Fitness that's good for you and your wallet

More than half of Millennials say they are more likely to spend money on fitness than save for their financial future.1 For many Millennials, exercise is part of their daily lifestyle and it's about keeping in shape, but also being social and having fun.

Gym memberships, trendy fitness classes and fashionable workout clothes can all come with a hefty price tag. Exercising is important for your health and overall wellbeing, but how much do you have to spend to keep fit?

We spoke to Manulife Fitness Program Coordinator, David Hatch, to get his take on budget-friendly workout routines that leave more money in our pocket at the end of the month. Here are Hatch's top tips on where to save and where to spend:

 

Where to Save

Gym memberships

Be honest with yourself. Will you use the rock-climbing wall, indoor driving range and on-site barber shop? These extras can be costly. “Instead of locking into expensive long-term gym memberships with amenities you won’t use, find barebones fitness centres with short-term commitments.” Also, check if your employer offers a gym at your office or subsidizes memberships at local gyms.

Personal training

Don’t purchase huge personal training packages. “Buy 5 to 10 personal training sessions, learn as much as you can, take the information and implement it,” says Hatch. Also, you can now find trainers and coaches online. Many give lots of free valuable information even before asking you to sign up with them.

Workout clothes

You can shell out of a lot of money for trendy athletic wear. How much you spend really comes down to your budget and priorities. “Wearing expensive fitness clothes won’t help make you fitter,” says Hatch. Instead, opt for non-branded workout wear, visit factory outlets or wait for end-of-season sales to buy t-shirts, running shorts and athletic tights from your favourite brands.

Home gym equipment

Full home gyms and stationary bikes can cost thousands of dollars. Stay away from online offers and set up your own home gym by buying a few inexpensive items. Hatch suggests adjustable dumb bells, a resistance band and a stability ball to get started. “You can do about a hundred exercises with these simple tools,” he says.

Yoga

Why not try free outdoor yoga this summer? Many yoga studios offer this option and it’s a good way to see if downward dog and warrior pose are right for you. If you want to stick with it, but save money, there are many free yoga videos available online or you could try a class offered by your local community centre which tends to be more affordable.

Outdoor activities

You don’t have to hit the gym at all, many activities you can do outside are free. Whether you walk, run or play basketball with your friends, once you have the basic equipment, there is no additional cost. And don’t underestimate the benefit of doing something small, like a daily walk. Hatch remembers asking a client how she developed her strength, and her response was: nothing, just walking every morning.

Where to Spend

Fitness tracker

“Being able to track your activity throughout the day can be hugely motivating,” says Hatch. Most fitness trackers monitor steps and sleep, but some also track your heart rate and breathing and integrate GPS. If you’re a competitive person, you’ll probably enjoy watching your progress or seeing how you stack up against your friends through apps that connect to your social networks.

Long-term investments

Hatch is looking at a bike for his next big purchase. “If you know you’re going to use a piece of sports equipment every day and for a long time, it’s worth the investment,” he says. Be honest with yourself though, if you’re only dabbling in a sport it’s better to buy second-hand or rent.

Shoes

Splurge on quality shoes and make sure you buy them for the activity you’re planning to use them for. Running shoes have more cushioning in the heel to absorb the impact. Cross trainers are the right choice for anything from boot camp to spinning classes. “You should invest in a new pair every 3 to 6 months,” says Hatch. “It will help you stay comfortable and prevent injury.” 

Recovery

Rest and recovery are crucial for optimal performance because that’s when your body repairs and strengthens itself. Hatch recommends investing in recovery, whether that means buying a foam roller to do exercises at home, or booking regular appointments with your massage therapist or physiotherapist.

Charitable sporting events

Signing up for your first 5k charity run will give you a goal to work towards. “The cost for registration is money well spent,” says Hatch. “It goes to a rewarding cause and commits you to doing it.” Completing your first run with a big crowd of enthusiastic fundraisers can be very inspirational and may get you hooked on running.

This article is intended to promote awareness and is for educational purposes only.

 

1 Bank of America; Merrill Edge® Report. Aron Levine. May 19, 2017.