Smart Financial Decision or Big Mistake (Quitting the Gym): The Spouse Off, #6

by Broke Professional on March 1, 2011 · 21 comments

The Spouse Off“The Spouse Off” is a weekly  feature of brokeprofessionals.com, where every Tuesday (in this case Wednesday) Mr. and Mrs. Broke Professional will debate a different personal finance topic in 250 words or less each, and will then have a chance at a rebuttal, in 100 words or less each. The winner will then be declared based upon the comments made by you, the readers and will be calculated every Thursday at 7:00 p.m., (eastern time). The winner will be announced in the follow weeks “Spouse Off.” Last Week Mr. BP won for the first time, cutting Mrs. BP’s overall lead to 4-1.  Can Mr. BP make it two and a row and stop the constant taunting from Mrs. BP?  Or will he be resigned to another week of confidence crushing rhetoric?  You decide, this week, in the Spouse Off #6.

For this edition of the spouse off, the question is: Should the Average Person Join the Gym or Work Out from Home?

I. Opening Remarks: Mr. BP: Against the GYM

Growing up I considered gyms an unnecessary luxury.  Losing around 100 pounds with the help of a gym changed my mind.  I did not have a personal trainer and I did not join a fancy gym.  Still, I still paid around $400.00 to $500.00 a year, but I figured that was a small price to pay for the health and financial benefits a gym membership could provide.  Then I decided to experiment and quit the gym, and guess what: I have kept the weight off for over two years even without a gym membership.

Why?  Because what matters is you and your motivation, not where you exercise.  If you need a gym to motivate you then that is great.  You will of course have access to a more diverse selection of equipment at a gym.  You may also be motivated by the money you spend on a gym, but then again, how many people pay their monthly gym memberships each month without actually going to the gym, as if it is some sort of “out of shape” tax?

NFL great Herschel Walker, one of the most physically fit athletes of all time has always utilized a workout that consisted almost entirely of running, push ups, and sit ups.  Of course some people are motivated by the gym “experience”, and if that is the only way that they can stay in shape then I say go for it;  it is better to pay some money to a gym now rather than potentially face expensive health problems later on.  That said, the gym is not necessary so long as there is a team sport to play, a road to jog, a simple weight under your bed, or some strenuous yard work to be done.  For people who have physically demanding jobs the need for a gym becomes even less obvious.

To summarize: the only thing that has gotten heavier since I quit the gym is my wallet.

II.  Opening Remarks: Mrs. BP.  A Gym is not a Waste of Money

No, a gym is not a waste of money.  Yes, you are putting out money to exercise but you are also using that money to support a healthy lifestyle, which in the long run will save you money. Being active and maintaining a healthy weight will reduce your medical bills as you get older.   Gym memberships can range in price and often you can find a reasonable marketing promotion when signing up. Typically rates will go up as the promotion ends but I’ve often found you can negotiate your way back to a reasonable price.

Many argue that you can find suitable exercise right in your own neighborhood.  They suggest running and walking because they are free.  However, as I have shown numerous times, I don’t feel the financial obligation to “stick” with the walking as I do with going to a gym that I am paying for.  Also, a good gym offers so much more than cardio such as extensive weight equipment, exercise classes and personal trainers.  The entre gym experience can produce a sense of community and inspire you to continue attending.

For me there is a motivating incentive to socialize with my husband and/or friends while getting in shape. Asking someone to stay in great shape without a gym is like asking someone to put an addition on a house without power tools. In the end you are paying to workout, but you are also paying towards a healthier you.

III. Closing Statements: Mr. BP – The Gym is Unnecessary

I agree that maintaining a healthy weight and staying in shape will reduce medical bills.  That said, gyms are a rather modern invention, and obesity is a growing problem in the modern world.  If people took the time they spent at the gym and instead did yard work or another strenuous project around their house, then they would save money and accomplish more on multiple levels.

Most people only use the treadmill at the gym anyway, and some simple weights are not that expensive or difficult to store.

Mrs. BP  mentioned “personal trainers:” now you are talking about a potentially large financial expense.  Unless you’re a professional athlete or training for the olympics I have no idea why an ordinary person would think that spending money on a luxury such as a personal trainer is anything short of an egregious waste of money.  Some fresh air might do us all some good, and today team sports are easily found for people of any skill level or age.

I conclude with this: you know what’s not good for my long-term health?   All the stress associated with yet another unnecessary monthly bill.

IV.  Closing Statements: Mrs. BP: Gyms Are Necessary

Though I do agree with some of Mr. BP’s points mentioned above, I maintain that the vast majority of “exercisers” out there need a specific place to go in order to feel motivated and to see a program through.  Also, the mindset that you are wasting your money if you do not go to the gym that you prepaid that month is a big motivator for many people.  Now it does not have to be a fancy health/fitness spa, but any decent local/town gym can provide enough incentive to help those of us who need that extra push out the door each day.


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Travis @DebtChronicles March 1, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I’m not sure you’ll have a clear cut winner this week, friends. You both have very valid points. Mr. BP has proven that he has the motivation to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle without a gym membership, whereas Mrs. BP believes she needs a gym membership to get that motivation. Different people need different things to push them to be in shape. Fortunately, most gyms would offer single memberships, so that you could pay for a membership for just the Mrs.

I personally support the gym membership. It is one of the extras that my wife and I make a priority to keep. Not only does it motivate both my wife and I to exercise and stay in shape while offering a ton of activites that we enjoy (spinning, variety of equipment, raquetball, basketball, strength training), but it also has an awesome facility for our kids to be active in as well with trampolines, mini golf, dodgeball, batting cages and more. It also has an indoor pool for winter, and and outdoor pool for summer.

