It’s Time to Get Back in Shape (after 18 months away from the gym)

I haven’t had a decent workout for over a year and a half and it’s time to get back to the gym. I used to go to the company’s gym at lunch 3-5 times per week and it really helped me manage stress. When I became a stay at home dad, I was planning to do my bodyweight workout whenever we went to the playground. This didn’t work out well because we just don’t get to the playground consistently. I never got a good workout in at the playground anyway because RB40 Jr. always wanted me to play with him.

Now I’m out of shape after spending so much time with the kid. (Sure, blame the kid…) My weight has gone up a little and I’m definitely getting plushy. It would be nice to get leaner and going to the gym will also give Jr. a chance to socialize with kids at the gym’s childcare facility. The only disappointing thing so far is the lack of wifi. I was hoping I’d be able to work on the blog a little bit after a workout, but that’s OK. I guess they don’t really want people hanging around at the gym.

How much is this going to cost?

Gym Cost

I joined 24 Hour Fitness earlier this week to take advantage of their Thanksgiving offer. This is their Loyalty Reward program for the 300+ clubs.

  • Initiation Fee: $24.99 (normally $49.99)
  • Monthly Dues: $26.99 (normally $34.99)

From what I read, you should join a gym before New Year. Everyone will want to get into shape with the New Year and the gyms won’t need to offer a discount. Before Thanksgiving is probably the ideal time to sign up, but there might be some discounts coming in December, too.

Child care cost

  • $5 per drop in OR
  • $20 per month

I opted for the monthly fee. If we go at least once a week, it will be worth it. I’m planning for 3x per week so wish me good luck there. In the grand scheme of things, $20 per month is ridiculously cheap for childcare/babysitting. Let’s say we go just 10 hours per month, that’s about $2 per hour. You can’t even get a petsitter for that much. This will give us a chance to be away from each other a little bit and it will be good for both of us. The daily time limit at the Kids’ Club is 2 hours.

Parking cost

Ugh… Unfortunately, we’ll probably have to pay to park once in a while. Their parking lot is small and the gym is pretty busy. One hour of parking cost $1.60. I have been to the gym 3 times so far and had to pay once.

Fitness goals

Luckily, my scale provides the BMI and body fat percentage reading. It will make keeping track of these things easier. Here are my goals.

Weight (Goal: 132 lbs)

Current weight: 137 lbs

I weighed around 132 lbs when I left my job last year so I gained 5 lbs in 18 months. That’s not good because I lost muscle and just gained a bunch of fat. The main purpose of going to the gym to gain lean muscle mass and get leaner. I don’t think I’m going to lose much weight, so I’ll just set a goal at 132 lbs. Actually, I won’t be too upset if I end up at 135 lbs at the end of 2014.

Body Mass Index

body mass index chart time to get back to the gym
BMI chart from Wikipedia

My BMI has always been in the high end of the “normal range.” It’s not really a big deal to me actually. I’m not going to worry about this one too much. It is just tied to the weight anyway. Current BMI = 23.5.

Body Fat percentage (Goal: 17%)

Current Body Fat percentage: 19.5%

get back in shape body fat percentage

This is the one I want to focus on. 19.5% is not too bad, but I’d like to get into the mid range of the ideal chart above. This chart is from the maker of Accu-Measure Body Fat Tester. The caliper is only $6 from Amazon (12/01/13) so if you don’t have a body fat scanner, it can be an affordable option. Another option is one of these hand held gadgets pictured below – Omron Body Fat Monitor. It’s a bit more expensive at around $35, but it’s really easy to use.

omron body fat measure get back in shape
Wow, what a coincident. This reading is almost exactly my current measurements.

I’m not sure how difficult reducing body fat will be because I have never tracked this before. It seems like 2.5% is quite a lot to lose. That mean I’d have to lose about 4 lbs of fat and gain back that much in muscle mass. We’ll see how long this take.

2014 Fitness Challenge

I had been going to the gym since I was in college and I miss it. It worked well for me and it’ll be good to get back into it. The plan is to go 3x per week for an hour each time. I’ll do cardio for 30 minutes and then free weights for 30 minutes. I’m looking forward to this challenge although it will increase our monthly expense. It will be worth it if I can go consistently and get back in shape. In the past, I never had a problem getting to the gym, but we’ll see how it goes next year. I already went a few times and I’m sore all over. The long 18 months layoff wasn’t good at all. I’m sure all stay at home parents with little kids have a difficult time with fitness too.

