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How much is too much to be spending on fitness?

Spending more than three per cent of your take-home income on fitness? Think again.

Keeping fit is essential to your mental and physical health. It also takes the exact same set of skills that money management requires – discipline, regular maintenance, striving to achieve goals, sacrifice and celebrating important milestones.

But, there is zero correlation between how much you spend on fitness and how fit you actually are.

Set the limit and stay within it

There is a limit on what you should be spending on your personal fitness and it’s up to three per cent of your after tax income. So, if the net paycheques for your household total $4000 for the month, three per cent equals $120; and that needs to cover the fitness costs of everyone in your household. If the net paycheques for your household total $6,000, 3 per cent equals $180, and so on.

If this budget guardrail seems tight to you, rest assured, staying in shape doesn’t need to cost a lot. There are many low-to-no cost activities you can do to keep fit and have fun.

Take inventory 

What kind of equipment to you own? Can you use what you have to create a workout routine for free? If you’re not sure how to use the equipment, turn to YouTube for instructions.

Personally, when the weather is nice, I use my bike and cycle everywhere to get my recommended 30 minutes of cardio every day. I compliment that with a variety of at-home exercises to strengthen my upper body using resistance bands, which cost around $20 for a set. 

Use it or lose it

Do you have left over class-passes to yoga studios or rec centres? Many of these will expire within 18-months of purchase. Try to use them up before buying any additional passes. That said, if there is a legitimate reason you don’t want to return to your old cross-fit studio, maybe your ex belongs to it, those passes can generally be sold through a community board at the studio or on Facebook.

If you are a member of a gym, be honest with yourself about whether you’re making full use of a membership. Generally speaking, you need to visit the facility at least 10 times per month to make it worth your while. If you’re paying $60 that would make your cost per visit $6 and that is good value. Unless you belong to a specialty rowing facility, you should probably cancel your membership if you’re cost-per-visit jumps over $20.

Use free facilities

Look for free options that are reasonably convenient and motivate you to stay active. Do you have access to a free gym at work or in your apartment building? Are you located near a soccer field, or outdoor workout facility (think Venice Beach)? See if you can register for free public swimming at your community rec centre. Or, if you’re a student, access  facilities at your school. 

Make fitness a part of your daily activities

For most people to succeed in the area of physical health, they need to integrate it into their everyday life. This can mean carving out time in your calendar to hit the gym. However, it can also be even more simple – taking the stairs versus the elevator, walking rather than driving, doing arm curls using your purse or backpack on the subway, even something as simple as playing “flying angel” with your toddlers can make all the difference.

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