This post is part of a new series called The Best Investment I Ever Made — click here to read more!
I’ve lived in New York City for almost seven years, and I never had a gym membership until this past December. Because I’ve always walked so much (four miles a day on average), I never felt unfit. The sticker-shock from gym membership prices wasn’t exactly enticing, either. But when I got a reality check that women nearing 30 who don’t strength train (aka use weights, practice yoga or pilates, etc.) have a higher risk for osteoporosis, I decided to get serious about my health.
At 29, I certainly don’t feel old, but age is easy to ignore in a city like New York. It’s weird to meet anyone married before 30, while it’s completely normal to have roommates at 40. The same goes for health. Pizza at 1 AM is a regular occurrence, and a frozen Lean Cusine meal constitutes a healthy dinner. “Working out” never made its way into conversations at rooftop watering holes or on date nights, so I simply ignored that, too. That is, until I couldn’t.
Finally being at a place in my life where I could afford to work a gym membership into my budget without overspending, I took the plunge and signed with Equinox for $215 a month. It gives me access to all of their classes, as well as their nationwide clubs, which is a great perk when I’m traveling. Since joining, I have taken serious strides in becoming healthier. I have visible definition in my arms, handle stress better, and feel stronger than I ever have. I can confidently say my gym membership is the best investment I ever made, and here’s why:
I got in tune with my body
Upon enrollment, I received a complimentary training and Pilates session. Both taught me a lot about my body, and helped to determine my strengths and weaknesses. Once I learned what I needed to improve on, I pinpointed the classes that would help me reach my goals the quickest. But not every day went according to plan. On days where I planned to do a HIIT class, my body was telling me it needed a good stretch, and I would pivot to yoga. Being able to identify the new aches helped me listen to what my body was saying. Sometimes two classes followed by a long steam session and relaxing shower were in order, and other times, a 20-minute mile on the stationary bike sufficed.
I let my money motivate me
If you’ve read my other articles on TFD, you know that I’m big on saving money. If I am making the monthly investment in a gym membership, you can bet I’ll make it worth my while. Since I’m a class fanatic, I did the math based on the average cost of a boutique fitness class in New York City. At $20 a class, if I go to 11 classes a month at Equinox, I am sweating my money’s worth. I do at least that many, and for the days I really don’t feel like working out, I’ll bring a book with me and jump on the treadmill for a slow walk on an incline. It satisfies my need to relax while still getting my butt to the gym. Add in the benefits of eucalyptus-scented towels, steam rooms, and spa-like locker rooms, and it’s downright economic.
I’m taking care of myself
At the end of every phone conversation with my parents, they tell me to take care of myself. It wasn’t until I started making trips to the gym part of my routine that I fully understood the value of their words. When I prioritized my health, other areas fell into focus as well. I was able to handle stress better because I had a physical outlet that quieted my mind to help me disconnect from work frustrations. To quell my night-owl tendencies, the more intense classes leave me exhausted and get me into bed at a more-than-reasonable hour. I also think more holistically about what I’m eating now that I am working harder for results. Not that it stops me from scarfing down some lobster mac and cheese, but I just try to be more mindful of healthful eating.
It gives me structure
Before I joined the gym, I spent my evenings after work falling into a pit of endless Netflix shows. My grand to-do list never got done, and it wasn’t for any good reason other than my own laziness. Adding four or five fitness classes to my week made me shape-up, literally. I am forced to prioritize better, and now that it’s second nature, my to-do list items are crossing themselves out. Even on the weekends, if I know I want to go to the gym, I’ll coordinate a class with my social schedule so I can get my sweat on and still have fun, too.
Now that I have a gym membership, I never think about the days where I didn’t. Working out clears my head, gives me an energy boost, and allows me to crush some pages in the latest book I’m reading, all while making me stronger and keeping my bones young.
When she’s not writing about the money-saving hacks that helped her save $25k in a year, Sasha is taking to the skies with her sister Melissa. Their Instagram account, @JetsettingJunkies, and website feature their travels from all over the world. DM Sasha for money tips and advice on traveling often and cheaply!
Image via Unsplash