Thursday, December 6, 2012

Finances and Fitness, part 2

Yesterday, I gave everyone some ideas on how to get fit without spending much money. Today, I'd like to share another one. If you're like me and dislike winter, you may want to look for a place to run inside. Treadmills are great, if you have a good place to put them. Buying one will be cheaper than a gym membership after a year or two, depending on the cost of the gym considered, how much you'd spend in gas getting to that gym and how often you use the treadmill at home. You can make the treadmill more affordable by using it as a desk, something I wish I had at work.

For those of us who can't get a treadmill because we're in an apartment, a gym membership may be the best answer. A standard gym membership will be at least $30 per month with a contract length of a year. Most health clubs have an initiation fee in addition to the monthly fee. If you live in a larger city, that monthly fee will probably be closer to $60, if not $100. The corporate gym that's closest to my job and has a location near my apartment would have charged me $45 per month, after my employer's discount. $400-$1,200 for a year of fitness is a luxury I can't afford.

I have found cheaper health clubs, though. The YMCA charges less than the discounted rates my job afforded me. In my hometown, their membership rates are about 20% cheaper that the other health clubs. Most locations of the YMCA have swimming pools, something not all health clubs have. Additionally, the YMCA is a charity that provides health and fitness services to children who might not have that any other way. I took swim lessons at my hometown YMCA, at no cost to my family.

For me, the YMCA wasn't really conveniently located, but the local park district had a fitness facility at the park across the street from the shuttle I ride home every day. The membership for the park district health clubs was even lower than the YMCA, too. I splurged and bought the GOLD membership, which lets me work out at every park in the city that has a fitness center. This cost me $82 for three months of access. That's less than I paid for a gym membership in 1993.

I will admit that the health clubs that cost $100 a month do have some really nice features not available for $27. The more expensive clubs may also have newer machines with private TVs. On the other hand, no one is using the park district health club as a singles bar. I have to bring my own towel, but I don't have anyone trying to sell me tanning or supliments. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. If $100 per month is within your budget and you like the amenities that provides, please don't let this discourage you from joining. I just wanted people who think all health clubs are outside their financial means to realize there may be something they can afford.

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