Make the Gym Work for You

When most people decide to “get in shape,” they immediately join a gym. On a surface level, this makes sense. Gyms are plentiful, accessible, and filled with equipment and classes suited to a variety of personal interests and fitness goals. Additionally, many of them lure people in with competitive rates and special deals, particularly around times of the year when people are thinking about adopting healthier habits the most — New Year’s, “bikini season,” etc.

Here’s a key piece of information to think about, whether you’re evaluating your current gym membership, or thinking of getting one for the first time: many gyms are betting against you. To put it another way, the financial success of a gym is often dependent on your lack of success in maintaining a consistent gym-going habit. This is especially true for low-cost gym chains like Planet Fitness — the reason they’re able to get away with offering membership fees as low as $10 a month is because they sell far more memberships than they can possibly accommodate, lock people into long term, inflexible contracts, and design their spaces to dis-incentivize people from going regularly (check out this Planet Money episode from 2014 for more in-depth details — it’s truly eye-opening).

So what does this mean — should we all revolt and give up gym memberships altogether? Should we protest “Occupy Wall Street” style against “Big Fitness” and their attempts to take our money at the expense of our actual wellbeing and physical fitness? Not necessarily.

As we’ve stated frequently here at 99% Fit, when you decide to adopt a more active lifestyle, it’s important to reflect and ask yourself why you want to do it, and what you want to get out of it. This is a step in the journey that’s often glossed over or skipped altogether — as this post said at the beginning, our thought process at the outset of a fitness journey is often “I want to get in shape à I should join a gym.” One of the central purposes of 99% Fit is to help us all retrain our brains to say “I want to get in shape à Wait… why do I want to get in shape?” Once we’ve answered that question, we can begin to determine what resources we need to help us achieve our individual goals. One resource might in fact be a gym! And that’s okay! But when we have a clear idea of what we want to achieve, we can mindfully seek out the type of gym (or other fitness center) that will serve us the best.

So next time you hear that voice in your head say “you’re out of shape,” ask yourself why you want to be in shape. When you have that answer, you’ll be prepared to invest your money wisely in the systems that will best support your goals — and the good news is, there are plenty of options out there! From ClassPass to Barre Method, to SoulCycle, to Yoga, there are disciplines and methods to suit every need and goal. The key is to first be clear about what makes sense for you — and no one else.

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