To us, it is more than just a place to go workout….it is a part of our entertainment budget.

Good luck in determining what is best for you!

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2 Mr. Broke Professional March 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Travis,

Good to hear from you! I think this is going to be a little controversial this week, because people tend to take the gym issue pretty seriously. Like most things in personal finance, a lot of it does depend on what each individual person brings to the table. That said, you have to look at the amount of money spent for that “inspiration” and see if it is necessary. It sounds like your guys place has a lot going on and that it is great for the whole family. The gym we belonged to was very basic. The great thing about gyms is that there are a lot of different options and that prices have been decreasing in most places. Thanks for checking in, I will be counting it as a tie although Mrs. BP may contest that.

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3 Mrs. BrokeProfessional March 2, 2011 at 9:05 am

I never thought of the gym as a place that would provide entertainment for the entire family. That’s great that your children are able to enjoy that experience along with you. On a side note: a tie? really Mr. BP? Ok…I’ll give that to you for now. hehe =)

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4 Trish Dauterman March 1, 2011 at 11:32 pm

I really enjoy the Spouse Off posts. A lot.

Mrs. BP wins my vote this week!

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5 Mrs. BrokeProfessional March 2, 2011 at 8:57 am

Thanks Trish! We enjoy writing them and I enjoy taunting Mr. BP (all in good fun). =)

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6 Philly area March 2, 2011 at 11:19 am

I’m not voting this time because this question is too personal. The important thing is to stay healthy. We dropped our gym membership last year and bought a $2000 elliptical. It hasn’t paid for itself yet. I personally prefer a gym membership because it can get me away from distractions in the house, including, but not limited to, children. I may go back this summer.

Can you get and remain healthy without a gym membership? Absolutely! But is a gym membership the easiest, least stressful way to get/stay in shape? Sometimes. If that’s the case, then it’s probably better in the long run to keep the membership.

In dire financial circumstances, gym memberships need to go, even for people who find them truly helpful. For them, it’s kind of like letting in Ramen Noodles and Kraft mac n cheese when you can’t afford healthier options. So, if I voted, I suppose it would be with Mr. BP, although I tend to agree with Mrs. BP.

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7 Squirrelers March 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm

This time, my vote goes to Mrs. BP.

Gym memberships don’t have to be expensive these days, and they can offer good enough facilities to provide an excellent workout and keep you in good health. As I’ve gotten older, I can tell you that it’s easy to let this slide a bit when you don’t work on it. Keep up the workouts, you’ll be happy you did later. It’s worth the modest investment, unless you already have great workout machines at home. Most people don’t of course!

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8 Pete March 2, 2011 at 12:56 pm

We have done both – been a part of a gym, and done the workout thing at home. For me I found that having the equipment at home meant that I had no excuse not to exercise. I couldn’t say – “oh, i don’t want to drive all the way to the gym tonight”, or things like that. The gym was already at our house. Also – since we got the Xbox Kinect and Your Shape Fitness video game – I’ve found working out to actually be fun.

So – you both make great points – I think it really comes down to personal choice – and what will work for the individual.

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9 Mr. Broke Professional March 2, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Pete,

I never realized that the XBox could be used as part of a suffcessful exercise routine, that is really neat. I guess we should have picked a topic that was less reliant on personal preference. As always, if anyone has any ideas for future spouse offs, please let us know.

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10 Philly area March 2, 2011 at 6:15 pm

How about if you should pay cash or finance a car? Have you done that one yet?

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11 Mr. Broke Professional March 2, 2011 at 7:32 pm

no, but that sounds like a really good one to do. (although I know where I stand).

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12 retirebyforty March 2, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I’m using the company’s gym. I don’t have to pay a thing!
Once I quit working, I probably will join a gym nearby. I’ve been using the gym for years and years and would really miss it if I don’t go.

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13 Mr. Broke Professional March 2, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I wish my job had that fringe benefit.

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14 Molly On Money March 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I’m with the Mr. on this one. I was an avid indoor runner until I wanted to save some cash. Going outside to run turned out to give me so many more options. I could run when I wanted and didn’t need to travel far (like the gym) to do it. At one point I kept a pair of shoes in the back of my trunk and if I had an extra 30min. I’d take a run. The winter does get cold here but the great thing about running is you get a sweat up pretty quick.

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15 Mr. Broke Professional March 2, 2011 at 8:31 pm

glad to have someone on board. Mrs. still has a 2-1 lead. I like running in the winter better, but the New Jersey winter is never too bad.

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16 Living the Balanced Life March 5, 2011 at 11:38 am

I have a treadmill at home, but I am more motivated to workout at the gym. Not a waste of money for me. Hubby doesn’t work out at all, gym or not, so he doesn’t count, lol!
Bernice
Change what you can, accept what you can’t

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17 101 Centavos March 6, 2011 at 9:38 pm

A couple years ago I would have agreed with the Mrs. Since having had to quit indoor soccer and switching to home workouts, I like having the extra $60 each month. So the vote goes to Mr. BP.

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18 Mr. Broke Professional March 6, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I already lost this one, Centavos, but I will take it as a moral victory! By the way, thank you again for that awesome guest post during the blog swap, I feel bad mine was not so great over at your site, I had something going on that night if you recall and sort of messed it up. I owe you a good guest post in the near future.

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19 101 Centavos March 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm

No problem, I thought you did OK. We don’t need a formal swap to trade posts, anytime.

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