To gym, or not to gym?

If a healthy body equals a happy mind, why are so many of us against the #gymlife? While the physical and mental health benefits of exercising regularly are well-known, there are other factors that prevent young people from joining a gym. The chief of these reasons is the rising cost of gym memberships. Even with a student discount, gyms can charge upwards of £40 a month for a membership, something that many of us simply cannot afford. But do you really need a gym to get fit? Is it worth splashing out the cash to get the best results? To gym, or not to gym? That is the question. 

Let’s start with the pros…

One of the main benefits of joining a gym is that you have instant access to a number of exercise machines and equipment. These include cardiovascular machines such as treadmills, exercise bikes and elliptical trainers, as well as anaerobic equipment such as dumbbells, squat racks and barbells. Of course, it would be possible to buy all of these machines and build your own home gym, but the cost to you would be extortionate. There is, therefore, a certain convenience to paying a monthly fee and having unlimited access to all of these machines, whether you’re looking to run faster, lift heavier, or live healthier.

Another advantage of joining a gym is the different classes you can take. For me, attending a yoga class each week has really changed my outlook on exercise. I see it as more of a holistic and therapeutic experience, something that makes me feel centred and confident. While I admit that buying a yoga mat and following a class on Youtube might have the same physical benefit, there is something exciting about sharing a class with strangers. There is no judgement, and everyone is in it together. The best thing about classes is that you don’t need a membership. You can purchase class bundles, or make one-time payments and not have to worry about burning a hole in your pocket. So whether it is a yoga class, a spin session or some hardcore pilates, classes will always be for me one of the greatest benefits of joining a gym.

Finding the motivation to exercise can be one of the hardest challenges to overcome when trying to get fit. But joining a gym could give you the discipline to work hard and stay healthy. Personally, I find that when I workout at home, I am easily distracted by other things. This leaves me feeling unmotivated and unaccomplished. However, by going to the gym, you are forcing yourself into an environment where motivation thrives and energy levels are at their highest. You may find yourself inspired by those around you, and discover a community that supports and encourages you towards your fitness goals. 

Now let’s turn to the cons…

One of the biggest drawbacks of joining a gym, especially for us students, is the extortionate price of their memberships. Even when you take into account things such as a student discount, the added expense of a monthly membership is often too much for our wallets to bear. Not to mention the additional costs of things such as joining fees and lockers. There is no doubt that being a member of a gym is a luxury that not everyone can afford. But if you can justify the costs, I do believe it is a fantastic way of building a better mind, body and soul. 

Another problem many people face when joining a gym is feeling embarrassed or intimidated by those around them. It can be very difficult to understand how all of these complex machines work, especially if you’re in a room full of bodybuilders and fitness models. At times, I have felt very self-conscious in the gym, whether due to a man grunting and groaning as he lifts a 100kg dumbbell, or a girl flexing and posing in her matching sports bra and leggings. However, I’ve also had some very positives experiences at the gym. Sometimes, the people making you feel intimidated are often those who can help you achieve the best results. If you do decide that the gym-life is right for you, do not be afraid to ask questions. It will help you feel less embarrassed and more confident in your fitness regime. 

So, what are my final thoughts on the question “To gym, or not to gym?”. Well, there are certainly many advantages to joining a gym, from the specialist equipment to new and exciting fitness classes. There is also the convenience factor, and the added motivational tools to get you through your workout. However, the gym is not for everyone, and you can achieve amazing results without it. There are thousands of at-home fitness products and guides that will give you the same burn as a gym workout at a fraction of the cost. As long as it makes you feel good, I believe a gym can be wherever and whatever you want it to be. 

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