I’ve had a gym membership ever since I was 15 years old. As a high school sophomore, I decided that I’d had enough of being a scrawny little weakling so I made my mom sign me up for the local 24 Hour Fitness. It wasn’t like I really needed big muscles to run cross country or play volleyball but I did want to be a little more in shape.
I was a pretty financially savvy kid at the time too so I convinced my mom to pre-pay three years in full. That way, I would get a rate of $99/year for the rest of my life. Now that’s a hedge against inflation right there if I’ve ever seen one 🙂
What It’s Like Now
Fast forward 10+ years and I still work out in spurts, but to be honest, I would much rather play some beach volleyball or go surfing than sit in a dark and sweaty gym for an hour with a bunch of other dudes. Add in the fact that I pay so little for my membership, less than $9/month, and it’s pretty much made me take for granted the fact that I have access to a gym.
I’m still pretty good about staying active: I play all sorts of sports, go on hikes, bike around, etc. but I don’t really go to the gym as much as I should.
Lack of Motivation
I enjoy working out but there are A LOT of other things I would rather do. If I have a workout planned for after work, just about anything can throw me off my game: happy hours, Monday Night Football, etc. For me, it’s generally a problem of motivation to get to the gym.
I’ve been blessed with good genes (this is a huge part of staying in shape if you ask me) and I eat somewhat healthy, so it’s not hard for me to stay in decent shape. So whenever I notice that I’m gaining a little weight, or my wife starts calling me ‘fatty’ a little more often than normal, I know it’s time to hit the weights.
(I despise running for the sake of running by the way.)
What Can A Personal Trainer Do?
I actually enjoy the feeling I get after a workout but it’s hard to motivate myself to go. That’s where a personal trainer can help big-time. PT’s are great because they motivate you, keep you on a specific schedule and you have to pay for them. There’s no way you’re going to cut your workout short if you’re paying $50/hr for it.
That’s one of the main reasons why I think so many people use them. You don’t really need someone to plan your workout for you. You could do it yourself online in about 5 minutes or just make it up as you go along.
My Workouts Kind Of Suck
I know there are lots of people out there who can go to the gym, hit it hard for an hour straight and then go home. But I’m not one of those people. I know that I need to work out and I like the feeling I get after a work out, but it’s just hard for me to do it on my own.
My workouts lack creativity and I’ve even been known to do a few sets of bench press and call it a day. Most of the time though, I’ll stick to working the chest, bi’s and tri’s and if I’m feeling adventurous maybe even do a few sit-ups. So like I said, my workouts lack creativity and they’re not all that efficient either.
So how can I make my workouts a little better but at minimal cost?
The Expensive Options
I think personal trainers work great, but they’re pretty expensive. I figured there had to be better ways to get a great workout but for less, even for people like me who are lazy and lack motivation. My next stop was the crossfit type classes. Again though, some of these classes cost as much as my year long membership to 24 Hour Fitness, so that wasn’t going to work.
My Solution: Find A Friend
The best solution I could find was also one of the simplest and most cost-effective: find a friend. Over the past few months, I’ve been working out with a friend 1 to 2 times a week and it’s been great. It’s fun to work out with someone you know and it’s also a lot easier to push yourself since you don’t want to seem like a wimp in front of your friend. There’s no leaving after 20 minutes because you’re tired, that just wouldn’t be very manly.
Since we plan when and where we’re going to work out, it’s also tough for me to cancel on him. If I do cancel, I need to have a really good excuse. I rely on him to motivate me on those days I don’t really want to work out and he does the same with me when he doesn’t want to work out.
Solo Workouts Are Still OK
I don’t have as much fun working out by myself but I definitely still do it from time to time. But here are some strict guidelines that I need to follow:
- First Thing I Do: I like working out right after work during the weekdays, but on the weekends I have to work out first thing in the morning if I’m going to work out at all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planned on working out after I get some work done or after lunch, but that never happens! I usually just end up at the beach.
- Lunch Time Work Out: My company provides some pretty nice workout facilities on site so I try to work out during lunch 1-2 times/week. It’s also nice because it forces me to bring a lunch (which is healthier/cheaper than going out) and it’s the perfect break in the day. Work always seems to go by a lot faster when I workout during the middle of it.
- No Detours: My job isn’t that physically demanding so on certain days I like to workout right after work. The only problem with this is that if I don’t go straight to the gym, I likely won’t make it at all. As soon as my butt hits that couch and I start to sink in, there isn’t much chance of me getting up again. So if I want to work out after work, I always bring my gear with me in the car so I can head straight there. No detours.
Readers, what do you think about the solution to my ‘working out’ problem? Do you think it’s ok to stay active by playing sports, hiking and biking? Or does a good physical fitness regimen require that you go to the gym at least once or twice a week?
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-Harry @ PF Pro
Lance @ HWI says
I had free gym memberships for my job being in TV as a reporter. Just one of the perks of the job is they want you to stay in shape. I always wondered about a trainer and finally just wanted to try it out. Man, that guy killed me. I had worked out for years, but he pushed me so hard. I didn’t know my body could go through so much. You never push yourself as hard as someone else. I did it for three months. I believe it was 10 sessions and one of them was a food session. It was fun, but I couldn’t afford to do it all the time…nor do I need to be a body builder like he was…fun experience.
