Avoid These 5 Common Gym Budget Busters

So, you're all signed up for your yearly gym membership. The rate is calculated into your monthly budget, and you're doing great with actually going to the gym and working out. Congrats!

But have you ever stopped to think about how much your gym is really costing you? While the average gym membership comes in at around $58 a month, rates range wildly between $47 to $144. It's in your best interest to pay attention to your pennies.

Read through this list to make sure you're avoiding these common pitfalls.

1. Gym Cafe

My mother-in-law attends an incredible gym that has a spa, cafe, childcare center, technology gym, and more perks. The only downside of all this awesomeness? It costs extra — every bit of it. I visited over Christmas and finished my treadmill workout awfully hungry. Good thing the cafe called my name with a million tasty juice, smoothie, soup, sandwich, and salad options — not. I ended up spending $20 on a simple lunch (smoothie and sandwich) when I had plenty of food waiting back at home.

Lesson? Bring a snack from home for your post-workout fueling. Or take a different route to get out of the building. In other words: avoid the temptation. A little planning can save you a bundle in the long run. While you're at it, avoid grabbing takeout on your way home, too. (See also: 15 Grab-and-Go Post-Workout Breakfasts)

2. Nutritional Supplements

Some gyms I've attended stock a hefty supply of different protein powders and other nutritional supplements for convenience. Though there was usually some member discount on these products, I found that the prices to still rang in higher than if I had purchased them on my own. The other challenge? You may find it difficult to say no if a trainer suggests a specific supplement. I know I did.

Lesson? Proceed with caution when picking up these extras. Make sure you do your research (on effects, price, etc.) before pulling out your wallet, and ask your doctor about certain supplements before buying them in a rush. You can even try making some of your own stuff, like energy and sport drinks, from lower-cost, natural ingredients.

3. Gym Clothes

Then there's looking good while exercising. The thing is, I know how much feeling confident can impact performance. When I was a gym rat, I spent a good amount of money on new and bright attire because I was literally looking at myself (and others) in a mirror the entire time. Now that I've quit gyms, I've been wearing the same old duds for years. Guess what! I may not be in current style, but the tech fabrics are all functioning perfectly for my runs and home workouts.

Lesson? Stick to the basics if you can. Since you're indoors, all you really need are a few sets of shorts and t-shirts (or variations on this theme appropriate to your workout — leggings, yoga pants, sleeveless shirts, etc.). Just enough so you can keep up with the laundry. Use gift cards or holidays as excuses to stock up on anything additional.

Also: Consider shopping discount stores versus specialty shops to get the best prices. (See also: Which Workout Clothes Are Worth Splurging On — And Which Aren't)

4. Class Add-Ons

Getting sick of all the cardio machines? Fitness classes are a wonderful way to mix up the routine. The problem is — not all gyms include classes in membership fees. Or some classes are included, while others are not. At one of my old gyms, I could take free yoga classes, but all the aquatics and spinning classes cost extra. What did I want to take? Aqua jogging and spinning! After tacking on another $50 a month, I grew frustrated. I mostly went to the gym for the classes and not everything else I was paying for with my base membership fee.

Lesson? Shop around to find the right fit for you. If you're a fitness class fanatic, you might benefit from joining a service like ClassPass versus a traditional gym. Your monthly rate will gain you access to a variety of classes in your area.

Already have a gym membership? Try searching around for free or cheap fitness classes online. (See also: 7 Online Workout Video Streams for Free or Cheap)

5. Lapsed Memberships

We've all done it at one time or another, I'm sure. Just when the gym fits into the routine like a glove, we stop going. Whether it's nicer weather, time constraints, or something else, skipping, freezing, or otherwise lapsing gym memberships can be costly. In fact, of the $58 average monthly membership, the Statistic Brain Research Institute estimates that people waste about $39 from under utilization. They also share that up to 67% of gym members don't ever use their memberships.

Lesson? Read up on your gym's policies before joining. When you sign on, adrenaline is high. You may not think you'd ever stop going, but life happens. Check into the fees associated with freezing and, in turn, re-initiating your membership. Weigh the pros and cons before quitting to see which option works best for your budget. You may even be able to negotiate these penalties, but the room for savings will vary by location.

Are you throwing away money while working up a sweat?

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Guest's picture

FYI for all of those looking for inexpensive gym clothes - TJ Maxx usually has really good options. The one thing you should splurge on, though, is shoes. For runners, Brooks or Asics are your best bet.