As a person in pursuit of frugality on my mission to kill all personal debt, I have a confession to make: I’m keeping my gym membership. Not even for the gym that I can use at a discount through my work. I’m going to the more expensive one that DH goes to. The one that specializes in karate instruction for kids and first rate cardio kickboxing and bags & drills classes for adults. There. I said it.
In so many frugal personal finance and debt blogs, gym membership is presented as just one of the many things in our consumer society that deplete our bank accounts unnecessarily. After all, why join a gym when you can cycle, walk, or run right from home? Why join a gym when you can set up weights and a treadmill in your garage or basement?
As I unpack the reasons why I choose to keep a gym membership, let’s consider Fruclassity Commandment #4:
- Prepare a budget for value-based spending. As you manage your money towards debt-freedom and/or financial freedom, spend wisely. Differentiate between “wants” and “needs”. Which “wants” can you eliminate? …What does value-based spending look like for you? REMEMBER, nobody else needs to approve of your spending values …
Does gym membership fall into the category of “needs”? No. It’s a “want”, and it’s one that many frugal types do without. Does the money I put down for my membership represent value-based spending? YES!
Here are 7 reasons why gym membership represents value-based spending for me:
- Let’s start with the obvious one: I get to wear boxing gloves! Unlike DH, I am no black belt, but I have discovered a love for karate moves – however imperfect my execution of them. In my experience, there is no stress release like it. There is just something enormously satisfying about landing a solid punch or kick.
- I slack off when I try to do physical fitness on my own. This is a lesson that has been reinforced for me time and again over the years. Even this past winter, I thought, Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ll be able to motivate myself to work out 3-5 times a week on my own. Wrong again! I started out with a keen determination, but before too long, I was making excuses, and I went for weeks at a time with no workout.
- I am more likely to work out if there are limited, scheduled class times. For over a year, I went to a gym that was much bigger than the one I go to now. With multiple locations and a schedule that offers many options, I thought I had it made. But it didn’t work for me. Again, it became easy to make excuses. I can go to the next class, I’d think. Or I’ll just go tomorrow. With the more limited schedule of my current gym, I don’t have the option of making excuses. Cardio kickboxing starts at 7:00! Time to go!
- I recognize and value the level of excellence I find at my gym. Not all gyms are created equal, and they don’t have to be. To become fit, a good balance between cardio and strength training is all you need. But while I don’t require excellence in every area of my life, I really do value it at my gym. The instructors who teach our classes are National and World champions in karate, and the workouts they give are fantastic. Many of the members who are in their 40s and 50s are in better shape now than they’ve ever been in their lives – like my own DH. And speaking of age, I love the age range at my gym – from under 5 to over 70. Talk about life-long fitness!
- I’m happy to support gym staff in their area of expertise. There’s a big push towards self-sufficiency in the personal finance bloggosphere, and while I understand and respect that point of view, I don’t entirely subscribe to it. I value independence, but I value interdependence even more. The staff at my gym are far better than I am at motivating me to become fit. I don’t mind relying upon them. And I’m glad that they can earn a living by fostering good health. I’m glad that after spending years to become masters of their craft, they are able to draw an income from it. The 6 staff members are all young enough to be my kids, and being a mother and aunt of millennials, I find it heartening to see 20-somethings succeed in their chosen career.
- I get overall physical fitness at my gym. Any one hour class involves flexibility, cardio and strength; it works out upper body, lower body, and core. Without fail, I leave after 60 minutes drenched in sweat, completely wiped out – and high on the resulting endorphin rush.
- DH and I usually go to the gym together. Last week, on our way to a workout, DH said to me, “This is my favourite part of the evening – driving to the gym with you.” Pretty sweet, don’t you think? Like many working couples, DH and I don’t have tons of time to spend together, but our shared trips to the gym have a bonding effect.
I once read a post by Femme Frugality in which she asked readers whether or not we thought that she should go on an inexpensive cruise. I voted against it. “If you want to set yourself up for financial freedom in the long run,” I commented, “start loving simple staycations or get-aways close to home.” Femme Frugality responded by saying, “I love dissenting opinions! Honestly, I don’t spend money in pretty much any other area of my life. I hardly ever buy new clothes. I haven’t had my hair done in over a year … But travel. Ah, travel. It’s something that’s completely worth the money to me …” Her answer gave me an Ah-ha! moment. Travel is something that I have essentially given up as we make our way to debt-freedom, but that doesn’t mean Femme Frugality has to do the same. She has cut spending in many areas of her life. She’s allowed to be frugal and still travel.
Each one of us chooses where to cut and where to spend. As long as we’re making conscious, well-considered decisions, it’s OK to say “Yes” to what we really value. So I take back what I wrote at the beginning of this post. My gym membership is not a “confession”. It’s my conscious choice. My well-considered decision. It aligns with my values. I can pursue frugality on my mission to kill off all personal debt – and still have a gym membership.
Do you have a gym membership? Are there other areas where you spend more according to your values? Your comments are welcome.