Mar 01 2010

Should I join a gym? Help!

I feel like a slug. My energy levels are incredibly low and my brain is foggy. At first, I chalked it up to being a new mom.

But my son isn’t new anymore. I don’t have any excuses — I’m simply not taking care of myself the way I should.

And really, when you get no exercise (chasing /wearing a toddler can only burn so many calories for me), it’s no wonder why I am a blob.

My husband is training for a marathon in May and he’s been encouraging me to start exercising again so that I feel better and be healthier.

We’re checking out gym memberships in the hopes that we’ll go often enough for the fee to be worth it.

I’m nervous about it, though. I don’t like being tied into a contract like many gyms have you do. And even month-to-month memberships have higher costs associated with them. I don’t want us to join a place and then rarely go, you know?

If we do join a gym, we’d want the facility to have good childcare. I’d likely want to go work out during the week, and it won’t be good if I’m constantly worried about Johnny, or if he’s having a rotten time.

As expected, places with decent childcare are more expensive than places without.

I had a free day pass to one facility today. For the three of us, it would cost $119/month and that includes all childcare costs. That’s a bit much, I think, though I was satisfied with their childcare protocol. I didn’t love the facility, though.

Another place in the area would cost $70/month for us, including childcare. I wasn’t impressed with the childcare situation there, though. And the gym itself didn’t seem like a good fit for me.

We’ll be checking out a third possibility later this week. It’s a community rec center and it looks pretty fantastic online. It has a few indoor pools, some water slides and a lazy river-type of thing. It could be fun for all three of us, assuming Johnny lets us put him in the water. He has a strong aversion to baths, so we’ll just have to wait n’ see if he interprets a swimming pool as a really big bathtub.

The rec center has a rather equipped fitness center, too. Since we don’t live in the rec center’s township, we’d have a higher cost than residents. It would be $82.50/month plus childcare, which is $2 per session or $25 for the month with unlimited sessions.

I did look into the nearest YMCA, and I was disappointed at their operational hours: 9-5 M-F. What? Shane would never be able to go. And, it was $100 for that!

I think exercising as a family in the pool, and then Shane and I being able to exercise together while Johnny is in safe hands would be a good thing for us all. It’s just hard to handle that price tag!

I’m not motivated to go for a run outside with a jogging stroller. I’m not sure if I’m motivated to run at all anymore — I was active on the track and cross-country teams in high school and by the end of it, I was rather burned out. But, running outside is free. Of course, sidewalks aren’t extremely clear right now as we still have mounds of snow everywhere. And once they are clear, there’s the weather to contend with, as well as traffic and uneven surfaces.

We also have a Wii with the EA Sports Active game. It actually does put you through a good workout, if you’ll do it. Maybe I ought to play with that some more. I like the game better than just doing a workout DVD, because the game can actually tell if you’re slacking off.

So, those are the options before me.

So readers, please tell me. What motivates you to go to a gym several times per week? How do you make it worth the cost? How much do you pay? How do you exercise and stay motivated to keep going? I need your ideas!



20 Responses to “Should I join a gym? Help!”

  1. We have a gym membership (yes it is expensive!). But I love being able to drop off the kids without worrying, workout in a great place, have a good locker room to clean up. It is awesome. My daughter even did swim lessons there and she just loves the childcare center. That is the key for me. So I can drop them off (they are open pretty late too) and work out without worry. Good luck!
    .-= Ted´s last blog ..The shame of debt =-.

  2. We have a gym membership (although we lucked out and found a nice one for $48/mo). I think it is a very worthwile expense. Doing something for your health and well being is always a good thing. Plus, you are setting a good example to your child that physical activity is important. Plus, I like the little break that I get from my children. I love them dearly, but I am a better mother when I do somethng for myself and have a little alone time. :)

  3. First of all, you need to know that even month-to-month memberships cost more than you think! You have to put down a last month’s payment. Plus joining fee (which you can usually get them to waive) and you’ve got a hefty cost. Especially if you don’t go. And I think getting to the gym is half the battle. For some of us, knowledge of responsibility (“I paid for it and I’m not using it. I *should* use it. Maybe tomorrow…”) makes it too hard.