Harry Campbell says
Nice Lance. Yea no doubt these guys are good at what they do and will definitely give you a better workout than you will ever give yourself. But it’s tough figuring out if it’s worth it or not? I’m just too damn cheap haha but maybe one day when I make more money and have less time, I will be wiling to pay for it.
I think the basis for working out and getting your self in peak shape can come from self motivation… No Trainer needed… I have been racing in Triathlon for 5 years now. Anything from Sprint up to Ironman and I can tell you when I am motivated in a race mode my workouts are killer.. I do quite a bit of my own crossfit during the week and focus on my running and cycling on the weekends.
I’ve talked to many friends and fellow competitors who were using a training and they are most always not in the shape and condition that I am.. I think people look to use them as a way to hope they will really get in shape and unless they follow their trainers instructions and workouts fully it just isn’t going to work.. and they are wasting money.. They could of get mind warped into thinking its going to help them.. but the bottom line is you can’t pay someone to work out for you.. YOU HAVE TO WANT IT!!!
I’ve never done personal training for money though I probably should… I have helped a few close friends and I break them down make them cry and puke and die… Then help shape them for a stronger future. It is a fun especially when people are willing to listen to you and take your advice. You can see some people change in a matter of 6-8 weeks.
The key to a work out if you want to better yourself is to have a PURPOSE!! otherwise you are just exercising and not reaching for that next higher rung on the ladder.
That’s a pretty nice gym deal you have.. I think I was getting mine before I moved to SoCal for about $14 / mo. and it was full service with yoga and spin classes, pool, racquet ball courts. These can be highly desired in climates where it is below 0 in winter and lots of snow and ice.. Here in SoCal I think my bike, tennis shoes, and freeweights are going to get me thru just fine..
Frequency is important also.. 4 days a week minimum, but I like to get in 6 and just have 1 day off.. Staying fit for life’s activities makes it more fun!!
Harry Campbell says
It sounds like I don’t want it bad enough, there are just so many other things I’d rather do. My knee injury has really hampered me over the past few months so my POV may be a little skewed. But we’ll see how things go in the upcoming weeks, already did a nice tough hike yesterday and yoga tmw, bball on thursday, maybe throw in a surf session mid-week too so lots of stuff to keep me active. Just gotta find some time/motivation to hit the weights!
Sometimes we need a trainer to motivate ourselves to get in shape so it’s fine to pay for it. But of course it really depends on you. If you believe you can do without trainer then much better so that you can save money. I had fun reading and many great tips here. Thanks for sharing this article.
Mrs. Frugalwoods says
I actually haven’t had a gym membership in about 7 years (because I’m cheap!) but I’m in great shape. We have a weight bench at home, which we got on Craigslist, and I lift at least once a week. Then, I volunteer as the receptionist at my yoga studio once a week in exchange for free yoga classes. These classes are key for me–they’re 90 mins of hot power yoga, which kicks my butt every time. I certainly wouldn’t do that much on my own! I love the motivation of the teacher and the class in general. I also walk the dog, hike, and have a standing desk at work. So, I cobble together my workouts every week 🙂
Harry Campbell says
Haha would you pay for one if you could get it at $8/month like I do? That’s a good trade-off with the yoga classes, I really like doing those classes but they’re just so damn expensive. Each class is $10-$15 in my area and that’s more than my monthly gym membership that includes everything including yoga classes.
But if I did pay more for yoga, then I’d probably be more willing to do the classes haha, what a Catch 22.
Love the volunteering for the yoga classes!! I attended a hot yoga gym for a couple of months while it was intro pricing as it was $140 a month to keep going normal pricing and that is way too much for me. However, their instructors and classes are top notch like none other I have ever been to.. but I am trying to save money not spend it!!
Thomas @ i need money ASAP! says
Hey Harry! Personal trainers are great, there’s no doubt about that. But I find them too expensive. I like your suggestion to find a friend. What I’ve also found works well is building exercise into your daily routine. I started biking to and from work about 4-5 years ago now. Its been great because I save money on transportation and get exercise at the same time. Win-win!
Harry Campbell says
Sorry your comment was in spam jail. That’s a good idea actually, I’ve been climbing four flights of stairs every day after lunch in my building and taking the elevator back down. It’s a surprisingly good workout and I still can’t do it without being out of breath at the end, even after a couple weeks!
Jason @ Phroogal says
I echo everyone’s sentiment that personal trainers are useful but on the expensive side. However, I do think paying someone for their expertise is more beneficial for long term success. I kind of relate it to paying for an executive coach who push you too.
Now, working out is always so much more fun with someone who has way more experience and interest to push oneself.
Harry Campbell says
That’s a good point but in today’s day and age with the wealth of quality information available you can get some pretty good advice/info for free. Personal trainers might disagree but I bet so would a lot of financial advisors! haha
I had a personal trainer for awhile and it did cost a good chunk of money, but it taught me a lot. She was also sort of a nutritionist for me!
Harry Campbell says
That’s a good reason too. But I think the biggest obstacle is motivation. If you have the motivation there are some awesome resources like Youtube and even better Instagram actually. Health & Fitness and Healthy eating/cooking is blowing up on IG right now!
[email protected] says
I agree with Jason. Having a personal trainer to guide you and whip your butt in shape is worth spending your hard earned money. There are indeed great resources out there but we always tend to procrastinate if left on our own.
Harry Campbell says
Yup, it definitely makes you want to get your money’s worth.