Poll: In Tough Economic Times, Do You Keep Your Gym Membership?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  271 comments   :  20,692 Views

When economic times are tough, consumers have to find ways to tighten their wallets and trim spending. Although gym memberships and fancy home equipment are nice to have, often they become something we can no longer afford. According to new research, Americans have been trimming their workout budgets and opting for cheaper ways to get active.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) conducted a recent survey, and found that sales of fitness equipment and gym memberships decreased in 2008. According to the research, "U.S. wholesale sales of fitness gear and equipment sold for use in home, clubs and institutions, was $4.2 billion in 2008, down from $4.7 billion the year before."

The survey found that more people are exercising, but that regular exercisers have a little less time to exercise than they used to. The most popular fitness activities for 2008 were walking, treadmills, hand weights, running, and weight machines. The treadmill was the most popular activity, as it has been for quite some time. But people aren't spending the big bucks on home treadmills that they used to, opting for more economical models.

Although gym equipment sales have dropped dramatically and home sales are down slightly, more people are working out with low-cost equipment like dumbbells. For a minimal expense, you can create your own cardio and strength training program at home. SparkPeople has a variety of exercise demonstrations and workout routines to get you started.

I had a gym membership for many years until I had children. Then it became much easier for me to squeeze in a workout before they got up in the morning or during naps. I plan to head back to the gym someday, but for now I get creative and think of new ways to continue challenging myself at home.

When times are tough, do you cancel your gym membership and opt for home workouts? Or is that expense something you just can't live without?

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  • 271
    No there are plenty of opportunities for fitness away from the Gym, I see it as an unneeded extra expense every month and since letting my Gym membership lapse I still meet daily goals. - 2/20/2015   12:51:09 PM
    I'm at the gym 5 or 6 days a week now and am part of it's community. I hit at least three group exercise classes a week and use the swimming pool regularly (can't do that at home!) At first it was a matter of discipline to get in, but now it's a refuge from the bad air quality, 100 degree heat (and I have my favorite treadmill in the path of the fan) or the freezing temperatures. For $21 a month I don't view it as a luxury, even though disability only gives me $656 a month. - 7/21/2011   3:14:31 PM
    No, its a luxury that isn't covered by Insurance or Budget. I can do it at home instead. - 4/25/2011   9:08:31 AM
  • 33BY33
    I absolutely splurge on my YMCA membership. It was time to renew a few weeks ago and I had to think long and hard about the benefits. In the end I decided it was not an option, but a necessity. - 3/15/2011   7:41:50 AM
  • 267
    Absolutley more so then ever. I quit my membership a while ago. But they sent me a deal I could not pass up. So I bought it. I have no monthly dues and paid 100 dollars for the year. How can I ever pass that up. I now find myself usung my membership more than I have ever. This is a name brand gym and it is a huge facility with every thing you would want. Its no small place. So 100 dollars for a year is no problem. I can't even get any gym equipment even second hand for that price. So I would of been a fool to give it up. - 3/13/2011   12:38:35 AM
  • 266
    I have never been inside a gym in my life. probably never will.
    There are hundreds of free ways to exercise, and all the advice on spark people is invaluble to me. - 3/12/2011   6:31:42 PM
    i kept mine because it is not that much and the small cost motivates me to go knowing that i am spending money on it. it is a break from everything. the pool and sauna, classes. i do work out at home with exercise equipment and tae bo dvds. etc.,the exercise channel on directv...i got to have my options...i even count housework and yardwork into the exercise equation. i say keep it...it is not that much for most of us. - 6/10/2010   10:40:09 AM
  • 264
    I let my membership go eventhough the gym is right across the street from my work and i used to work out there during my lunch break. I now get up early in the morning to workout to various videos, something I used to find extremely hard to do but now with exercisetv on-demand I have found it quite easy and enjoyable. Plus I have recently added the P90x videos to my routine, when I got them as a gift. So overall my routine is more economical. But I do plan to return to the gym no that the company I work for has built a facility for its employees that is completely free for us to use!!!! - 6/9/2010   1:42:56 PM
  • 263
    When times got tough, we downgraded to a smaller and less expensive gym that was a little bit farther. Now that my hubby's hours are almost back to normal, we just signed up with our old gym again yesterday. It is just so much easier for us. I guess we need the gym to motivate us but at the same time if it is too far it unmotivates us. I am excited to start group classes again and have a bigger variety of equipment. There were some machines I really missed! - 6/9/2010   11:57:52 AM
  • 262
    I have home equipment and belong to a gym. Our gym has racquetball courts and a pool that is wonderful to use. I also like having the option to attend fitness classes like yoga and spinning. Our home equipment is a treadmill, a stationary bike, and a weight set. It is nice to go the gym to have some variety like elliptical, stair machine, etc.

