Looking to trim personal budget? Nix the gym
Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 9:16 pm
By MELISSA DUTTON
For The Associated Press
After the birth of his daughter, Trevor Carter started looking for ways to save money and spend more time at home.
One of the first things he did was quit his gym in Abingdon, Va. The move saved him more than $250 a year and allowed him to arrange his workouts around his family’s schedule.
“It’s nice to have that extra cash,” said the 26-year-old Carter, especially since “gas has kept going up and up.”
Rising food and fuel prices are forcing people around the country to trim their household budgets. For some, eliminating gym memberships makes sense, especially if they can find alternative ways to stay fit.
Gym memberships are one of “the first things to get cut from people’s budgets,” said Susie Supper, education director at the National Exercise Training Association in Minneapolis.
The number of gym memberships dropped 3 percent to 41.5 million between 2006 and 2007, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association in Boston.
But just because people leave the gym doesn’t mean they stop working out, added Andrea Vincent, founder of Seemommyrun.com, which helps mothers find running and walking groups.
People looking to get fit without spending a lot of money are using Web sites, books, DVDs and television programs to develop home-based exercise routines, said Vincent, whose site has 37,000 members. In addition to saving money, proponents of home exercise said they like the convenience of not having to drive to the gym and the opportunity to exercise without the scrutiny of others.
Sherry Kaminski credits Seemommyrun.com with helping her create good exercise habits after the birth of her third child three years ago. Friends from the Web site motivated Kaminski, who lives in Emerald Isle, N.C., to start running with her kids in a stroller.
“It’s cheaper than the gym and there’s no guilt,” said the 39-year-old Kaminski. “You don’t feel guilty about spending the money or spending time away from the kids.”
Carter, who quit the gym about 18 months ago, used Internet sources and books to develop a workout routine that includes weights and cardio exercises. Setting goals and developing a plan to reach them motivate him to stay with the program, he said. His main challenge is finding ways to add variety to his regimen.
“The one thing I do miss about the gym is they do have more options,” the computer software consultant said. Still, he likes the flexibility of working at home.
“It’s just more convenient,” he said. “Going to the gym is a lot more work.”
When Kris Gates of Portland, Ore., developed an interest in yoga earlier this year. She opted to buy a DVD rather than pay for classes. Incorporating the yoga DVD into her morning routine has the 38-year-old forensic scientist feeling fitter and richer.
Gates, who has had gym memberships in the past, said the idea of working out alone appeals to her. She doesn’t miss the competitive atmosphere of some health clubs.
“I think it works for me because I’m not doing it for anybody else,” she said. “I’m not trying to show off. I’m doing it for my long-term health.”
Gates is pleased that she’s gotten into shape without joining a club, which she considers “not a very good investment of my money.”
“It seems silly to spend money on exercise when exercise should be incorporated into your normal life,” she said.
Kyle Bumpus, 26, of Atlanta operates on a similar philosophy. He works out six days a week. He runs, lifts weights at home and uses a medicine ball.
“I don’t think there’s anything you can do in a gym that you can’t do better outside of a gym — with the exception of swimming,” Bumpus said.
Bumpus, who is training for a triathlon, pays $30 a month to use the pool at a local gym. He said his home-based workouts are as challenging, or more so, than anything a gym offers.
“I think a lot of people who go to the gym think they are getting a much better workout than they are.”
On the Net:
Beginner exercise guide: http://tinyurl.com/4wmv26
Suggested workouts: http://tinyurl.com/yu2dkt
Strength training tips: http://tinyurl.com/4v5q3s
Published in The Messenger 10.01.08