How Much Does It Really Cost to Get Into Fitness?
Almost everyone who sticks to their fitness routine has found a form of fitness they love. That may mean taking Crossfit classes several times a week, going for a run every morning, or hiring a personal trainer to walk them through a customized workout. But everything comes with a price tag.
Let's talk about what you'll spend in different scenarios, from the cost of each type of gym, to the upgrades you're likely to take, to the comparative cost of home alternatives.
Join a no-frills gym
What does it cost to get started? The main cost here is the membership itself. Budget chain gyms can be as low as $10 or $20 a month, with slightly nicer places around $50 or more. Watch out for extra fees in the fine print, though.
For your first day, you'll need athletic shoes, clothes and a gym bag with some basic necessities, such as a bottle of water. The cost of these varies, but you probably already have these items in your home.
Possible upgrades: A good personal trainer can walk you through a workout, remove your uncertainty about exactly what to do, and ensure that you are following a program that will lead you to your goals, whatever they may be. The average price of a one-hour session with a trainer is between $35 and $120, depending on how fancy your gym is.
If you don't work out with a trainer, you're on your own to plan your workouts and stick to your goals. Free or paid training programs or online trainers can fill the gap; prices vary widely.
Do it at home: It's impossible to fully replicate the gym experience at home, because the whole reason to go to a gym is that they have all the gear there. But you can get by with a collection of dumbbells or resistance bands, a barbell with weights if you can snag one, and maybe a cardio machine or some running shoes. The price for this investment varies widely depending on how much gear you want to collect.
What you need to get started: Crossfit gyms (as they are called) are among the most expensive gyms around. An average membership in the U.S. costs $156/month, according to Rounds for Time, but that's an average of unlimited memberships (often around $200) and more limited memberships (say $100 for once- or twice-weekly access). Like a regular gym, you'll need basic sportswear and equipment to get started.
Possible upgrades: Crossfit enthusiasts often collect special gear, such as multiple types of shoes, rope climbing socks and more. Because the sport is a combination of lifting, gymnastics and cardio, you may need more equipment than you would in a gym where you just do a few of the same things over and over. If you take the sport seriously, you may also have to pay extra for more gym time or classes.
Do it at home: As with a commercial gym, buying the necessary equipment quickly becomes very pricey. But many Crossfit-style workouts can be done with little or no equipment: think burpees and running. You can google free workout ideas, or sign up for an online service like Street Parking, which offers workouts for home for $19/month.
What do you need to get started? Classes at a fancy studio usually cost $20-40 each, with packages and memberships bringing the cost down slightly. My local CycleBar offers a 10-class package for $169 or unlimited cycling for $149/month; in the same area, SoulCycle charges $280 for a 10-class package.
Commercial gyms and community fitness centers sometimes offer cycling classes as part of the membership or as an add-on package, for significantly less than trendy studios.
Possible upgrades: If you do this long enough, you'll eventually want your own shoes, which cost around $100.
Do it at home: Peloton is the classic option here, and there are other companies that will sell you a similar smart bike. Peloton's standard package is $2000 for the bike and accessories, and membership is $39/month on top of that.
You can also use the cheaper Peloton app (or another app, like Apple's Fitness+) with an indoor bike you already have, or you can put your bike on an indoor trainer for a completely DIY experience.
What you need to get started: Shoes, for starters. If you have a pair of old sneakers that don't hurt your feet, you'll be fine, but soon you'll probably be buying a pair of real running shoes for around $100.
And if you have breasts, a good quality sports bra is a must. Depending on how much support you need, you'll spend anywhere from $20 to $50 or more. (If you hand wash it after every run, you only need one or two).
Possible upgrades: Once you get serious about running, you'll probably want a watch that can track your pace and other data like your heart rate. (Garmins are favored by serious runners; Fitbits or Apple Watches suffice for most occasional runners.)
And then there are the races. The entry fee for a local 5K is about $25, but marathons and half-marathons easily cost $100 and more. Large marathons can run up to $300, if you can enter them at all, and sometimes runners plan a vacation around their dream race. This is a sport that can cost as much or as little as you want.
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