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“Gluttonous Maximus”

Many gym owners are privy to some unique intel: It is easy to buy a gym membership, and even easier to neglect it once that ID is tucked in your wallet.

A 2021 survey by Finder found that just over a third of Americans (32.42%) pay for a gym membership without using it.

NPR claims this is exactly what gym owners bank on, pointing out that gyms often have way more members than their spaces could ever accommodate.

One of the biggest chains in the U.S., Planet Fitness, has 2,357 locations across the country as of August 2023, and according to its latest financial report, it has 18.4 million members.

That means if everyone decided to start up their new treadmill routine at the same time, almost 7,800 people would be showing up to each gym, which on average, has a capacity for 2,000 people.

With the “judgment-free” zone that most Planet Fitnesses advertise, they are catering to potential exercisers who like the idea of exercise, but aren’t necessarily gym rats.

Add that to the $10 price of their standard memberships, and it’s easy to see why many people are keeping the “getting in shape” door wedged open.

In the second quarter of 2023, total revenue of all the Planet Fitness franchises increased to $62 million, up 27.6% from the same period the previous year.

So even if your biceps aren’t expanding, Planet Fitness’ bottom line sure is.

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Dollars down the shower drain

People usually only burn money in movies, because it’s illegal in real life.

But there are metaphorical ways of burning money. Although Planet Fitness’ standard monthly membership costs $10, the average cost of a monthly gym membership can fluctuate from $10 to $60 a month.

Finder’s survey revealed that between 2020-2021, 6.1 million Americans wasted a total of $397 million on their unused gym memberships.

With that kind of money, it’s possible to buy a super yacht, an entire bank, or the Star of Africa, one of the largest diamonds in the world.

Sweating from the comfort of your couch

If the gym isn't your thing, you can always consider making your home your own personal fitness studio. Many people prefer doing squats in front of their own TV to doing them amid a roomful of sweaty strangers.

There are several perks to working out at home: No more waiting to use your favorite elliptical machine; no more side-eye from the gym buff hogging the dumbbells, and best of all, you can grunt doing your reps without a shred of embarrassment.

The total cost of building a home gym with all the dumbbells and whistles is about $2,000, give or take. But of course, you don’t have to aim for the whole kit. A decently-priced, well-reviewed yoga mat will cost around $50 and a pair of 5 pound barbells will run you about $20 on Amazon.

However, before you convert your living room into a mini gym, let’s discuss the actual pros of joining one outside your home.

CNET highlights that gyms can provide you with a lot of different classes, state-of-the-art equipment, and the replenishing energy of fellow exercisers, not to mention the help of trained professionals.

Let’s face it, sometimes even your trusty YouTube fitness instructor can't substitute a live gym trainer.

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The final countdown

At the end of the day, remember that your choice isn't just about shedding pounds; it's also about keeping your bank account in shape. We just want to make sure you do a few mental squats before you take the plunge.

Whichever route you take, it’s important to keep moving — whether it's toward your local gym, or toward that chin-up bar you’ve been using as a clothes hanger.

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Bronwyn Petry Email Specialist

Bronwyn is currently part of the email content team for Moneywise. Before starting here, they freelanced for several years, focusing on B2B content and technical copy. Pre-pandemic, you could find them planning their next trip, but lately, if they're not at work, you can find them hanging out with their cat and dog.

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