Alexis Ohanian can easily afford to pay for premium fitness equipment: Along with cofounder Steve Huffman, Ohanian sold the online platform Reddit in 2006, within two years of launching it, for a reported sum of $10-$20 million. But after he bought a top-of-the-line bike for his home at about $2,000 plus a monthly subscription fee, Ohanian realized there was just one problem.
"It's a stationary bike, so by definition, I can't travel with it," he told The Financial Diet. It "spends more time doing nothing, and every month I get the fee."
Though Ohanian is devoted to wellness, with his busy travel schedule the equipment turned out to be impractical. Ohanian, who married tennis star Serena Williams in 2017, wanted to keep working out on the road. So he found a solution to his $2,000 problem — for a fraction of the price. "I got myself a TRX," he said, "which is a really basic rope system that you can throw over a door hinge and do weight training."
At $200, the system promised him a workout that better fit his schedule and needs. "It was a way better return on investment for my health and well-being," said Ohanian.
Before purchasing fitness equipment, it's important to figure out if it works with your lifestyle. If you're on the go, workouts that don't require equipment can be effective. The American Council on Exercise has a list of 25 workouts that can be done from home.
Ohanian would probably approve: "You can live a very fit, healthy life not spending a dime on exercise equipment," he told The Financial Diet.
The problem goes beyond underutilized equipment. Americans also spend $1.8 billion on unused gym memberships, according to Finder.com. The average gym membership costs $58 per month, although monthly membership fees can range anywhere from $10 at places like Planet Fitness to more than $200 at upscale chains like Equinox.
Here's what to consider when choosing a gym membership or fitness program to make sure it fits your lifestyle and your budget:
- Don't set up auto-pay: If you pay a new gym membership manually for the first few months, this will give you a trial period to evaluate if it warrants the price.
- Forget the frills: Extras like saunas, group fitness classes, and swimming pools all contribute to membership costs. If you just want to get your workout in, find a cheaper option.
- Check your benefits: Some employers offer health benefit packages that give discounts to gym clubs or refund wellness costs. Microsoft, for example, will reimburse you up to $800 a year for "wellness-related expenses."
- Look for deals: Big gym chains offer promotions that can help cut costs. Seek out deals like waived initiation fees, a complimentary first month, and free one-time personal trainer consultations.
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