Do You Overspend on Fitness? 10 Real People Share Their Workout Costs

cost of workoutHow much do you spend per year on, say, a gym membership, your own exercise equipment, a personal trainer or your favorite yoga class?

Once you have a number, think about how that amount compares with what your friends spend. If, for example, your buddy pays $1,000 per year and you pay only $100 per year, you might assume that your approach is smarter.

But, hang on. If your friend works out 365 days a year (yes, really), and you break a sweat just once a month, take a closer look at your “cost-per-workout.” For you, it’s $100/12 or $8.33. For your pal, it’s $1,000/365 or $2.74.

To find out if your cost-per-workout is worth it, ask yourself two questions, says Rachel Sanborn, a certified financial planner™ at LearnVest Planning Services. "Does my routine get me moving? Can I afford it?"

If you’re paying a lot, but you can afford it and you’re seeing great results, it’s worth it. But if you’re struggling to pay the bills and you’re not working out often, try a new exercise strategy.

RELATED: Get in Shape! Find the Best Workouts for You and Your Budget

“To cut back, get rid of any fixed costs, such as a monthly gym membership fee. Then do free workouts—follow routines on YouTube or Hulu, rent fitness DVDs from the library, or walk or run outside. If that’s not enough, make a small, one-time purchase that’ll help you get in shape. For instance, buy a $20 kettlebell, as opposed to an expensive rowing machine,” says Sanborn.

To get an idea of where your spending habits fall, we asked 10 real people to share their cost-per-workout. Meet the woman who does yoga three times a week—and pays six cents per workout—and the guy who spends $15,649 a year on fitness. (And see how he's lost 20 pounds doing it ...)

To view the slides in one long list, click into the slide show and select "list view."

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Please consult a financial advisor for advice specific to your financial situation. The people quoted in this piece are not clients of LearnVest Planning Services.

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  • Val

    What about the cost of workout clothes and running shoes, as well as any supplements these individuals might take?

    • Ami

      Agreed! I’m a runner and though that’s free, while I was reading this, I started doing the math on the cost of race entries, new shoes (you easily wear them out when you are training for half marathons and full marathons, or if you are regularly running 10ks), Gatorade sports drink/PowerGel (just water isn’t sufficient at Miles 10+), and though it only factored into about $5/workout, it’s certainly not “free” to run regularly.

  • Lena

    A bit misleading considering that some of these expenses are not monthly or even yearly expenditures – a yoga mat lasts for some time and certainly expensive home gym equipment lasts for a good number of years – why not give the cost based on the usable life of at home gym equipment?

    And as Val says in the first comment, the costs of workout clothes and shoes were not factored in. Leave a message…

  • Rosie

    I acknowledge this is nitpicky! But – the cost calculations are a little off. While for one woman the monthly cost of her phone is included because she uses an exercise app (while she would arguably be paying for the phone anyway for calling/texting), for another woman who watches YouTube workout videos and walks her dog, all the costs associated with owning a dog, a computer, paying for internet etc. were not included. I for one would walk a lot less if I did not have a dog, and dogs can be expensive, so that should be included as a fitness cost. Computers have to be replaced every few years. Internet is $20 – $75 or so per month depending on the services.

  • Evy

    I echo the other sentiments here. I’ve had a stationary resistance bike that I bought almost 20 years ago that still works beautifully. A treadmill that I bought on close-out seven years ago. A rowing machine that is another excellent investment as well as powerblock dumbbells, chin-up bars, etc. A very complete home gym and, as others mentioned, the investment pays off for years. Should I include things like the wall mirrors to check my form? A very misleading breakdown that should have been better researched instead of rushing to write the article. Also, for those of us who are serious about staying fit, why not figure in the avoided costs of medical care because we don’t develop the typical chronic diseases of our age group, such as obesity, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or falls due to sarcopenia? Probably should have stopped with the article and skipped the slide show comparison.

  • Tania

    I think the people spending too much on fitness are the ones that pay for fitness but don’t work out (I’ve been guilty of that). Consistency is key to staying fit and enjoying what you are doing is the key to consistency. Doing a variety of different activities is also better for overall fitness. Going to a gym with qualified experienced trainers/instructors, well maintained equipment and convenient operating hours is a better value than one where the classes are crappy, the equipment is unsafe/out of order and the gym is not open when you can work out.

  • Jubilee

    supplements are the big missing cost hear. One container of protein – which doesn’t last some people even a month – can cost $80. And that’s just one thing. Multivitamins, pre-workouts, post-workouts – these are hugely expensive