Do You Really Need That Gym Membership?

Lately, the Gym Wars have been raging around my town. Planet Fitness dominates the scene and is opening a new gym just three miles from their first one in the area. They face competition in fees and philosophy from Crunch Fitness, with its emphasis on classes. An Orangetheory franchise touts the power of small group training. Even the local YMCA is getting in on the battle, completing a multi-million dollar renovation just last year.

All this energy is great for consumers, who have more choices in how they workout than ever before, all for low fees. What’s not to love about that? Actually, gym membership doesn’t work for everyone. Many people join a gym to get healthier and lose weight but find themselves frustrated by a lack of visual progress. As it turns out, the gym may not be the key to a healthier lifestyle after all.

Admit It, You Skip

It feels great to join the gym. Often a new gym member makes it an important part of their weekly routine. Gyms that are open 24 hours of the day theoretically make it even easier for people to get their gym fix. The expectation is that you will always be able to find an hour of the day to get in a little exercise. But that’s not what happens for most people. It’s easy to create gym time in the beginning, but when you are working late or out of town on business, getting yourself to the gym is not an easy task. Some people always have a packed gym bag in the car, ready to head to the gym on their lunch break, before work, or after the kids’ after-school event.

However, many more people find their gym visits shrinking the busier they get. Suddenly they start missing scheduled gym days, or they find themselves tired just by the idea of driving to the gym, knowing that by the time they work out, drive home, and shower, it will be 8 pm. The kids need to be fed and put to bed, the dog needs to go on a walk, and you still have a few nagging emails from work that need handling before morning. That means you are probably skipping the gym.

To be clear, this dynamic has little to do with the gym itself. You can join most gyms for as little as $9 a month, most people there are friendly, and they have lots of cool equipment on hand to help you reach your fitness goals. However, you eventually seem to skip more and more. Fortunately, you don’t actually need the gym to get healthier.

You Can Lose Weight Without Working Out

The dirty secret of the diet and exercise industry is that diet is more important than exercise. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. It does not matter if you burn extra calories through exercise or simply cut them from your diet. However, over 700 weight loss studies revealed that weight loss is about 75 percent diet and 25 percent attributable to exercise. That means that diet is actually the biggest factor in losing weight. You can be working out really hard, but if you aren’t eating right, weight loss will elude you. The weight loss studies show that those who dieted without working out lost more weight than those who stuck to exercise. The dieters lost 23 pounds in 15 weeks, while the exercisers lost just six pounds in 21 weeks. I personally lost over 30 lbs by changing the way I ate, and I wasn’t using my gym membership in that time.

So yes, it’s true, weight loss is possible without working out. That doesn’t mean you should never exercise again (sorry!) Regular exercise is still recommended to keep your heart healthy and able to enjoy life to the fullest. It will also help you cut the fat by building muscle.

There Are So Many Ways to Exercise Without a Gym

There are many ways to exercise without a gym, and they are mostly free. You can play tennis, go for a run, kick a soccer ball, or play basketball with friends, all courtesy of your local park system. As the weather gets warmer, many people find themselves skipping the gym to do just that. Swimming is also an incredible way to work out so you may find yourself spending the whole summer in the swim lanes at your local pool.

Most people don’t need complicated machines and weights to get fit. Exercise equipment is increasingly affordable, and you can work out at home using free weights, treadmills, exercise bikes, and elliptical machines.

These options don’t work for everyone. Some people are easily self-directed when it comes to exercise, but others need more direction. Thankfully, other options are just a TV or computer away.

Enter Home Workouts

If you need more direction in your workouts but don’t want to head to the gym, turn on your TV and start following guided workouts. The Daily Burn offers group workouts or one-on-one training on your own schedule. YouTube is chock-full of free content from fitness experts who will get you in shape. HASFit has hundreds of free workout videos on their YouTube channel, which has been one of the top 10 YouTube channels for four straight years. Some content is free, but you can access it all with a monthly subscription. Prefer something low impact? Yoga With Adriene has hundreds of videos tailored to your mood, fitness level, and health condition. If you want to have access to a range of workouts you can opt for the pay channel Daily Burn.

Working out at home saves you so much time, and you can easily find workouts that meet your needs. Have a back injury? Search for safe workouts for recovering from a back injury. Only have about 10 minutes worth of time or energy? You’ll find plenty of workouts that maximize your time.

Although some people think you can’t build muscle doing home workouts, you only need a little bit of equipment to prove doubters wrong. Some free weights, resistance bands, and TRX straps will help you build lean muscle more efficiently than anything you attempt on your own at the gym.

Whatever you do for a fitness routine, make it work for your schedule and needs. There’s a world of free and low-cost options. If the gym works for you, then that’s great! But if you’re struggling to hold yourself accountable or don’t have the time to travel to the gym, start with some of my suggestions.

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