January and February are over, and hopefully you’re still going to the gym at least a few days a week. Even better, maybe you’re achieving your weight loss or strength training goals. Going to the gym is a great way to stay active, get healthy, and even socialize. Unfortunately, far too many people pay for gym memberships and then never (or rarely) actually go to the gym; if this describes you, consider a budget workout instead.
Many people keep their memberships active because they sincerely plan to go, but doing so can still be a waste of money. Even those who regularly go to the gym face several financial challenges as soon as they set foot in the gym. There are many different ways you can waste money simply by falling into the trap of believing that you need more services, or you deserve a special treat. Here are five ways you might be wasting money.
1. Membership misuse
Obviously, paying for your membership and then rarely going is a waste of money. Yet according to an NPR article, gyms are designed to accommodate fewer people than actually have a membership. In addition, many gyms lock people in to a yearly membership; members will sometimes convince themselves that if they pay for a year then they will actually go so that they can get their money’s worth. If you’re paying month-to-month but you still don’t go, then you are still wasting money.
Besides not attending, you can misuse your gym membership in other ways. Some members go simply to socialize. While exercising is a great way to socialize, if you’re able to hold a steady conversation for a long time, you may not be working out as intensely as necessary. Also, if you go to the gym and you spend more time using the free Wi-Fi than actually working out, you’re not making the most of your monthly payment.
2. Snack bar frenzy
Most gyms have a snack bar or smoothie area. Most gym snack bars are loaded with healthy options, and the snacks provided can help you gain muscle; however, these snack bars are extreme examples of impulse buying at its worst. If you go to the gym four times a week, and you buy a $5 smoothie twice per week, you are spending about $40 per month just on smoothies at the gym. You would be much better off buying a protein powder and making smoothies or shakes at home (here’s a great list of different powders and when you should take them), or packing an energy bar in your gym bag. It all comes down to convenience; if you want an easy snack and you don’t pack it yourself, you’re going to pay for it.
3. Expensive child care
Some gyms offer child care as part of the family membership fee. If you like to work out and you have kids, then these gym packages can be a great deal. However, other gyms charge fees for every child you bring with you while you’re at the gym. The costs vary widely across the country, and some gyms charge a fee per hour, while others charge a flat fee each time you come. If you’re already paying a monthly gym fee, and then you have to pay each time you bring your kids, you should find a way to work out without bringing them along. Early mornings while your spouse is sleeping and can be home with the kids, during your lunch break, or while your kids are in school are just a few options.
4. Personal training
Personal training isn’t necessarily a waste of money. A personal trainer can help you if you need to get in shape fast, or you really need someone who knows what they are doing to motivate you and keep you on your toes. However, many of the exercises that a personal trainer will teach you are taught in group strength classes. Many gyms include these classes as part of members’ monthly membership fee, so you will save a lot of money if you go to several of these classes each week instead of hiring a personal trainer. The cost of a personal trainer varies, but your price will probably depend on whether you want one-on-one sessions, if you are open to online training sessions (but if you are, you can simply use YouTube or other video sites for free), and on the trainer’s credentials.
5. Outfit envy
In some ways, going to the gym is like going back to high school. Often there are a lot of very attractive people who are working to become even more attractive. Many other members might have expensive name-brand exercise outfits that look great, and they might exercise in expensive shoes that you can’t help but envy. There’s something appealing about having nice clothes to exercise in; feeling confident can help you be more comfortable. At the same time, if you’re spending loads of money just so you can compare to the guy lifting weights right next to you, then you’re wasting money at the gym.
Instead of worrying about the name on your clothes, try to find the best clothes for your workout. According to Men’s Health, breathable materials can limit your body odor, reduce chafing, and help handle sweat.
If you can go regularly enough to make the monthly membership fee worth it, then going to the gym can be a great way to stay in shape. Just make sure you don’t waste money once you get there!