Given the choice, would you rather pay $195 a month to go to the chicest gym in your city, or spend $6 every day on something else, like a smoothie or a cab? Think about it. If you’re in the "I don’t need a gym to make me happy" camp, you do you, but having a gym membership has a lot of perks beyond the whole access to an exercise facility thing.
Sure, nobody really needs to have a gym membership (especially when there are so many free workouts and tips online), but if you're going to spend your pennies on one, it's not crazy to opt for the fanciest option, or at least splurge a little. We researched the fringe benefits of a membership at Equinox in New York City ($195 a month), Exhale in Dallas ($175 a month), Easton Gym in Los Angeles ($125 a month), and Telos Fitness Center in Dallas ($289 a month). These are definitely pricy, but their amenities might sway you to check out the swanky gym in your own city... or at least make you want to consider a free day pass.
Trainers are nice.
Stomaching the monthly fee and a personal trainer might seem ludicrous, but that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the super-knowledgeable trainers roaming around the gym to help you. No shade to other personal trainers, but at a big franchise gym, the trainers are also trained by the chain to make sure that they're up to standard — and smaller gyms might not have this sort of plan. Ask if you can have one free trial session (many gyms, like Equinox, offer a complimentary session for new members), so they can show you how to use all of the weights, machines, and whatnots they have available.
At Easton Gym, new members get a complementary health screening with a trainer, so you can get a little hands-on advice from the get go. Try to utilize all the shiny things the gym has to offer. If you're there anyway, you might as well — the machines (and trainers) aren't just there for decoration.
It's basically a spa.
The idea of gym locker rooms might give you flashbacks to middle school gym class and a pubescent cloud of Victoria's Secret Love Spell — this is far from the grown up, luxury gym versions. When you're a member of a nice gym like Equinox, you sort of pay for a membership to a spa, considering there's a steam room, sauna, Kiehl's products, and unlimited supply of their "legendary eucalyptus chilled towels." (Some Equinox locations even have a dedicated separate spa.) Exhale in Dallas has a "Zen lounge" and a room for couples spa treatments, in addition to the yoga and barre studios.
And a pool club.
There is a pool on the roof of the West Village Equinox location, which is the pinnacle of luxury for some people. Even if you're not into swimming for fitness, you could have access to a pool, which is pretty great (for New Yorkers, at least). Easton Gym in West Hollywood is known for having a close knit community, and it also has a rooftop sun deck for members.
The classes are legit.
If you belong to the church of group fitness, you probably have a handful of your favorite studios. Exhale offers unlimited barre, cardio, and yoga classes for members, and you also get access to monthly perks and discounts that drop-in clients don't. Newer gyms like Equinox have added yoga (and hot yoga), spinning, boxing, and Pilates studios, with teachers who have as dedicated of a following as the boutique studios. One of these classes could run you $30 a pop, but with a gym membership, they're included.
You might go more.
Some economists say that cheap gym memberships are designed for people to not show up, because the facilities can only hold so many people — but gym owners know they can keep signing people up because they won't show up. And a 2006 study found that people whose company paid for their gym membership weren't any more motivated to go than people who paid out of pocket. Knowing you've made a financial investment, however, might make you more down to go to the gym — and not just because of the guilt. A 2014 study found that people who spend money on experiences are happier and feel better about their purchases. So make of that what you will.