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Why I’m Paying Too Much for A Gym (& Why You Might Want to)

Why I'm Paying Too Much for A Gym (& Why You Might Want to)
I’ve been here in San Diego for almost 2 months now, and I am LOVING it!

Many of my friends from the online world live here, and the weather is almost always fabulous. The people are kind and open, and there are plentiful healthy grocery stores and restaurants.

It’s very different than my busy life in LA was. Without in-person training appointments that get me into a gym where it’s convenient to work out afterwards, I find myself becoming progressively less active.

As a fitness blogger, that’s a bit of a problem…

So I did some yoga-tourism here, which means that I hopped from studio to studio to see which ones had classes I enjoyed, and I was a bit disappointed honestly! I expected the yoga studios around here to be very similar to the ones in LA, but I found the classes kinda, well, easy. I like to sweat it out however I work out; it’s how I reach my über-focused, zen place.

I decided to try a gym that offered yoga classes. I checked out one cheaper corporate chain gym… and then never went back. I draw the line at needing a trainer in order to use kettlebells.

I was starting to think that maybe I should just work out outside. I mean, it is San Diego. It’s pretty all the time. I just didn’t know what I’d do for yoga. I don’t enjoy doing yoga by myself as much as I do in the class setting because I like to turn my “figure it out” brain off, and just go with the “flow.” *insert yoga dork laugh*

And then, I stumbled upon a solution I was kinda hoping I wouldn’t find…

While googling gyms in San Diego trying to find an Equinox (where I had been a trainer before), I came across Fit Athletic in downtown. It’s only 9 minutes from me (funny story: everything’s 9 minutes from me when I Google Map it), and had extensive yoga classes available throughout the day. When I went in for a tour, I was like a kid in a candy store. Here’s why:

  1. Every machine and weight you could think of lives here, and is kept squeaky clean.
  2. There are classes galore to inspire this year’s Strong Inside Out bootcamp creation.
  3. Outside the gorgeous locker rooms, there’s a pool deck with barbecues and a fire pit available for member use.
  4. You can work out on the balcony with the most beautiful downtown view of Petco Park. (If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my video about it)
  5. And the yoga just plain rocks. The teachers are wonderful, and the classes themselves are tough! I leave feeling spent, but also renewed.

It’s insane how much I loved this gym.

…but it’s a bit more than I was willing to spend. Having just closed the doors on my in-person training business, my husband and I have put our expenses on a bit of a restricted budget.

This gym would cost about $50 more than my fitness budget every month. That’s no small change in my world!

I wrestled back and forth with “I’m in!” and “No, I can’t,” for a few weeks until I finally came to the consensus that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

I will cut somewhere else in my budget to make way for this in my life.

Now, before you guffaw at my decision and think it has nothing to do with you, let me tell you exactly why I consider this an investment in my strength and wellbeing. You might find something that relates to your life in here.

Here are the 4 reasons why I’m paying too much for a gym membership…

1. Familiarity

When I started as a personal trainer, it was at a luxury gym, so I have years of experience getting the A-list treatment as far as gyms go. I have high expectations of gyms because that experience spoiled me forever! It’s what I’m used to.

And there’s a lot to be said for keeping at least something familiar during the process of striving to achieve fitness goals.

Working out to reach a fitness goal puts every one of us in a state of vulnerability. We open up to possibilities of more (or less), and we strive for new baselines outside of our comfort zones.

While vulnerable, it eases the process of growth to be in a place or with people who are familiar and inviting so that it doesn’t pile more discomfort onto the already uncomfortable pushing of limits. A location, group of people or even an activity can be this familiar point for you. For me, it happens to be the gym.

2. “Social” Life

Ever since I left LA, I’ve been working mainly from home and from coffee shops. I get to see friends quite a bit, but not every day like I did while I was training.

I’ve found that I thrive in the presence of others, even if I don’t talk to them. I work better in coffee shops. I love walking around busy cities with headphones on. And I love to work out in places where everyone else is doing the same!

I’m a social introvert!  ;)

Working out around other people makes me feel a little less hermit-y and actually makes me push a little harder in my workouts (I’m competitive, ok?!). When I work out at a gym, I usually find that I push harder and feel more accomplished after the workout!

It’s the same for many of my virtual fitness coaching clients. A lot of them tried going without a gym membership and found that they were less motivated to work out, and gave up more easily when their workouts put them outside their comfort zones. Most of these clients just stopped doing their strength workouts, period!

If a gym is the difference between working out and not, I sincerely hope the decision is an easy one!

3. Moolah Motivation

Just like when I first joined a gym back in college, I knew that if I paid a bunch for membership, I’d go regularly. It works every time! The glorious facilities and classes are the cherry on top.

4. It’s My Happy Place

Ever since I turned my life around with the help of fitness, the gym has become my happy place. It’s my place where I know I can go and be with my thoughts while I make myself the person I want to be. I can’t say that for anywhere else on the planet.

It sounds corny guys, I know, but I get on the treadmill sometimes, put “Happy” on repeat, and bop along for a few miles while I lip sync along.

Yeah, I really do that.

To have a place where I can ooze happiness and create even more of it, and to not consider that an investment in myself is silly.

To pay more for this, and less on shopping or personal care (hygiene, who needs it? ;p) is a scary step, but I’m sure it’s the right one.

