aSweatLife Asks: What Fits Your Fitness Budget?
  • February 16, 2017
  • These days, there’s more options than ever when it comes to getting fit. The number of gyms is growing, fitness clothes continue to innovate (mesh is so hot right now) and there’s more variety in ways to sweat. Juice bars are the new cupcake shops – and millennials are leading the way in spending in the fitness category, shelling out more money on fitness than any other generation.

    Here at aSweatLife, we were curious how these fitness trends translate to real people’s everyday budgets – so we asked. We’re also huge fans of Refinery 29’s Money Diaries series (if you haven’t read them, they are ADDICTING – you’re welcome), so we decided to make our own version to help us understand how millennial women are budgeting for fitness expenses.

    Fitness Budgets

    When we reached out for volunteers, we were surprised by how many women were unsure of their spending habits. In the day and age of keeping up with the Jones’s on social media, it’s hard to tell how much others spend and save and where we fit in. Money and spending continues to be taboo, and we’re trying to help start the conversation (at least around fitness spending), so you can decide what works best for you.

    Joe Biden once said, “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

    What have we learned so far from your budgets? We’ve heard that spending money on good shoes is worth it, that free gyms in buildings are a great perk and that working out at home seems like a great idea – but can be kind of weird to do.

    Here’s the fitness budget breakdown for a few select millennial women in Chicago.

    ***

    Age: 26

    Industry: Marketing / Outdoor & Active Apparel

    Rent/Mortgage: 1,250 monthly rent

    Neighborhood: Ukrainian Village

    Monthly budget for regular gym: $65 (Chicago Athletic Clubs)

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: Gym membership includes classes that I need (yoga, swim, HIIT)

    Monthly budget for personal training: $150, Running Coach

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: Does this include shoes? Did a brand I like launch a new product? It totally depends – but it can be anywhere from $50-$200

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges? I work for a fitness brand, so it’s pretty easy to splurge. Does post long run brunch with friends count as a splurge? If I run solo I won’t go out for brunch, but if I run with friends I’m more likely to.

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? November Project, I’ve gone to NRC, and The North Face runs and in-store workouts

    Do you ever work out at home? On occasion, and it would be more body weight workouts: I do core workouts, push-ups, and nothing longer than 30 minutes. I’d like to buy a bike trainer someday.

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)? I probably spend $60-80 a month on fitness fuel, like Nuun, gels, pre-workout, Larabar or another type of bar. If I need to buy protein that month, it is an extra $30-$50 for a tub 

    ***

    Age: 28

    Industry: Consulting

    Rent/Mortgage: <$2k/month for two

    Neighborhood: Lakeview

    Monthly budget for regular gym: $0

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: Varies from $15/month to $160/month, depending on what fitness events and deals are available. I track my monthly spending on a graph to stay on top of it.

    Monthly budget for personal training: $0

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges? I am so guilty of an overflowing drawer of workout clothes. Because I’m so often at fitness events, whether they’re #Sweatworking events or free events through Nike and other brands, I find myself photographed in gym clothes way more than is normal. I use this as my constant justification for why I’m always buying new clothes!

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? I take a ton of advantage of free classes which is how I usually keep my monthly budget down! I’m always on the Nike app at 2 pm on Sundays, trying to get at least one class a week. Whenever I’m offered a free class – in a #Sweatworking swag bag, as part of a race packet – I always work it into my schedule. In the summer, I can work out almost every day for free between running for race training, November Project, free classes and friends who are willing to get together and work out by the lake.

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)? When people ask how I afford my fitness routine, I often say I’m sort of an anomaly because of how much I work out for free. But the truth is, if you’re willing to be a little flexible and take the time to find free classes, you can seriously cut down your budget so that you don’t feel so guilty when you pay for a pilates drop-in. I also take a ton of advantage of deals. I’m always scouring Groupon and Gilt City for good fitness deals. But I also subscribe to emails from all the gyms I love because they frequently send deals out to their email subscribers.

    ***

    Age: 27

    Industry: Marketing

    Rent/Mortgage: $1,065

    Neighborhood: Old Town

    Monthly budget for regular gym: $0

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: $60-$115 for ClassPass; depending on how much I’m traveling in a given month I’ll switch between the 5-pack and the 10-pack. I probably could cut ClassPass down to 5/month if I really wanted to. Every now and then I’ll take a one-off fitness class somewhere I can’t use ClassPass, and that’s generally around $20.

