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Why I Pay Money to Go to the Gym


Why I pay money to go to the gymUgh… I am sick this week. RB40Jr got a cold from school first and passed it along to me. That’s the thing about daycare and school, kids are always sick. Actually, this year has been pretty good. This is only the second time we got sick and it’s almost the end of the flu season. Anyway, I’m still going to hit the gym this week. My 2017 fitness plan is to go to the gym whenever Junior is in school. This is a very good habit and I intend to go to the gym as long as I can get out of bed. I’ll just take it easy this week. Some physical activity is much better than staying at home all day.

Today, I want to talk about why I go to the gym to exercise. As our regular readers know, I’m a very frugal guy. Why pay money to go to the gym when I can work out at home or just go outside? Let’s go over some reasons why going to the gym works better for me.

Work out at home

In theory, I could work out at home and save $300 per year. In fact, I worked out at home for 2 days when my gym closed last month due to a safety issue. For those 2 days, I exercised with my bodyweight and I didn’t need a lot of equipments for that. At home, I did a bunch of pushups, squats, lunges, crunches, and jumping jacks. The only major omission is pull ups. I’d need to get a pull up bar, but they are relatively inexpensive so no big deal.

This sounds good in theory, but it won’t work due to a couple of reasons.

  • Our place is small for 4 people. We live in a 2 bedroom condo and the place is already full. At the minimum, I’d need to get a pull up bar and a few sets of dumbbells. That’s not a lot of equipments, but we really don’t have any space for more stuff.
  • I probably could not exercise consistently when I’m at home. I had a nice pull up tower and some dumbbells at our old house and I never worked out at home. It was very difficult to motivate myself to exercise when I’m home. There are way too many distractions and I prefer to do fun stuff at home. It is possible I could train myself to exercise at home, but I really doubt it.

Exercise out door

What about exercising out door? There are a lot of options. You could run, bike, or play sports with friends. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for me either because…

  • I can’t sustain a cardio activity due to a genetic condition. I can run/jog for just a few minutes before blacking out. This exercise intolerance condition is the result of mitochondrion disease. I could walk and lift weights, but running, biking uphill, and team sports are out. I have to pace myself when I do physical activity. Actually, my condition is on the mild side of mitochondrion disease.
  • We live in Portland and it rains for 8 months out of the year. A lot of people run and bike in the rain in the Pacific Northwest, but I’m too soft for that. Walking to the gym in the rain is about my limit for getting wet.
  • I tried exercising outdoor when I first became a stay at home dad. I took our kid to the playground and work out a bit there. It didn’t stick, though. Junior wanted me to play with him and I usually can’t get a good work out in. We walked a lot, but that wasn’t quite enough.

Going to the gym

I like going to work out at the gym and I enjoy seeing my progress. My goal was to do 15 pull ups (video at the end of this post) and I’ve done that. Now I’m shooting for 20 by the end of the year. This one is going to be tough, but I think I can do it.

max pull up chart

As for the cost, the gym membership really isn’t that expensive at $26/month. I have been going to the gym about 20 times per month so it is just $1.30 per trip. That’s dirt cheap in the grand scheme of things. Consistent exercise will improve my health and $26/month isn’t expensive at all. It’d be a different story if I get to the gym just once or twice a month. Then, I’d have to figure out an alternative.

Exercising at the gym works for me and my policy is to stick with what is working. Actually, blogging about getting fit this year really helped too. I don’t know why, but blogging improves my stick-to-itiveness a ton. Everyone should have a blog. Here is my tutorial on how to start blogging and why you should.

So that’s why I pay $26 per month for a gym membership although I’m pretty cheap with other stuff. Exercise is very important and most of us don’t get enough. I’ve read about other bloggers who work out at home and I think that’s great too. You just have to do whatever works for you.

What about you? How do you exercise? Do you go to the gym or prefer to do something else?

This video was taken in March. I started off pretty good, but the form deteriorated toward the end. My form is better now. I’ll take another video at the end of June and share it.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 89 comments… add one }
  • Michael @ Financially Alert May 11, 2017, 12:24 am

    Sorry to hear you’re sick, Joe! My kids passed around an annoying cold through our house a couple weeks ago.

    I’ve never had a gym membership. I don’t know that I’d be motivated to go even if I were paying someone, but if it works for you then it’s a great win.

