At Springboard, when we start working with a new client on a Debt Management Program, one of the first things the counselor does is evaluate the list of debts the client has, along with their monthly payments. One of the most amazing things we see is the number of people who are paying between $40 and $60 a month and literally getting nothing in return.
And we’re not talking about the interest they’re paying on their credit card debts. While it may feel like you get nothing for that money, in reality it’s the price you pay for the privilege of spending money you don’t have.
What we’re talking about is the monthly payment people make for their health club memberships. For the most part, the people we see are legally obligated for this payment and they rarely, if ever, use the health club’s facilities.
One of the most important pieces of advice we can give, if you’re already locked into one of these memberships, is that if you’re going to make that kind of monthly payment, at least go work out once a week or so. This is said not to be sarcastic, but to help you gain a better appreciation for the money you spend. There’s nothing more demoralizing than writing that check if, at the same time, you’re out of shape and getting no exercise.
Now we’re all for people being in good physical condition, and we know that exercise is good for your health. However, if you are considering joining a health club, you may want to consider re-thinking your plans. Getting into the routine of going to a gym takes real commitment, and if you’re not ready to make it, perhaps you can save yourself some money and work out at home.
For under $20, you can walk into any bookstore and purchase a guide on working out at home, and the equipment you need can usually be bought for about the same cost as a monthly payment at that club you’ve been eyeing. A combination of sit-ups, push-ups, light weights and aerobic dancing will work just as well for free at home as it will at the health club. You’ll look and feel better, and you’ll have one less monthly payment.
If you should decide to join a club, don’t be controlled by slick advertising. We can promise you that, if you’re like most people, simply joining the fancy health club will not automatically give you rock hard abs like the models in their ads have. Realize that slimming down and feeling better is a more reasonable goal that will also result in improved quality of life and better health as you grow older. And that can be accomplished anywhere, without joining the most expensive club in town.
Shop around and visit a few different places. They’ll be happy to let you look around at the facilities, locker rooms and showers. And most important, compare prices. You’ll probably find one or two places that have the same equipment for a much lower price than the rest.
Also, many clubs are offering month-to-month memberships because they know people are a little wary of signing long-term contracts. This type of arrangement may be a little more expensive on a per-month basis, but it will give you the opportunity to see how committed you are to an exercise program. If, after a few months, you feel confident that you’ll stick with it, then look into a longer membership.