    Monthly budget for personal training: $0

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: I don’t build it into my regular budget, but it’s safe to say I spend $100 every three months or so.

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges? I’m a sucker for a good pair of shoes — running, training, or even just cool-looking sneakers I can wear to work. I used to spend a lot on apparel, but now I’ve recognized that I have way more than I’ll ever wear, and I feel a lot less pressure to have the latest pair of leggings or a trendy tank for a workout class. Shoes are a little different though because running in beat-up old shoes or training in the wrong shoes can really hurt you, so it’s something I’m willing to invest in. And throw a pair of cool studio-to-street sneakers in my general line of sight, and you can just take my money.

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? I try to run outside 1-2x a week when the weather is bearable. My office also has a pretty decent gym that I use 2-3x a week for interval and strength workouts that I make up myself (it was a $50 one-time cost, and I’ve definitely gotten my cost-per-use out of it!). Oh, and my office sponsors corporate sports teams with Chicago Sport & Social, so I’ve jumped into an indoor soccer league this winter. It’s super fun and a great workout, but I am absolutely terrified of getting injured.

    Do you ever work out at home? I do not. I feel weirdly self-conscious about my neighbors hearing me jumping around or my roommate walking in on me. Plus, I am never able to motivate myself to work as hard as when I’m in an actual gym surrounded by other people. The most I’ll ever do is some light stretching or foam rolling.

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)? I just bought a package of 12 tennis lessons with a couple of friends that ends up coming to about $30/lesson (less if it’s warm enough to play on a free outdoor court). It is kind of a splurge, especially since we had to pay up front, but I’m dropping my ClassPass down to 5/month since I won’t need it as much if I’m playing tennis (and indoor soccer) regularly. TBD on if this becomes a regular expense since this is our first package of lessons together, but it’d be really fun to play more on the free courts in the summer.

    In general, I used to spend way more on fitness (probably twice as much as I’m spending now, at least), but I recently cut personal training out and am consciously looking for fitness apparel that I NEED rather than just want. I’m using the extra money to contribute more seriously to my savings/retirement/investment accounts every month.

    I think it’s also important to note that fitness spending hugely overlaps with social spending among my circle of friends. It’s not uncommon to get a text from someone asking if you want to go to a SoulCycle theme ride and then brunch at a trendy new place, or a free outdoor workout class and then smoothies (which always somehow end up costing over $10 — how?! Are they made with gold dust and water from the Fountain of Youth?!). I think it’s mostly a good thing because it motivates me to work out and try new places, but it also tricks me into going over my monthly fitness budget because I’m like, “Well, I’m spending money on something that’s healthy, that can’t be a bad thing.”  

    ***

    Age: 24

    Industry: Publishing / Events / Group Fitness

    Rent/Mortgage: $880/month (with two roommates)

    Neighborhood: Lakeview

    Monthly budget for regular gym: $0, no gym membership

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: $60; ClassPass for 5 classes/month

    Monthly budget for personal training: $0

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: $100/month (sometimes it’s nothing, but when I do buy, usually every 3ish months, I buy a few things)

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges?  I buy expensive coffee to “treat myself” after a workout, I feel like smoothies are “necessary energy” to keep me going, and lulu is “worth the investment” so I probably either don’t buy it at all or I buy the more expensive option (which is so dumb because I’m so cheap in so many ways but with these “investments” I honestly have a totally different mindset) – I also experienced tendinitis in both my feet so I don’t mess around with my shoes. I buy new shoes, both for running and cross training at least every 8 months.

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? If others want to go I’ll go, but I don’t seek workouts because they’re free.

    Do you ever work out at home? Sometimes will pair a run with a quick bodyweight workout at home, sometimes use friends’ condo gyms and make up workouts with them (like maybe once every other month) and sometimes practice yoga at home (maybe twice a month).

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)? I could technically work out for free where I teach, and I have enough clothes to get by for sure, but I still spend money on ClassPass to stay in the know about what people are doing and to keep up with friends who have ClassPass (at a certain point, it was like everyone had it and could work out anywhere and it felt silly that I wasn’t on the train with them), and I buy the clothes simply because I get suckered into it because I see it everywhere from teaching to what co-workers (other instructors) can vouch for, and I justify it because “that’s like my work wardrobe.”

