One in five Americans—57.3 million people—belong to a gym, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). That’s the good news.
The bad news? Almost 6 million people don’t use their memberships. At all.
In fact, the average gym goer makes it to their health club just twice a week, says Alexandra Black, health promotion manager for IHRSA. “Health clubs want people to renew their memberships, but if you’re not using the gym, you’re not going to,” says Black.
IHRSA has conducted extensive research to determine why people stop going to the gym. The following are four of the most common excuses, plus research-backed reasons why they’re bunk.
4 Gym Excuses You’re No Longer Allowed to Make
Excuse: “I don’t have time.”
Busted: Exercise increases productivity.
If your to-do list is overflowing, you might think that an hour at the gym is a luxury you can’t afford. But research shows that exercise can make you more productive the rest of the day. In one study, employees who were allowed to exercise during the workday reported less stress and greater productivity compared to those who didn’t exercise. And a Swedish study found that employees at two dental practices who were given time off to exercise were not only able to treat more patients during the time they did work, but they were also sick less often.
Excuse: “I’m too tired.”
Busted: Exercise boosts energy.
As little as 20 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity exercise three days a week can significantly boost energy, according to researchers at the University of Georgia. For their study, researchers divided healthy-but-fatigued, sedentary young adults into three groups: One exercised for 20 minutes at a moderate intensity, a second group exercised vigorously for 20 minutes, and a third did nothing at all. After six weeks, both exercise groups had a 20 percent increase in energy levels. Most significantly, though, the moderate intensity exercisers reported a whopping 65 percent drop in feelings of fatigue, while the intense exercisers reported a 49 percent decrease in fatigue.
Excuse: “It’s too crowded.”
Busted: Group exercise can get you to the gym more often.
Instead of waiting for the machines to open up, try signing up for a class—particularly if your typical workout window falls during peak gym hours. In one Penn State University study, researchers gradually introduced a group of 25 sedentary exercisers between the ages of 25 and 40 to group fitness classes, eventually working up to seven classes each week. Over the course of the 30-week study, 20 of the 25 participants never missed a workout. In another Nielsen study of 1,000 group-fitness-class participants, 90 percent visited the gym twice a week solely to attend classes; 40 percent visited the gym four times a week for the same purpose. Classes full? Try this workout specifically designed for packed gyms.
Excuse: “I’m intimidated by all those folks who know what they’re doing.”
Busted: You’re not alone.
According to a 2014 IHRSA Trend Report, nine percent of gym goers ended their gym membership because they felt out of place, eight percent left because they found it too intimidating, and three percent left because they didn’t quite know what to do there. “Clubs have a lot of health promotion programs in place to help people learn how to use the gym,” says Black. “But on a personal level, people aren’t looking at you as much as you think they are. They have their headphones on and they have their own workouts that they’re doing. Plus, there’s no stigma for having slightly different technique.”
Ready to kick your excuses to the curb? Check out these 6 Stick-With-It Tips for Gym Members.
- Lacey Stone’s Simple Circuit Workout for Gym Newbies
- 8 Ways to Avoid Common Gym Mistakes
- The DIY Home Gym That Gets Results
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.