    I have found paying for tennis classes gets me to go regularly. So, it’s similar in that regard. I guess I like chasing around a little yellow ball more than lifting weights or manipulating machines. 😉

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:21 am

      I think doing sports you like is a ton better than going to the gym. It is a lot more fun. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me. How often do you exercise? That’s the question I have with those kind of classes?

      • Michael @ Financially Alert May 12, 2017, 2:06 am

        Currently, the class is once per week. However, I end up playing an additional time during the week with one of the other students outside of class. It’s definitely helped me to get back into better shape. 🙂

  • Buy, Hold Long May 11, 2017, 1:27 am

    Sorry to hear you’re sick. Sometimes you just need a space that is outside of your home so that you know once you are there it is go time! Hope it works out for you!

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:23 am

      A lot of it is mental. At home, it’s a lot harder to be productive with anything. Going to the gym is a ritual that works for me. Getting dressed, walking there, and stretching are all part of getting psyche up to exercise. 🙂

  • David Cox May 11, 2017, 2:43 am

    Hi Joe,
    I enjoy reading your posts, and they’ve inspired me for some of my own. As to exercise, I came back from a year working away from home and was overweight. After a diet, I started walking and thereafter running, and lost 50 pounds in the process. I’ve now added cycling to my exercise. The magic formula for me has been making arrangements so that virtually all my running and cycling is done with friends – without that, it would be much harder to keep it up.

    Last weekend I completed my fifth marathon, and got a new PB. It was a roller coaster run, but I’m proud with how it ended up. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post a link to my race report (please remove it if it’s not OK) http://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2017/05/11/Prague-Marathon—May-2017

    All the best, David

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:24 am

      Great job exercising and losing weight. Wow, 5th marathon. That’s awesome. Good luck with your blog!

  • Mustard Seed Money May 11, 2017, 3:26 am

    I also prefer to go to the gym. I pay $50 for a boot camp style class. Personally I like an instructor telling me what to do and having others around me push me. I normally go 4x a week so that’s roughly $3 a visit. Well worth it to me 🙂

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:25 am

      Nice job! I like boot camp too. I couldn’t go all out in those classes, but it is good exercise.

  • The Tepid Tamale May 11, 2017, 3:34 am

    (First, a note, the video isn’t there for me, just a gray circle with a dash)
    Exercise for me is a combination of outside and body weight exercises. I run or bike to work, and do a lot of my body weight exercises throughout my day at work (yup everyone thinks I am weird). I like your post, because it’s the perfect example of how not one answer is right for everyone. For me, time is one of my biggest limiting factors. With your mitochondrion disease, and the time to go to the gym, paying makes sense. People love blanket statements like ‘cancel the gym membership’. While these may work the majority of the time, you always need to evaluate the individual to see what’s best. This applies to all areas of life. Thanks for the post, and congratulations on the 15 pull ups! (I’m trusting you since I can’t see the video! 🙂 )

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:27 am

      I added the video to the bottom of this post and it should work now. Let me know if there is still a problem.
      I used to exercise at lunch time when I was working. The company gym was small, but it was good enough. It was nice because I didn’t have to pay for a gym membership. Great job running and biking to work. That’s a great way to get your physical activity in.

  • LTNickmil May 11, 2017, 3:48 am

    I am a in the military and can do 20 plus pull ups. The key is to start adding resistance. Get a belt that has a chain and start adding 5, 10, 15, 25 and eventually 45 lbs. Start slow and you will plow through 20 reps in a few months. I repeat start slow so you don’t hurt tendons and joints.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:29 am

      Thanks for the tip! I just started adding 10 lbs and it did help. I was stuck at 15 for a couple of months. Yesterday, I got to 17. Yes!

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance May 11, 2017, 4:30 am

    I’m so sorry to hear that your are not feeling we. I hope you will feel better soon. Getting sick can be such a drag.

    I’ve always had the same question about people going to the gym. Now I can see why. It sounds like a great investment in your health, so I wouldn’t sweat over it.

    I walk for almost an hour every day and consider it my workout. I know I could do more. We live in a nice residential area, so I might just run around the neighborhood. We’ll see how I feel about it.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:30 am

      Great job walking that much. Mrs. RB40 likes that type of exercise too. She likes hiking and seeing different neighborhoods.

