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Financial treadmill: Aussies wasting $2.4 billion on unused gym memberships


Australians are wasting millions of dollars on gym memberships they barely use according to new research by Finder.

A new nationally representative Finder survey of 1,004 respondents revealed that around 6.2 million Australians (32%) have a gym membership.

Of these members, 50% (equivalent to 3.1 million adults) attend the gym less than once a week, with their wasted membership fees totalling a whopping $2.4 billion per year.

The survey also found that around one in five gym members (20%) show up to exercise less than once a month.

According to Rec Xpress, Australians spend around $780 a year on gym memberships on average. For those who go once a month, this works out to be a whopping $65 per visit.

Taylor Blackburn, personal finance specialist at Finder, said that 2021 might be the year for people to break up with their gym.

"We all start out with the best of intentions when signing up to the gym, but the research shows that some of us fall off the bandwagon.

"If you're not making good use of your membership, don't let it sit idle and drain your bank account – chat to a gym representative about the cancellation process.

"Some gyms will charge an exit fee or make you pay out your remaining membership balance before terminating your contract.

"If it costs money to cancel, work out whether it's cheaper to cut ties or continue – this may vary depending on how far along you are," Blackburn said.

The research found that men are more likely to have a gym membership that they rarely use – around 46% of male gym members go once a month or less, compared to just 17% of female members.

Yet of those with a gym membership, 40% do make the most of it, going at least twice a week.

Blackburn said that there are many ways Australians can workout for less.

"When it comes to value, our research shows that gym memberships are only beneficial for 1 in 2 members.

"Rather than signing up to a contract, why not pay for a casual visit instead? This may cost more as a non-member, but it is cheaper than a monthly fee.

"There are also plenty of inexpensive ways to get your daily dose of exercise, like body weight workouts, swimming at your local pool or running.

"You can also access hundreds of free online workouts that cover everything from high intensity cardio to yoga. No matter your fitness level, there is something for everyone," Blackburn said.

Do you have a gym membership?


Source: Finder December 2020 survey of 1,004 respondents

How often do you go to the gym?*

Twice a week or more40%
Once a week10%
Three times a month5%
Twice a month10%
Once a month15%
Less than once a month20%

Source: Finder December 2020 survey of 326 respondents

*Asked to gym members only

How to keep fit on a budget:

  • Track your gym usage. If you have a gym membership, record the number of visits you make over a month. From here, you can decide if the cost-benefit is worth it.
  • Consider "pay per visit". Infrequent gym goers may be better off paying for casual visits rather than signing up to a costly membership.
  • Workout for free. Instead of the gym, consider workouts like body weight exercises, running, walking or swimming. You'll also get to enjoy the great outdoors instead of a crowded room.

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