Do Expensive Gyms Make You More Fit?

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Attention, gym goers: There are over 54 million people in America that have gym memberships. But boutique gyms and expensive workouts are all the rage right now, with some classes being marketed at $30 a pop. Gone are the days with no hidden fees or reasonably priced memberships. Instead, luxury gyms are becoming the norm.

The question then becomes, do expensive gyms make you more fit? Why are so many people willing to shell out ridiculous amounts of money for a workout they could do on their own, or at a cheaper venue?

We see these fitness classes primarily in New York City and L.A., but luxury gyms are popping up in the most unexpected cities. Of course, expensive gyms offer more luxurious amenities, but the jury’s out on whether they keep you in better shape.

Why are expensive gyms so, well, expensive? 

In this $22 billion dollar fitness industry, people want to pay for amazing service and amenities. Luxury gyms come at a high price because of the products they have in their locker rooms (such as Equinox’s Kiehl’s products and eucalyptus-scented towels) as well as the classes they offer. Many gym memberships have a monthly fee that includes various classes, such as yoga, cycling, pilates, and other cardio or strength-based classes. Other amenities include spas, cafes, ultra-clean locker rooms and equipment, and of course, an aesthetic that can’t be replaced.

Chain gyms, such as Planet Fitness, don’t have fluffy towels, eucalyptus-infused anything, or as much hands-on training as many other expensive gyms. Expensive gyms offer more than that “get in and get out” mentality.

What perks do they offer to get you in better shape? 

Some of the more expensive gyms offer trainers that have Master’s degrees in things like kinesiology. Equinox even has its own training institute in addition to years of studies. When you are getting a personal trainer, you are assured to get top of the line service from people who have dedicated their entire lives to it.

In addition, many gyms have classes throughout the entire day that vary. Chain gyms often don’t have the kind of amenities and allow you to rely on yourself to get a good workout in. According to a Mashable article, exercise physiologist Shane Paulson said, “In a chain gym, not everyone knows how to use every machine, which can feel isolating.”

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Higher price = higher motivation?

Market Watch reported that one in six of the 54 million Americans who join gyms leave to find cheaper alternatives. In 2012, 29.5% of gym members cancelled their plan because they weren’t using it. The answer to whether a high-priced gym is worth it really depends on how much you want to have a certain “aesthetic” or “experience” from your gym.

NPR said, “If you haven’t been a ‘gym person’ in the past, chances are good that paying for a gym membership won’t change that.”

Yet, Quora users pointed out that there are reasons to pay for a better gym. One reason is the crowds. At a more expensive gym, such as Equinox, you are guaranteed virtually no crowds because of all the amenities they offer. One user also pointed out that the machines are new and top of the line, and there are lots of them. When you want to quickly rush to the gym, but stop and rethink the decision because you don’t know if there will be crowds or not, that sets you back in terms of your fitness goals. Joining an expensive gym and being guaranteed great service and available equipment may make you more likely to get regular workouts in.

In addition, one user mentioned she is re-joining her expensive gym because of the fitness classes they offer, citing that she can never get in a workout that intense on her own. This is true because, depending on your goals, you are able to constantly spice up your workouts.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

So, is an expensive gym membership worth it, in terms of fitness?

Gyms are a very personal thing, and your experience will depend on many factors. If you are able to afford an expensive gym, you may get what you pay for. One Reddit user brought up a great point: Many people have hobbies, and if working out is one of yours, why not invest more in it?

If you need some motivation or assistance when it comes to working out, more expensive gyms can give you that hands-on training you need, instead of having to rely on yourself. If you are usually pretty lazy and prefer the couch to the treadmill (don’t we all), then an expensive gym membership won’t necessarily make you more fit. If you think that shelling out money will make you want to get the most out of your membership, chances are better that you will go more. It’s all personal preference.

At the end of the day, there are so many affordable gyms that are trying to up their ante to reach the same level as expensive and boutique gyms. In 2015, some people are addicted to luxury, so it’s only a matter of time before more gyms of all prices increase their level of service and amenities for gym goers. If you feel that you don’t need a gym membership, there are other options like training apps and even home training. Happy gym hunting!

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