  • The Vigilante May 11, 2017, 4:44 am

    I can see it in your case due to tight living space and your condition. But that’s a unique situation. I absolutely love my home gym and will always recommend it over far more expensive gym membership!

    Most people have a concern for motivation because that treadmill they bought 10 years prior gets no use. But let me tell ya what, when I walk downstairs and see a squat rack, barbell, free weights, hex bar, etc. – the big boy equipment – I can’t help but feel a little pumped! I spent a grand total of around $900 on the equipment (much of it on Amazon), which is steep but far cheaper than a couple years of gym memberships plus the cost (in time and money) of driving to a gym, since none are walkable or bikable from my location.

    • Grant May 11, 2017, 7:27 am

      Yeah if you can’t dedicate the space to your home gym then don’t bother. If you have to wheel stuff out from under the couch you will struggle to stick to it.

      I absolutely freaking love my home gym but I always had a gym membership before we bought our house a couple years ago.

      I know people who love crossfit and pay $150 a month and I see no issue with it. If you are sticking with your workout and getting results you almost can’t put a price on that.

      Oh, and I can’t see the video. I want to check out them pull ups!

      • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:55 am

        Yeap, even $150/month is worth it if it gets you to be active consistently.
        I put the video at the end of the post. You should be able to see it now. My form wasn’t that great, but it is a lot better now after a couple of months of being more strict.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:31 am

      Sounds like a great home gym! $900 isn’t bad at all if you use it consistently. How often do you exercise every week?

  • Jim @ Route To Retire May 11, 2017, 4:49 am

    Sorry to hear about the bug running rampant over there. My daughter’s finishing first grade and she’s FINALLY having a year since daycare/school where she wasn’t sick ALL the time. So maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel as their immunity builds up. 🙂

    This is my first year where I’ve been exercising consistently for a while now (Jan 1). For me, I have to do it at home or I would just never do it. I hate it with a passion and to have to go somewhere to do it just wouldn’t happen.

    I will say that I was just listening to Clark Howard and he talked about how all the hospitals and medical places are building state-of-the-art facilities to attract the doctors. He said that since they’re mostly dead otherwise, they generally offer dirt cheap memberships to the public at a fraction of the cost of regular gyms. But they don’t really advertise them. Might be something to dig into if you have a place close by so you can satisfy your frugality while still having a gym to go to. 🙂

    — Jim

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:34 am

      Great tip about the hospital gym. We have a medical university nearby and they have a really nice gym. It has heated pool and everything. Unfortunately, the membership is quite expensive. 🙁
      Great job exercising. How often do you exercise per week?

      • Jim @ Route To Retire May 11, 2017, 5:20 pm

        Ha! Guess that idea’s out the window! 🙂

        My exercise regiment is definitely not very impressive. Right now, all I do is fast walk a mile and half almost every day along with some push-ups and sit-ups. I’ve kept it simple since I really dislike doing it. My idea was to keep it short and sweet so I don’t give up on it and it seems to be working… better something than nothing.

        — Jim

  • Pennypincher May 11, 2017, 4:49 am

    Wow, Joe-is that you in the photo & video? You are a warrior! Impressive!

    Rule #1-when kids come through the door from school, hands get washed and those clothes come off and changed-the latter seems a bit extreme, but I swear they smell like school=germ city, so a change is in order.

    I too like to work out @ the gym, it’s a bargain and I only use it in the winter. Keep us posted on the pull-up progress! Thanks for sharing.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:34 am

      Thanks for the compliment! I make our kid wash his hands too, but not change clothes. Might be a good idea.

  • Pennypincher May 11, 2017, 4:51 am

    Ps-if you want to earn points with the teacher(s), send junior to school w/a gift of antibacterial wipes for her! Sure to bring a smile.

  • Money Beagle May 11, 2017, 5:23 am

    I’m with you. I tried working out at home a few times but the distraction factor is huge. I even purchased a treadmill and quickly found that the up front plus maintenance costs are actually higher than having a gym membership and allowing them to absorb the upkeep.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:36 am

      I thought about purchasing a treadmill when we lived at our old house. Luckily, I talked myself out of it. 🙂

  • FromUSA May 11, 2017, 5:27 am

    I’m constantly surprised by how much the human body can take and adapt to. It is truly an amazing instrument. Just push yourself. Tenacity is the key.

