This is why gym memberships are a waste of $1,206 a year: don’t become another statistic

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Would it surprise you to know that over half of people who sign up for a gym membership go just once a week or less?

When you factor in the cost of gym subscription over a year, that works out to be an eye-wateringly expensive cost-per-visit.

When deciding if enrolling in a gym membership is right for you, first find out if you’ll be one of the minority who actually gets their money’s worth.


Crunching the Numbers…and the Cost

Gym costs vary hugely and depend on things like: 

  • where you live
  • what specification gym it is
  • whether it’s got a pool
  • how well maintained the equipment is
  • the gym’s popularity
  • the average local income


As with most things, the more you pay, the better quality the experience you’re likely to have (generally speaking). And those costs quickly add up, even for the budget gym options.

The cheapest gym memberships come in at around $25- $30 per month. In a year (because most gyms insist on a 12-month minimum), that adds up to $360. When you factor in the joining fee we’re looking at $450 per year.

Remember that’s the cheapest option. Membership costs can get ridiculous, with the most expensive breaking the $1000 per-year mark easily.

So how many of those people with memberships actually go to the gym?

Gym Membership Infographic Cost Price Subscription Workout

With the average yearly cost of membership at almost $800 (including the joining fees), it pays to be sure that you’re going to get the most from your gym membership… before you sign on the dotted line.

Will you become just another statistic?

So, let’s say that you’re going to behave like the average person. The following is what your gym attendance will most likely be like, (statistically speaking).

If you hit the average attendance level, you’ll get to the gym just 4 times per month, about half what you expected (because most surveyed people expect to go 9 times per month).

If you’re paying for an average membership at an average gym, each one of those 4 workouts costs you $16.

The average workout lasts one hour, so that’s $16 per hour you’re spending.

How does that compare to other services you pay for? Netflix? HBO? Cellphone?

Of course, some people will make it to the gym way more than the average person. For these people, the gym is probably worth the price-per-month.

But how do you know if you’ll be one of the few who are able to make it worthwhile? 


The BIG question: how likely are you to behave like the average gym member?

For some people, the gym is worth the financial commitment.

They go frequently, make the most of the facilities, and enjoy the social scene.

It contributes to their overall wellbeing and is a worthwhile investment.

The key phrase there is ‘for some people’.

Statistically, for MOST people, they are not engaged with the gym, do not go regularly enough to see noticeable differences to their fitness, and are probably avoiding confronting the key fact: for them, the subscription fee is a WASTE OF MONEY.

The reassuring news is that this behavior; signing up for a gym and then not attending as often as hoped, is totally natural. It’s something referred to as pre-commitment:

"Joining a gym is an interesting form of what behavioural economists call pre-commitment. These people are picturing the ‘new me’ who’s actually going to go to the gym three times a week and become a physical fitness machine.”   

Kevin Volpp, director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioural Economics, Wharton School Tweet this

Will you be a gym slacker? CHECKLIST:

If any of these are true, your likelihood of attending a gym regularly increases:

  • You will set regular dates with a personal trainer

  • You plan to attend the gym with a friend

  • Gym is close to either your work or home

  • You have set attainable and realistic goals and have a plan to achieve them

  • You have a track record of committing to a project and seeing it through

  • You have a recurring window of time that you plan to fill

If any of these are true, your likelihood of attending a gym regularly decreases:

  • You have a history of saying “I’ll do that tomorrow”, then never actually doing it

  • You’re not sure what you hope to achieve from the gym and don’t have specific goals

  • You’ll be working out alone

  • The gym is more than 10
    minutes out of your way

  • You already have a busy weekly schedule

  • You think just by paying for a membership, you’ll get the motivation to go regularly

An insight into the big-business world of corporate gym ownership:

My advice to help you decide:

Some gyms occasionally offer a free month’s trial.

This can be an excellent way to test out whether your lifestyle is ready for you to commit to a full gym membership.

Trial periods less than a month don’t give you enough time to settle into the routine and get over the novelty of joining.  Try and negotiate a longer-term if your gym is offering just a one-week trial.


“If paying for a gym membership won’t give me motivation, what WILL?”

Great question: if we can’t rely on the financial commitment being enough to get our slack-selves to the gym regularly, what hope is there for our fitness goals?

Well, over the years, particularly during my time in the military, I’ve realised what works and what doesn’t. What’s necessary for achieving goals and what simply isn’t.

First-things-first; a gym membership is not going to solve anyone’s fitness crisis. It’s not going to achieve their goals for them. It’s a tool which can be used, but there are three key things to get in place beforehand:





Over the years as a military officer, but also as someone who has helped others achieve their fitness goals, I’ve seen that rock-solid motivation can be built up if we get these three aspects in order.

Let me explain…


Most of us who want to improve our fitness have ambition. Whether it’s building muscle, burning fat, getting in shape for a life-event, or just so we can be confident in ourselves on the beach, we generally all have ambition.

By turning this ambition into manageable goals, we can start to think about the journey to getting there and apply some all-important knowledge.



By learning about the best methods we can use to achieve our fitness goals, including why these methods work and how we can tailor them for our specific goals, we can take ownership of our training.

This doesn’t mean hiring a personal trainer. This does mean putting in the effort to develop our own UNIQUE training program, which in turn builds up our accountability.



Time and time again, my teams and I have managed to maintain motivation as well as speed-up results by staying accountable to ourselves.

Paying for a gym membership without these steps in place is only making your wallet accountable. This does not help build up long-term motivation.

I train others to design their own workout programs, setting out their own route to achieving their goals. By doing this, goal-conquering levels of accountability fall into place and stay with them through to the finish.


The best part:

These methods don’t cost anywhere near as much as a gym membership. Since leaving the military I have been working out at home, using bodyweight workouts, and helped others do the same:

No subscriptions.

No long commutes to the gym. Just a great sense of freedom from knowing I can, and have, stayed in shape anywhere in the world.


So, am I saying that people shouldn’t join a gym?

No. Gyms have their place in fitness training.

I’ve spent hours upon hours in gyms over the years, but I also got into the best shape in my life WITHOUT any gym access. Gyms make you feel like we are going to get in shape, but here’s the truth:

without your mindset being in the right place to start with, you’ll be throwing away hard-earned cash on those gym memberships.


Half of all people in the US have a gym membership.

But, half of those people don’t visit the gym more than once a week.

Gyms can serve as amazing tools to help you achieve your fitness goals and improve your mental wellbeing, but only if used frequently enough, with the right mindset and plan in place.

Statistically, you’re probably better off exploring other ways of getting in shape, such as walking, running, team sports, or my personal favorite; bodyweight workouts.

These methods are generally low-cost or free and as it’s statistically unlikely you’ll get full use of your gym membership, it might pay off to consider them first.

Everyone is different and you might be one of the minority who will get the most from their gym subscription.

If you’re on the fence about whether to sign up to your local gym, then taking a look at the methods I use for motivation building and getting in-shape without a gym might be a good place to start.

Want a Workout you can do RIGHT NOW?

Check out this 12-page guide to a results-focussed bodyweight workout we used in the military

Had enough of overpriced gym subscriptions?

Me too.

Which is why I now help others achieve real transformation.

Through bodyweight workout training.

After almost a decade's experience coaching teams as a military officer; I'm here to help you finally achieve transformation that lasts.

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