Paycheck Chronicles

Gym Memberships Need Good Math


Most of us want to be healthy, and being healthy usually involves exercise.  Depending on your favorite type of exercise, it may require the use of a gym.  If your base gym doesn't offer the services you need, or you are not near a base, then you'll be looking at civilian gyms.  Expensive, aren't they?

Most of us think of gym use in terms of memberships, but nearly every gym offers a daily rate for people who don't want a membership.  Daily rates for gym usage can be expensive:  $10 or $15 per visit is not unusual.  However, many people find that paying daily ends up being less expensive than purchasing a membership.

The hardest part about figuring out whether to purchase a membership is accurately estimating how often you'll actually go to the gym.  realistically, very few of us work out as often as we think we work out.  Plus, we all have times when injury, travel or life interferes with our regular schedule.  Sure, you might think you work out three times a week, times 52 weeks a year, but it is probably more like once or twice a week, 40 or so weeks a year.

Our family has recently fallen into this trap.  It's been years since we've had a gym membership, but our current base doesn't have a pool.  As a result, I spent a ridiculous amount of money purchasing a gym membership last fall.  We've used it maybe twice.  Even if we went three to four times a week for the rest of the term, it still would have been cheaper to pay the daily fees.  I think.

As always, I'm about keeping prices down.  If you are convenient to a military installation with a gym, please start looking there for the best place for you to work out.  After that, see what your local community offers.  Some gyms offer "off-peak" memberships that might be great for certain schedules.

If you choose a gym membership, be sure you understand all the ways to get the most out of your membership.  Take advantage of all the opportunities that come with membership.  Use that sauna!   If you are injured or travelling, check to see about suspending your membership.

Exercise is important, and gyms can be a great way to get your exercise.  Just don't break your budget making it happen.


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