I’ve explored how fitness can be achieved on a budget, but what about the flip side of the coin? Last year, the fitness industry in the UK was estimated to be worth £4.3 billion, with gym memberships on the increase, fitness start-ups and wearables everywhere it’s not surprising. At the same time, we are getting busier and busier, so how and where do we get motivation – is there a price for motivation? Fitness brands and clever marketing make health and spending go hand in hand which got me thinking, how much money do we need to throw at getting and staying fit?
This is a two-part series, the first-part of this series explores fitness on a budget.
Motivation costs money
For people hoping to break into a new sport or even just looking to lose a bit of weight, sometimes the easiest way of committing to a cause is by investment. For me, it was only once I had paid for the entry into the Bristol Half Marathon back in 2014 when I decided it was time to setup a training plan and start waking up early in the mornings for a long run. Similarly, the £2.50 charge which the gym threatens to dish out if you don’t cancel a class booking within an hour of it taking place has meant that I feel more motivated to go to the class because I don’t want to be charged. Even when it comes to fundraising, a one off donation from an anonymous contributor can inspire great things and motivate athletes to persevere through the tough times of a training plan.
It’s not all instances where money and motivation go hand in hand; all good fitness enthusiasts and athletes learn to channel negative experiences through the outlet of exercise, motivation can transpire from grief, depression, anxiety, stress or determination to prove a point. Nevertheless, motivation can come in a variety of sources, don’t be overly reliant on motivation which transpires from money and remember the core reasons why you are training.
All the gear, with some idea
Remember the days in the PE changing room when you begrudgingly pull out a pair of trainers which your Mum forced to buy for you because the last pair were in tatters, Matalan’s finest, not a Nike tick in sight. The social pressures of looking the part are very much embedded within the fitness community, branded clothes seem to exude dedication to fitness, seriousness about training and belonging to fellow gym and non-gym friends. Even if they don’t, clever marketing surrounding fitness apparel gives off the impression that their clothes will make you a sporting champion. There is a practical side to purchasing branded clothes too; the big names such as Nike, Adidas, New Balance and so on, generally do tend to be better quality with smart breathable fabric which allows your body to sweat or retain heat. When I started sprinting competitively in my teens, I had to purchase my first pair of track spikes as I needed lightweight material which would be durable throughout the seasons. At the time the market was dominated by Puma and Nike so I had no other choice than to buy into the brand.
For entry level fitness enthusiasts, there are a ton of high street stores which offer a fitness clothing range for half the cost of the Nikes and the Adidas’s of the world. The moment that you begin to pursue more specialist sports, such as weight lifting, athletics, boxing or triathlon, the budget must be increased as you have to opt in for specialist clothing which can support your activity. No two ways around it I’m afraid.
Costs of a club
Club costs can sometimes make or break a membership to a local running or netball club. Clubs have to face overheads of hall hire, tournament entry or even coaching fees depending on the wealth or lack of volunteers coming forward to spare time. This can have a real negative impact on it’s members who may struggle to justify time at the club based on increasing fees. If it’s a club which wholeheartedly motivates you to get out in the evenings and train then the rewards definitely outweigh the initial investment.
Remember, club affiliation gives you discounted race entry costs so look at the fee as a long term investment.
High race entry fees
I have had friends present to me some great night time races, group relay events, cycle rides and half marathons which have all looked fantastic until I look at the price and I’m no longer interested. In the context of running, I completely understand that a marathon may need to cost more than a 10k due to extended marshalling, signposting or timing but I think my cut off point is £50 here. Even £50 is a bit of a splurge. Events which are sponsored by a brand tend to be more expensive as they know people will be attracted by the name. On the flip side, with a well known company or organisation backing a race, they tend to throw in an awesome medal or a technical running t-shirt. If you want to add to your medal collection or you want bragging rights every time you put on a t-shirt then, yes, the race entry can also be seen as a long term investment.
Freemium health & fitness apps
App marketing is extremely clever, the allure of free downloads suddenly turns bitter as an advertisement for ‘Going Premium’ and a ’30 day free trial’ gets plastered across the screen. Over time, I have found that the best fitness apps tend to have all of their core features as part of the free offering whereas some of the weaker apps tend to lock down workouts until you cough up more money. I think it’s a fine balance, but it’s something which Strava / Strava Premium tend to get right, I’ve used the free version of Strava for four years now however I wouldn’t rule out Strava Premium with it’s offer of in-depth analysis and personalised coaching. It’s not constantly waved infront of my face when I’m using the app which I like.
Don’t always instantly pay to upgrade the apps, there is so much competition in the industry now that you can still achieve great things for free here.
The dreaded ‘I’ word, something I am all too familiar with right now as I have been politely turning down invitations to go running and throwing myself into the horrors of an Insanity class. All injuries need to be effectively rehabilitated and this DOES involve a professional if you want to be sure you know what the injury is (don’t look at the Internet, the Internet will make you think you’ll never run again). A standard physiotherapist rate is £40-£45 per 45 minutes so do check with your employer to see if they have a BUPA cashback scheme or private health care. If you don’t, that’s also fine, have a look around online to see if there are any physios who are offering cheap initial consultations or better yet, any student physios who need the experience!
Aside from the injury itself, factor in costs for other things which you need to do to take your mind off the fact you’re injured, I’m talking about going to the cinema, life drawing class, going for brunch, anything which will help alleviate the fact that you’re not training!
Read about my write up on the Bristol Half Marathon titled ‘If I can do it, so can you’
To round off..
So there we have it, the highs and lows of getting into and progressing within the world of fitness. At entry-level, it’s entirely possible to buy decent sportswear and trainers from cheap online suppliers or in major high street stores within their own sports clothing range. As time goes on you may find that you need to find further motivation to carry on by buying branded clothes which may be able to give you a technical advantage. The more specialist the sport, the higher the budget you need to allocate as particular clothing and accessories are critical if you want to succeed. Needless to say, good kit and careful training will reduce the risk of injury, remember to look out for your body and don’t lose sense of what feels wrong and right when exercising – remember an ongoing ‘niggle’ will eventually become an injury which is expensive to fix!
The fitness industry is booming with new technology, fitness apps, online retail rivalry which leaves us with a dilemma on how much, as a consumer, we should or shouldn’t be spending. My best advice would be to ensure you are motivated to participate by a combination of financial and non-financial sources, social media, online resources and free apps are the way forward but don’t forget the power of a donation on a charity mission or the big impact a small cancellation fee could make when you’re struggling.
What is a massive expense for YOU when embarking upon sporting or fitness conquests? Comment below!
Don’t forget, I am currently training to become a personal trainer, if you are in short supply of some motivation then let me know and I’ll get in contact when I am taking on clients.