    I would also like to say that we got a tremendous deal on our membership that makes it easier for us to keep the gym membership while we are cutting out other things like cable and Netflix, etc. - 5/22/2010   2:47:14 PM
  • 261
    I have equipment at home, but still belong to a gym. The recent influx of $10 a month gyms into our area made it affordable and convenient. - 5/9/2010   9:48:07 AM
  • 260
    I signed up with a gym as soon as I could after relocating to FIND a job. Yeah, financially, I'm in no place to be spending frivolously; however, I feel like I have some sort of purpose - that I have somewhere to go - which allows me to be more productive outside of the gym. No amount of money can match that. Without the gym, I would stay in my pajamas and do nothing. Not workout. Not really job hunt. (Trust me. I've been there.) Yeah, I would prefer to have that money in my pocket, but this way spending the money, might get me money (a job) a whole lot faster. Plus, I enjoy being around other people. Without it, I'd be at home. By myself. This way is SO much better! - 5/7/2010   10:55:37 AM
  • 259
    Actually, the gym is important for me to add consistency to my exercise program. I have small workout items and videos here at home, but going to the gym seems to work better for me. I go there for a serious workout and not socializing. No, I do not cancel my gym. It's too important within my lifestyle now. - 5/6/2010   7:19:46 AM
    My gym is at work and is part of the benefit of working here - if I was paying out of pocket - I would not - I love group classes but they are not in the budget right now. - 2/5/2010   10:12:10 AM
  • 257
    Gym membership is not for me. I find it takes too much effort to go there in addition to the expense. I prefer working out at home and when the weather permits, taking it outside. - 2/1/2010   12:16:41 PM
  • 256
    Frankly, I wouldn't use a gym membership regularly if you gave it to me, at this point. I'd rather use my home gym! It's much more convenient and time efficient, and I don't have to contend with others for the equipment. The one thing I do want to replace is having someone periodically check my form ... but I can always get that done by hiring an expert to work with me for a session or two. - 1/31/2010   5:17:46 PM
  • 255
    I actually joined a gym even though I'm out of work. I was spending so much time at home that I needed the human contact, and I figured since I'm not traveling anywhere right now I can use my gas/lunch money for the membership. - 1/31/2010   2:11:33 PM
  • 254
    I gave up my gym membership, and then converted a building on my property into my own gym. I found people getting rid of equipment on Free Cycle, and word or mouth, and at auctions, and I practically have a fully equipped gym. And I don't spend the gas getting to the gym - no excuses not to work out either. - 1/31/2010   11:28:53 AM
  • 253
    Guess it may also depend on where you live and what kind of "deal" you can get for the membership. I am a "fair weather" exercise person and we get rain more than clear weather. If I want to keep at the cardio, then I need a dry place to do it. Also, classes are more likely to keep me coming than not. And I live in a little space so doing exercise DVD's or weights are VERY limited in my movements. A club is just better for me to stay at the commitment to exercise. - 1/30/2010   6:47:42 PM
    Water delivery, gym memberships, rental storage space, etc. are first to go as they're luxuries that I can deal with on my own if I want. - 1/30/2010   4:33:16 PM
  • 251
    Nope I cancelled particularly since I could get a membership at a different club for half the price. - 1/30/2010   4:09:19 PM
    Even after having been laid off 6 months ago and being strapped for cash, there is no way I could give up my gym membership! However, I did get rid of the monthly online movie membership (lazines contributer). The gym is my saving grace for stress. I know I can always go to de-stress with a yoga class or a swim in the pool. I've pushed myself harder the past 6 months with new challenges i wouldn't have done prior to the lay off. Spinning, bootcamp and kickboxing have helped me out of depressive states and anxiety ridden withdrawal. I no longer take anti-anxiety and anti-depressants using my gym membership. So, to reiterate my point, the gym membership has been an A+ for me in this tough economy. - 12/15/2009   10:05:49 PM
    There are lots of good reasons to join a fitness centre and maintain the membership. That being said, don't ignore the benefits of going outside to compliment that. It's good for the soul. For a peek at a unique trend in the UK that has more people swimming outdoors, check out this cool feature called "Water's Transforming Power" on the Good4sports blog: http://good4sports.wordpress.com / - 12/12/2009   12:48:18 PM
  • 248
    I had a trial membership I was not shore if I liked it so much. But they did have things there I do not. I had got a more sweat and worked out hard in my home that one time. But I was not able to make it the full week of the trial. I stay at home all day with my son 3 1/2
    and start my day over the next day. I do work out hard but I am going to pay for the member ship just to do my works out some where else. 2 time s a week a year will cost me $16 a month. For a hour or 2 just to get out of the house is worth it. I will still work out plenty in my home. I love my family, there starts the same day over and over I do not drive., So may be I will make a friend there. So as a stay at home mom that does not drive $16 a month is worth it. - 12/10/2009   11:24:45 AM
  • 247
    I won't let my gym membership go I only pay 20 a month..and without my gym time I would go crazy...the is my retreat away from work...kids...people!

