My relationship with gym memberships has always been a bit rocky, to say the least. I took out my first gym membership at the age of 23. It didn’t take long for the sales team to convince me, that I simply must sign up for their 12-month package that included the usage of the gym, saunas, steam rooms, swimming pool, different classes, relaxation room and entitled me to a glass of fresh orange juice at the end of my workout. It was “a steal” for as little as £72.00 per month. I ate it right up! Now, back then I lived outside London in a town where the average cost of a gym membership hardly exceeded £30.00. But I didn’t want “the average”; I wanted “the best”! Talk about high maintenance.
I remember being extremely determined to start my training and I was doing very well. That is, for the first 3 months. After the initial excitement, my enthusiasm started to wear off and instead of going to the gym 3-4 times each week like I used to, I could barely make myself go there once a week. Two more months of my inner struggle and I stopped going altogether. I kept paying for my gym membership for another 7 months and during this period I think I went to the gym about 5 times, which means the cost of ONE workout session was over £100.00. Scary stuff!
But the worst was still to happen… My contract ended in January 2009 after 12 months, and I was relieved I didn’t have to pay for my membership any longer. Exciting, right? WRONG! What I didn’t realise is that I had to let the membership team know three months before the end of my contract that I was planning to cancel altogether, and this clause was in the terms and conditions of my contract. Did I read their terms and conditions when I signed the contract? Yep, you guessed it right, of course I didn’t! You can imagine my frustration when they informed me my contract rolled over, and if I wanted to cancel it I had to give them a 3-month notice. Whattt?! I complained but they refused to waive their charges. I was tied up into a contract for another 3 months (I didn’t go the gym once during my last 3 months with them) and had to pay another £216.00. My contract finally ended in April 2009, and I swore I would never join the gym again, EVER!
I started jogging and bought a workout DVD along with a set of dumbbells to exercise at home. The great part was I could stop working out whenever I wanted, and this would not cost me a penny. In September last year I joined the gym again. I paid to join and use the gym for the initial period of 4 months, but my current employer reimbursed all costs as part of our Personal Development Program (to think of it, my job kinda rocks!). I enjoyed being able to go to the gym again, and I was working out about 3 times each week after work. Until one day in November when I broke my toe during a spinning class. Ouch! I was unable to walk for the first two weeks after the injury, let alone work out. Either way my doctor banned me from working out for 8-12 weeks. My gym froze my membership in view of my sports injury until I could go back to the gym in February this year. Now, my employer only pays a certain amount each year under the PDP and I’ve used my allowance for this year in April which only meant one thing – I had to stop going to the gym as there was no way I would extend my contract and pay myself (seriously, the fiasco of 2009 still hurts!). So, I went back to jogging and working out at home.
I was invited back to the gym for free during the whole month of August (some sort of promotion to ex-members), so I took my colleague with me and went back. I will not sign up again until January next year when I am able to benefit from the PDP through work. The gym my work pays for is near the London Stock Exchange in the City of London – you can imagine how expensive it is, and there is no way I can afford to pay for it from my own pocket. I would never sign a long-term contract again, and if I had to pay from my own pocket I would only go for pay-as-you-go option which the majority of gyms don’t offer. To me, a gym membership is not a need. I enjoy going for a run or working out at home, and if I can save pennies by doing this, I’m totally going for it 😉