Why do people go to the gym?

Around 14% of people in the UK have a gym membership, and according to research by Pure Gym, that number...

Around 14% of people in the UK have a gym membership, and according to research by Pure Gym, that number is set to rise by 5% in 2023. But what are some common reasons that people go to the gym?

Why do people go to the gym?

Most people go to the gym to use exercise equipment they otherwise couldn’t afford to buy or physically accommodate in their homes. Gyms are convenient; even budget ones usually have enough strength and cardio equipment to satisfy the average user. Paying to use someone else’s equipment also means no maintenance and cleaning costs. 

Specialist gyms also have equipment that isn’t practical or possible to keep in a regular house—for example, a cross-fit or Thai boxing gym. And even those with the will and disposable income to build a home gym may prefer exercising away from where they live or work, especially if they share a house or workspace with others.

Gyms also have personal trainers and fitness classes. These can be replicated at home with streaming platforms or exercise apps, but for many people, it’s not the same as being physically in the class with an instructor. And for some people having to go to an external location, rather than using a screen in their living room, makes them more likely to exercise, especially if other people hold them accountable.

Some gyms also have additional facilities included in the membership. For example, a swimming pool, badminton court or running track means there are more opportunities to have a dynamic exercise regime that isn’t just cycling or running. And not to mention the bonus of a sauna or jacuzzi at some gyms. 


Shot of a gym with a large window


It’s not only the facilities that attract people to gyms. The physical and mental health benefits of exercise are often enough to encourage people to pay for membership. According to the NHS, exercise is a ‘miracle cure’. It can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and cancer. It reduces your risk of early death by up to 30%. It can also help increase sleep quality, productivity, and creativity, help manage some forms of depression and anxiety and lower your chances of developing dementia.

The gym makes exercising more accessible, making people more likely to do and enjoy it. There are many ways of exercising outside the gym, but for some people having a centralised location with varied equipment and classes helps them build a more consistent routine, one of the best ways to maintain a healthy body and mind. 

Of course, for some people, the gym is also a way of achieving a specific aesthetic or look. This may be losing weight or increasing muscle definition. Not everyone enjoys working out, but they may enjoy the benefits of it — their clothing fitting better, feeling and looking stronger in the mirror. You can do this without a gym, but some people find it harder to maintain a regime that isn’t centred on a specialist environment like a gym or health and fitness centre.  

You’re going to start seeing electricity-generating exercise equipment in gyms too. Energym has just completed its first installation in Berlin. The opportunity to get fit while creating renewable power (when we need to leverage as much clean energy as possible) may encourage people to exercise for sustainability too. 

People also go to the gym because they have a short-term challenge or goal that they’re preparing for. This could be a marathon, triathlon, or even a cycling trip or holiday trekking expedition. Gyms can also help people recover from injury or illness. There’s lots of low-impact equipment to help build fitness in those struggling with health and mobility. Gyms with swimming pools are especially helpful, but indoor cycling bikes (especially recumbent ones) and light weights can help too. Exercise has also been shown to provide relief from chronic or degenerative illnesses. 

Gyms are social spaces too. People meet and interact with others for casual small talk or deeper friendships. People have also met their future partners there too. 

Exercise has also been found to increase productivity and focus. It’s why some employers now allow their staff to exercise during the working day. Physical activity that gets the heart pumping sends more blood to the brain, making it easier to focus and problem-solve. It’s also a great way to manage stress, prevent burnout and counteract some of the issues associated with sitting at a desk for long periods. It’s why Energym is launching its ECO:PODS — self-contained workout stations where employees can exercise on electricity-generating indoor cycling bikes. It’s great for the business and sustainability. 

If you’re interested in joining a gym, do your research. Think about your fitness goals and the reason you want to go. Think about your budget too. Most gyms offer a 1-day pass to try out the facilities, but sometimes you can get multi-day access. Websites like Hussle also let you pay-as-you-gym, so you can pay for individual sessions rather than sign up for membership, which means you'll avoid joining fees too. Budget gyms often have rolling contracts, too, so you don’t need to worry about signing up for the entire year.

And of course, you don’t have to go to a gym to get fit. You can buy exercise equipment for your home. You can search for local classes. You can join park runs and guided walks in your area. You can walk for free (and walking is an often overlooked but very powerful means of building fitness).

People go to the gym for many different reasons. Most obviously, they want to use exercise equipment to achieve their health and fitness goals. These may be specific, like losing a certain amount of weight or gaining a certain amount of muscle definition. Exercise may help them manage mental or physical health conditions; the gym is a dedicated space for that. Some people just enjoy exercising. Others go because they like the social aspect. As more evidence builds in favour of the benefits of a consistent exercise regime, we’ll likely see more people going to gyms, especially now that there are more budget options for people on a more limited income. 

Find out more about the electricity-generating RE:GEN bike for the home.

Find out more about the electricity-generating RE:GEN Studio for gyms

Don't forget there's the ECO:POD for offices too. 



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