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 person to convince me, that I simply needed to 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 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. 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 I spent just over £100 on ONE workout session. Scary stuff! But the worst was still to come… 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 for another 3 months (I didn’t go the gym once during my last 3 months with them) and had to pay another £216. 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 that 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 and I went 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 so 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, you betcha I’ll go for it 😉
Do you have a gym membership? Have you ever had an unpleasant gym-related experience?
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