    Do you have Netflix? Maybe rent a video like Jillian Michael’s 30-day shred. It’s got an end in sight and it’s a very short time period each day. (Something like 10 very harsh minuets.)

    Alternately, check at your library. Seattle’s had a lot of exercise videos. Test drive some and see which you like. Then you can get a copy from Amazon cheaply. Or you’ll realize you need the stricture of a gym membership.

    The last alternative isn’t cheap. But might be worth it from an energy/health perspective: a personal trainer. DO NOT go for just anyone. Apex certification is meaningless and lots of trainers are essentially salesmen. But if someone has degree or experience with sports medicine and/or kinesiology or the the like, he or she is a good bet. (Or if the trainer has worked as a physical therapist assistant.)

    It’s one appointment, once a week (unless you can afford more) that you have to keep. It’ll get you on track for strength training, which is an important part of weight loss. And having to report in each week could spur you to do at least a couple days of cardio a week.

    If the cost is too steep (and if you have a skill you can try to barter) get a couple of friends together and see if the trainer will give a group rate. It’s more work for the trainer but the increase per person isn’t much. So you might pay $50 an hour for one person or $80 an hour for 3-4 people. A *lot* more affordable!
    .-= Abigail´s last blog ..Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (and money!) =-.

  4. I am of course a big fan of gyms since they’re like my only activity here, but it is a big financial commitment, so I think you definitely wanna make sure you find a place you like and feel comfy taking to Johnny – and that you like – to to make it worth your money.

    I dunno how much my info helps, since I’ve always lived in odd markets, but in NY I paid $80/mo, which is a pretty standard price in that market. My ghetto gym here was like $15/mo and now I just joined a nicer one that is around $70/mo for six months (could’ve got cheaper if I went for a year, but who knows if I’ll be here in a year!). So I think the $100 or so a month for both of you and childcare seems pretty reasonable.

    The other good thing about gyms is they can be a good way to meet new people, especially if you can drop in for different classes, etc, to vary up your routine a bit. (Pole dancing workout, anyone? LOL)

    You also should check with your health insurance — mine in the States provided a reimbursement of a certain amount for gym memberships, since it encourages you to encourage your health & whatnot.

    Anyway, good luck shopping around. I really hope you can find something that will work for all 3 of you. Since it’s still early in the year, you might be able to find some good specials. And you’re a good bargainer! Work those sales reps and see if you can’t talk them down a little bit on prices and fees.

    (BTW, I can’t believe the YMCA is only open 9-5!? WTF? That’s completely absurd. What is the point of it even existing? Not even most children can go during those hours!)
    .-= Brittany´s last blog ..The Naked Truth: more culture shock =-.

  5. I am not a member of a gym, because I cannot justify the costs. I also don’t have a baby to watch, so the childcare part is not an issue for me! I also have trouble motivating myself to work out, what works best for me is to write it down on my calendar because it is a visual reminder when I am lazy and when I actually work out.

    I really like the Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred because it is a good workout for 30 minutes a day and there are 3 different workouts on the 1 dvd. Plus, the only thing you need are hand weights which are relatively inexpensive and easy to store.

  6. The YMCA is great if you have one nearby. The cost is $74 a month for a family membership and most have pools. The child care is sufficient imo.
    Another option is free workout videos from the library. I am about to cancel my Y membership. I have several small children and it’s a bit more difficult for me to cart them to the Y.
    Any workout video that includes cardio (getting your heart rate up) and a little toning or strength training is good. Most videos require you to have small weights. You can use soup cans or Walmart sells the weights at a good price.
    The videos I really like as a mom are “Buff Moms: Beyond Baby Body Workout”. Excellent workout, and you don’t have to be crazy coordinated…I’m not!
    Also like the Walk Away the Pounds. Again…great workout, don’t have to be really coordinated.
    The great thing about these videos I mentioned is that you can do them in 10 minute segments or mile segments, so you can build up.
    That’s my 2 cents.

