The crippling cost of gym memberships

There is pressure from society to exercise to stay healthy and fit. People are scared into fitness programs that are the gateways to healthy and attractive bodies. Trainers and gyms market themselves as magicians that help people lose weight fast or become massively strong to instill jealousy in others.

The franchise gyms only run around $40 – $100 a month but the cover charges are ridiculous. National sports clubs like LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym typically charge three to five times the monthly cost for attendance when customers sign up. They usually do this because most customers sign up for a membership and stop going after a few months and so they feed off of this “initiation fee” as they call it. These types of gyms are also not very useful for people that want to stray from cardiovascular and weightlifting exercises. They might even have a pool, but if I wanted to practice agility or go bouldering then I would have to go to some specialized gym.

Higher-end sports clubs are even stranger. They find ways to maintain their expensive facilities with large monthly fees at around $200 a month or with a huge cover charge that can be over 15 times the monthly rate. These clubs are like little embassies for rich people, relaxing places to converse with their peers, a workout room away from home.

Rock climbing is a great exercise that improves upper body growth, especially grip and forearm strength. However, going to a rock climbing gym like this costs $50 a month. If I wanted to improve on my upper body to complement my normal workout routine it would be awesome, but I probably would want a different gym to cover my bases. It ends up being another monthly bill I might not get to use to the fullest extent like an annex to my living quarters that I don’t get to live in.

Combat sports are also a pricey option. Martial arts is a great way to learn self-defense and exercise technique in one package. What they lack in gym equipment, they make up for by providing opponents to compete with.

I checked martial arts studios in local areas and they run higher than the franchise gyms at around $100 – $125 a month. Some also trap customers into paying large fees for different belt ranks and colors until black belt. The American Taekwondo Association has a camouflage belt for one of its ranks.

CrossFit gyms are starting to get popular, where people train through interesting combinations of body and free weight lifting along with endurance exercises, but they are also as expensive as practicing martial arts with peers regularly.

Professional gyms can be a cheaper alternative and are pretty fun to try acrobatics and strength feats in. They typically charge only about $10 per hour at their facilities. These gyms are great because of the padding and safety equipment. Preventing injury is more important than how one gets their exercise. However, they are somewhat disappointing. Unless working with a trainer, which means spending more money, one can’t use the interesting equipment that Olympic gymnasts get to use like hanging rings, pommel and high bar, among other things.

Apparently it is a lot to ask for when I want to try out different exercise methods to cater to my own physical needs. As a poor college student, a few hundred dollars for exercise is crippling my budget, and if it is this difficult to find a reasonably priced gym, I’d rather get a good exercise book instead.