This Is The Most Intimidating Part Of Joining A Gym

Weight loss and "getting fit" are two topics that rarely seem to go out of fashion. Diets and health trends regularly feature in Google's annual trend reports. When it comes to real results, however, most experts agree that no diet trend or special product will get the job done. Dietary changes and regular exercise are the ultimate go-to recipe. And what better way to make sure you get up and moving than to join a gym?

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association states that a little over 21% of Americans had a gym or health club membership in 2019, as reported by Compare Camp. In the same survey, researchers found that an additional 3% of Americans had used a gym despite not having a membership. And the numbers make sense given how effective gyms can be at motivating people to exercise. And gym members who use their facilities usually have great things to say.

But we wanted to hear from everyone else. What is it that keeps roughly 79% of people from joining a gym? To find an answer, we polled Health Digest's readers. 527 people responded to our poll and chose from one of five options (one of which allowed for write-in answers).

The pain of paying

In the end the results were surprisingly balanced. People had lots of reasons to find gym memberships intimidating. One anwer pulled ahead of the others, however, and netted 31% of the overall vote. It turns out most people don't want to sign up at a gym because of the expensive membership fees.

And for good reason. Compare Camp puts the average monthly cost of a gym membership in 2019 between $40 and $50, though that number includes extreme lows like $10 a month for Planet Fitness and highs like $100 a month for Lifetime Fitness. That kind of money adds up over the course of the year, especially if you don't use it. And from the comments in our poll's write-in section, plenty of people felt that the cost was only half the problem.

About 5% of voters said "Other," and a common reason given for their choice was a variation on "All of the above". They also worried about pushy trainers or salespeople (18% of the vote), not knowing how to use the machines (19%), and working out in front of strangers (29%).

If these reasons sound familiar, you're in good company. Even people who regularly use gyms feel intimidated. In some cases, the feeling can even change the workout they plan on doing. Of course some people just don't like gyms. But many have trial periods and with affordable options like Planet Fitness, you can give it a try to see if you like it. You might end up with a dedicated routine you look forward to every day!