Should I join a gym?

I’ll be straight up here: the only time I had a gym membership was when I was a student and it was included in my tuition. While today I heard that they are opening up a new Y location in my neighborhood, I’d probably only join if they build a climbing wall in it! The gym, though I had a few months during school where I went semi-regularly, is simply not my jam. (Gym jam? Not intentional.)
With that said, joining a gym is a great choice for a lot of people. Putting in a financial investment often helps people find the motivation to get going, although it is not significant enough of a motivator to promote adherence all on its own! As one of my profs, Jay Greenfeld one said… Buying a gym membership doesn’t induce exercise… You have to actually use it!

Here are some factors that might play a role in whether or not joining a fitness centre, or gym, is right for you.

  • Flexibility: Does it offer drop-in rates to try it out before committing to a full membership? Can you buy a “punch card” instead of a monthly membership, if this is going to be more fitting for you? Are there multiple locations, or just one?
  • Amenities and Services: Does the fitness centre offer a variety of classes you’d like to take—are they included in your membership or an additional fee? Is there equipment that you’d like to try? For me, a climbing wall would be a draw, like I wrote earlier. For others, access to all of the weight machines is the draw of the gym. Some centres often have pools, hot tubs, and even massage therapy (with the latter typically being an extra cost!)
  • Do you want a personal trainer? Is there a trainer that is a good fit at your gym of choice? Get to know some before committing, if you’re thinking of using this option. Some gyms also include a few free sessions with personal trainers to see if you like working with one or not.
  • Finances: The big one is finances. A lot of gyms want you to come in before they start talking about pricing. Know what is reasonable to pay, what you want to pay, and stick to it. Introductory offers are great, but often, you may get slammed later on when your free/cheap time expires. Read the agreement thoroughly! Costs vary widely from centre to centre, so do some research before you join!
  • Location: Does the location make sense for you? Is a gym near your office or your home more convenient, or somewhere in between? Think about a place you are going to want to go—and bonus points if it is on a path you frequently walk, bike or drive… So that it stares you down if you get lax on your routine!

If you’re going to a chain gym, often you can use all centres in your city—and sometimes, the country, continent, or world! For example, if you’re a traveler, or travel on business a lot, is there a gym you can access in most of the cities you are traveling to? Fun fact: Toronto Pearson International Airport has a GoodLife Fitness location—I saw it with my own eyes, this is not even just a Google fact!

And, make sure you go on a tour of the facilities before you agree to anything! Gyms can be full of asthma triggers—from dust, to chlorine, humidity (in saunas, for example), plants, mold, cleaners, and more. Take a careful look to ensure that you’ll be breathing easy when you’re at the centre you choose—especially if you have exercise induced asthma.

Do you have a gym membership? Or, do you, like me, prefer to work out at home or in your community. Let us know in the comments why you think your choice is right for you and how it will help you be more likely to keep active!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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