How Much is Physical Fitness Worth to You?

I have a moderately embarrassing confession to make: I've gained 23 pounds since the middle of October and I've barely noticed. What makes this even more shocking is that I have a small frame (towering under most people at only 5'3″), so typically 5-10 pounds is extremely noticeable.

How did it happen? Well, for starters I clearly haven't been committed to fitness over the past six months. I've set a goal of exercising three days a week every month since the beginning of the year and failed epically. Plus, I've eaten whatever I've wanted on a daily basis for most of this year.

But how did I not notice? I stopped going to the gym last summer, my scale began malfunctioning sometime in the fall (last weigh-in read 17 pounds), and I can still button my pants. Plus, other than my monthly reviews, I've barely thought about fitness or my weight. Kind of the perfect storm of ignorance.

How'd I finally find out? I mentioned in my last monthly review that the super fancy gym in my building is 100% free this month. So, last week, I walked down a couple flights of stairs after work to try it out.

Then I saw it out of the corner of my eye, taunting me: the dreaded physician beam scale.

I waiting until I knew no one was looking, took off my shoes, held my breath, and stepped on. Silently praying, I moved the slide to the right.

153, 156, 157, 158, 159, 159.5, 160.

I was ready to pick a fight with someone until I noticed a lonely sticky note, just above the scale, stating one of the most soul-crushing phrases known to man: scale was calibrated 6/1.


Let's back up just a bit…

Last summer, after a particularly indulgent long weekend (July 4th) of hot chicken, BBQ, Vietnamese food, and booze, I went back to boot camp to shed the extra weight. In addition to hardcore workouts 4 days per week, and regular cardio 2 days per week, the program also includes giving up sugar, bread, and alcohol.

Torture, I know.

But it works! Within a month, I had lost seven pounds and felt motivated to continue following the program. The only problem was the price tag: $400 per month for bootcamp plus $50 per month for a gym membership. $450 per month for fitness was absolutely not in my budget, so I quit the program and ditched the gym.

I continued following the diet and began working out with the Insanity videos (borrowed from a friend) in the comfort of my living room. As it turns out, Shaun T is a total badass and that workout is way harder than bootcamp. By mid-October I had lost nearly 20 pounds!

Then work got incredibly busy, I started traveling excessively, and I majorly fell off the wagon. When I say fell off, I mean that I began running at full speed in the opposite direction and haven't caught a glimpse of a wagon since.

Fast forward to last week…

That damned scale may have been cruel, but my level of motivation went from nonexistent to committed in about 30 seconds. I stayed at the gym for 90 minutes that night and have exercised every day this week so far!

So, clearly having a super nice gym four flights of stairs away from my desk makes working out during the workweek significantly easier, and dare I say it, enjoyable. But what happens when the free month is over?

Word on the street is this utopia of a gym's membership will set me back a cool $65 per month.

Do I suck it up and pay for a couple of months until I'm in shape enough to return to my Insanity workouts with Shaun T? Or do I cheap out and brainstorm another plan?

– ability to workout during my lunch break, immediately before or right after work
– access to a super nice locker room / showers that may finally make biking to work a viable option
– open 24 hours a day

Readers: How much is physical fitness worth to you?

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Discussions — 37 Responses

  • Income Surfer June 12, 2014 on 2:02 pm

    Desk jobs are brutal aren’t they! I weigh what I did in high school, the problem is that I played on two soccer teams and was in a great shape. Now it’s just flab, “muscle at rest” as it were. I’m glad you’re committed now. Go kick some ass!

    • Addison @ Cashville Skyline Income Surfer June 12, 2014 on 6:37 pm

      Absolutely, Bryan! Sadly, I can’t blame my current level of fitness on an office job alone, though. I’ve been working hard to avoid refined sugar as much as possible, but I may have to be seriously strict next month if I want to get serious about shedding the extra weight!

  • Lauren June 12, 2014 on 3:12 pm

    I’m too cheap to pay for a gym membership or workout programs. I find body weight workouts on YouTube and use those, but I don’t have a specific goal that I’m trying to hit. I think if I was working towards a goal, then I’d consider spending money.

    • Addison @ Cashville Skyline Lauren June 12, 2014 on 6:39 pm

      I typically am too, Lauren! Especially since I’ve had such good luck with the Insanity videos on my own. Unfortunately, I’m too out of shape of them at the moment. Haha. You’re right about there being a ton of awesome free stuff to try online!

  • Dee @ Color Me Frugal June 12, 2014 on 10:54 pm

    If having a gym that close to work increases the likelihood that you’ll go, I totally would pay the $65 per month to go. Even though the hubs and I technically have access to a gym through our employer for free, it’s on the other side of town so we never go. There is a gym literally two blocks from our house so we pay for a membership there. Maybe it does not make financial sense, but we each go to the gym 2-4 days per week because it’s so convenient! Worth it to us.

