I was an athlete all through high school, and I have always gone through bursts of being really into working out and then bursts of loathing the experience. This has led me to have a short attention span when it comes to woring out. I have kept a pretty good regime of staying in shape and active, but my lack of definitive decision-making and doing research has led me to try WAY too many fitness routines.
I lived in Columbus for a year; when I was there, I had much more of a comprehensive understanding of what I wanted out of my fitness routine, as well as what I could afford. But in my first year after moving to NYC, I wanted to see where my budget could take me in terms of my fitness. Disclaimer (because I know people get all kinds of worked up when someone tells them how to live their lives): in no way does my fitness experience encompass how fitness should work for others. Actually, I encourage you to do your own research before trying any option, because it really could cost you financially (and working out in a way you dislike gets old pretty quickly).
I hope that this article sheds some light on the different types of ways to get fit, what they cost, and if they are worth it to you. Not only that: I hope you can learn from me that maybe you don’t need to commit to everything before you decide what is best for you. Or maybe in some area of my unconscious I am using this article to relieve the small bit of guilt I feel for being a serial gym-goer…anyway! Below you’ll see all the fitness options I have tested within the past two years, as well as the cost and experience I had at each:
Apartment Gym: $0
When I moved to my first city as a post-grad to start my full-time job, I had a decent apartment gym in my building. It consisted of a few free weights in a matted area, a couple treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes, and a few weight machines. It served its purpose. On Saturday mornings or after work, I would head up and do some cardio with a few free weight exercises. I’m someone who hates cardio and loves lifting weights, so this gym eventually got boring. I also have much more motivation when I see others working out and looking fit (something I am learning to get over, but during that time it was a key part of my fitness motivation), but my apartment gym was usually empty. I started looking for options outside of this gym. I also realized I had a good amount of cash left over each month after my expenses and savings were accounted for, so I thought: why not?
Boutique Gym in Columbus, Ohio: $70
All hail the ultimate gym. This gym made me love fitness again. This gym made me enjoy going to the gym, possibly because of the complimentary towels, steam room, and clean-ass showers. This gym also made me realize that bougie gyms are MUCH more affordable in smaller cities. If I could go to this gym for the rest of my life, I would. But unfortunately, I was ready to move on from Columbus and with that, I had to say goodbye to this glorious place. The trainers were kind and friendly, but not pushy. The facility was on the smaller side, but there also weren’t a ton of members, so it worked out. They had complimentary classes and any machine you could ask for. The pricey rate (for a smaller city, at least) was well worth it for me. I got in the best shape I had been in as a post-grad.
Mid-Tier Gym in NYC: $70
This gym was right next to my apartment and I got weaseled into buying a three-month membership. This is the part where I tell you to do your research and test out the gym before you buy a membership. I literally didn’t set foot in this gym until after I bought the membership. It wasn’t very clean, it was crowded, and there were so many members you had to wait to use almost every machine. I would have known all of this if I had I done my research and conducted a test-run. I also would have $210 more in my account, but who’s counting? (Me. I’m counting.)
ANOTHER Mid-Tier Gym in NYC: $70
Pretty much the same as above. The facility was bigger felt more spacious, which was nice. Plus, it was quite close to my apartment. I might have stuck with it, but the gym changed locations soon after I signed up. To be fair, I got overwhelmed by how crowded it always was, as well.
High-End Bougie Gym in NYC: $140
This is where I now admit I like bougie fitness gyms and I can no longer deny it. This place had the works — beautiful locker rooms with clean showers, saunas, towels, pretty much anything you could need. It had a great selection of fitness classes and was never overly-crowded (probably because of the price tag, and understandably so.) I quit because it was expensive as hell and didn’t fit into my budget. ALSO, I realized that it’s not healthy for me to think I can only get in shape if I drop a lot of money at a gym that includes fresh towels. I needed to change my mindset and force myself to learn how to get healthy without all the amenities.
T25 Beachbody Series: $39.95 + $19.95 + $19.95 + free weights ($20) = ~$100
Say what you want about Shaun T and the Beachbody franchise; he will whip you into shape. You just can’t fall for all the gimmicks (unless it works for you and you can afford it — then fall for it! To each their own). But for me, this fitness plan and investment made sense. I travel 80% of the time for work; the hotels I stay in don’t always have gyms. These workouts are hard as hell, make you sweat, and are quick. Not only that, they are slowly teaching me that I can independently get healthy and hold myself accountable, rather than relying on fancy gyms and other gym members to motivate me.
Yoga Membership: First week free, $90 per month after that
The city I’m currently in for work has a great yoga studio that is charge $90 per month for a membership. I go to classes at the studio Monday through Thursday, so I’m still deciding if it would be worth it in the long-term. That said, the first week was delightful! I don’t love yoga, but I’m a spaz and need to find something to calm myself down. This yoga studio does a mix of hand weights (yay!) and doing yoga, so it seems like a perfect fit for me. I am going to try a few a more classes and do my research before committing, but it’s definitely something I interested in for my ~mind, body, and soul~.
Abby is an management consultant living in Manhattan, originally from the beautiful land of Ohio. She’s obsessed with people-watching, problem-solving, and tuna salad. You can follow her on Twitter.
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