summer, I ditched my gym membership for the first time in 20 years.
It dawned on me that, having visited the premises precisely twice
that year, each of my workouts (in a no-frills council leisure centre,
mind) had cost me £120.
I’m not alone
in throwing in the fluffy towel. Recent statistics from the accountancy
firm Deloitte show that gym membership in the UK is in decline –
54,000 fewer people joined in 2007 than they had the year previously,
while the United States has seen a 24% drop in gym recruits in the
last year. The average monthly outlay for health club membership
is £46, and it’s an expense that many feel they can’t justify
in the current economic climate – especially given that only a quarter
of gym members actually go regularly.
belt-tightening needn’t lead to trouser belt loosening. The absence
of a shiny membership card in my wallet has led me to explore new
ways and places to be active – and I’d say I’m fitter than
ever. I have run and cycled more (freeing myself from the stultifying
boredom of the cardiovascular machines), dipped my toes into open-water
swimming, and devised home-based workouts which, I believe, match
anything I could have done in the gym (see my bench circuit, below).