    I like to pose to myself physical challenges from time to time. My current goal is to do 100 pushups in a row. I tell you that is just fricking difficult. Very, very difficult—that is, if you do real pushups, not lazy ones, and do them slowly, keeping your body perfectly straight, and not use gravity on the way down.

    When I started, I could do maybe 35 and my arms would feel like they were going to fall off my body and I would be sore for days, barely able to lift them at times. Now, I am up to about 70, max. Granted, still a long ways to go to get to 100.

    The goal seemed extremely daunting at first, but now I think I will be able to make it if I keep at it. My current regimen, 4 times a day, is to do about 55 each time/each set. The thing that has surprised me the most by far is that my arms wouldn’t even get sore anymore, even after 200+ pushups a day.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:37 am

      100 pushups sounds pretty tough. I did 20×5 last Saturday and that was already really difficult for me. Actually, the last set was more like 15. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Roseanne May 11, 2017, 5:35 am

    Hi Joe,
    Sorry you are not feeling well. Kids are germ magnets and great carries of those germs. I love the idea of washing hands and changing out of school clothes. I have some equipment at home and they don’t get used very often at all. I can understand both sides of this dilemma and just suggest that you do what works for you! Just exercising, however you can, is great.

  • The Magic Bean Counter May 11, 2017, 5:36 am

    If it aint broke, don’t fix it. It sounds like going to the gym works for you and your lifestyle. Plus with exercise being as important as it is, the benefits you are getting far out weigh the expense. Keep it up RB40!

  • Dave May 11, 2017, 5:38 am

    It sounds like it is money well spent. If going to a gym is what you need to do to stay motivated, keep doing it. If you pay money for something and use it, it is not a waste.

  • The Grounded Engineer May 11, 2017, 5:52 am

    I am with you Joe – I go to a gym. I’ve tried to work out from home and I agree with the money that can be saved. However, I lack the motivation to consistently work out at home. When I go to the gym, I push myself because there are other people around me working hard – so I want to work hard too!

    I have hopped around from gym to gym. First, we were members at Lifetime Fitness (we live up in MN) and they were EXPENSIVE. Then we moved over to LA Fitness, which worked well and was cost effective. Currently, we go to the YMCA, which is double the cost per month compared to LA Fitness. However, my wife is staying at home with our little one and the YMCA includes 2 hours of care per day in our membership. My wife and I are able to get out to the gym together a few times per week – that is our bonding time 🙂

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:40 am

      I think that’s another factor. Having people around you working out helps motivate you. I was feeling sick so I took it easy this week, but I still got some exercise in. I’d given a lot easier if I was alone.
      A gym with childcare is great. We paid $20/month for unlimited childcare and it was awesome when our kid was young. That was the only time I had to myself before he started preschool.

  • Ernie Zelinski May 11, 2017, 6:10 am

    I am in London, England right now. During my first 24 hours here, I went for two one-hour intensive runs in Battersea Park. Not bad for a 67 year old, wouldn’t you say? I will go for at least one-hour run every day that I am here. When I get home, I will go for one-hour bike rides every day, just like I do when I am in Vancouver. In winter I actually run in my home for an hour each day. Incidentally, I don’t avoid going to the gym to save money. I don’t like having to spend time traveling to and from the gym. I also don’t particularly like using gym equipment.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:41 am

      You’re in great shape! My mom is 69 and she can’t exercise much at all. She just take a lot of walks.

  • Mrs. Groovy May 11, 2017, 6:16 am

    I see it akin to how some people need an office space to go to physically. The act of going and the separation from home helps prepare the mind. $300 for the year sounds super reasonable to me. I remember the days when gym memberships were much more expensive and you could only join by signing a contract.

    We work out at home and walk on a track in a neighborhood park daily. Mr. Groovy has his rings set up in the garage and a pull up bar in the house. I’ve got dumbbells, ankle weights, kettle bells, videos and YouTube. No kids to interfere – but occasionally Groovy Cat won’t leave my hand alone when I’m resting it on a chair or the counter for leg extensions!

    Good luck with your goal of 20 pull ups. Mr. G’s goal is 10 muscle-ups. He hit 9 once. Not bad for a 55-year old!