    ***

    Age: 25

    Industry: Tech

    Rent/Mortgage: $1,600

    Monthly budget for regular gym: $150

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: $50

    Monthly budget for personal training: Used to be $600 but I gave up on it because I actually get less motivated with a personal trainer.

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: $0. I try to keep myself out of Lululemon (I boycotted it after they raised prices but didn’t appear to make the product any better). But I splurge on a trip to the Nike employee store every couple years (who says no to 50% off Nike everything?)

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges? CorePower classes. Hot yoga is my not-so-guilty pleasure.

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? I’m not a big class girl. Mostly if I do classes then I do them at the gym. Equinox has this amazing spin class called the pursuit – it’s competitive and it’s about wattage. It’s a great way to get out the competitive impulses.

    Do you ever work out at home? No, never. The idea freaks me out. At most I foam roll while watching Netflix.

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)?  I think the rest of my fitness spending ends up going to trying to eat healthily. Particularly in Chicago, healthy foods (fresh vegetables, free range meats) are incredibly expensive.

    ***

    Age: 27

    Industry: Education (for now, but I am about to switch into healthcare)

    Rent/Mortgage: $1,000/month

    Neighborhood: Lincoln Park

    Monthly budget for regular gym: I actually just joined Xsport, but I might cancel it. $40/month

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: $100/month

    Monthly budget for personal training: $0

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: $50 (I probably only buy new things every two months or so)

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges?  I love new sports bras and leggings … when I see deals online I tend to want to buy them/try them. I love testing out new little workout clothing companies.

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? I try to. It’s more about timing/availability than cost for me, unfortunately. If I work out in the morning, I’m less likely to go to an additional free class, but I try to when I can!

    Do you ever work out at home? On occasion. I do both, but I’m pretty disciplined to stick to my bootcamp/gym schedule, so I don’t find it necessary. If I am out of town or something, I will usually do something at home or via DVD to make sure I do it.

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)? I think it depends on priorities and what you enjoy. To me, I am willing to pay for a gym that I know I’ll utilize. I spend $99/month at Kick, but I go 6x per week, so to me it evens out in terms of cost. I think if it’s something important to you, it’s worth the money.

    ***

    Age: 24

    Industry: Sales/Fashion

    Rent/Mortgage: $1,350

    Neighborhood: Lakeview

    Monthly budget for regular gym: included in my building, $0

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: $0

    Monthly budget for personal training: $0

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: $50

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges? Buying salads for lunch at work ($12/day maybe 3 or 4 times a week)

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? No, but I should.

    Do you ever work out at home?  I do 150 sit ups and 50 squats before my shower… and 50 squats every time I go to the bathroom, haha.

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)? I think I would join more classes if they weren’t so expensive in the city. My schedule is so hectic and ever-changing that I can’t commit to anything without feeling like I might be wasting money.

    ***

    Age: 30

    Industry: Law

    Rent/Mortgage: $0 – I own my condo, no mortgage

    Neighborhood: West Loop

    Monthly budget for regular gym: $0

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: $50

    Monthly budget for personal training: none

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: $150

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges? Way too many clothes from Athleta, leggings in particular. And Fitbit – I have three trackers.

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? I have a free gym in my condo building and I run outside.

    Do you ever work out at home? I stretch and sometimes do Fitbit workouts.

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)? I do a few races throughout the year. Probably $500 a year on those. New shoes each year is probably $300.

     ***

    Age: 25

    Industry: Fitness/Healthcare/Entrepreneur

    Rent/Mortgage: $900

    Neighborhood: Old Town/Lincoln Park

    Monthly budget for regular gym: Free (but only because 3/4 jobs are at a gym/fitness facility, and #jobperks) However, if I didn’t get my gym membership for free, I’d pay for it.

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: I know I’m an anomaly on this, but with free access to a variety of gyms and primarily being a runner, I don’t really spend anything on fitness classes in a month. And I would say where I am financially, I don’t have the excess budget to pay for additional classes since I have multiple places to work out.

    Monthly budget for personal training: $0

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: Too much! Don’t judge, probably $50-150 depending on the month, but these double as work clothes so it’s two categories in one.

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges? Oiselle clothes. I need to unsubscribe from the emails.

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? Yes, yes, yes. Love checking out different gyms when classes are discounted or free for a trial, NRC is great, and run clubs across the city!

    Do you ever work out at home? Yes! I test workouts that I’m going to send or use with clients, especially core/body weight (with bands, gliders, power bands) workouts. I also do a lot of my running specific body weight work at home post-run.

