New Year, New You… But can you afford it?!

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‘New Year equals New You!’  Around this time of year everyone’s thinking about trying to get back into training, or perhaps starting an exercise programme for the first time – that is why January is our busiest month!  But what obstacles do you face between now and the ‘New You’ that you’ve got your eye on for 2013?

Obstacle number two: MONEY!

“I’ve spent all my money on Christmas presents and I can’t afford to go the gym!”

According to research done in 2011 by online accountants, Brits wasted £37 million on gym membership and fitness classes.  No wonder the ‘M’ word pops up so often around the topic of exercise (that’s Money – not MacDonalds).  So what’s the solution?

Well step one (enter clichéd money mantra) is about weighing up the benefit versus the cost.  Everyone who continues to make smart investments in their health and fitness has to believe that it is worth the money.  This is not to say that everyone who exercises regularly is spending their money wisely (some people fruitlessly go through the motions simply out of guilt).  But money spent on your health and fitness, if spent wisely, should be a highly valuable investment – not the ‘luxury extra’ as it is so often perceived.

So how can we avoid wasting our money?  Well – and here comes cliché number two – familiarity breeds contempt!  If we continue to do the same training week in week out two things will happen – firstly, our bodies will stop adapting, progress will slow down, and we will ‘plateau’.  Secondly, we’ll get bored and lose motivation.  Keeping our routines fresh gives us something new and exciting to focus on, and helps us get the most out of our training.  The recommended timescale to renew training programmes is roughly 6-8 weeks.  If you’ve been stuck in a rut for months it’s time to mix things up – otherwise you might as well pour pound coins out the window on the way to the gym!

Secondly, if you can’t see improvements (even if they are actually happening) you are likely to become demotivated and struggle to see the point in spending the money.  Tracking your progress provides a tangible incentive to train, and helps you to see whether your investments are paying off.  For each session write down all the recordable information about your workout you can.  This could be how far you go (kilometers, laps of the block, lengths of the pool etc.), how long it took you, the number of repetitions and weight you lifted, or your latest score on the Wii Fit.  If you and your partner can see results on paper, everyone will be happier about you dipping into the joint account!

If the ‘M’ word is still a problem – never fear, there are always options!  I am a huge personal fan of the Great Outdoors because it is free exercise on our door-steps.  Walking, running, cycling or even roller-blading are fun and effective ways to get fit and lose weight – and don’t cost much.  Alternatively try doing a home DVD, or invent your own home programme – although you would be wise to get this checked out with a Personal Trainer first.

Don’t think of your health and fitness as an optional extra, then – it could be the best investment you ever make.  If times really are tight though, and you’re spending your evenings in candlelight to save on electricity, it’s time to get creative, or just get outside!


Hyde Phillips is a Personal Trainer in Sutton Coldfield

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