Every day I hear from people how expensive getting healthy is. It really isn’t. Yeah, running shoes are ridiculous, gym memberships can get pricey, your local box charges as much money as your landlord or mortgage. Not to mention having a home gym. I have a home gym, everyone is always saying how they would have a home gym if they could afford it.
I decided to write this article on how cheap getting into a healthy lifestyle really can be.
Gym Memberships. I’m starting with this one. I’m always hearing, I can’t afford to go to the gym. Here’s the scoop on gym costs. Most gyms charge $10 a month. And most of the time you can get the $99 start up fees waived. Or just sign up when they don’t have them. Now, it’s not the crème de la crème. But it’s a gym. It has the necessities. If you want a specialty gym, that’s where the prices start to go up. A local box by me, for those that don’t know a Box is a CrossFit gym, charges about $450 a month for unlimited classes, $250 for 2-3 classes a week. Each box varies, just like each specialty gym. So if you want to go for something like powerlifting, boxing, crossfit, yoga. Expect to pay a lot more.
Food. Food is a necessity. You need it to survive. But you don’t need to go broke just trying to continue to eat healthy. For two people (one being a kid) I spend roughly $100-$150 every two weeks on groceries. About $30 of that is in chicken or lean cut meats, a month. Honestly, if I trimmed up my shopping list and menu a bit more, I could be spending less than $100 every two weeks. The first thing I do, I check the fliers. What sales are going on, any really good solid deals? Like the other day, 10 for $1 on limes. I use lime juice as dressing on my salads. Or $1.50 per pound of chicken, I stocked up and got about $50 worth, which is A LOT of chicken. Enough to last me two-three months. Bell peppers, 4 for $1. Potatoes $1.50 for a bag. These are all recent sales. My grocery bill for last week was $60. Granted, my daughter wasn’t home. But still, $60 for one person. Pretty damn good. The second thing I do, write a menu based on the sales. I have my basic menus planned out twelve weeks in advance. They get modified every week, based on the sales. So if I wrote down chicken, but pork tenderloin is on sale, guess what I’m eating. Then I modify my macros as I make the changes. Veggies and fruit tend to cost more when they’re not in season. Plan for that. And last, how much do you go out to eat? Is it every day at lunch? Dinner? Breakfast? How much is your daily coffee? Start cutting eating out. It will save you significant money. Plan for a day or two a month that you’ll for sure go out. Like your daily Starbucks trips? Load your card once a week, or once every other week. Only get your coffee, especially since breakfast should have been prepared, is it a sugary drink? Start getting regular coffee.
Supplement. I seriously just talked to a friend of mine about this the other day. She was telling me about this new preworkout, but it’s $70 for a tub. Granted that’s sixty servings. But $70 is $70. Protein powders can be anywhere between $25 - $80. Sometimes more! And you never know if you’re getting a good quality supplement. I’m going to give you a few tips. To find the best quality products, go to Labdoor.com. When I first discovered this site, it was just protein and BCAA’s. Now it’s more. There are still a lot of brands that are not on there, but considering how fast their growing. I wouldn’t be surprised that they will have all of the brands on the market.
Now, back to saving some money. I’m a big believer in discounts. I’m a member at GNC and at Vitamin Shoppe. I do a lot of cross checking and planning before buying anything. My ridiculous method… Amazon, GNC, and Vitamin Shoppe. Whichever is the cheapest is where I go. If it’s the same cost between Amazon and one of the stores, I go to the store. Another tip. Go to a fitness expo. The Arnold, Chicago Fit Expo, LA Fit Expo, the Olympia, etc. The samples and prices are the best there is. I spent about $200 on supplements last year at the Arnold and am now just running out of the protein I got. As for samples, I keep those in my gym bag and travel with them. It’s easier to carry and pack. And less of a pain in the ass to explain that the white powder is not drugs, but pre-workout. Anyway, the first time I went to the Arnold, I left with a duffle bag of samples. Just to give you an idea as to how much they just hand out. Over the years they’ve stopped giving out so much, but if you hit the right time it’s a free for all. Another tip, buy in bulk. If you can. I try and get my vitamins once a year, why? Because there’s a percentage that’s taken off of bulk items.
