10 Reasons Not to Join a Gym When Everyone Else Does

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Don't let the headline deceive you. This is not an article that will provide you with excuses to sit in the recliner, eat chips and get fatter. It doesn't give you a list of reasons to avoid exercise. No, it gives you reasons to get in shape -- without succumbing the come-ons to join a gym.

Earlier, I offered nine good reasons that you should sign on the dotted line and become a member. But that's not for everyone. You can be an exercise fanatic and never set foot in the gym, and when your buddies try to pressure you to join them, here's your ammunition to say no.

1. It Will Blow a Big Hole in My Budget

Even though you can get some good deals at this time of year, a membership can still be costly -- and it usually involves a commitment for a full year, maybe two. Many gyms have a membership fee just to join, and then they hit your credit card with a monthly charge. That usually runs from $10 to $60 a month, depending on the size, amenities and staffing of the gym. If you pay $30 a month, plus a one-time fee of $100, that's $460 for the first year.

2. You'll Probably Drop Out Anyway

Despite good intentions, most people who sign up for a gym membership don't take full advantage of it. In fact, by some estimates, four out of five people rarely or never use their gym, as the thrill wears off about a month after joining. A gym will only help you get in shape if you use it, so be honest with yourself and determine if you really believe that you will get there at least two or three days a week, all year long.

3. The Yuck Factor

Yes, I belong to a gym, and I think they do a pretty good job of keeping the place clean and sanitary. But I did catch a pretty bad cold this month, and I'm sure it's from touching the same equipment that dozens of other people touch, some who just wiped their runny nose. And I know that not all gyms make the same effort to clean up as mine does.

4. I Don't Need to See That

There are some men in the locker room who don't have the same sense of modesty that I do. OK, that's my problem, but really -- I don't have to see that. And friends tell me that the women's locker room isn't that much better. Also, locker room etiquette often leaves something to be desired. Some people spread their stuff out so that there's not a lot of room left for anyone using a nearby locker.

5. I Don't Have the Time

That's not a good enough excuse to get out of exercising, but I understand that adding in time to travel and change makes a big difference for people with very demanding jobs and/or a full plate of family responsibilities. If I'm working out in the basement, my time commitment is just the time it takes to exercise itself -- not to go back and forth to the gym and to socialize with people that I don't really care that much about anyway.

6. I Hate to Wait

When I want to do bench presses, I want to do them now. I don't want to wait for someone else to finish, and then spend time wiping down the bench that he left dripping with sweat. My home gym certainly does not offer the variety that the gym does, but there's never a wait to use the equipment.

7. They're Ripping Me Off

Complaints about gym memberships have been on rise. The Better Business Bureau says it received more than 8,000 complaints last year about health clubs and fitness centers, up nearly 20 percent in just two years. However, BBB says this is not an alarming rate, and that people could probably avoid most of the problems by doing a bit more research before they join a club.

8. I Love the Fresh Air

For some people, especially those who spend their day confined to an office, the allure of exercise means getting outside. The gym may be more spacious than your office, but it's still four walls with a great view of a parking lot. Going out for a run, hitting the ski slope, running around in the park with the kids -- that's the combo of exercise and stress relief that many people favor.

9. I Can Build a Home Gym

It doesn't necessarily take a lot of money or a lot of space. For less than the price of your first year's membership you can buy a bunch of basics -- a doorway pull up bar, an exercise ball, jump rope, some dumbbells or a set of kettleballs. If you have the room, you can add a treadmill or an elliptical machine to keep up with the aerobics on days that the weather keeps you from getting your aerobics in.

10. I Have a Trainer 24 Hours a Day

One of the benefits of belonging to a gym is having access to professional trainers who can work with you, push you, and design an exercise routine specifically for you. That's great if you like that sort of thing, but if not, there's this thing called the Internet. Do a search for home exercises, core exercises, bicep exercises, back exercises. Well you get the idea. There are far more exercise programs available online that you'll ever have time to do. The one downside is there is no one there to review your form and instruct you how to adjust to avoid injury and to get the most out of the exercise.
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