Despite the downward spiral that my fitness routine has taken in recent months, I’m a big fan of staying healthy. All the time and effort seems well beyond worth it, when I get the opportunity to visit with my endocrinologist and he tells me that I have the heart of a horse and all my systems are functioning ALMOST as well as someone who doesn’t have Type-1 Diabetes. This was further confirmed last week, when a visit with my ophthalmologist confirmed no presence of macular edema in my eyes, the first time in over five years.
Now that I’m done bragging about how I AM ALL THAT IS DIABETES!!!! I can get to the point of today’s post. Something I’m not a big fan of, is crowds. I prefer to train in private or in the company of my family or like-minded martial arts individuals. This doesn’t mean I won’t train with anyone who wants to learn or get in shape, but I’m not a big fan of working out in public gyms. There are a few personal reasons behind this, but there are some definite pros and cons behind getting a gym membership and working out in the public eye.
I try not to be cynical about things that can be of definite benefit to someone’s overall health, so I’m going to share my top five pros and top five cons when it comes to joining a gym and working out in public. This isn’t sourced from anywhere, it’s all me. Here we go:
- They have equipment you can’t afford: I’ll be honest, paying for fitness equipment is killer. Most retail and fitness equipment outlets charge more than a dollar per pound for dumbbells, which means you’ll be hitting the 100-dollar mark for a pair of decent 45-pound hex dumbbells. The cheapest treadmill I’ve been able to find online (that isn’t second hand) came in at just over $500 dollars. Working out with a variety of different equipment can be costly. Working out at a gym can circumvent the need to buy everything you need;
- They’ll have resources: Most gyms offer personal coaching, group workouts as well as access to things like yoga and Zumba classes. It’s a great place to meet like-minded people; not the weirdos who are all muscle and no brains that monopolize workout stations, but people who are genuinely interested in getting in shape and working on their personal fitness;
- It’s convenient for the working population: You can take advantage of lunchtime workouts, get to the gym right after work or even before you start work. Since most membership-based gyms offer shower service, you can be cleaned up and on your way to the office before start of shift;
- It’s great for motivation: There’s no denying that humans are pack animals. There’s a reason why we gather in towns and cities. Fitness and working out is no different. Trying to get in shape can be easier if you try to do it around other’s who have the same goal in mind;
- It gets you out of the house: I enjoy working out in my basement, garage and back yard. But once in a while, quarantine measures be damned, you need to get out of the house. A gym membership can be a good way to get out of the house a few times a week, even if it only means a simple travel from “A” to “B”.
- Memberships are expensive as shit: Honestly, a year’s worth of gym membership could effectively pay for that $500 treadmill I mentioned in the PROS list. And don’t even get me started on these fuckin’ gyms that are so high and mighty that they make you sign a “contract” that makes it almost impossible to quit once you’ve joined. I’ve had gym managers I had to verbally fight with, just to cancel a membership so that I could transfer with my job;
- They smell like a warm bucket of hamster vomit: Not all gyms are created equal. As much as the Rocky franchise romanticized the concept of gyms that smell like blood, sweat and puke, no one wants to be in a bacteria-infested environment that smells like the backside of a dead calf. Especially if you’re breathing hard during some extreme cardio or trying to use some equipment that the last douchebag forgot to wipe down;
- You may be forced to deal with haters: In my opinion, a gym should be a haven of fitness for anyone who wants to work on themselves and improve their lives, either physically or mentally. But there is an unfortunate small group of people who go to the gym and belittle people who are trying, making fun of them and making them feel worse about themselves. It can make working out difficult;
- You sometimes have to wait: The one, nice thing about working out from home is that you don’t have to wait to use whatever you have available. Even if gyms have a ton of equipment you either don’t have or can’t afford, you may find yourself in a position where you have to wait in line for someone else who may be using the particular piece of equipment you need;
- You gotta leave the house: Go figure, I’ll share point #5 with both lists. I’m weird, that way. And a bunch of other ways, but honestly I LOVE working out at home. I prefer it, in fact. But that’s just me. It’s always a good idea to get out of the house once in a while. But honestly, I like the practicality of having my wife and children nearby, access to my own shower and snacks, drinks and all the other stuff.
At the end of the day, I’ve worked out in public gyms AND I’ve found ways to work out at home. My personal preference is to work out at home. If I had to weigh out the pros and cons, cost ends up being the big deterrent. I’d love to keep a membership and enjoy all the benefits of working out at a gym. It would be incredibly fun to bring my wife and have her enjoy those benefits as well. But considering there are dozens of “body-weight only” workouts that one can do from home, it’s hard to justify the cost.
The rest of the PROS and CONS can sort of cancel each other out. But it’s a matter of preference. My best advice would be to give it a try. But be sure to protect yourself and join that gym that doesn’t require a contract membership and that you can leave with only a month’s notice. That’s usually pretty reasonable. You should be able to let them know within the month if you plan on quitting. But with the reasonably balanced amount of good and bad, you really can’t tell if a public gym is for you less you try it. ☯