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)? An area that I think will see significant growth in the future is that of personal coaches (for runners, triathletes, cycling events, adventure type runs, etc.) – it’s essentially a specialized form of personal training.

    ***

    Age: 23

    Industry: Real Estate

    Rent/Mortgage: ~$1,600

    Neighborhood: Gold Coast

    Monthly budget for regular gym: $75

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: $0

    Monthly budget for personal training: $0

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: $0

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges? Arctic Zero + Quest bars

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? No

    Do you ever work out at home? Once or twice I did Kayla Itsines at home, but I had to use champagne and wine bottles as dumbbells.

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)? I used to spend crazy amounts per month on CrossFit, then later, CorePower Yoga. I’ve since decided I am never going to be a fitness person so I might as well just join a boring gym.

    ***

    Age: 27

    Industry: Finance

    Rent/Mortgage: $1,450

    Neighborhood: Lakeview

    Monthly budget for regular gym: $55 for just a plain ol’ gym in my work building. I definitely don’t use it as much as I should, but I aim to go at least once a week.

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: $60/month for 5 classes on ClassPass. I’m a huge fan of searching for deals on Gilt City. When I buy a deal (like an unlimited month at a gym), I’ll usually put my ClassPass on hold for the month I use it.

    Monthly budget for personal training: $0 (used to be much higher, but it was getting too expensive)

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: This also used to be much higher, but I’ve become much more selective now that I’ve built up my fitness wardrobe. I’ll spend $100 every few months on a new pair of leggings or sports bras. I’ll get a new pair of running shoes every year (at least), which usually cost around $100.

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges? I probably treat myself to a smoothie twice a month … when I really need motivation to make it to class I used a smoothie as a bargaining chip with myself.

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? I do! I try to do intro offers to gyms, and if I like them I will continue to go to them using ClassPass (or I’ll buy a few classes in the future). I occasionally will drop in a Nike class or do a fun run through Fleet Feet or Nike Run Club.

    Do you ever work out at home? I tell myself that I will more than I do. I probably tell myself that I’m going to work out at home once a week, but the reality is that I actually do it around once a month. I have a few sets of dumbbells, a yoga mat and resistance bands at home. Occasionally, I’ll search for a workout on websites like aSweatLife and do them, but it’s hard to stay motivated when I’m on my own. Aside from that, I usually run outside at least once a week in the winter, and closer to three times a week in the summer.

    Any other typical spending on fitness (or thoughts on it)? I also spend some money every year signing up for races and sports leagues with friends, but those aren’t recurring monthly expenses. I probably buy entries for 1-2 half marathons each year and a handful of smaller races. I also tend to blend a lot of my fitness spending with social spending; I would much rather spend $30 on a fitness class and coffees to celebrate a friend’s birthday than on drinks at a bar.

    ***

    Age: 23

    Industry: Sales

    Rent/Mortgage: $900, living with roommates

    Neighborhood: Lincoln Park

    Monthly budget for regular gym: $65

    Monthly budget for fitness classes: I buy packages to Flywheel and Studio Three

    Monthly budget for personal training: $0

    Monthly budget (rough estimate) for fitness clothes: Probably around $200

    Any guilty “fitness” splurges? I own too much Lulu everything and spend way too much money at Real Good Juice Co!

    Do you take advantage of any free workouts/classes? I do not take advantage of these, but I totally should.

     

    Don’t see someone like you represented here? You can submit your responses to admin@asweatlife.com for the next round (we’ll keep it anonymous, promise)!

    About Cass Gunderson

    Cass hails from the southwest suburbs as a proud White Sox fan and a graduate of University of Illinois. By day, Cass is an associate at ParkerGale, a small private equity firm that buys profitable technology companies. Raised as the youngest in a family of older brothers, Cass grew up a tomboy and remains active in sports. To her mother’s satisfaction, Cass learned how to embrace her feminine side in college and has developed an interest for fitness activities that require spandex as opposed to knee-length basketball shorts. In her spare time, she runs a lot (sometimes for hours and hours) because it is cheaper than paying for real therapy. The rest of her spare time is spent convincing herself that pizza and donuts can be part of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet. Cass is hoping to complete her fifth marathon in 2016 and can still be found on the basketball courts in Lincoln Park wearing knee-length basketball shorts.

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