  7. Btw, our YMCA is open 5 am until 10 pm.

  8. At the end of last year, I decided that I wanted to get into shape. My husband was against the idea of joining a gym, because he said he’d rather spend that money on something else.

    So, I had to get creative.

    Here’s what kept me on the “exercise wagon” for a good month (for me that’s long):

    http://www.marinecorpsfitness.com.

    I found this site in a magazine that ranked it one of best ways to exercise for free. Play some music while you’re doing it, and you have your own little gym at home. (I like to create my own stations at Pandora.com). On the days when you are suppose to run, I would walk instead (so you can do that if you’re not into running). I was getting good results, and really starting to get fit.

    We have a Wii EA sports Active too, and I really enjoy that. I underestimated what a good workout you can get from it! I like to mix it up with one of the 30 day workouts.

    Once spring comes, I want to get back into tennis at our local park, where you can play for free on its courts.

    I’ve gotten sidetracked from my exercising as of late, so this post reminded me of my goals that I set for myself.

    Hope this gives you some ideas!
    .-= Sarah F´s last blog ..Year of the Savings, so far… =-.

  9. We also are members at our local YMCA. It’s too bad that yours has such crummy hours! Ours is also open 5am-10pm on weekdays. The thing I *really* love about the Y (at least in our area) is that there is NO CONTRACT! You just pay your start-up fee (ours was $5 during a promotion in November) and the monthly fee ($64 for family). We can cancel at anytime, which is awesome! We usually join every November and then cancel in April and go for long walks every night in the summer.

    We’re having our first child this summer, and child care at the Y is extra, so we’ll see how that works out next winter.
    .-= Becky@FamilyandFinances´s last blog ..Successful Sewing Projects =-.

  10. Why does my area Y stink so hard? Uggh. There is a Y in the city that has better hours, but I don’t wanna travel that far.

    I did an old Pilates DVD today and I remembered how much I loved it. I think I’m going to do some more DVDs at home to get me going. Thanks for your comments, everyone!

  11. Good grief those are expensive options! I just recently quit LA Fitness (not because of service, but because I quit my job and we have no extra money…and I have no time to go) and it was costing me around $35 a month for just me. Daycare would cost $10 a month extra.

    But I was NOT impressed with the daycare for infants from what I’d heard from my daycare provider who also goes there with her daughter and grandson. One time they didn’t even take him out of his carseat!!!

    I did love the pool though.

    Also, ask about how easy it is to cancel or if there are any fees. My particular contracts was cancelable anytime, but it takes an act of God to actually cancel (not literally). I have to go IN to the facility, request a cancellation form, then mail it CERTIFIED mail to the corporate office. Sheesh.

    Anyway…my goal right now is just not to gain TOO much. After my job is done and I start working for the new company I want to start using my Wii again. And we have a weight set and elliptical machine in the garage…gathering dust. :) But I would like to re-join LA Fitness again … I love the pool.
    .-= megscole64´s last blog ..We Interrupt This Broadcast =-.

  12. I have weights and a mat, and work out at home every morning for 20 minutes, using a variety of exercise tapes I pick up at yard sales for 50 cents. I’ve got everything from Jane Fonda to Richard Simmons to 8 Minute Abs. It costs nothing, and I don’t have to be exposed to all those Size 2 twenty-somethings at the smelly gym.

    I supplement the workouts with a 10 minute speed walk a few times a week.
    .-= Bargain Junkie´s last blog ..Money-Saving Websites =-.

  13. This may not be of any help to you as I can remember how hard it was to get anything, especially exercising, done when my kids were little but I’ll share just in case. :)

    I am a certified personal trainer who recently quit work to devote more time to homemaking. I started a new blog to chronicle the many things I wish to accomplish and learn with my newfound time but I also post weekly workouts which require little to no equipment. Time-wise, they are geared for those who are trying to figure out how to fit regular exercise into their days. If you are interested, feel free to check it out!
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..Motivation Monday – 8 =-.

