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