Weight Loss and Gym Memberships

Well the time has come to join a gym. Being an athletic person in high school and college, my weight since joining the "real world" has fluctuated way too much. A couple of years ago I did the Atkins diet, and lost 40lbs. only to gain 40 of it back after I went off of it. After a year gaining that weight back I decided to go try a new diet. This was overall healthy system of eating called The Abs Diet. The Abs Diet is a diet designed by David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men's Health Magazine. In two months I lost about 15 pounds and felt good....then it all went down from there. During one of my biggest projects that I complete every year, my boss went into the hospital and had surgery. Needless to say, the entire project fell on me. I was pulling 70-80 hour work weeks (norm is 50-60) and began eating fast food and junk because I felt that was all I had time for. Once the project was complete, I never got back on track.

So now I am overweight and want to do something about it! I am going to go back on The Abs Diet and my girlfriend is going to try it for the first time. This should help immensely because having two people doing it at the same time keeps you both in-line with the goals of the diet. Soooo...the big question is...why join a gym and what does this have to do with Personal Finance?

My girlfriend and I would like to join a gym to get some fitness activity going in our lives. We realize that you need some cardiovascular excersice, combined with some weight lifting to properly tone your body and turn fat into muscle. In relation to personal finance, I have made the decision that this is so important that I will be diverting a small monthly fee to working out, instead of using that money to pay down debt. Hey, Sound Mind, Sound Body...and let's add Sound Money!

In my area, there are only two gyms within walking distance. One is a medium sized chain of gyms that are very, very nice. The other is a small, one location gym that has become quite popular. The costs compared like this:

For a 12-month contract (not a loan like at Bally's) for a couple's gym membership
Small Gym: $125 enrollment fee, $105 monthly couple membership fee.
Medium Chain Gym: $200 enrollment fee, $129 monthly couple membership fee.

The Medium Chain Gym, which is 3 stories tall and much nicer than the small gym, includes free admission to their classes (yoga, pilates, spinning, etc.), and a bunch of savings because of the building I live in. This included cutting the enrollment fee by over half, first two months free, and a free personal trainer session to put you on to a fitness regiment.

The first two months free basically removed the enrollment fee, but was it worth it to each pay $12 more a month to join the nicer gym? Well, seeing as winter will be soon approaching (think 30 degree fahrenheit days) and the small gym is 8 blocks away and the nice medium chain gym is only 2 blocks away, we chose the Medium Chain gym. What does this look like from a personal finance angle:

Total Cost for 1 year at Small Gym: $1,385
Total Cost for 1 year at Medium Chain Gym: $1,490

That's about $100 more per year, which would be about $50 more each for my girlfriend and I...I can handle that for the closer...and nicer gym.

Special Note: If you don't have a spouse or partner, most gyms will let you sign up for a couples membership with a friend or roommate and this will save you a lot of money in the monthly membership fee!!

Do you have a gym membership? Approximately how much do you pay a month? Would you recommend joining a gym to others?


At 9/12/2005 04:12:00 PM, Blogger ncnblog said...

Hey, I too am just re-starting at our local gym. Cost 30 bucks a month. Basic stuff: small sauna, free-weights, machines, bikes, etc. We live in a small town, but the gym is pretty nice. Good luck, and I have blog-rolled you.

At 9/12/2005 06:48:00 PM, Blogger SimpleKind said...

I live in a small town so this maybe different. I go to a community center, which has everything a YMCA has. A membership is twenty five dollars a month. With a membership you get a designated locker. You can pay per visit two dollars at the door. The limit is two hours gym time, but they don’t enforce it. I’m friends with everyone now. I participate in basketball games, weightlifting competitions and other things. There are always free lockers if you bring your own lock. I don’t go as much because I’m working so much now. I didn’t know how good I had it until I read your post. There is also “Bulldogs gym” in town. I think membership is thirty a month.

At 9/12/2005 06:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clark Howard says:
• Don't sign long-term contracts for health club membership or pay for more than 30 days in advance. Month-to-month deals are much safer.
• Consider joining a YMCA or other community center in your neighborhood.
• Don't fall for "free membership" contests that are really sales pitches.
• Take the contract home with you and read it thoroughly. Don't sign the contract at the club.
• Get any promises made by the sales-person included in the contract, or they don't mean a thing.
• In most states, you have three days from the day you sign a health club contract to cancel with no consequences.
• If you finance your membership and the club closes, you have no further obligation to pay.
• If you think a particular club may suit you, call the appropriate consumer agency in your state to check for outstanding complaints against the club. Tour the facility and ask questions.

At 9/19/2005 05:55:00 AM, Anonymous Josh Cohen said...

Getting on track at a gym is really difficult. I've been trying to do it for the past couple of months, and it's not working.

My gym costs about $30 per month if I pay a year in advance. However, last time I renewed, they were doing two years for the price of one. Naturally, I re-upped for two years for the price of one -- to save the money.

But I'm not going. I don't know why. I just don't have the discipline.

That's really what we need. Not gyms, but self-discipline.

At 9/19/2005 06:24:00 AM, Blogger Financial Fruition said...

ncn and ostrauder, I wish I had the community center/ymca less costly options. But living in a major metropolitan city I don't have one of those near where I live.

anon, thanks for the tips.

josh, self-discipline is definitely the name of the game. You have to make yourself go or its not worth it, for the wallet or your health! Good luck.

At 9/19/2005 08:44:00 AM, Anonymous Chris in Maryland said...

I find spending my own money for fitness memberships to be an incredibly powerful incentive to workout. When I use to run outside instead of going to a gym, I'd barely manage three one hour runs a week, but now that I'm a member of a gym in my office ($12 every two weeks), and another near my home ($600/yr), and a member of a Kendo club ($155/quarter), I work out 12 times a week for a total of about 21 hours/wk. Whenever I think about skipping a workout now I think about the money that I'm spending, and I find the motivation to go.


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