This “Way to Save Money” hits close to home because both my wife and I have a gym membership at Bally Fitness. It only makes sense that we can get our exercise at home by running around the neighborhood, doing exercise tapes, pushups, situps, etc., and even buying a small weight set. In fact, we visit the gym less than once per month on average.
But let me explain why we’re keeping our gym memberships. First, we only pay about $25 per month for both of us. However, that special price came at a high cost as the first 3 years of our memberships cost us $100 per month. The first year, I was at the gym about 3 times per week to life weights, use the elliptical and especially to play racquetball. The usage during the second and third years decreased dramatically as we dealt with our wedding, our first home, job changes and other stresses. In 2006, though, we used the gym about 2-3 times per week to train for the marathon for 6 months.
So right now, we’re basically donating $25 per month to Ballys, or $300 per year. We often talk about going to the gym, and even though there’s a Ballys about 2 miles from our home and also Stacie’s work, we seldom go. But the biggest deterrent to canceling is the relatively low monthly cost. We could never get another gym membership for $25 for both of us, and the Rockville gym has a track, racquetball courts, a pool and hot tub (but you’ll never see me in either), and loads of cardio and weight equipment. Heck, we can barely buy a new treadmill for $300! It’s all right there for the taking, but we consistently fail to take.
And that’s the essence of this way to save money: cancel the gym because the vast majority of us never use it. In our area, and many others, a gym membership costs at least $30 per month with a $100+ “initiation fee”. More likely you’ll be spending $40, 50 or even $70 for a monthly gym pass, and you’ll be locked in on a 1, 2 or 3 year contract (like we were). You could get a barely used treadmill off Craigslist for a few months’ membership costs, and a set of weights for another 1-2 months cost. Heck, we got our treadmill next to a dumpster 3.5 years ago and it still works fine!
There are other workout alternatives in most urban and suburban areas (and even some rural areas) that are much cheaper than a standard gym, or even free. Try out the YMCA, or see if your local college has a month-to-month rate for town residents. Some community centers have aerobics classes for $10 per month, or if you don’t want your local community seeing you in your tights and thong a la Jane Fonda, your local library should have some VHS/DVDs you can borrow. I know our Comcast OnDemand has new workout programs every few days.
And if all else fails, just run, walk, bike or crawl around the block a few times. Just make sure you wear some clothes this time because I didn’t appreciate seeing all “that” last time. You know who you are…
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