What about you? Do you have any fitness goals for next year?

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

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50 thoughts on “It’s Time to Get Back in Shape (after 18 months away from the gym)”

  1. Joe,

    Nice! I wish you the best of luck with the fitness goals.

    I got rid of the gym membership a while back in the name of frugality and saving as much as I could. However, I found that I was not nearly as motivated to work out at home and outside as I was at the gym. My fitness suffered for a bit and I quickly started going back to the gym and spending the $30. I’m now in some of the best shape of my life. I look at the $30 like cheap health insurance and cheap entertainment all in one.

    Best wishes!

    • Thanks! Great job getting back into shape. $30 is a cheap price to pay for being fit. We just have to be choosy about when to be frugal.

  2. We were members of Golds for a year and I loved that gym, but the shopping center it was in was sold, and they moved locations and it was too far from my house. So now we are members of 24 Hour Fitness. The gym is ok, but I like Golds better. But, its a great price and its close.
    Never tried their child care–I hope it all works out well for you!

  3. Sounds like a good situation, with a reasonably-priced gym and incredibly cheap childcare. Good job! And, best of luck meeting those goals, if you can retire early you can succeed here too.

  4. Being healthy is one of those things I feel strongly about spending money freely on. What’s the point of a hefty bank account if you are in poor health? Personally I fail at doing at-home workouts so I have to have a gym membership and it’s definitely worth it for me. Good luck getting back in shape!

  5. Good luck with your workout goals! I had a gym membership previously, but I ended up being better about working at when I just did it at home, so I canceled mine – but I understand that’s not an option for everyone. As long as you use your membership, I think it can be worth it.. your health is one of the most important things to invest in!

  6. I rock climb twice a week and run twice a week, but I’m on the front end of early retirement. I hope I don’t have to pay for a gym membership! My climbing membership is about the same as your gym membership and you can take your kids climbing if you have a family membership. Always a thought. I love it and don’t feel like I’m ‘working out’.

  7. The gym sounds like a great deal when you factor in the babysitting costs. Write a note somewhere you see it daily to remind you to go to the gym! That’s my new strategy: write it big and bad and somewhere very visable! My goal is to get my six-pack abs back. I’ve already started (why wait four more weeks?!) I personally like working out at home, but I don’t have kids that I have to entertain so it’s just easier for me. I bike three or four days a week (though it’s a short distanced to work) and have added in The Shred four days a week (a 20 – minute high intensity workout). On top of that, I’m on my feet almost six hours a day, so that counts, right? Good luck with the gym!

    • 3 times a week is enough. 🙂
      In the past, I never had problem sticking to a schedule so I think it will be fine. I never had a 6 pack though. Good luck!

  8. RB40,
    I have a 22 month old that would not go into a gym daycare. He can sniff out the possibility of Mom or Dad leaving him and he loses it. Hopefully with time that will change. We are hoping to start him in pre-school at 2.5 years. I commend you for getting back into working out. Kids really hamper that. I swim laps in the summer 2 days a week and I love it. But I really have to squeeze that time in. The winter I have a few places to swim, but the motivation is more of a challenge. Sometimes chasing around my boy will have to suffice!

    • That’s how our guy used to be too. He couldn’t handle preschool at 2.5 year old, but he was able to deal with it at 2.75. It’s pretty amazing how much progress they make when they’re young.
      We went to the pool all the time in the summer, but I couldn’t swim much because I had to supervise him. We’ll enroll in swimming class next spring. Good luck!

  9. I used to belong to a gym! I created a home gym about 14 years ago. I think it is important to model activity for your children by walking or exercising. You can involve them or not. We used to take walks with our children when they were in carriages or as they got older. My wife and I still take walks together.

    • I’m terrible at working out at home so I think I’d better stick to the gym. We take a lot of walks together too. It’s a good way to unwind.

  10. My diet leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately I am in construction and work physically hard for most of my 8 hour shift. 20,000 steps per day is pretty routine, on top of shovelling, raking, hammering, and sweeping. So despite the crap I routinely put in my body, I stay fairly lean.

