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Do You Budget for Exercise?

Yesterday, my friend Lindsay and I discussed her new found love of Kettlebell classes. Her love for these classes are rooted in the mere fact that they ‘kick her butt.’  Kettlebells are traditional Russian cast iron weights that look like cannonballs with handles and they are used for total body conditioning workouts. The ‘bells’ vary in size and weight, accommodating students with various levels of fitness.

Lindsay has been taking these classes for only about a month and has just decided to invest in a second package of classes. Apparently, she deliberated a bit over this decision, as each class costs, on average,  $18.00. She admitted that her decision to fork over the mullah required her to reevaluate her expendable cash, and as a result, she gave up cable television. Seems like a fair trade, right? I guess it depends. In Lindsay’s case, she really doesn’t watch much television, so it really didn’t phase her. However, if she was a TV hound, it probably would have been a heavy hit to the heart.

Similarly, when my husband and I were considering purchasing our condo a few years ago, we factored the cost of exercise into our decision. The building had a gym, which was fully included in our maintenance fee. Further, the gym was relatively robust, offering a decent amount and variety of cardio equipment, free weights and nautilus, not to mention, a lap pool. We felt the maintenance fee was a bit on the hefty side, but we rationalized that we were technically saving about $100 to $200 a month because we didn’t have to pay for two gym memberships.

Okay, great. So in essence, we didn’t really have to sacrifice. Or did we? Here-in lies the wrinkle: Our gym doesn’t offer anything other than equipment. It is completely a “Do it Yourself” type of facility, with no services or classes.  So, if either of us want to partake in classes, it is an added expense to our budget.

To be honest, for the better part of three years, this didn’t really bother me. In the last six months, however, I’ve started to feel the pain. For the New Year, I have resolved to start incorporating serious flexibility training, such as Yoga or Pilates, into my exercise regimen.  And now, I am faced with the dilemma of paying potentially $100 – $200 a month to do so (I’ve done the videos and haven’t felt that they have been very beneficial). So much for my $100 – $200 dollars in savings!

So, is it worth it? Do I spend the $100 – $200 a month on classes? Do I cough up the bucks, or what? On one hand, it is really difficult to rationalize this added monthly expense. After all, we have a great gym right at home. On the other hand, I have to say, it is definitely worth the sacrifice. Whether or not this seems to make sense to you, my husband and I have come to realize that the convenience of the gym in our building, in actuality, is worth WAY more than just a gym membership. Here’s why: convenience:

  1. The gym is NEVER closed
  2. The gym is NEVER ‘out of the way’
  3. We NEVER have to drive or spend money on gas to get to the gym
  4. We NEVER have to lug gym clothes to and from work
  5. We NEVER have to shower in nasty gym showers
  6. We NEVER have an excuse as to why we CAN’T exercise

To me, these qualities are priceless. Having the ability to conveniently exercise regularly is like having a health insurance policy: The more we exercise, the more likely we will be healthy.  The more healthy we are, the less likely we will have to spend a lot on medicine or medical bills (knock on wood).  Therein saving more money in the end.

All of this made me wonder: How do we evaluate what is an appropriate amount of money to spend on fitness? What sacrifices are we willing to make, especially in these times of financial hardship? If a choice needs to be made, some individuals may forego traditional gym memberships in lieu of packages at studios that offer high-quality, specialized fitness classes and programs. On the other hand, individuals may choose to take mediocre yoga and/or pilates classes because they value the variety that a full gym has to offer. Lastly, there are people like Lindsay who will give up a ‘nice to have something’ so that they can pay for the fitness classes they love. In the end, it seems most of us sacrifice something to stay fit.

So, my question to you is, what are you willing to give up for fitness? Further, what do you find most important in evaluating the worth of your purchasing decision around memberships, classes, etc.?

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Fitness Tagged with: , ,