Campus Gym vs Flashy Off-Campus Gym

After most of us gained the infamous freshmen 15 our first year in university (I managed to hold off my weight gain until my third and fourth years due to sports) most of my friends decided we should try to make an effort to stave off the obesity that was fast approaching.  Now most critical thinkers would probably follow a balanced approached of eating right and exercising moderately strenuously a couple of times a week in order to achieve their fitness goals.  We were not most critical thinkers.  Oh we knew that the repeated late night pizzas and all-you-can eat buffets were bad for us – but that was a problem for future idiots to deal with.  It also doesn’t help your dietary efforts when you’re consuming several thousand liquid calories every week.  This really only left one option for my circle of friends – work out harder, smarter, and more often than just about anyone else (luckily we were college kids so we had time for that stuff).

Keep It Simple

I’ve read dozens of workout articles (I’m a geek) on the ‘net and I know that everyone out there thinks they are a personal trainer.  Everyone has a million and one ways that other people can get in better shape, or what the most efficient training methods are.  The truth is exercise and basic biology are fairly simple.  Anything that gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time, works multiple muscle groups, and doesn’t murder your joints, is going to work just fine.  Sure, you can fine-tune things to get certain results and scarf down supplements that give you expensive urine, but the basic goal of staying aesthetically pleasing and passably healthy is relatively simple – if not easy – to achieve.  Using shinier weights and having a slightly shorter line in front of equipment that you don’t need should not be key criteria for your gym selection!

Personally, I feel so strongly about not paying for the ability to work out that now that I live rurally I don’t even use the gym at all – a lot of open space to go for a run, a skipping rope, some kettlebells, a few free weights, and some basic boxing equipment are all I really need to stay in shape.  Admittedly, if I had access to a pool I would probably bite the bullet and pay for a membership to that just because of how efficient a calorie burner swimming is, as well as its relatively now impact on my body (a key consideration for a big guy).  I should also admit that I’m not going to be on the cover of GQ anytime soon – but I’m still able to get through an amateur boxing workout and/or jog 10km (not as fast as I used to, but still).

You Might Already Be Paying for a Membership

When you’re a student however, you don’t have to make the choice between a fancy gym membership and going it on your own – you have the campus gym.  Every major post-secondary institution I’ve ever visited has an exercise facility.  On many campuses today, students are charged in their ancillary fees for a gym membership regardless of if they use it or not.

Related: What Does Tuition Include?

This basically means that students that choose to go to the off-campus places are basically paying for two separate gym memberships even if they don’t realize it!  If a gym pass is not built right into your tuition package, I can almost guarantee there is a hugely discounted rate for students available.  Most schools will allow you to purchase a two-semester pass for $80-$120.  While I wasn’t able to track down hard numbers on the major gyms across Canada (what a surprise, they don’t advertise hard membership numbers on their website), an MSN money article from 2010 claims that the average yearly fee for a gym membership in Canada is $800.  That number seems a little high to me, especially when we consider there are often initial discounts on to try and attract the post-secondary crowd.  Most of my buddies got monthly passes in the $40-$50 range if they signed up for several months’ worth of programming.  Even if we take the low end of those estimates, that’s still at least $200 more than the highest estimate for our on-campus gym pass.  In most cases the spread will be much more than that.

Shady Businesses

One final consideration I came across when trying to get some basic numbers for this article was the incredible amount of illegal contract stuff that goes on at Canada’s gyms.  There was a whole Marketplace exposé on the industry done a couple of years ago, and an Ipsos-Reid poll done on behalf of the CBC stated that an astounding 39% of Canadian gym-goers had experienced over-billing problems.  It seems that the $2 billion-a-year Canadian fitness industry is full of crooks of all shapes and colours.  Go ahead and Google some of the constraints other Canadians have found themselves in before you sign on with a specific fitness company.  This is yet another reason to stay away from these types of places.

There Are Beautiful People Everywhere

Some of my friends that go to the high-priced gyms that are filled with beautiful personal trainers would claim they get their money’s worth, but I just can’t see how.  Unless you’re one of those lucky students who have pockets full of extra cash to spend on luxuries I would never recommend going anywhere other than the campus gym – fancy gyms are one of the easiest things to cut in a budget.  On a personal level, I would never walk into one of these gimmicky places just based on sheer morals and stubbornness!  If you’re a student you should be on campus every day, so the argument of working out a convenient place doesn’t really fly with me either.  Keep it simple and don’t dip into your student loan money thinking it will automatically decrease your waste size or increase your bench-press record.

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11 years ago

Despite my desire to join Crossfit, I just can’t reconcile paying for a gym membership when I have free access to a (fancy) on-campus gym. I prefer to work out at home, but I also can’t justify buying equipment when I have a gym! I should really get over there more often… :)

11 years ago

Besides saving money, it is a good place to meet people!

11 years ago

Crossfit is cool, but I think most people could put themselves through 80-90% of a crossfit workout just from watching a few videos without attending the special gym. The idea of mixing up cardio with weight lifting and getting as many muscle groups involved as possible really isn’t rocket science – it’s just physically difficult right?

11 years ago

I would rather use the gym at my apartment than the campus gym. It’s smaller, but it IS more convenient, less crowded, and while I could shower right at the gym I prefer to go back home and shower where I don’t have to worry about the scented crap people use.

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