    • Addison Cash Dee @ Color Me Frugal June 13, 2014 on 5:55 pm

      That’s kind of what I’m thinking, Dee. Health and fitness are worth more than $65 per month.

  • E.M. June 13, 2014 on 12:15 am

    Awesome job getting back into the habit! Fitness has sadly never mattered a whole bunch to me, until I met my boyfriend. He’s a cross country runner and it amazes me that he could still do a five mile run after taking a month off. He’s pretty motivated to stay in shape, and I feel quite inferior =). I haven’t really gained any weight, but I am sick of feeling lethargic and weak, so that’s my motivation. Honestly, if going to the gym makes you feel good about yourself, maybe it’s worth the investment. See how you do with this free month, and evaluate at the end!

    • Addison Cash E.M. June 13, 2014 on 5:56 pm

      Yikes, sounds intimidating! I’m definitely going to keep going for the next couple of weeks and see how I feel at the end of the month.

  • Dividend Mantra June 13, 2014 on 1:50 am


    Great job staying committed and also publicly sharing some of your failures and goals. Takes a lot of guts!

    I was a competitive bodybuilder in my teens and have always been committed to working out. However, I often let my diet run away from me and I found myself overweight at almost 200 pounds at the end of 2012 – at 5’9″.

    I personally lost almost 20 pounds during 2013 (below 175 lbs as of this writing) by basically limiting empty calories during the week (like pop, snacks) while allowing myself to cheat on weekends. In addition, I work out religiously 3-4 times per week, every week. And it doesn’t take much. Usually just 30 minutes of high-intensity workouts. 10-15 minutes of cardio followed by 15 minutes of high reps with minimal wait time between sets. I think I’m going to share my workout on the blog pretty soon because I now do it with just two 25 lb. dumbbells, a pull-up bar, and a small bench in the basement. No gym membership necessary, but a lot of personal willpower and motivation is.

    I’d say you really just have to stick with a system that works for you. Working out, then not working out, then boot camp, then no boot camp, then eating a lot, then not…that type of yo-yo stuff will only get you in trouble and confuse your body. Even if your system isn’t perfect, I’d say stick with it. And make sure to balance things out and treat yourself.

    Good luck! 🙂

    Best wishes.

    • Addison Cash Dividend Mantra June 13, 2014 on 5:58 pm

      Thanks so much for the encouragement, Jason. I’d love to read about your workout routine. Also, you’re totally right about yo-yo dieting. I’ve been doing it since high school and I know it’s been rough on my body.

  • NZ Muse June 13, 2014 on 1:54 am

    In terms of what would I spend on fitness? Nothing. Well barring the clothing. I refuse to pay big bucks for gear, I picked up some mint Adidas shorts secondhand for $5. And I’m gonna get T to buy me new running shoes for my birthday.

    • Addison Cash NZ Muse June 13, 2014 on 5:59 pm

      I’m thinking about buying myself a new pair of running shoes. I feel like that’s always a worthwhile investment!

  • Bee @ The Budgets and the Bees June 13, 2014 on 1:58 am

    I paid $65 a month for a gym membership for years. It was well worth when I was going, but then I started running and cycling outside and canceled the gym membership because it wasn’t as much fun as the outdoor alternatives. Bottom line – if you’re going to use it and the nice gym will motivate you to work out, $65 is not that much to pay for physical fitness.

    • Addison Cash Bee @ The Budgets and the Bees June 13, 2014 on 6:00 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Bee. And good point! I’m pretty sure the gym doesn’t require a commitment, so I can always cancel in the future.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach June 13, 2014 on 3:11 am

    I think it’s worth it if it’s not a stretch for your budget and it keeps you healthy!! Especially if it’s so convenient! If after a couple months you get bored or can figure out a way to do it on your own, then so be it. I say go for it!

    • Addison Cash Tonya@Budget and the Beach June 13, 2014 on 6:02 pm

      Thanks, Tonya. I’ll have to move my numbers a bit to make it work, but I think you’re right about it being worth it.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor June 13, 2014 on 3:16 am

    You need to find an agreeable lifestyle that will preserve your health, not a short-term fix. For motivation I suggest beginning by reading up on the causes and effects of chronic illnesses epidemic in today’s society, like diabetes, heart disease, alzheimer’s, etc. The evidence is overwhelming and growing that diet plays a big role in the development of many chronic diseases.

    • Addison Cash Kurt @ Money Counselor June 13, 2014 on 6:03 pm

      Great point, Kurt! Those things will motivate me for sure. Saving enough money for early retirement isn’t going to matter if I don’t take care of myself.

  • Zee @ Work-To-Not-Work June 14, 2014 on 9:38 pm

    I would say whatever you do make it simple enough to follow. If you try to do something that takes a lot more “going out of your way” then it won’t stick. For me, when I decided to get back in shape it was more a matter of finding something I could do at home when I had an extra 20 minutes here or there. Getting ready for the gym and getting over to the gym was just too much of a hassle that I knew I would drop it pretty quickly.