    The gym is my time I focus on just me! - 12/10/2009   9:22:15 AM
  • 246
    The ladies workout club where I worked at (and worked out at!) closed their doors this summer. sad. However, I like the "home gym" for me. I try to vary my workouts to keep it interesting. SparkPeople is an inspiration to keep it going, as well as my dog who loves to go for his run in the morning. - 12/9/2009   11:53:30 AM
  • 245
    It's definitely worth keeping. In tough times, the last thing you need to worry about is physical health. I go to the gym for me. This is the only body I have and my health is more to me than the $15 bucks a month. I also pay up front and don't have a monthly payment so that helps as well. When stressed about money, bills, jobs, etc., you need to have somewhere to go to release that negative energy to stay healthy and strong for your family. Keep the membership. - 12/9/2009   11:43:01 AM
  • 244
    Mine is $10 a month to 24hr fitness. Even when I didn't use it, it's $10 bucks. Why not keep it? Just cut out two trips to starbucks a month and it's paid for! - 12/9/2009   11:23:09 AM
    I pay for the membership, and I don't use it, yes, when the economy is this bad. - 12/9/2009   10:56:55 AM
  • 242
    I've kept my membership as it's the only time I get for me alone.. and its perfect as it's 24 hour access and only three blocks from my job. Each time I work over an hour or two my month is paid for ! - 12/8/2009   7:38:36 PM
  • 241
    I found that my gym memberships have all been a big waste of money. Working outside has pushed me farther than I have ever gone in a gym. when you go for a jog and you decide you are exhausted you still have to get home and it helps me. I do however need to start cutting back on the random equipment
    - 12/8/2009   4:15:10 PM
  • 240
    my gym (Planet Fitness) is only $10 a month and I use it for hot showers every morning. i also get all the money back from my health insurance at the end of the year, so i think i'm making money from having the membership ;) - 12/7/2009   9:32:36 AM
  • 239
    Yes! I just re-joined the gym and it's cheap- $25 a month. However, I ALSO hired a trainer once a week- at $50.00 a pop! Why- well, several reasons! I did it for one year and look at it as an "Investment on my health". I have spent THOUSANDS over the years, So if I invest $200.00 a month for 12 months an accomplish my goals- or even get significantly CLOSE to my goals- that is a FANTASTIC investment in my money!
    Keep the gym membership- just remember to use it! - 12/7/2009   8:59:38 AM
  • TRUFFLE0113
    I also go to a cheap gym ($21 a month) and would not give it up but am more motivated to use it in tough economic times. I figure if I only go 2xs a month, it costs me $10 a visit vs. $1 a visit if I go 21 times. - 12/6/2009   5:39:49 PM
  • 237
    I live 17 miles from the nearest gym, so a membership is not for me. When I lived in a big city I had a membership, but sometimes found excuses to not go. Now it would be very difficult to go, especially in the winter. So I took the money I might have spent on a membership and invested in a top-quality treadmill and some simple equipment (weights, band, ball). I'm finding it's much easier to get out of bed, trot downstairs and get in a workout before I begin the day. Plus, I love Good Morning America and don't let myself watch it anywhere in the house but in my workout room. - 12/6/2009   6:34:52 AM
  • 236
    I prefer to work out at home. I've found that in the past when I paid for gym memberships, I wasn't faithful and lost lots of money. It's much easier to jump out of bed, put my walking shoes on and go upstairs. I enjoy walking to a dvd in the controlled comfort of my own home. Much less expensive and less time consuming. And the walk includes arm exercises with weights. Then I add a few crunches and leg lifts. Who needs the gym? - 12/6/2009   2:03:37 AM
  • 235
    I've had to cut back on aerobics classes (and other classes) because of a painfully tight budget. :( - 12/6/2009   12:57:54 AM
  • 234
    As long as I work, I will maintain my Curves and LA fitness memberships. Curves I will have when I retire, by working a few hours...or possibly be covered with insurance. LA....I have such a CHEAP membership....bought 1 yr. after the club began where I live....I will be able to maintain.

