Should you cancel your gym membership?

Times are tough. You may not have a job, may be broke or struggling. You’re considering cancelling your gym membership to save money. Is it worth the cost savings?

First of all, it depends on how much you typically go to the gym, and how much your gym membership costs.

The more you go to the gym, obviously, the more you should consider staying. If you never work out, it’s a slam dunk decision to quit. In fact you should have quit a long time ago. But, then again, I highly doubt you have any reason to read material from this site if you never did. You and I should be on the same page regarding the value of fitness. It’s usually worth your while to go to the gym in some capacity every week.

Now, that said, if you go to the gym once a week or more, then whether or not you stay should depend on the cost. I presume you’re going to the gym because you probably could not get the same benefit from home workouts, or the gym has equipment you simply won’t ever have available at home or elsewhere freely available.

Let’s start with what’s now the most popular US gym: If you’re a Planet Fitness member considering quitting, first of all you’re probably thinking about it now because your $39 annual fee was just charged. Planet Fitness likes to charge their annual fee every August to everybody. This is a one time per year fee, and you won’t see it again before next August 2021. I wouldn’t consider quitting because of this. You’ve already paid the fee, and you won’t get much benefit from doing so if you quit now. If you really want to dodge future fees, consider quitting closer to June or July next year.

Either way, I would recommend keeping a Planet Fitness membership if it’s basic and you go at least once a week. I would even keep the black card membership (typically $20-25 for more amenities, including the right to visit outside PF gyms), or at least consider going to the counter and downgrading if you only ever visit one PF gym near your home. Neither membership is particularly expensive.

Same point goes for memberships to fitness rooms at local parks and recreation centers. You’re typically not paying too much for these, typically $10-20 a month. If you go regularly and get value out of training there, keep it. And you’re helping your local rec center stay open and opreational. It’s not as impersonal as paying a corporate chain of gyms or other profit-driven franchises.

With other gyms, it becomes a more practical decision to quit as they’re more expensive than $10-25 a month. A typical membership at other gyms tends to cost $30-80 depending on who.

With pricier high-end gyms like Equinox and Life Time, quitting is an easier decision. Unless you work with a personal trainer or one of the classes there is really important to you, I would have quit a while back, let alone recommend you quit now. The Life Time gyms in Vegas alone charge upwards of $150 a month, with no extras!

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, I’d quit a gym charging that much even if you do go everyday. Figure out what you actually use or need, and just find a nearby cheaper gym to train at for a while. Live on beef chuck and white rice instead of lobster and vittles for a while. You can always go back once your personal economy rebounds.

If you do work out regularly and have a cheaper gym option near you that has everything you need, I would take it: Cancel your current gym and go sign up there at the cheaper gym, even if it means signing a 12 month contract. If it’s inexpensive enough, it’s worth even eating the difference to cancel early once life gets better again and your old gym once again becomes affordable.

Of course, your relationship with your current gym matters as well. If you’ve formed a good bond with your local gym and they’re a minimally outside-supported local franchise, then maybe staying is worth the cost if it’s not more than $30 a month. I imagine they would understand if you simply could not afford it, and if they’d take you back at minimal expense perhaps it’s worth leaving should you want to eventually come back.

Finally, as I briefly mentioned, consider the cost of cancellation. If you’re locked into a contract, you are legally bound to pay off either the remaining months or a hefty early-cancellation fee. It might be of less expense to just ride out the contract if you have several remaining months due. Just go to the gym regularly and use what you’re still getting.

If you must consider cancelling your gym membership, consider the cost to do so, and whether the savings of not continuing to pay for it is worth losing whatever access and otherwise you’re giving up from leaving that gym.

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