Can Fitness Be Frugal and Successful?

(This is an adaptation of a post at SpouseBUZZ.)

I have reached a point where I need to do something drastic about my exercise and body.  I don't have the energy I should, my health is not as good as it could be, and I'm tired of feeling lousy when I see pictures of myself.

Being the planning geek that I am, I was making a little chart of my options and their pros and cons.  My ideas included continuing to do what I'm doing now but being more dedicated, joining a gym, joining a gym and getting some sessions with one of their personal trainers, or doing one of those intensive one trainer – one client places.  As you can see, I've listed them in order from least cost to highest cost, which unfortunately is exactly the opposite order of how likely they are to be successful.  I was struggling with the balance between cost and results.   On one hand, why should I pay money for something I should be able to do by myself?  On the other hand, doing it myself hasn't exactly been working, and you can't really put a price on my health.  I'm sure many of you struggle with this question as well.

On Wednesday, I had a free introductory workout at a Fitness Together about 1/2 mile from my house.  My brother runs a Fitness Together studio (in Alexandria, tell him I sent you :) and while he admits that it is expensive, he says that it is the best program he's ever worked with and it will definitely work for me.  (Being my brother, he also mentioned that I might want to lay off the wine and McDonalds, but that is another story.)  The studio was very nice and I liked having the individual attention of a trainer who could get all my weights right and make sure I was using good form.  On the other hand, I'm still a little confused about how you can get results with such a small amount of work.  I guess it is all about quality over quantity.  They advertise the advantage of being alone in the workout space.  That isn't really an issue for me  but I can see how that is really valuable for some people.  Of course, this type of personalized attention comes with a hefty price tag.  I decided I would have to think about it and explore my other options.

I was chatting with a friend yesterday about my dilemma, and how I probably needed to go check out the three gyms in my smallish town and that I needed to not procrastinate.  She mentioned that the local Naval Station had a gym (duh!) and she thought that they had personal trainers there.  It is about 15 minutes from my house, versus 5 minutes for the Fitness Together, but I'm down that way pretty regularly going to the commissary, the bank, and all those other chores that just need to be done on base.  On my way to the commissary, I stopped in and checked it out.  The facilities are free (bonus!) and while the spaces aren't fancy or even really appealing, they have all the equipment I need to get some strength training.  Plus, they have a small collection of classes and they have a personal trainer who is less than 1/3 the price of Fitness Together.  I feel that the expense of a personal trainer is worth it to me right now because what I've been doing alone hasn't been working.

I'm going to give the Naval Station gym a shot.  You can't beat the price, and I might actually keep food in the house if I'm driving by the commissary three times a week.  They don't have child care, so I'm not sure what I'll do once summer comes, but I figure I'll give it a shot for the next 7 weeks until school gets out.  That should be a decent amount of time to see if this plan works for me.  If it doesn't, I'll have to reconsider the more expensive options.  I hope that this balance of price, convenience and effectiveness is a winner!

I'm at an odd place where the money isn't quite as important as the results, but I still don't want to spend money unnecessarily or wastefully.   I would love to hear if you have any other ideas about ways that we can keep our bodies fit and healthy without making our wallets unfit or unhealthy.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.