HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET INTO SHAPE?

Get­ting in shape doesn’t need to be ex­pen­sive. In fact, time will give you a bet­ter re­turn on your fit­ness in­vest­ment than money. But for those of you who judge a work­out by how much it costs, here’s the price of var­i­ous ex­er­cise op­tions along with the pr

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RUN­NING, WALK­ING, SWIM­MING, CY­CLING

The only fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment needed for these do-it-your­self work­outs is gear. Keep­ing in mind that the gen­eral rule of thumb is to start with en­try-level equip­ment, go to a sports-spe­cific store for ad­vice on what to buy. Most re­tail­ers will re­spect your de­sire to be price con­scious in hopes that you’ll find suc­cess and come back to rein­vest in bet­ter gear.

Pros: The low cost of DIY work­outs make them af­ford­able with­out di­min­ish­ing their ef­fec­tive­ness.

Cons: Coach­ing or in­struc­tion is not in­cluded in the cost, which means suc­cess is based on your abil­ity to build and fol­low your own train­ing pro­grams.

Tips: Plenty of run­ning, cy­cling, walk­ing and swim­ming clubs pro­vide weekly group work­outs for minimal mem­ber­ship fees.

SMALL STU­DIOS

Small fit­ness stu­dios of­fer­ing spe­cialty pro­grams (yoga, Pi­lates, spin­ning, boot camp, Cross­Fit, Barre fit­ness, etc.) use equip­ment spe­cific to the work­out. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the more equip­ment needed for the work­out (Cross­Fit) the more ex­pen­sive the mem­ber­ship. Most stu­dios break their fees into monthly pay­ment plans based on a se­lect num­ber of classes per week and the length of the con­tract — three, six, nine or 12 months, with the best rates re­served for any­one who com­mits for year. Monthly fees range from $100-$200 or more.

Start with a three-month (or less) con­tract/com­mit­ment so you can gauge not just whether the work­out is a good fit, but also how well the class sched­ule works with your sched­ule and whether the in­struc­tors and classes are en­joy­able.

Pros: Small group classes mean more at­ten­tion from the in­struc­tor and a smaller, tighter work­out com­mu­nity that in­creases com­mit­ment to the work­out and en­gage­ment with peo­ple who ex­er­cise along­side you.

Cons: Lim­ited se­lec­tion of classes and in­struc­tors means you need to pre­fer con­sis­tency to va­ri­ety. Locker rooms are bare bones, and most don’t of­fer child­care.

FULL-SER­VICE FIT­NESS CLUBS

The monthly fees de­manded by full-ser­vice fit­ness clubs are sim­i­lar to many of the smaller bou­tique stu­dios, but they of­fer less flex­i­bil­ity in the length of the con­tract. Most re­quire a 12-month open-ended con­tract, which means a monthly draw from your credit card un­til you can­cel. The up­side is that your mem­ber­ship prob­a­bly cov­ers all fit­ness classes, gym work­outs and ac­cess to all the fa­cil­i­ties, which can in­clude a pool, gym­na­sium, run­ning track, etc.

The fees, which cost any­where from $130-$200 or more a month, fea­ture a packed sched­ule of group fit­ness classes that range from trendy to tra­di­tional, as well as sev­eral classes tar­get­ing spe­cific ages and fit­ness lev­els. You’ll also find spin and yoga stu­dios, a gym filled with car­dio equip­ment and weights, and well equipped locker rooms.

Pros: If you like to mix up your work­outs be­tween car­dio, weights and group ex­er­cise, then a full-ser­vice fit­ness club is your best op­tion. For shift work­ers or any­one who likes to work out late at night or early in the morn­ing, the op­er­at­ing hours of full ser­vice fit­ness clubs tend to be more gen­er­ous than bou­tique stu­dios.

Cons: The more ser­vices the club of­fers, the more ex­pen­sive the mem­ber­ship, with lit­tle op­por­tu­nity to “pay as you go.” With large mem­ber­ships and busy fit­ness classes, you’ll be com­pet­ing for a spot in the most pop­u­lar classes and fit­ness ma­chines.

Tip: Check out the prices at your local univer­sity, which tend to be cheaper than pri­vate fit­ness clubs and of­fer perks like squash courts and swim­ming pools. Keep in mind that the clien­tele will be pri­mar­ily in their 20s and the sched­ule is de­signed to ac­com­mo­date stu­dents not young pro­fes­sion­als, par­ents or se­niors.

COM­MU­NITY CEN­TRES

Most cities have recre­ation cen­tres that of­fer fit­ness classes and a weight room at bar­gain prices for res­i­dents. The sched­ule tends to be heavy on tra­di­tional fit­ness of­fer­ings with lim­ited spe­cial­ized equip­ment, but you can’t beat the price of the classes, which usu­ally run about 10 to 15 weeks. Classes and ser­vices of­ten are avail­able à la carte, which means you can pay for group ex­er­cise in­struc­tion with­out hav­ing to buy a mem­ber­ship to the weight room and vice versa. Prices range from $40-$80 per course, per ses­sion, which is usu­ally sea­sonal (fall, win­ter, spring or sum­mer). Weight room mem­ber­ship fees vary depend­ing on the num­ber of ma­chines and the level of su­per­vi­sion.

Pros: Com­mu­nity cen­tres are a great place for fam­i­lies and se­niors, two pop­u­la­tions not well served in fit­ness clubs. Par­ents can work­out while their kids take ad­van­tage of kid-spe­cific pro­gram­ing and se­niors can get to­gether weekly in classes specif­i­cally geared to their needs.

Cons: If you’re look­ing for trendy fit­ness op­tions or the lat­est equip­ment, you won’t find it at your local com­mu­nity cen­tre, which tend to hang on to their sched­ule and equip­ment longer than most pri­vate fit­ness clubs.

HEATHER HOWARD/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS/FILES

At small fit­ness stu­dios, spe­cialty classes use equip­ment spe­cific to the work­out. Usu­ally, the cost of the class re­flects how much equip­ment is needed.

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