It’s that time of year again. Everyone making New Year’s Resolutions to “get in shape once and for all!” It is no wonder January and the months following are a big months for the fitness industry business! However, then comes the hard part: sticking to the resolution for longer than the average American. In the U.S., eighty percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February, according to U.S. News and World Report.
How can you avoid being a statistic? For most people the biggest factor in succeeding when it comes to sticking to a fitness routine is the enjoyment level of the activity. It is quite simple: if you enjoy the activity and see results, you will continue to do it.
But how do you know which workout environment will appeal to you? With the dramatic rise of boutique or indie gyms, the big box gyms have serious competition. There are significantly more options than ever before in helping to find a fitness routine that works for you!
Unless your activity of choice is walking or running outside, where the only cost involved is a new pair of sneakers, getting in shape can come with a price tag. The thought of comparing every barre, yoga, pilates, cycle studio, CrossFit and Orangetheory gym location is enough to deter even the most serious fitness buff. It would take weeks and a spreadsheet just to compare the costs.
There is always the possibility of buying gym equipment to use at home. The options are endless. Do not let too many choices keep you from deciding, though, as evidence shows that people who exercise are more successful in the workplace. Getting in shape lowers Body Mass Indices (BMIs), decreases the risk of chronic diseases (diabetes and heart disease), saves costs on health insurance, and increases income over a lifespan.
Before calling around for prices and tours, weigh your options. Consider this simple question: “Do I get bored easily?” If the answer is yes, then when looking at boutique gyms, pay close attention to the variety of classes offered. Many locations offer the same type of class at the same time of day, every day, and that can spell B-O-R-I-N-G very quickly. Boutique gyms often come with a triple-digit monthly membership fee, so be sure to calculate how many classes per week you would like to take before joining. For some, a punch-card or drop-in option may mean a more financially sound decision.
You may want to consider joining ClassPass, where members pay $79-$99 monthly to take unlimited classes at participating fitness studios in their area. The price tag is significantly lower than the $20-$35 individual class rate at many indie gyms, and there is a huge variety of workouts on offer. Tip: Always ask for a free trial class before signing a contract, as most studios are more than happy to offer them to prospective members. If you are not feeling energized and excited after your first experience, keep looking.
[Editor’s Note: For more on this topic, check out “Being Fit and Healthy Starts with Weekly Meal Planning,” and “Does Balancing Your Health and Finances= Wellness?”, both by Mercedes Holmen.]
For novice fitness enthusiasts who get bored easily, big box gyms often provide the variety in a one-stop-shop experience to getting in shape. Just remember to ask a few important questions before signing the membership contract and forking over a big joining fee. Some of the questions you may want to ask are:
There is nothing more discouraging than showing up for a workout class only to be told it is full and then staring down intimidating weight machines hoping someone will come and rescue you. With membership fees starting at $25 a month, the big box gyms are much more affordable than indie gyms, but that is not the only thing that matters.
Will the low cost mean that when you miss workouts you do not feel guilty? Countless people every year pay for gym memberships they do not use, you do not want to be one of them. Does the gym require a yearlong contract? Is the gym so crowded at the time of day you will be using it that you will have to wait for equipment, making your workouts take longer? Smaller price tags can come with intangible costs, so take a moment and reflect honestly before jumping in.
Having workouts with a social component provides accountability as well as fun on your fitness journey. While many big box gyms claim to offer that personal connection to every member who walks through the door, the reality is most are unable to reach the level of personal service that boutique studios can offer. Studios tend to have lower membership numbers, making it possible to get to know their members and oftentimes studio owners are favorite instructors. The social component provides accountability and motivation to get to the studio. It is hard to put a price tag on that!
A fitness craze that has come and gone over the years is the at-home workout option. (A word of caution: if you are easily distracted by ‘to do’ lists this option is not for you.) While super convenient, every year most of the home gym equipment purchased does nothing more than gather dust for months only to be re-sold. If you are interested in purchasing at-home gym equipment, make sure you are committed to doing the workouts before investing thousands of dollars. Another option may be to look online in order to purchase ‘gently used’ equipment.
Unlike Chuck Norris’ total gym or Sweatin’ to the Oldies on VHS, some home workouts are no longer done alone. Many well-known fitness experts offer apps with pre-loaded workouts, or low-fee subscriptions to online routines. These apps are a very inexpensive way to see if working out at home is for you! While the Peloton Bike comes with a hefty price tag, you can stream classes live or on-demand, so you’re never riding alone! A NordicTrack Treadmill comes with pre-loaded workouts or you can choose to customize your own.
Many fitness enthusiasts choose to take a hybrid approach to staying in shape. By combining a big box gym with individual classes from a boutique studio, they create their own unique and exciting fitness journey. Opting for a punch-card at the boutique gym they create accountability while saving money and avoiding boredom; the big box gym provides a low monthly fee bringing together the best of both worlds. Another hybrid option is purchasing home gym equipment and then dropping in on classes at a favorite fitness studio. This option requires the most discipline and commitment in order not to fall by the wayside.
It is impossible to put a price tag on your health and your body. Ultimately, the right workout for you is simply the one to which you will stick. So, if it costs you an extra hundred dollars a month, but you are committed to the workout, enjoying it, and seeing results, that investment in your body will pay dividends for years to come. Take five minutes and ask yourself some questions and then lace up your sneakers for a healthier, wealthier 2019.
Mercedes is a business owner and Executive Consultant with Rodan + Fields. In addition, she works in the field of behavior analysis for children with autism and their families, specializing in preschool aged children. She also has her Masters in Science from University of California at Davis.
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