  14. I have three kids (and no money) and understand how you feel! I have been waking up earlier than the kids and/or before my husband leaves for work (5 am) and exercising. It makes my whole day better. If you don’t like getting up early, you could do it while your child naps or in the evening.

    I never did the gym/child care thing, as I figured my kids would be sick all the time if I did (and then I wouldn’t be able to or want to use the membership. I do DVDs at home, run, and use my 25 year old stairmaster. My current DVD favorites are Jillian Michaels, 30-day Shred and The Biggest Winner (there are 5 of those). I also have enjoyed The Firm DVDs for years. I get DVDs through my local library. If I love them, I buy them on Amazon, Ebay or Half.com. If you are a member of Netflix, that would be a great way to test them.

    Before you sign your life away, why don’t you give yourself a challenge? Earn that membership! Perhaps if you prove to yourself that you are dedicated to exercise, then it will make more sense to sign up. Perhaps if you exercise 5 days a week for a month, or lose 5 lbs (or whatever your goals are) then you can sign up. Remember, the gym won’t make you exercise! This is all about will-power.

    Finally, you’re right that doing something with your husband would be fun. How about training for a race (he could push the stroller) or biking together? Your son will be just fine… remember how good it is for him, too, to get fresh air and see his parents enjoying each other and exercising!

    Good luck!

  15. Excellent suggestions, Jaye!

    In fact, I’ve already sort of decided on a strategy you’ve outlined. I am not convinced that paying a membership fee will entice me to get to a gym. So I’m trying other (cheaper!) options first to see how that goes.

    You have a good point about child care + colds. Johnny is rarely sick, but when he does catch a sniffle it’s almost always after being around other little ones.

    I have an old Pilates DVD that I dusted off yesterday and I remember how much I liked it. I’m using Netflix and going to try some more!

  16. Wow! I guess there’s a lot of variability in Y’s. Our Y is $50/month for the family and two fitness center memberships (weights/cardio machines) with free childcare (1.5 -2 hours a day, set time slots).

    Until my newest baby was born 3 months ago, I went 3-5 times a week. Now I go 3 days a week. This time is fairly concrete for my sanity and health (I need to lose weight and its nearly the only thing i do for myself). The childcare is good, though i wish it didn’t have a TV, and the kids love going. We usually play in the gym or racketball court after i get them from the childwatch.

    Honestly–somedays the childcare is what motivates me to go!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Simplifying Hot Breakfast- WFMW =-.

  17. I just work out at home, or I run. I have a bunch of videos that I do or I do some stair workouts or body weight workouts. You can get a total workout a home with little cost. Good luck!
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Reviewing your New Year’s Goals =-.

  18. See if you can cut the child care aspect out of the equation. Team up with another mom and trade gym days. Not only do you get free child care with someone you trust (possibly in your own home), but the scheduled time will motivate you to go.
    No matter if you join an expensive gym, or work out to DVDs you got at a garage sale, or go for a fast walk, it’s all got to be less expenisive than the health care costs of being unhealthy. (Kacie, remind me that I typed this after I come out of my baby fog!)

  19. We had a free month to the Y and absolutely loved it, but our Y had crazy hours like 6am-11pm or something, childcare was only 8-8 i think. We loved it, I wanted to go every day, my motivation was looking and feeling better.

    If you’re interested in the 30 day shred I might be willing to loan you mine, I can’t do it while training for my half, it’s too much on my knees, so it’s just going to waste.

    Once the weather is warmer I’m sure a nice fast walk will sound much more appealing, even a slow walk pushing a jogging stroller is a major work out.

    email me if you’re interested in Jillian, I’ll loan it out. I DO love it.
    .-= Jes´s last blog ..Very good news… =-.

  20. Check with your health insurance. Mine gave discounted fees for gyms of your choice (Ballys, Curves etc). I chose my local gym and I am paying about 11.00 a week (for a couples rate).

    Also my Park District has state of the art gyms, some also have pools. They have yearly rates and family packages that are very reasonable.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

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