    HOWEVER....if for any reason all should fail!!!!, I have my sneakers, and a GREAT walking path. NOTHING will keep me from my workouts! - 12/5/2009   3:22:11 PM
  • 233
    I belong to Curves, and I pay for my own and my mother's memberships. Dropping either membership is NOT an option. I will cut expenses somewhere else, but the Curves Membership is as neccesary as paying the house payment or Utility Bill. - 12/5/2009   12:36:59 PM
  • 232
    I'm worth it. My gym is only 20 dollars a month, plenty of equipment but doesnt have the classes. It has what I need, and boy do I need it!! - 12/5/2009   3:14:01 AM
    I have a Y membership but its not at that comvienent for me. Its near work but far away from home . Which makes it not cost effective. I am thinking about dropping it to switch to 24 hour or another gym that my husband and I can both attend. - 12/5/2009   12:34:48 AM
  • 230
    Yep, it's one thing worth spending on. - 12/4/2009   10:04:44 PM
    I belong to Curves and the Y - 12/4/2009   6:09:30 PM
  • 228
    Gym stays. I know me I need that motivation to get to the gym. my gym has a lot of interesting women and some of the topics on the circuit are wild. I love it. I know too that it's cheaper to pay the 40.00 amonth than the 85.00 to go to the dr for meds which as i get older the med price goes up, so i'm staying as healthy as i can. - 12/4/2009   10:59:38 AM
    The gym stays in the budget! I can cut costs in other areas. - 12/4/2009   10:31:53 AM
  • 226
    When I was 22, I paid for a lifetime membership at a very nice gym. That was 36 years ago. The gym can no longer be described as very nice, but it's clean and has all I need for an effective workout. - 12/4/2009   7:44:28 AM
    The gym stays! My butt moves! - 12/3/2009   8:15:30 PM
    My gym membership is free for both my husband and I as I work for the YMCA - 12/3/2009   8:12:35 PM
    gym membership is only expensive if you don't use it - 12/3/2009   7:19:55 PM
  • 222
    I use my home Gym and go to pilates once a week. I dropped my PT but plan to take it up again in January if I don;t have the perseverance to do it alone.
    Claudia - 12/3/2009   5:56:20 PM

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