  11. I find that financial and physical fitness have a LOT in common. The hard part is that for some people, eating too much isn’t a problem when spending too much is, and vice versa. One thing I did this year was create an accountability group with money attached. I had 4 people in it, and every six weeks we set new fitness goals. If we didn’t achieve the goals, we each contributed a set amount to the pot. After 3 rounds, we’d tally up and see who won. I had everyone submit weekly status reports to keep the goals on everyone’s radar. It was fun and a great motivator for me.

    • Wow, that’s great. You have friends to help you stay motivated and have a fun time too.
      I like going my own pace though so I don’t think I can get into a competition like that.

  12. Joe, no matter how you slice it, the overall cost of the gym is made up for by the hours of cheap babysitting. Assume you go 12 times a month (3 a week), and pay for parking once a week, you are sitting at a total cost of $53.39 per month. Given the 12 visits, and 1 hour of babysitting a trip, your getting an hour of babysitting and separation for $4.45 per hour. Pretty dang cheap, plus you get a great workout in and the mental break.

    Good luck with the physical goal next year. Provided RB40 Jr. maintains his ability to hang out in child care while your working out, I wouldn’t see any reason why you wouldn’t accomplish your goal.

    • Yeap, that’s what I was thinking. Jr. is up and down. Today, he only lasted 45 minutes so I don’t know… I think he’ll keep adjusting and hopefully he’ll be able to stay for 90 minutes soon.

  13. I’ve been going for about two and a half months now after not having been on a workout routine for years. So far it’s pretty good. I’ve switched focus a few times but I now have a routine I’m comfortable with, and I’ve lost about six pounds, which is halfway to my initial goal.

  14. Joe, I’ve been getting flabby ever since working at home again. I am going to join our boxing gym this week, thanks to your post. I have some sort of new wrist issue so I won’t actually box at all until I get that checked out by a doctor, but I can still use the machines, freeweights, basketball court, etc.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants!

  15. Sounds like a great deal especially considering the cheap childcare option. It will be nice to get out of the house and hopefully you will stay motivated to go regularly. It’s been a very long time since I had a gym membership… I got free weights and a bench around 10 years ago and have been working out at home ever since. Always hated those recurring fees and having to go somewhere to do my work out and even more so now with full time work and a kid. If I were in your situation I think I would definitely consider a gym membership just to go somewhere else besides the house and get some adult time without the junior. Good luck!

    • Working out at home doesn’t work for me. I just can’t sustain a home program. Going to the gym works much better in the past.

  16. I’d recommend the Withings smart body analyzer Wifi scale for effortless tracking of your weight and BF. Using calipers is much harder than you’d think. Bioelectrical Impedance doesn’t give very accurate measurements in absolute terms, but it’s good for measuring progress. As long as you measure at the same point in time every day (e.g. upon waking up) and look at averages over a period of time rather than individual readings you’ll get a good overview of where you’re heading. The scale is much more expensive than the Omron, but it’s convenient since it automatically uploads your data and you can keep track of everything through an app. So it’s a big time saver and since it’s so easy, you will do it consistently.

    I would supplement this with measuring your chest, arms, waist, hip and thighs every other week or so. Tape measures don’t lie: if your waist measurement is going down and your arm measurement is going up, you can be pretty sure you are building muscle and losing fat even if the scale says you haven’t lost any weight.

    • Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check it out on amazon.
      I’m not very concern about measurement. I can usually get a good feel by just looking at my gut…

  17. I know there is this debate about a work out at home vs going to the gym… going to the gym has one additional advantage – change of scene and it forces you to go out! Very important especially during winter months.

      • I agree you should do what works for you best especially if you know you can stick at it.

        Personally I can’t stand gyms and prefer just popping out 5 minutes of press ups etc.. Once or twice a day and occasionally going for a run, which gets me some fresh air and clears the mind. The best part is that it’s free of course 😉

        Couldn’t do that with a sprog in tow though so sound like a winner with the childcare option, in your situation!

  18. It’s a great idea to use the gym’s childcare for a couple hours at a time. If you could find a quiet place to write you would get a few extra hours of productivity a week. How’s his new daycare going anyway?

    • The new daycare is going very well. He likes going to preschool now and that’s really nice.
      I think 90 minutes would be perfect at the gym. I can work out for 60 min and write for 30 minutes.


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