Why I’ll Pay More for a Local Rec Center than Fitness Gyms

Last Updated on February 7, 2020 by Michael Brockbank

When I started losing weight, I wasn’t convinced that I needed a gym membership. But if I want to reach my new goals of looking like a superhero, I need more than just what I have at home. So, I decided to pay $60 per month for the local rec center.

This is quite a bit more than what I would pay by going to something like Planet Fitness. But I have quite a few reasons why I don’t mind paying the extra as opposed to supporting a national chain.

Until I win the Power Ball, I need something to help me achieve my goals.

So, Why Pay More for a Local Rec Center Membership?

OK, fitness centers like Planet Fitness have a lot of benefits, especially when you fork in the extra money for higher membership tiers. However, there is more going on when I give money to my local rec center.

And granted, not every city offers some of the following. I’m just lucky enough to live in one that does.

Family Passes Actually Cost Less

Currently, I am paying for five members of my family to use the facilities. This means I am paying $12 per person per month. When you consider some fitness places charge between $20 to $50 per person, this isn’t a bad deal.

Also consider that some memberships, such as those at Anytime Fitness, charge you extra when canceling your membership. And if you want to cancel at any time during your contract, it’s going to cost you quite a bit.

Access to ALL Local Rec Centers in the City

The city we live in has a variety of recreational facilities that fall under the family plan we have. That means we can go to any one of several for any length of time.

Which is good considering how one of the local rec centers has an amazing pool!

Not that the facility down the street from me doesn’t have a pool, but the one a few miles down the road is just much bigger and more open.

More Amenities in Most Cases

The Anytime I signed up for didn’t have a pool. In fact, it had fewer amenities than what the local rec center has in terms of exercise and fitness. For instance, the one I go to has a racketball court, swimming pool, free weights, machines, treadmills and more.

In my situation, the city has more interest in providing health and fitness equipment than a major corporation.

Which is sad, really. You’d think with charging people $50 per month, big companies would have more equipment available. But not in my experience.

I know there are a lot of fitness centers out there that have all these things. But then again, I also know of many that do not.

The Local Rec Center is Much Closer!

Not everyone lives next to a gym. In fact, when I lived more than 5 miles away from an Anytime, they still wouldn’t let me quit the contract. Luckily, the rec centers in my city are EVERYWHERE.

I am less than a mile from the closest one, which means I can get some cardio walking before lifting weights. Well, unless there’s a foot of snow outside. Still, I’m looking forward to summer workouts.

But it’s not just my local rec center. I’ve seen a lot of cities where the facilities are more centric to the population as opposed to being on busy main streets. This means people like myself have a much easier time getting to them.

No Contractual Commitments

Now, this is a big one for me when considering a local rec center versus a corporate chain gym. If I want to stop paying the rec center, I can…at any time. Most gym memberships come with years-long contracts.

In my case with Anytime Fitness, I had to continue paying for more than two years without being able to go. Mostly because I was too far from a facility. If I wanted to buy out my contract, I had to come up with half of the remainder.

I don’t have to worry about early-ending contract fees, buy-outs or other monetary value tacked on because of a contract.

Supporting My Local Community

Perhaps one of the more important aspects, paying for the local rec center supports the community. The money isn’t given to CEOs of corporations or stockholders. Everything goes back into the city.

And while some people may hate where they live, I actually love my area. Even though I live in one of the more, well, run-down areas of town. It’s still a good place to live and the people are often quite friendly.

I have no problem supporting things like youth sports, schools, parks, and anything else that benefits the well-being of my location.

Events for the Kids

Another aspect of supporting my community is the events held here for my kids. In fact, next weekend they can go to the pool for an inflatable obstacle course. I would love to join, but I think there are size and weight limits.

Still, the city has all kinds of things planned out year-round for everyone. However, most of the more fun stuff is for the younger audience, which is fine with me.

Though, maybe I should join some of the more adult events just so I can meet people and stop being a hermit.

OK, So What Are the Drawbacks of a Local Rec Center?

While the pros definitely outweigh the cons of the local rec center, they’re not enough to stop me from forking over $60 per month.

Not 24-hours

A lot of fitness centers tout being open 24-hours a day. Unfortunately, most local rec centers do not. Now back in the day, that might have been a problem. But I find I am more efficient during the day anyway.

However, it would be nice to be able to go late at night when the “weird” people are hopefully at home sleeping.

The Creepy Old Guy

I doubt that every local rec center has a creepy old guy, but mine does. The first time I came across this person, he stared at me the entire time he was working out…and I was there for about 45 minutes.

It almost seemed he went out of his way to follow me around the facility.

It was the kind of stare that felt more like he wanted to skin me and walk around with a new Michael suit. Kind of a mixture of hate and curiosity.

I am able to avoid this guy by going later in the afternoon and haven’t seen him since changing my schedule around. But still, it was almost horror-novel worthy.

Gets Pretty Busy Sometimes

One thing that does bother me about early morning or late afternoon workouts at the local rec center is how busy it gets. The first morning, I had to wait several times for any machine to open up.

In fact, I have yet to see a recreation center have nearly a third of the workout equipment fitness centers have. But, I can see why they’re set up like that. After all, a rec center is more than just fitness machines.

On the other hand, it would be nice to have at least double the machines that are available.

It’s All About Personal Preference

Finding what works for you is the key to success in anything. Diets, fitness routines, bodybuilding…everything centers around what you find to be the best method.

Even if you don’t have a local rec center, find a way to build yourself up. It’s not about looking good in a swimsuit. It’s about improving your way of life and self-reliance.

I still geek out about lifting a 50-pound bag of dog food with one hand without realizing how heavy it was.

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Michael Brockbank

Since 2015, Michael has put in the effort to lose more than 80 pounds by gamifying fitness and eating proper portion sizes. He conducts extensive research into various health and fitness products to provide the best answers possible according to his own experience and knowledge.

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