Money will come, and money will go. Happiness is worth more to me than my wallet.

This gym membership is an investment in my strongest self. If I was new to fitness or having trouble achieving my goals, it might be a coach. If I suffered an injury, it might be physical therapy.

This is not something I need, no, but it is something that will motivate and inspire me to push harder and further, and make it all seem like less of a chore.

How this all applies to you…

I bet there are things in your life that you’re justifying not spending money on, like healthier food, or the guidance you need to achieve the results you want. Maybe you’re doing the bare minimum to get where you want to go, but it feels like torture on the way.

Be honest with yourself as you answer this question:

Are you spending money in other areas that do not add/add less happiness to your life than being healthy?

Maybe you’re a shopper. Maybe you subscribe to all the cable channels. Maybe you go out drinking a few nights a week.

Is there any way that you can cut a little from those budgets to make your journey to healthy a little easier?

My philosophy is this: when you focus energy on the areas you want to expand in your life, they are more likely to grow at an accelerated rate. You also remove energy away from the areas in your life that hold you back, slowly releasing their hold on you.

If you’re spending more money on drinking than you are on getting healthy, and your goals are not to have liver damage, then we may have a talk on our hands.

What you focus on, you create, and that includes what you spend money on.

It’s something to start thinking about as you move forward in your fitness journey. What do you want to create more of in your life?

What is your money worth to you?

I know not everyone will agree with me on this one, and I urge you to ask questions or disagree in the comments. I think that, if this is striking a chord in you, however, it might be something that means more to you than you know.

While you mull it over, let me leave you with this…

Feel free to run-lip-sync along. ;)

Stay strong,


pic by Abdullah AL-Naser

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11 responses to “Why I’m Paying Too Much for A Gym (& Why You Might Want to)”

  1. Dave says:

    Nice post, Amy!

    I suffer from this, too. I am the LAST person I spend money on. I’m a single dad, so my focus has always been my two kids first…clothes, activities, stuff, whatever! Then I’m usually tight as hell with whatever funds are left over…or am I?

    After reading this, I did a short audit and found that I piss away little bits of dough regularly on foolish things, rather than put it towards something that would provide the greatest rewards. I’ve been wanting to join some sort of group functional fitness center for some time (CrossFit?), but always held back due to its cost (about 10x more than my current gym membership!).

    Maybe it’s time I rethink this and prioritize me and my goals…instead of wasting $$ on instant gratification nonsense.


    • Amy says:

      Hey Dave!

      I agree with Simone below in that if you’re jonesin’ for CrossFit, maybe see if it works well with you. Try it out! If the group, accountability factor, and equipment make you WANT to work out more, it’s well worth it.

      If it’s too much, maybe join a bootcamp at a park. I see these all the time here, but I’m not sure they’re available where you are. They’re a great option to get that social aspect into your fitness!

  2. Simone says:

    Hmm, I’m not seeing a way to reply directly to Dave…

    Re: CrossFit expenses, it is SO worth it. I’ve been doing CrossFit in my garage for a few years and finally made room in my budget to join a real gym. The atmosphere, community, and levels of direct, knowledgeable coaching are 100% worth the money — and I can tell I’ll get a lot out of it. I’d be pretty aimless at a gym. CrossFit for me has provided a great harmony of group workouts AND “personal” training. I love it. Worth every penny. :)

  3. Corina Byrne says:

    Hi Amy,
    This post was great timing for me. I have been having the same dilemma! I think this has been the decider for me!
    Thanks :-)

  4. Kristen Rush says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this one. Finding my happy place in fitness did much the same for me as it has for you, and I can relate and identify with so much of what you mentioned. I’m in a rut right now, and withdrawing from everything around me BUT the gym. Aside from my faith itself, gym time is my saving grace. :)

    • Amy says:

      Kristen, my thoughts go out to you in this time! I’m so glad you have the gym and your faith for support. If you feel comfortable, talk about it to someone you trust, too. That always helps me work my way through it. Sending you healing vibes!

  5. Dave says:


    Thanks for the input! I really appreciate it! There are several CrossFit gyms in my area. I am now in the process of trying out each one to find the best fit. I’m also cutting out wasteful spending to help fund it! I’m definitely looking for a community to belong to rather than just be a number at a club.

    Thanks again!

    PS – Amy…anyone who uses “Totes Magotes” is DEFINITELY on my Awesome List! :)

  6. Sam Sahagun says:

    Amy! Im so glad you’re loving San Diego! Its my hometown! I totally agree with you 100% on this! Ever since I started my Fitness Journey, its the gym (I goto 24 Hour Fitness) that is definitely my happy place and am now a regular in Turbo Kick/Hustle/Zumba classes around the city! Im actually certified to teach TK and Hustle, but havent been able to get a job there. All my Group Exercise friends want me to get hired, but I havent been able to land it yet!

    I also love that you’re into the HAPPY song! you should come to one of my classes (I teach at smaller studios around San Diego). You could learn the HAPPY DANCE! Check out my page or youtube for a preview!

  7. Allie says:

    “I’ve found that I thrive in the presence of others, even if I don’t talk to them…”
    You hit the nail on the head for me! This is EXACTLY how I feel too!

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