I decided to take the bull by the horns this week and ring some local gyms to look for free trials. I’m not sure paying for a month’s membership is frugal, but I’m happy to try them out for free, despite my lifelong gym phobia.
Following a friend’s suggestion, I rang Curves in Billericay. Curves is a US outfit running all-female gyms and specialising in 30 minute workouts. I got through to Kitty who sounded friendly, and soon I was talked into having a tour around the gym and trying out the equipment. I hoped they’d run some classes I could hide at the back of! But they don’t run classes, instead they have a multi-gym and provide carefully devised workouts specific for clients’ needs.
I hung up in dread. I was sure I’d look ridiculous on a treadmill and be out of breath in less than 30 seconds. So I arrived on tenterhooks. Loud techno pumped from the gym which was in a circle, featuring various instruments of torture. Ladies were busy working out and every few minutes an automated voice told them to switch machines. Kitty explained that they have to check their heart rate three times during the session to check they are working at optimum level.
I talked through what I wanted to achieve and whinged about my bum knees and iffy back. She said some of the machines would help me build up strength in them. When I admitted I’d lost 12 pounds on WeightWatchers but put three pounds back on, she explained that working out can help the body continue to burn calories and build muscle after you come off a diet.
I felt slightly self-conscious as she weighed me, checked my BMI and took tape measurements of my waist and tummy etc! Apparently I need to lose an inch around my tummy etc. to reach my fighting weight. Then I had a tentative go on the machines. One, worryingly nicknamed the birthing chair, featured stirrups you put your legs into and then pull back and forth to build up thigh muscles. Another you sit on, put your arms in and then push the weights up and down to build up arm muscles. I’d never realised I had any! As Kitty explained that a lady of 70 exercises there, I felt the need to work harder!
Curves is currently offering a week’s free pass. Then new members can either sign up for 12 months and pay £29 by monthly direct debit or pay £35 on an ongoing basis. There’s also 50 per cent off the £119 joining fee. It’s not necessarily cheap, but the support and the tailored personal training programme is appealing. And it wasn’t an intimidating place.
“With many people money is an issue, especially at the moment,” says Kitty. “But I always say, it’s the cost of a takeaway or a couple of bottles of wine a week.”
Now I’m booked in for my first workout session! I’ll tell you how I get on.
Do you belong to a gym? Do you think paying for gym membership is worth it?