    If the convenience of a gym downstairs from work will make you do it then it might not be a bad option. Also if you’re paying for it monthly then that might make it more of an incentive to actually go regularly to get your moneys worth.

    • Addison Cash Zee @ Work-To-Not-Work June 15, 2014 on 6:44 pm

      Great advice, Zee. Maybe finding extra time throughout day would work for me, as well. A signs seem to be pointing towards “do it!”

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life June 15, 2014 on 12:20 pm

    I totally feel you on the shorty weight gain. I’m just under 5’2”, so anything I gain is very noticeable, at least to me. I’m one of those people who is totally in love with working out. So physical fitness is worth A LOT to me. But I don’t pay for it. I run and do pilates and yoga at the park. Never was a gym as effective for me as my current workout routine.

    • Addison Cash Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life June 15, 2014 on 6:43 pm

      Good for you, Stefanie! Pilates and yoga in the park sounds amazing.

  • Melanie@Dear Debt June 15, 2014 on 7:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story! It reminds me of when I moved to NYC and I realized that from all the goodbye parties, moving, eating out, I had gained 15 lbs. I didn’t even know! I was in shock. I typically don’t weigh myself, but you have to at the Dr., which is how I found out. It sucks to be surprised like that. I don’t pay for fitness, I prefer to bike or walk everywhere. I would say come up with something reasonable for you, and commit to it.

    • Addison Cash Melanie@Dear Debt June 15, 2014 on 11:10 pm

      It’s definitely a rude awakening! I’d love to bike and walk everywhere in lieu of a gym membership, but it’s hard in Nashville. It’s a goal for the future, though.

  • Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter June 16, 2014 on 4:00 am

    I’ve been there, so I know what you mean by hardly noticing when you gain quite a bit. I’m 5’2 and you’d think I’d be very aware when I gain 10-15 lbs, but I never notice until there’s a huge problem. I’m substantially lighter than I was 2 years ago (33 lbs – huge difference on my frame) and I still feel like I am the same size, haha.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t spend $400/month on bootcamp, but I do go to the gym ($10/month) a few times a week and then for walks (loooong ones) a couple more times a week. It helps!

    • Addison Cash Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter June 16, 2014 on 12:23 pm

      Wow, $10 per month for a gym membership is an amazing deal! Planet Fitness? I wish I had one of those near my house or office!

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  • brock @cleverdude June 17, 2014 on 1:10 pm

    I pay double that for my family membership at a great gym with every amenity known to man….and it’s totally worth it. It gives me the ability to have variety in my workouts, mix up my workouts completely every couple of months, and use equipment I could never afford or store. It also gives me a hot tub and sauna to relax and recover from hard workouts, and a great pool and play area for kids of all ages. You can’t put a price on motivation!

  • John C @ Action Economics June 18, 2014 on 1:36 am

    It’s worth something to me, but not a recurring monthly fee, especially because I know I’ll find excuses not to drag my self to the gym. If the treadmill that is literally right next to my bed is hanger for clothes, there is no way I’m going to drive to a gym. I try to get a small workout in when I am travelling every day. stretches, pushups, dips, squats. I try to run once or twice a week but nothing too crazy.

  • Miel June 22, 2014 on 11:49 pm

    Fitness is totally worth the price! I wouldn’t have paid $400 for a month bootcamp, but I do pay $110/month for a fabulous gym that is two blocks from home at I use 5-6 times a week, or less than $5 a workout.

    I also ponied up for weightwatchers several years ago and it was worth every penny. I reached my goal in a year and now have lifetime access. I lost 45lbs and kept it off for two years. I just had my first child two weeks ago and I’m already down at my initial goal weight and have 10lbs to get back to where I was. Priceless.

    • Addison Cash Miel June 23, 2014 on 12:56 am

      Great point, Miel. Less than $5 a workout is 100% worth it and I’d bet you feel amazing. Congratulations on your weight loss success!

  • debs ( June 23, 2014 on 7:05 am

    I think it is definitely worth it as long as you stay disciplined and continue to use it. How many days does it take to make a habit, 21? I guess it’s just a matter of carving up your budget slightly differently, good luck!

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  • Evan July 2, 2014 on 6:34 pm

    Unless I am paying for it I just don’t exercise! It is so infruitating but anything I have ever stuck with was b/c I was too cheap to let the membership go to waste LOL.

    Currently, I am embarrassed to say I pay $150/mo for crossfit (before it was $120/mo for krav maga, but had to stop when I moved).

    • Addison Cash Evan July 2, 2014 on 7:37 pm

      $150/month is steep, but I’m sure you’re in great shape! I’m intrigued by crossfit.

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  • Evlution Nutrition Pre Workout January 29, 2015 on 8:07 am

    Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.


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