Getting in Shape is Money Well Spent: Make an Investment in Your Health


Getting in shape usually isn’t free.

There could be a way to make it free, or even turn it into a revenue generator. You could get a paper route and wake up at five every morning running from house to house throwing the daily news into people’s flowerbeds. I’m not sure how much paperboys get paid, but I think it would more than offset the cost of running gear. It’s just a thought.

Gym memberships cost. Healthy food costs. Workout clothing and running shoes cost. Personal music players cost. Good personal trainers cost a lot. So does yoga.

It’s all worth it.

I’m not saying you should let your kids starve or send them to the lost and found bin for new clothes, but this is a financial investment that you won’t regret.

Think of it this way: Exercise is your hobby, and hobbies cost money. This is not some pain-in-the-ass endeavor that is going to just suck dollars out of your wallet; it is something awesome that you like spending money on. Do you play golf? Think about how much that sport costs. Or how about owning a boat? Those things cost a fortune to buy, run and maintain. I once heard that a boat is a hole in the water that you pour your money into.

Compared to golfing and boating, getting in shape should be pretty affordable. Also, if you do eat out a lot, and like to imbibe in alcohol, then changing your diet can come out as a financial wash. It’s an unfortunate truth that healthy food often costs more than processed crap at the grocery store, but restaurants are much more expensive. Booze is expensive too. If you cut down on the restaurant eating and give your liver a break it could even out accounts and be better for your health.

One thing I don’t recommend is dropping a fortune on expensive supplements. I once did an undercover mission at a supplement store to find out what the salesman would advise I take to build muscle and lose fat, and the recommended monthly bill totaled $500, which is pretty close to what you would pay if you follow the supplement recommendations of the inadvisable Body for Life program.

I’m not a fan of pills and powders. Eat real food and save your money.

Gym Memberships
These can range in price from affordable to outrageous. They can even be free if you happen to work at a place that provides a nice one for employees. If that is the case then I hate you.

If you decide to join a gym then price is one of the important factors for evaluating which gym you choose to workout at. However, it is important to understand that this is going to be a place where you will spend a lot of time, so you want it to be somewhere you like and feel as though you can fit in. If you hate going there then this is all a wasted effort. All other things being equal go for the less expensive place of course, but it could be worth paying more for a gym where you get a positive vibe about the environment or if it is in a more convenient location.

All this stuff costs money:

  • Proper running shoes (note that they wear out and need to be replaced regularly)
  • Other running attire
  • Gym clothing
  • Bicycle
  • Inline skates
  • Downhill and cross country skis and related equipment
  • Team sports equipment
  • Squash / tennis racquets
  • Yoga mat

You don’t have to get the best gear, the fastest bike, or the fanciest clothes, but having something of good quality that makes your exercise experience more enjoyable has a positive effect on motivation. I know people with $5,000 mountain bikes. Mine cost $800 and I love it.

Lessons / Personal Training / Fees

  • If you want to learn a new sport, like tennis or karate, you’ll likely need to pay an expert to teach you to do this.
  • When it comes to weight training, hiring a qualified personal trainer at the beginning stages is a must.
  • Things like downhill skiing, joining a team or Pilates classes all have fees associated with them. Budget carefully.

I don’t want to encourage you to go into debt in order to accomplish this. How you manage your money is your business. I will tell you that getting in shape is a worthwhile investment, but it’s one you have to follow through on. It doesn’t work if you just spend a bunch of cash on equipment and memberships if you end up never exercising. You have to use the stuff.

Getting in shape helps you achieve the following goals:

  • Improve your looks
  • Get healthier
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Improved feelings of wellness and boosted self-esteem

All of which is pretty awesome. However, it can do other things like make you more successful in your career. Did you know that, on average, better-looking people get paid more? Also think about the sense of accomplishment you will have. I have reported time and again that getting in shape is not an easy undertaking. By succeeding at this you will have a strengthened your will to succeed in other areas of life. It is possible that getting in shape will give you the determination to go after and achieve some big promotion, or perhaps launch your own business. You never know, this may end up being the catalyst that makes the rest of your life more successful.

James S. Fell is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a middle-aged family man with a desk job and not much free time, yet he’s able to keep in shape because he loves exercise and doesn’t mind eating healthy. He is the author of Body for Wife: The Family Guy’s Guide to Getting in Shape. He focuses on weightlifting, running and exercise motivation.

Editor’s Review:

I think this article makes a number of valid points. Weight loss is expensive, but most foods and vices (fast food, alcohol, coffee) are pretty expensive as well.

It took me about a year to learn to treat it as a hobby, and once it becomes a hobby, on a per use basis, it becomes pretty inexpensive. A gym membership at $50 to $70 a month works out on a per-use basis to less than a Starbucks coffee.

I think the personal trainer approach is really helpful if you’ve never worked out before. Even a few sessions will teach you how to use the equipment and to avoid injury as you embark upon your journey. Shoes are really important to.

I found that starting out with the elliptical as an “opener” to weight loss was the most effective way to start — low impact, good cardio.

Diet is driven by “grazing”, eating throughout the day, and keeping a diet log. Even if you don’t write down calories (I never did), just writing down what you are, in fact, eating (and not eating) is really helpful.

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