Is Your Gym Membership A Luxury?

This week is all about the money!
The start of the year sees a huge amount of people joining their local health club or gym determined to get fitter – but it’s also the time of year that sees the biggest number of cancellations too.
People cancel their gym membership for a huge amount of reasons but the 3 most common are:
– They haven’t used their membership in a long time
– A change in their finances
– A change in “lifestyle” (which usually means that they simply don’t want to go to the gym anymore)
Either way they all tend to boil down to a change in that person’s priorities and the feeling that the money would be more useful spent elsewhere – whether that be on debts, new additions to the family or even going out clubbing.
But that got me thinking whether we see gym membership as a luxury or a necessity?
In 2012 a survey, gym membership was 8th in a list of the UK’s best loved luxury items, even beating a coffee shop latte and for some, the obvious answer would be that it is classed as a luxury!
For some the only necessities in life are the ones that provide food, shelter, clothing, gas/electric and legal taxes – where even insurance is a luxury and of course if you are struggling financially – then yes these are your priorities and membership to a gym is indeed a luxury!
But for some the gym is more than just a gym – it can be a way of life! There are those that spend 2-3 hours a day at the gym – socializing with friends, getting an adrenaline rush and buzz from a great workout and relaxing in the spa or cafe afterwards.
Yes – you can have a great workout at home, but you don’t have the camaraderie of your fitness buddies encouraging you to do more, you don’t have the professionals there to ask for advice and check you are doing it correctly or you may not have the necessary equipment be it weights, treadmills or even the space needed to have a proper workout.
When it comes to fitness – “Gym membership” comes in a variety of forms and costs to cover a variety of budgets.
Google searches, Forums and YouTube can provide you with advice and workouts for free!
OnDemand services providing workouts and advice on-line can cost around £10 per month.
Basic weights based gyms can cost as little as £15-20 per month, Leisure Centres covering the middle ground around the £30 mark, with Top End Health Clubs costing anything from £60-150 per month! You could also be paying for a Personal Trainer, which again could cost anything from £20-£100 per session.
Of course – as with most things you tend to get what you pay for. If you’re paying £15 for your local budget gym, then you can’t expect a huge range of fitness classes, plenty of staff on hand, free drinks, plush changing rooms and a sauna!  Mind you this doesn’t stop people complaining about not having them 😉 People want to get the most for their money!
For some – their health is their biggest priority, no matter the cost and they will work their budget around making sure that they can afford their membership fees. The list of benefits of regular exercise is huge and there are those for whom these benefits far outweigh the costs of membership. Whether it’s to lose weight due to obesity or as part of recovery from cardiac arrest – their gym membership can help them recover or achieve their health goals a lot quicker than if they were trying to do it alone at home and because of this Debt Advice agencies can also include gym membership as part of “necessary expenses” when calculating available funds for creditors.
A lot of council run gyms are also affiliated with local GP surgeries and run an exercise referral scheme where a GP can actually prescribe exercise as a “medicine” and their gym membership is free for up to 3 months. A lot of these centres also offer free membership to those over 75. Not only does this provide the benefits of exercise for these individuals, but it also provides a support system – so it couldn’t be classed as a luxury for them!
So how do you view your gym membership? Do you see it as a luxury? Or do you feel that the benefits you get make it more of a necessity?