When you're thinking about how to start a workout routine, getting a gym membership is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Let me paint a picture of what inevitably happens: you agree to pay a whole lot of money in the name of fitness and well-being. Feeling determined, you spend several weeks faithfully going to the gym every other day. Then you have a particularly busy week, and you have to skip out on it. The next week you're not feeling well, so you don't go then either. Your whole schedule is so busy, you know? You find yourself at the gym maybe once a week, but you tell yourself it's worth it. This is for your health. Suddenly, it's been three months, and you've been there maybe twice, and your money has been wasted. This is why, among other reasons, I think you need to cancel your gym membership right now and start doing something else.
I know it seems like going to a gym is the only way to get fit, but that's not true. I used to think that way too. I spent most of the years from my sophomore year of high school until just two years ago signing up for gym memberships, using them, forgetting about them, canceling them, then signing up again. I've tried women-only gyms, smaller local gyms, and fancy facilities. And while I didn't necessarily hate any of them, I have realized that I certainly don't need them.
Obviously, there are plenty of perks to having a gym membership: paying for a gym inspires some people to go because they use the money they spend as motivation. Gyms offer equipment, classes, and help that you probably don't have at home. Being in a gym can give you a sense of community and you might even make new friends. Those perks are great! I just happen to think there are more positive things about canceling your membership and doing things on your own. Ready to save money and make your workout routine more enjoyable? Here are 13 reasons you should cancel your gym membership right now.
1. You'll Save Money
Many people assume the gym is the only way to exercise. Sure, you may be able to find local gyms that are cheaper, but when you think about the fact that you can exercise for free every day, it's kind of frustrating. Many people say the price is helpful to them, because it forces them to go when they don't feel like it — but that's not always true. Many people who say that stick to it for a few weeks, and then forget about it. Don't waste your money. Save it!
2. There Are So Many Free Options Out There If You Want Direction
There are so many free exercise options out there that, at this point, I'm always shocked that some gyms can continue to charge as much as they do. I'm not even just talking about your cardio options of jogging or something. Many people feel they need more direction when exercising, which is why they join a gym — but you can find that direction online.
YouTube alone offers tons of free video tutorials for everything from yoga to strength training to boxing to interval training (and so, so much more). Search "exercise tutorial" on Pinterest, and you'll find hundreds of images for easy-to-follow tutorials. You can spend $4 on a fitness magazine that has tutorials. Go on Instagram and search "fitness," and you'll find even more video and image tutorials.
3. Instagram Offers A Sense Of Community
One reason a lot of people join the gym is for that sense of community — it can be motivational. But you can find that group feeling on social media! I say Instagram, because the fitness community is large and very active. If you don't feel comfortable interacting with others on your personal Insta, make a separate, private fitness account. That's what I did! I follow tons of fitness bloggers and other young women and men like me who are just trying to be healthy. Looking at their posts and commenting with them is more inspirational than anything I've found at a gym.
4. Building Your Own Home Gym Is Easier Than You Think
Most people believe that putting together a home "gym" is super expensive and annoying, so they figure joining a gym is just easier. Not true! You don't need to spend $900 on a treadmill machine to have a home gym. Here's how I made mine: I bought three sets of weights, two or three other fitness accessories, a yoga mat, and a fitness tutorial guide from Kayla Itsines (highly recommend!) to give me direction. My parents and I found an elliptical machine on sale for a great price — it's not a super fancy one, but you don't need a super fancy one. I found a bench on sale as well, and... that's about it. And I know people who have done it for even cheaper.
Putting together your own little exercise setup might cost you some money up front, but in the end, you'll still save. Plus, it's not even necessary to get all of the stuff I got! If you like running outside, you don't need a machine, just a few weights. You don't need to do fancy exercises to get healthy, so you don't necessarily need other accessories or even a yoga mat. Search the sales and look on Craigslist for what you want.
5. Working Out In Front Of Others Can Be Distracting
For some, watching others work out is an extra push of motivation. For me, it was a little anxiety-inducing. I hated the idea of people watching me work out because I felt vulnerable. I was a member of a women-only gym for years because of this. And when I did eventually join a fancy co-ed gym, I found myself distracted constantly. Working out on your own at home or outside is much more zen.
6. The Gym Can Get Boring
Workout machines like a treadmill are helpful, but let's be real: they're boring AF. I only use the elliptical machine in my house on days when it's too cold or rainy to do cardio outside. Going to the gym to hit the treadmill for 45 minutes every day will get old fast, and classes are hard to rely on. Not being a member of a gym opens you up to so many other possibilities that are more exciting.
7. The Gym Is Full Of Germs
OK, yes, I am a germaphobe and probably more concerned about this stuff than I need to be. But still, doesn't the gym ever kind of gross you out? Even if you're careful, using spray sanitizers, wiping everything down with a towel, and cleaning up in a locker room, there are still so many icky germs and leftover sweat smells.
8. Working Out At Home Saves Time
Unless the gym is located next door to where you live, getting there and back can take up a decent amount of your time. That time also makes for a great excuse: "Ugh, I just don't have time to get to the gym, work out, then come back. I'll have to skip it." or "It's raining SO HARD. I can't go right now!" Working out at home saves you on travel time and locker room time. It's also pretty excuse-proof.
9. You Can Do And Wear What You Want At Home
Some fancy gyms offer machines with tiny individual TV screens on them, but many just have big screens that everyone watches. At home, you can put on whatever guilty pleasure show you want and enjoy it without having to worry. You can also wear whatever you want. I often felt like I had to get dressed up to go to the gym, but at home, I can throw on old ripped shorts and weird shirts and be perfectly fine.
10. Outside Exercise Is The Best
Spring and summer are coming, and you should take advantage of the nice weather by exercising outside. It's so much better! The wind, the sun, the feeling of fresh air — these are all things that can take your workout to the next level. After I started running down to my local beach, I wasn't able to go back into a stuffy gym and run on a treadmill. Being outside in nature just makes working out more enjoyable.
11. Gyms Can Put You In A Rut
One of the most important things you can do, exercise-wise, is switch up your routine. Doing the same thing every single time you work out is boring. The gym can help you get stuck in that rut, especially if there are no good classes offered. When you work out at home, you're often forced to be more creative, which is a good thing.
12. You Can Always Do Random Fitness Classes
I love working out on my own in my basement or going for runs outside. But I also try to do one fitness class every week to shake things up. I personally swear by spin class, but every once in a while, I'll do something else. Most studios will give newcomers a free class to get them hooked. Groupon also offers tons of great deals for one-time classes or packages. There is so much to choose from!
13. You'll Have More Freedom
Being in a gym can feel stuffy and boring. But working out at home, on your own time, makes you feel so much more free. That's my favorite thing about it: I can do what I want, wear what I want, listen to what I want, go on the elliptical without having to sign up for it, get my exercise on at midnight if I wanted to, and dance around like a dope if I'm in the mood. It's great to have that —and it can really make your sweat sessions more fun.
For more ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.
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