Health & Fitness

The Simple, Money-Based Tactic That Gets Me To The Gym When I'm Feeling Unmotivated

By | Wednesday, April 11, 2018

I’ve been reading TFD for a while now, and I know this community loves a cost-per-use mindset. Usually, it’s applied to buying quality footwear or great wardrobe basics, but I use it get myself to the gym at least three times a week. To be clear, I love my gym. I genuinely enjoy exercising there, but I am also prone to lazy spells.  Sometimes the thought of putting on workout gear and driving all the way to the gym is enough to keep me on the couch (or in bed eating cookies). Those times, I need a little guilt trip from my inner monologue.
The concept is easy: if you pay a flat rate for something, the more you use it, the less you are technically paying per use. Even writing it out feels condescending, but I have to remind myself of this all the time (read: every day that I pass my apartment building on the way to the gym after work)
The how and why:
I’m lucky to be able to participate in a corporate membership which gives me a (fairly steep) discount for paying my yearly membership in one lump sum. In February, when fees are due, sticker shock gets me to the gym very regularly, but come April, it’s easy to forget about the $450 I forked over not two months before and start to make excuses. I don’t think it would be different if I paid monthly or bi-weekly, either — things that I pay for regularly have a way of going unnoticed.

In order to combat this, I set a price-per-workout threshold, and then make sure I use the gym enough times per week to land myself at or under it. For me, the threshold happens to be $5, but yours might be higher or lower. To decide what your threshold is, just ask yourself what you’d be comfortable paying for one-off workout or class on a regular basis. (It’s also a good way to tangibly calculate whether a gym membership will be worth it to you at all.)
If you’re feeling a lack of motivation in the fitness department AND are already paying for membership, this combination of simple math and mental trickery might help you, too. It would also work for other kinds of fitness memberships, like a monthly unlimited pass to a yoga studio. Once you know what you’ve set your threshold, use one of the following (super easy) equations to figure out how many times you need to visit your place of fitness per week to keep yourself “on budget.”
Please note: I use this to get myself through the after-work lazies. I don’t recommend using it to continually make yourself do something you legitimately hate.
If you pay annually, here’s how to figure out the number of workouts you need to complete per week in order to make it worth it:

  • Your annual fee ÷ 52 = your weekly fee
  • Your weekly fee ÷ your price-per-workout threshold = number of workouts required per week

For me, it looks like this:

  • $450 per year ÷ 52 weeks = $8.65 per week
  • $8.65 per week ÷ $5 price-per-workout threshold = 1.7, i.e. ~2 workouts per week to stay under $5 per session

I like to pay even less (even if I’m actually paying the same amount no matter what), so I convince myself to go at least three times per week, bringing my cost per workout down to $2.88, which feels damn good! (Conversely, if I skip the gym for an entire week, I know I paid about $9 for literally nothing, which feels terrible.)
If you pay monthly:

  • Your monthly membership fee × 12 = your annual membership cost
  • Your annual membership cost ÷ 52 = your weekly fee
  • Your weekly fee ÷ your price-per-workout threshold = number of workouts required per week

If you pay bi-weekly:

  • Your bi-weekly fee ÷ 2 = your weekly fee
  • Your weekly fee ÷ your price-per-workout threshold = number of workouts required per week

Of course, you could set your threshold to zero, and seek out all of the free workout options, making this all moot. But I personally need the motivation of being somewhere at a certain time and the sense of community that my gym’s classes bring to get myself moving. And I certainly can’t be the only one 🙂

Image via Pexels

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