Recovery. Recovery is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle. You want your body working 100% as much as possible. So there are different ways to spend time to recover. Aside from just actual rest. There are these amazing boots out there that help with leg day recovery. However, they're like $4,000. Now, those with barely a living wage, no way we can afford that. So here's what I discovered that helps. Epsom salt, essential oils, and kinesieology tape. Kinesiology tape can get pricey. And some brands just plain ol' suck. Especially for what you pay for them. Best place to shop is Amazon. There are several brands that I use. Depends on what's on sale. If I'm desperate I get Mueller tape from Walgreens. It's half the price of KT Tape and Rock Tape.
Personal Training. Personal trainers are expensive. They charge quite a bit for only an hour a few days a week. I would know, I am one and I’ve had trainers in the past. If you go to a big box gym, guaranteed the trainer is only making about $10-$12 an hour. Not even the full $40 that you’re paying. Considering the amount of time and effort a trainer puts into their client, that’s not enough. As a trainer, I would tell you to go to a smaller gym, a private one. There are other options too. But you have to be able to do everything on your own. The first, being online training. Some trainers go online and train clients virtually. They write a program and a menu, you follow and then talk to the trainer when you need to. Price point is usually about $200 - $400 a month, sometimes more. The other is purchasing an ebook or what I call etrainers. It’s a program, usually between eight to twelve weeks of training already written out for you, sometimes with a menu. Or those handy little apps, like Volt. You pay monthly and it’s totally worth it. Also, cheaper than a trainer. Most etrainers are between $50-$150. Depends on the trainer really. We put a lot of time and effort into our trainers. And paying $100 one time vs $40+ an hour a few days a week for a minimum of three months… it’s kind of worth it.
The extra tidbits. You know, Garmin, TomTom, Fitbit, Polar, etc. You see people posting their results on Facebook or Instagram. Yeah those. They’re not a necessity. And I have a Garmin and a polar watch. I use the Garmin mostly. But it’s a nice tool to have. Do I really need it? No. In this day and age, we all have some sort of smart phone. I’m also pretty sure you take your phone with you everywhere, right? There are plenty of free apps out there that you can use in place of a silly old watch.
Bringing it back to the home gym. So you have the space, sort of, for a home gym. I’m lucky enough to be able to use my grandma’s basement for my home gym. When I move, I’ll make sure I have at least some of the space still. However, some people aren’t given that luxury. If you’re willing to spend the money, you can get a squat rack that folds against the wall. Plus add a weight tree to hold your plates and bar. Done. Space saved. If you have the space, but are limited on funds. Which is where I’m at. There are a few options. The first, craigslist. The majority of the stuff I have in my home gym is from Craigslist. I was lucky to be gifted a set of bumper plates. But my dumbbells, bag, bag stand, bars (yes, plural), and my iron plates are all from craigslist. I didn’t spend any more than $200 on all of that. My power rack is a short rack, since the ceiling is low. That was from Titan Fitness. Paid under $300 for it. Then the accessories. Amazon. My battle rope is an old decommissioned fire hose. Grand total of my home gym: $550. If I got everything brand new, it would have been well over $3,000. I’m still shopping around for a rower. But even a decent cheap one is $700. That’s something I’m saving up for. You don't need much for a home gym. Some dumbbells, a balance ball, a jump rope. Most of which you can get at a Five Below, Target, Amazon, Craigslist, etc. If you're looking to get stuff for a home gym, save your money before purchasing everything. And shop around!
Clothes. Yeah, we all want to wear Under Armor, Nike, Reebok, Lululemon. But our bank accounts are saying, wishful thinking. Which it really is. Any of the name brand stuff I have, I got on a black Friday sale and at a outlet mall. But honestly, the best workout clothes I have are from Target’s clearance section. Or Old Navy. Old Navy has some pretty amazing deals, and their workout clothes are pretty awesome too. During the holidays, you could easily go in there with $100 and get enough gym clothes to last you a few months. Old Navy outlet? Even better!
Just because you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle, doesn’t mean you need to be broke in the process. Find things you can cut out and things to replace it with. Work it into your budget. If you want the fancy specialty gym, then figure out where you can cut costs.
What do you do to save money?
New tanks coming soon! In the meantime, check out my current tanks on sale.
Kristy Kronas is a Certified Personal Trainer in the burbs of Chicago. She is a single parent and author with a children's book being published this fall! She has a passion for lifting, boxing, kayaking, and a hatred of running. Watch out for her new venture this March when she launches a daily podcast called the 'Daily Donut.' If you have any questions, comments, or just want to say hi, shoot her an email!
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