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:44 am

      Exactly! I had a really hard time working when I’m home too. When I was an engineer, I never got any work done when I tried to work from home. Blogging is different for some reason. Maybe it’s because blogging doesn’t feel like work to me.
      Muscle ups are tough! I still couldn’t do one. I read that it is hard on your rotators, though. Might not be worth the trouble. Just do regular pull ups and dips separately. 🙂

  • Full Time Finance May 11, 2017, 6:22 am

    We are definitely of the pay for gym variety, the YMCA specifically. Besides all the reasons you mentioned our gym also provides a pool, swim lessons, and free day care. We are attempting to teach our child to swim, so we need access to a pool. Also as my wife is a stay at home mom the free day care provides an ounce of sanity.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:45 am

      Pool and swim lessons are great benefits. Free childcare really helps. It was the only time I had to myself before our kid started preschool.

  • ChrisCD May 11, 2017, 6:36 am

    Our membership is really inexpensive, $15/mo. The treadmill we had for years finally died. Probably about $200 to $300 to fix or >$900 for a new one. It is easier for me to let the gym worry about maintenance and equipment.

    I have run in some pretty horrid conditions so I don’t mind running when the weather is bad, but I have also almost been hit by a car. So it is safer to be in the gym on bad weather days.

    Sometimes I can’t work out until late at night. My wife doesn’t like me running/biking around in the dark. Again, I have, but being at the gym helps her feel that I am safe.

    I don’t overtly compete with people, but in my mind I get satisfaction when 6 people have come and gone on the stationary and I am still running. Plus I see people I know and we get to talk here and there.

    But, if you can’t afford it, don’t go broke doing it. You can be plenty fit and healthy without it. For me, it is worth it.

    cd :O)

  • Budget On a Stick May 11, 2017, 6:41 am

    The wife and i just started our public humiliation program again. it was really effective when we were dating. Basically print out the calendar for the month and initial the days you work out. To keep us on a small baseline we have work out night Mondays! but you are expected to do at least once a week.

    We were really bad about going to the gym and i have really bad spring allergies so we have a treadmill in our basement. The best part is it is forcing us to read again since the treadmill is on the same breaker as the internet router causing the power to dip enough that the internet goes out when the treadmill is running! thanks 40 yr old wiring 😉

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:48 am

      That’s a great idea! Mrs. RB40 would just be mad if I do that.
      Whoa, your electrical sounds horrid. 🙂

  • Financial Coach Brad May 11, 2017, 6:50 am

    I love the IDEA of working out at home, but the reality is I don’t do it consistently enough. When I know I’m going to the gym on X, Y, and Z days – it’s on the schedule and it gets done.

    It isn’t cheap, but my wife and I have agreed that investing in our health is one of the best investments we can make.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:49 am

      Yeap, you have to go with what works. Exercising at home doesn’t work for everyone. It’s nice if you can do it, but going to the gym is a good option too.

  • Jack Catchem May 11, 2017, 7:04 am

    My wife religiously uses the gym. I’m better off just doing it at home. You nailed the crux of the matter though: do whatever it takes to get yourself to do it.

    It’s like the One Punch Man workout. Slightly silly, but there’s nothing wrong with it. If it inspires you to workout, that’s a win! Or the P90X vs Crossfit debate: in the end if you aren’t “going pro” just do whichever you do more consistently!

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:52 am

      Heh heh, One Punch Man is pretty obscure. Shows you how much of a nerd I am to recognize that. 🙂

  • Ms. Montana May 11, 2017, 7:09 am

    We both have gym memberships as well and they are a great value for us! We pay $40 a month for both of us. Plus we get unlimited childcare for $10 a month per kid. Mr. Montana has really gotten into weight lifting since he left the 9-5. He lifts for almost 90 minutes a day 5 days a week. #Hottie 🙂 We like to exercise outside but it’s hard to do that consistently with the weather here.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:53 am

      Great job! Wow, your husband is a monster. 90 minutes is a lot of time.

  • Dads Dollars Debts May 11, 2017, 7:15 am

    Motivation to work out at home is very tough. I can’t even get motivated to sit and stretch when watching tv. I think a gym membership is worth it, if you use it. It only becomes a hinderance when you pay for months and never go!

