Is 2,000 Miles Worth Getting a Gym Membership?

The biggest change for me since graduating, besides having the time to fly more than I thought humanly possible, is that I’ve gotten a bit chubby. So I joined a gym recently. The 24Hour Fitness near my apartment is surprisingly nice, and it’s convenient enough that I can pick up Megan after work so we go together.

This decision was motivated by a new offer from United Airlines, providing 2,000 miles if you sign up through their affiliate, the GlobalFit Gym Network. Yeah, that sounds shady, doesn’t it? Take an airline known for finding new ways to up-sell its customers, combine it with an affilate program, and pitch a product that may have an even lower reputation.

MileagePlus promotion image

2,000 points is not enough to sway my decision-making process. At best, it’s worth $40, but I was thinking of joining a gym anyway and decided to take a look. (Hat Tip to Kathy at Will Run for Points for bringing this to my attention.)

There are three major problems with this program, but if they don’t bother you, it might make sense.

  • Not all gyms are included. Even some major chains are left out.
  • Within chains, not all locations are included.
  • The discount seems to require a full-year prepayment, at least for the locations I checked.

There are a lot of jazzercize locations to sort through. I think almost half of the search results in Seattle were for jazzercise. I don’t know how to get rid of those, but you can remove Curves from your results by checking the box to “remove women’s only gyms.” But for me, location matters most, so I just used the map view.

gym membership screenshot

Nothing within three miles of my house, even though I know there’s a 24Hour Fitness just a mile away. In my area, at least, 24 Hour Fitness and the Seattle Athletic Club were among the best options. But 24Hour Fitness will only give you a discount on mid-tier Sport locations and the one near me is a SuperSport. If Sport is good enough for you, similar discounts can usually be found at Costco without going through this affiliate program, perhaps even at a better price.

But what kind of discount are you getting, assuming those 2,000 miles are important? GlobalFit wants to charge $240 for a year plus a $30 activation fee. The direct price from 24Hour Fitness is currently on sale for $25 a month and a $100 initiation fee. So that would be $400 assuming you spent a year, but at least this way you don’t have any long-term commitment. (24Hour Fitness does charge first and last month’s dues up front.) I think a savings of 43% is pretty good, and you get some miles on top!

gym membership screenshot

Yet no dice for me. I was not going to go downtown just to go to the gym every day. I ended up buying the SuperSport membership for my location gym, at around $35 a month with a $50 initiation fee. Fortunately they were having a sale that ended Sunday, and I showed up soon enough to take advantage. It’ll be $470 over the course of the year, and its crowded in the evenings, but the customer service is leagues beyond the surly staff at the old campus gym. I had my radar going through the whole pitch, and I’m pretty sure I won’t have any grief should I choose to cancel.

But let me tell you, I never realized how unhealthy it was to be on the road all the time until I did it for real. Maybe United should just pay for half of it if I promise they’ll have 10 pounds less to fly across the country.

One reason I’m looking to add SPG Platinum status to my dossier this year is because of the WestinWORKOUT program, which offers free workout clothes and shoes to borrow. Hyatt has nice gyms, though I would love it if I didn’t have to bring my stuff with me when I travel and then cart the smelly clothes back home. But I do love my free Diamond breakfasts, too, perhaps a little too much…

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  • Kat K

    thanks for the hat tip!

  • matt

    Fitness and travel definitely fight each other, particularly business travel where you are often on long/odd hours, possibly entertaining others, often short on time/energy etc.

    In addition to the unhealthy food and sometimes too-sedentary days, there’s also the disruption effect that prevents you from establishing a consistent routine. A different gym of varying quallity and types pf equipment at everyworkout, poor nutrition and sleep patterns, etc. All really throw a wrench in things.

    My preferred workouts are free weights, playing basketball, skiing, cycling, hiking,and similar. At least hotel gyms usually have an OK stationary bike – the rest isnçt too practical in any consistent way, although usually you can put together some sort of strength workout. If you want to train systematically for performance (which is what gets me in the gym)regular travel poses one heck of a challenge.

  • Jamison

    definitely NOT worth it

    • matt

      Well, presumably it got Scott thinking and moving (and as he didn’t go for the offer, didn’t bribe him into a rash decision)

      Of course a pittance of miles is not worth committing hundreds of dollars to a gym membership. If they don’t hurt the deal you would get and you want to join anyway, then take them, otherwise of course leave it. It’s not like the miles-for-electricity sort of scams where you are on the hook for big losses/expenses.

      The larger question of the value of gym membership is a rather personal one. I elected to equip my home with what I want/need, at greater up-front cost, because I have the space available, no convenient gym around, and an overall lack of trust that convenient gym options would provide what I need.

      When I’m actually at home, it’s much easier and convenient to head down to the basement than it would be to jump in a car and drive 5(small machine gym – not into that at all)-10+(“real” gym with weights etc) miles. I can work out harder and quicker at home – only way I’d realistically ever use a membership would be excercising on the way to or from work.

      • Scottrick

        That was my logic. I said up front, don’t do this just for 2,000 miles. I didn’t even sign up for BCKSTGR for 4,000 miles.

  • Ozaer N.

    NO way Scott….just “RUN” to the CVS or Walgreens and BUY $2000 worth of vanilla on a Chase UR card or a United Visa …..

  • Al

    If you’re going to be in one city for a while, Costco has 2-year memberships to 24-Hour Fitness for $350, which is a much better deal.

    • Scottrick

      I believe that offer is for Sport-level clubs only, which is the same as this deal. The only 24Hour Fitness I would use is the one near my house, which is a SuperSport.

  • Michelle Singh

    you can buy the membership from costco and upgrade to use at the supersport…still a better deal

    • Scottrick

      I wish I’d known that! Right now I’m month to month, so if I decide to keep it in the future, I may do that. Thanks!