1. Cost. I like this one because it’s almost not fair. The average monthly cost of a gym membership is much higher than almost any pair of shoes you would train in. Gym memberships vary quite a bit, so let’s just pick an average city, say St. Louis, MO. A gym membership will run you around $105.00. And you pay that over and over again throughout the year. You can buy some really fine trainers, with lots of style for that price. And if you buy them at a specialty store, they will usually analyze your feet and gait and match you up with a shoe specific to your needs. Shoes at this higher price also will take very good care of your feet to avoid injuries. So if you end up needing 2 pair a year, that’s $210.00 for shoes. Compared to $1,260.00 for the gym membership.

  2. The hours are better. I know, your gym might be open late, or even 24 hours. Fair point. But you know that there are many times you get there and it is packed to the point you really aren’t able to do anything more than wait in line for your favorite elliptical machine. Or avoid that guy that sweats too much. So you end up avoiding those times of day, and working out at times of the day that just aren’t convenient to you.

  3. Effectiveness. This is where a portion of you will just disagree. That portion being people that sell gym memberships. ;) Let’s start with this number: 67%. That’s the percentage of people with gym memberships that NEVER USE THEM. So, statistically, you aren’t likely to even go to the gym. Contrasted with the fact that most people wear shoes. Okay, I’m joking here. A little. But another thing to consider is just how effective walking or running are to overall health. Many studies about just these two activities and just how good for you being outside, spending time and covering distance can be. Personally, I’ve tried the gym routine when I was younger, and it wasn’t until I made jogging my workout machine that my weight went down and stayed down. The other thing I discovered was that i didn’t need machines to work out the rest of me. Old fashioned squats, push ups, sit ups and pull ups will do wonders.

  4. They go where you go. Gyms are really tough to pack in an overhead compartment on the plane. A pair of running shoes are so portable! It’s the gym you take anywhere. When I put my shoes on, I only need to walk out my door to get to my workout. Some gym memberships do tout that they have locations around the country. Okay, that works if it happens to be the hotel I happen to be staying in. Finding some place across town in an area you’re unfamiliar with is not my idea of convenient. When I pack my shoes, I just check with the hotel front desk, and they always have a number of routes to suggest based on the distance you are interested in. They get asked all the time. The other benefit when I go jogging in a different city, is the chance to sightsee. You get to know the place in a way you never would otherwise.

  5. It’s a habit. Just based on the fact so many people don’t even use a gym membership sets you up for failure. But those new pair of shoes have now become your new best friend. They are nicely worn in. You have developed a familiarity and spent literally miles together that make you look forward to lacing up and getting out there. Maybe you’ve even discovered that you’re capable of some new things along the way. Ran your first 5K or triathlon. Or just fit in your clothes better. There are quite a few people that claim they do their best thinking of the day on their daily jog. So who knows? A pair of shoes can create the kinds of habits that you are really looking for when you consider how best to spend your hard won time and money on fitness this year.


Are you convinced? Some good money reasons here, but also some good-for-you reasons. And above all, when you compare a simple pair of shoes to a gym membership, the shoe choice allows you to OWN your equipment and workout routine. That’s better for you financially as well. Pay for them and you’re done. Use them as much as you want. When you sign up for a membership, you are signing away your future money. Working out is hard enough without piling on debt and regret and shame. Don’t OWE your workout. OWN it.