Dumb Money: The Gym

by Kevin on January 14, 2008

Chandler: Oh yeah, gym member. I try to go four times a week, but I’ve missed the last 1200 times.
Ross: So why don’t you quit?
Chandler: You don’t think I’ve tried? You think I like having 50 dollars taken out of my bank account every month? No, they make you go all the way down there! Then they use all of these phrases and peppiness to try and confuse you! Then they bring out Maria.
Ross: Who is Maria?
Chandler: Oh Maria. You can’t say no to her, she’s like this lycra spandex covered gym…treat.

Thanks to the writers of Friends, we can kick off what I hope becomes a regular post that we’ll call Dumb Money. Simply put, these posts revolve around dumb money moves that are keeping you from getting out of debt. Keeping you from moving forward with your financial life. Sort of like Dave Ramsey’s stupid tax.

Physical exercise is a great thing. Staying in shape should help your finances down the road because you will be healthier. Exercising creates endorphins which puts you in a better mood. All around, exercise is a good thing and I’m not knocking it. In fact, I need to do more of it.

I am knocking paying $25 or $50 per month to let someone allow you to exercise.

What does a gym offer that you can’t do at home?

  • Equipment? You can get by with the basics.
  • Special showers? No; at least not that I’m aware of.
  • Convenience? What is more convenient than your house or apartment?
  • A warm space in the winter or cool space in the summer? If you work out at home, it will be heated and cooled just as much as the gym down the road.

In regards to equipment, you don’t need a treadmill, elliptical machine, or stationary bike. Some basic equipment you can use at home: tennis shoes and dumbbells. Of course the shoes are to jog/run outside. You don’t need fancy $100 running shoes either — I use tennis shoes I’ve had since high school. I’m 23. (Again, I’m not a fitness expert, but these work for me.)

Dumbbells are surprisingly diverse … you can work a lot of different muscles with such a simple tool. Judging from a quick Google search, you might expect to pay $1-2 per pound per dumbbell. So your $25/month gym membership would buy you two 10 lb. or one 20 lb. dumbbell in the first month. That would keep you busy for the first month, and you get to keep them! The next month you could buy additional weights, or save for something larger; in essence building your own home gym.

On top of jogging and dumbbells, you can do push-ups and crunches. All for free. In your living room. In your underwear (blinds closed, please).

Just like any other service provider, gyms want to entice you with “free” benefits — especially this time of year. It’s New Years resolutions time, so sign up now and get three months free! Or free spa treatments in your first month, or, or, or…

$25 per month is $300 per year. $50 is $600.What if you put $50 towards your debt snowball, emergency fund, or retirement account?

So don’t be Chandler. Suck it up and quit the gym!

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I just noticed Flexo at Consumerism Commentary wrote an interesting article in 2007 about the gym: 10 Things Your Gym Won’t Tell You.

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