  • Steve D Poling May 11, 2017, 7:32 am

    your metabolic condition probably allows you to walk long distances. I happen to have a treadmill (i’m using it now) and a treadmill desk from which I work. so far this week, i’ve been getting 30,000 steps/day, which is relatively high. Nevertheless, this did enable me to lose 100+ pounds over 14 months–and keep it off. if you can’t afford the space that a treadmill would take up, you might compromise with a standing desk.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:56 am

      Great job losing weight and keeping it off. That’s awesome. I think a standing desk would be a great idea. I will keep it in mind when we move.

  • Mike Drak May 11, 2017, 8:04 am

    Never worry about spending money when it comes to exercising. Do whatever it takes to get you following a regular routine and always remember you can’t buy back your health if you lose it!

  • Friendly Russian May 11, 2017, 8:45 am

    I hope you’ll get well soon.
    I live in the sunny Bay Area, CA and it doesn’t rain a lot, I’d say almost never. And I can’t stand GYMs, because of the price and because it’s crowded here. That’s why I exercise in parks. All I need is a bench, parallel bars and a bar for pullups.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:57 am

      Nice! It’s not that crowded at my gym because I go during off hours now. 10 am is pretty good.
      If I live in a place with better weather, then I’d try to exercise in the park more. Enjoy you workouts!

  • SillyLily May 11, 2017, 9:02 am

    Hi dude, I don’t like gyms cuz it always smells bad there and I don’t like doing weights and running. However, I do go to the gym for yoga and zumba classes twice a week. Yes, not enough but that’s what I have time for… I am hoping when it’s summer, I can add swimming. So I guess I like to exercise when it’s “fun”. 🙂

    I picked up the book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” from the library yesterday since you recommended it. I will let you know how it goes. 🙂 Ciao.

    • retirebyforty May 11, 2017, 9:59 am

      I think that’s still really good. Have you tried Tai Chi? That’s good too, but maybe not rigorous enough. Yes, let me know if you like it. I recently realized that it might be a better read for guys.

  • Al May 11, 2017, 10:28 am

    Hope you get well soon. Developing and maintaining a good health habit like exsercise is priceless. By exercising you increase your level of health and avoid other illness.

    For me it went,backwards, once I retired my motivation to continue my exsercise regimen fell apart due to laziness. Although workout this AM at the complex Gym to get ready for my trip, until I get a habit re-established my efforts are a work in progress.

    So the $26 a month is insignificant in comaprison to the health benefit and cost avoidamce illness. I pay $30 and have not been in the Gym for 4 months. Nevertheless, I keep it for the time when I jump back to my exsercise habit. The goal is this year. 3 miles in the elliptical at 18 incline and 18 resistance, 1 mile in the treadmill at a 5.0 pace, then abs work out with a 20lb power ball of 100 crunches in a flat bench and 100 side to side.

    All of it in a sweat suit with shorts and sweater under. This is a 700 to 800 calories workout. Drops about 3lbs of weight in the average three or four times a week.

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:04 am

      It sounds like you’re doing better now. Not sure about sweat suit, though. That sounds a bit like torture. My philosophy is to make it enjoyable. Keep it up!

  • C myers May 11, 2017, 10:37 am

    I’m retired, 26 years past 40! I go to the gym for the classes. I would have never believed I would enjoy spinning, I love it, great aerobics in a short time. Also love the senior classes, working on strength training and balance. I have never been able to sustain attendance, but for the last 1-1/2 years, I go 5 times A week. The gym has really saved my life, along with weight management. I would never have done this on my own.

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:05 am

      That’s great to hear. Exercising 5 times a week is so much easier than 3. It’s scheduled in. Great job!
      I’d love to take more classes at the gym too, but the timing isn’t convenient. Someday…

  • Jonathan C May 11, 2017, 10:39 am

    I think you definitely hit the crux of it in regards with doing whatever (reasonably) works to keep you motivated to exercise. There’s been a few studies recently that found that an hour of exercise extends your life expectancy up to seven hours (it varies by workout type). This is limited to about four hours of exercise a week, after which the benefits plateau. If having a gym membership motivates you to hit that four hour milestone each week instead of not working out at all, you’ll be adding about 120 hours of life expectancy a month. With your $26/mo gym membership, you’re essentially paying $0.22 per extra hour of life expectancy or $1,927 per extra year of life expectancy, which to me seems like a pittance.

