Staying Fit On A Budget Part One

If you’re like me, exercise is an ugly four-letter word. Getting in shape, however, is an important and necessary part of staying healthy. So, how do we accomplish this task with little to no money? The simplest solution is to take up jogging. At the most you might have to splurge on a pair of running shoes. And if you’re a dog owner, your pet can benefit from a good run as well.

Now, this method costs absolutely nothing to start, but the problem we run into is the weather. Even diehard jogging enthusiasts that get up at 4am every morning might find it difficult to run in a torrential downpour or a foot or two of snow. Another problem is that jogging does virtually nothing for our upper bodies. These situations force us to look towards other means to exercise indoors. In this perspective we dive into an ocean of get-fit-at-home tools or taking up a membership at a local gym. Once the decision is made to invest in exercising at home or going to a gym we then have to decide which is better, for your body and your checkbook.

The latter is first easiest to examine. Later this week, we’ll take a look at in-home exercising methods and cost. For now… Nearly every gym is the same. As a prospective consumer, our job is not to figure out who has the best equipment because every gym is competitive; you’re not likely to run into the problem of being unable to find your favorite workout machine.

Instead, our job becomes one of finding a gym that has reasonable cost of membership, is clean, and perhaps not overly populated. Also, if you’re a woman, you may consider a women only gym as an option. Through painstaking research (I say painstaking because, as it turns out, gyms are very tight-lipped when it comes to prices. Gyms like to get people in the door before relinquishing their prices as a way to keep you there. If you’re already there, it makes it more difficult to say no to their prices even if it’s expensive.) I discovered the majority of gyms get you coming and going.

First, let’s weigh some of the pros. By going to a gym we are exercising not just our bodies but our social networking. Oh yes, social networking; we are out and about and mingling with others with a shared interest. This, in turn, provides motivation. Granted, it’s not someone standing behind you with a cattle prod, but just knowing someone else is trying to get in shape can often nudge us to do the same. To take that a step further, many gyms also offer the added benefit of a personal trainer. Folks, sadly, that’s where the positives end.

Unfortunately, the gym circuit pales in comparison to working out at home in regards to cost. After having researched five popular gyms, both national and local, the average monthly membership runs anywhere from $30.00 to more than 5 times that amount. There are several factors that must be accounted to determine the exact price: location, type of gym, amenities, length of membership, how many members, age, health, diet. The list goes on and on. And remember, this is something that must be paid monthly or via some other revolving account; whereas home equipment or video, etcetera is a one time purchase. Plus, you have to consider if the gym membership is considered a binding contract or something you can quit anytime. Like the mafia, you may find it difficult to break your connection to the gym. Then, if you are a moderate exerciser versus someone that does it everyday, are you getting your money’s worth from a gym?

In the end, you might simply be one of those people that absolutely must work out at a gym or you wouldn’t have the motivation to exercise otherwise. If that’s the case, start by researching amenities; if you’re paying for membership you might as well get everything you need/want. Keep in mind, the membership price is in direct relation to the number of bells and whistles included in that membership. Beyond that it’s only a matter of location and type of gym. Do you want weights, machines, yoga, or dance for example? Taylor your needs; find the gym that fills those needs, and sign up. Price wise, you’re looking at minimal difference between competing gyms. As with anything in life, always read the fine print to know what you’re getting into.