Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Contemplating a gym membership (again)

Yesterday, as I contemplated signing up for a corporate gym membership, I got to thinking how much money I spend on fitness each year.

I haven’t paid for a gym membership before (when I was younger up until I was 22 or 23, I was a PacificSport athlete, so my gym fees were always taken care of). Once my sponsorship expired, I could never bring myself to pay for something I used to get for free.

Related: The cost of what you love to do

These days, I run, play field hockey, and go to the occasional spin or yoga class.

Field hockey
$70 annual insurance (mandatory)
$240 club fees
$80 club fees
$50 annual tournament
$100 miscellaneous (equipment, uniforms, etc)

$150 registration fees
$150 running shoes
$100 miscellaneous (clothing, accessories, etc)

With just field hockey and running alone, I’m spending approximately $940/year on fitness – that’s $78/month!

If I add in a gym membership ($51.85/month), I would be spending $130/month on fitness (maybe 2% of my gross monthly income). That seems a bit excessive, but at the same time, it’s what I love doing on a regular basis.

Related: a half marathon training update

Definitely something to think about – especially because the facility has everything that I love. There’s an indoor track, ice rinks, tennis & badminton courts, as well as a paddling centre! Drop-in sessions at a climbing gym are usually $18. To have unlimited access to a climbing wall would be a dream come true. Plus fitness classes at other facilities can range from $6-20 each (the ones at this facility are $16 each), and they’re included in my membership. AND if I could have access to an indoor field hockey (soccer) turf? That would be amazing.

There are ways I could cut back on other fitness expenses – like not playing on a second field hockey team (admittedly, being on 2 teams is a bit much). But everything else is pretty standard, and there’s not much more I can trim. There’s no time commitment to joining the gym, unless I want to pay for 12 months in advance, and get an additional 10% off. So I might just try it monthly and see how it goes.

How much do you spend on keeping fit each year?

Do you belong to a gym?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Kara says:

    A few thoughts here:

    The first is that you say that you have a hard time paying for what you used to get for free, but keep in mind that it wasn’t really free. Someone else paid for it – so there was $$ value to what you got, even if you didn’t have to personally pay for it. I don’t know if that will influence your thoughts on the matter at all, but for me it would make a difference to think of it as a benefit with value, rather than a freebie.

    The next is that for $52 a month, that’s an AMAZING number of features compared to what a gym here would cost me. To me it would be worth it to have all of that available; both because it’s stuff you’ll actually use (the climbing wall, the indoor courts) and because it gives you a place to workout in case of inclement weather. It also gives you a lot of other options in case you wind up injured and can’t run or play hockey. You can still take certain classes, lift weights, swim, etc.

    Finally, IMO, 2% of your income for fitness, health, and entertainment is completely reasonable. A lot of people spend more than that a year on video games, cable TV, etc. Heck, my housemate spends at least 4% of his annual salary on going to gaming conventions every year. (Ok, for that matter I just did a quick calculation and I spend about 1.5% of my gross on pedicures every year.) From that perspective I think 2% Is a bargain and a half. :)

  2. Scott W says:

    I don’t belong to a gym or pay much for my own fitness anymore but I spend about $1200 a year signing up my 8 and 6 year old kids for sports camps and leagues. My exercise comes from trying to keep up with them.

  3. Debt RoundUp says:

    After I got sued by a large gym, I have never been back. I don’t pay much because my wife used to be a trainer. She can come up with some great routines that I can do at home.

  4. MA says:

    I have never considered averaging my ice hockey spending since it all comes out of discretionary cash but it seems I’m well over $200/mo. Great value compared to attending pro sports or concerts, at least!

  5. deenadollars says:

    Fitness is one thing I am willing to spend money on because of the mental health benefits (and of course physical ones) that it has for me. When I have decided about whether to sign up for say, a month of yoga, I ask myself how many times I think I will go per week to calculate a “cost per use” figure, which I know you are a fan of in general. For me, when I was doing yoga 5x per week, paying $125 per month worked out to about $6 per class. One way I stay motivated to work out is to utilize months when I purchase an unlimited pass to something and then to keep track of which days I go in a spreadsheet. Each time I add a day, I can see the cost-per-use going down, which makes my little PF heart happy, and helps keep me from missing workouts. :) I think you should do it, it sounds like a great idea.

  6. amy says:

    I have a GoodLife membership, but my employer reimburses most of the membership fees (contingent on the employee swiping in at the gym an average of at least 2x a week – which is incentive to go regularly!) There’s an outdoor skating track in Halifax that’s free to use so I do that in the winter, and I run a lot outside, use apps, and play tennis at the courts near our house, also for free. So luckily, fitness is not a huge expense for me. The biggest expense is gear: running shoes and clothes. Plus race fees aren’t cheap!

  7. Court says:

    I don’t pay for my gym because I work there a few hours a week teaching. Technically they pay me to come work out.

  8. rozalita says:

    I pay $41/month through my employer for my gym membership and use it 2-4 times a week.

    On top of that for 2013 I’ve paid:
    $120 for two rec league sports
    $200ish for running shoes/clothing
    $320ish for race fees (three half marathons, Mud Hero & Not Since Moses)

    I anticipate another $50-100 for run clothes and another $60 in rec sports fees in the fall.

    I could include the money I’ve spent snowboarding (road trips and flights) but I don’t really count it as “exercise” the way I count running, weight lifting and rec sports. Ballpark for the 2012-13 ski season? Easily over $2000. Which I don’t have any issue with as I managed to get to ten different ski hills including four in/near Banff, Mont Tremblant, Sugarloaf and Big Rock in Maine and three across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

    Running also winds up costing me more than race fees and shoes as I like to pick races that aren’t where I live so that I get a trip as well as a race. It’s a great way to spend a weekend away!

  9. To be fair… You’re using it on recreation and health. Not drugs. Not smoking. Not gambling. You’re not in debt. Your finances are in good shape. And you have a good savings. You can afford it right?

    I don’t see a problem.

    I think as PF bloggers people focus a lot on saving money. Yes, that’s all good and fine. But money is meant to be spent. And you’re spending it in a good way. As long as you’re not overspending your budget, you should be okay. And even if you decide on the gym, you can simply cut elsewhere you do not need.

  10. Anne @ Unique Gifter says:

    I think about rejoining a gym, or signing up for a yoga/pilates class a fair bit. My life seems to have gotten away from me when it comes to fitness lately and I know that spending the money causes me to commit. So, my two cents is that spending money can cause me to do things that I keep putting off.

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