    For now, I don’t pay for a gym membership because I have access to a gym through both my apartment and office building, but if adding a gym membership made the difference between consistent exercise and no exercise, I think even the most budget-conscious of us could do a calculation like the one above and decide that it’s a rather frugal investment.

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:06 am

      Thanks for sharing the life expectancy finding. I will check it out more. $26/month is dirt cheap comparing to medical care cost later.

  • Duncan's Dividends May 11, 2017, 10:54 am

    The gym is my sanctuary and place to blow off steam. It’s actually one of the few luxuries I splurge on since I go daily and have basically since I was 19. I developed the habit of going there right after work, do not pass go, do not collect $200 kinda mentality and it’s paid off handsomely for me.

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:07 am

      I like the way you look at it. Schedule it into your day and do not deviate. Nice job.

  • Todd May 11, 2017, 11:22 am

    Hey Joe, looks like you got some good dialogue going here.
    My wife pays for a Y membership, and uses it solely for cycle classes (3/week). She is very consistent and loyal to it, and loves the camaraderie, so I say good for her (even though I would HAVE to do more than just cycle to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth haha).
    I, on the other hand, love my home gym. I got lazy and joined a gym for a couple of years, but came back to my home gym, it has equipment I chose and paid for, so I stay pretty consistent. Currently 2 workouts/week, but I want to do three/week.
    My son uses the treadmill there a lot, so I think we’re getting good value with our home gym.
    I do go to the park to run/walk a couple of times a week when I’m being consistent, so I think that helps me feel like I’m getting outside.
    Good luck! I’m fighting a cold today also 🙁

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:08 am

      You should try working out 5 times per week. It will be tough at first, but it become much easier than 2x/week once you get into it. Hope you feel better soon.

  • Dividend Daze May 11, 2017, 11:36 am

    Kind of comes down to it being an atmosphere thing. If you are at home, like you said there are a lot of distractions. Home is the place and time to relax instead to unwind from the day. By actually going to the gym and being in that atmosphere, surrounded by others who are exercising, it makes you want to. That is the intended purpose and why you are there anyway, so might as well get in a good work out.

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:09 am

      You’re right. When I get to the gym, I just want to work out and finish it up. I don’t dilly dally or goof around. At home, it’s another story.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life May 11, 2017, 12:35 pm

    Daycare germs are the worst! I’m sorry that you were caught on this round of viruses, and hope it passes soon.

    I get my daily exercise with the dog, most days. Like you, I have a medical condition that limits what I can do and how much, so the walking with the dog is a flexible enough activity that I can sustain it almost every day. I can choose to walk, or jog, or run if I feel up to that, I can even add weights to my legs for resistance if I’m having some really good days. He’s happy to do whatever I feel like, as long as we’re outside together. Like paying money for the gym would make me feel compelled to go or getting yourself dressed would make you feel compelled to go, knowing that Seamus literally *has* to go out makes the activity non-optional.

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:10 am

      I’m almost good now. Maybe another day or two at the most.
      Great job with the dog. Keep it up. Going to the gym probably won’t work for you so I think you’re doing the right thing.

  • SMM May 11, 2017, 12:51 pm

    I’m so fortunate because I have a gym at work and I prefer going there because (1) it has everything I need, even though it’s kind of small (2) it has showers (3) i can go during lunch (4) i can keep my protein shake at work (5) i don’t have to sacrifice my time with my family (6) IT’S FREE!!!!

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:11 am

      I love my work gym too. That’s what I missed the most about working. 🙂

  • Lisa May 11, 2017, 2:03 pm

    I agree – going to the gym really helps me focus on getting my workout in. There are a lot more distractions when I try working out at home or outdoors.

  • Helen May 11, 2017, 3:19 pm

    Hope you get well very soon. I walk in the neighborhood for 30 minutes every day, and enjoy getting out for fresh air. If it rains or snows, I use my treadmill at home as a backup. My treadmill was bought 12 years ago for $400, and it’s one of those money-well-spent items.

    • Helen May 11, 2017, 3:27 pm

      Forgot to mention, I saw your story on CNBC web site last weekend, compared your saving strategy with Jay Leno’s (spend one salary, and save the other). Anyway, the article was cool. Congratulations!

      • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:12 am

        Thank you! I’m glad you like the article on CNBC.
        Great job walking 30 minutes every day. Being active everyday is the key to keeping healthy.

  • No Nonsense Landlord May 11, 2017, 4:36 pm

    The gym gets you around like minded people, and hopefully keeps you motivated. And if you pay $26, you better go there to get your money’s worth. To do otherwise would just not be frugal enough.

  • Jacq May 11, 2017, 5:51 pm

    I’m a yoga teacher but I pay for a studio membership. I have the unlimited plan, which was great when I was unemployed. I could do volunteering in exchange for free classes. But I know some people need the free classes, and I can afford to pay.
    I also am not highly motivated to work out on my own at home. I preregister for class and feel like I am expected, which gets me there. Also other teachers push me to try new things and I tend to go easy on myself. Plus I figure I’m helping to support the studio.
    We all find our motivation different ways. Keep up the good work! I think I can do 1 pull up.

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:13 am

      Thanks for your perspective. It’s neat to see how fitness professional does it. I like that you’re supporting your local studio.

  • K.P May 11, 2017, 5:52 pm

    Great post. Gym membership is something I think I will always have. There’s something about connecting with other folks into the fitness world and getting their first hand insights on form and exercises. Your form looks great by the way. Keep grinding.

  • Michael May 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

    I go for walks outdoors. That’s an advantage living Texas where you can be out and about most of the year.

  • Your First Million May 11, 2017, 9:36 pm

    I find it very distracting to work out at home sometimes. I feel like when I am actually going into the gym it is a lot easier for me to stay motivated. Also the guilt I feel when I don’t go into the gym, knowing I am paying for something and not using it helps me keep going on a regular basis! It sort of forces me to go, so it’s worth the money! Great read RB40!

  • Adriana @MoneyJourney May 12, 2017, 2:11 am

    I exercise at home and it works well for me. We bought some gym equipment (dumbbells, stationary bike, yoga mat etc.) and what I do is, I put on my favorite TV series and exercise while watching. Beats the hell out of watching TV while eating junk food 😀

    I save about $600 a year by not paying for a membership, but I also understand it’s not the same thing.
    At home, I exercise at my own pace. Even though I do push myself, I understand it’s not the same as being at the gym and pushing yourself 10 times harder just to prove you can do better than others 🙂

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:16 am

      A stationary bike for watching TV sounds like a really good idea. I’m not very good with the stationary bikes, though. They give me knee pain for some reason. Yes, I’ve got a gimpy knee in additional to my other physical problems…
      Great job. I exercise at my own pace at the gym. Not a big deal as long as I get there. 🙂

  • Mr. Tako May 12, 2017, 2:41 am

    Congrats on the pull-up progress Joe! That’s pretty impressive.

    I used to be in a lot better shape before we had kids, and could do pull-ups like that. I even made it to the gym several times a week.

    To have that kind of time again would be great! Now, I hardly get time for a daily walk… despite being “early retired”.

    Some day, after the kids head to school I hope it’ll change.

    • retirebyforty May 12, 2017, 9:17 am

      Thanks! I’ve never been able to do this much pull ups. It’s very gratifying. I think previously I’d max out around 10. I never trained for it, though.
      Yes, working out became much easier once our kid is in kindergarten. I was a lot more inconsistent previously.

  • Finances with Purpose May 12, 2017, 11:47 am

    I use a gym/workout program as well, and every finance blogger should understand why: it’s more fun and you’re more accountable when you’re with a community! I enjoy working out with a community of folks. For me, it’s a way to improve on a weakness (I tend to lose discipline when working out alone) and help ensure I’m healthy (and therefore spending less!) in the future, too. This is one spending area that makes sense for us, even though we’re otherwise very frugal.

  • Lazy Man and Money May 12, 2017, 7:48 pm

    Hope you are feeling better.

    I hear you with the need for a gym for motivation. I have the same problem.

    Limited space might not be an issue though. I have a set of Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells which replace a whole set. Two dumbbells can be adjusted to just about any weight you’d need. There are also pull-up bars that temporarily go over a door and can easily store elsewhere when you are done with your set.

    As you say, it’s pretty small money and you get a lot of value for it. Maybe a reader who doesn’t have a cheap gym will find it helpful.

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