part of the membership fee at a gym includes regular maintenance for all machines—which can get very expensive, very fast for those using home equipment. Also, your membership pays for cleaning of those machines, as well as cleaning and maintenance of the entire facility.
Another consideration for gym membership is turnover on machines. Gyms love to include the latest equipment, so it's rare that you'll see a room filled with clunky old stair steppers from a few decades back (if you do, consider joining elsewhere). Part of your membership fee will be dedicated to keeping the strength and cardio equipment updated. Beyond the equipment, gyms also have tools for functional fitness, and innovative training options. Unlike your living room, gyms are specially built for the purpose of training, which means they have impact-absorbing flooring and appropriate ventilation so you can stay on track.
At many gyms, group fitness instruction is included with the price, and considering the per-class cost at studios, taking just a couple classes a month will give you a great return on investment. As part of your membership, you get access to a range of classes that might include fight training, yoga, kickboxing, and other full-body workout choices. These are a great addition to cardio workouts and strength training, and can give you fresh skills.
At many gyms, you pay more to get more. For example, you might choose a higher monthly rate in order to have unlimited access to all the gym's locations—a handy feature if you travel often, or have locations near both your home and your workplace. Or, if you want to commit to just one facility, you may opt for a lower rate and skip the unlimited access.
Before signing up, get an idea of what types of services and access you'll have, so you can be assured that you're getting what you pay for—and then some. To check out some membership options, sign up for a UFC Gym Free Pass.