Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How Much Is That Downward Dog in the Window?

Although fitness passes are often cited as a budget downfall, after renewing a pass at my favorite yoga studio I'm reminded they're something that work for me (and not just by a disturbing lack of motion in my lower back). The pass is expensive ($100+) per month, but there are at least three classes every day. Here's why it's worth it:

(1) Paying a flat fee up front motivates financially aware part of me to think about how inexpensive classes will be if I go all the time... and how expensive they are if I don't. Although it's not logical, since the money's already spent, it's motivation to make sure I get out of bed at 6:00 am to get to class and Get My Money's Worth, which I totally forget about within the first five minutes as I remember how good early a.m. yoga feels.

(2) Paying for fitness gives it value. It says to your brain: hey, this is important to you! Money should be spent on what you value and what helps you lead a better life. Psychologically, making health a priority in one area can shift your entire value set.

(3) A good membership has benefits you can't replicate at home. I consider my studio, due to the small class sizes and excellent instruction, equivalent to a personal trainer. They ensure that when I do show up my body knows what's up and make me push myself on sluggish days. I've tried to replicate the experience through DVDs, it's just not the same. Instruction makes the time I spend being active more worthwhile and productive.

(4) I like something that gives me a time span as opposed to "x number of visits" because I make excuses not to use the number of visits. I feel like I can have a better visit at some future date. Maybe I'm tired, I don't have enough time to really spend doing the activity and it will be rushed and in the future I'll have more time, I feel like a class taught by one instructor is superior to a class taught by another and don't want to 'waste' a class... all of these are terrible excuses I've used to not use drop-in passes, to the point where they expire with value on the card.

At the same time, I've never bought a gym membership. In University my school had the best facility in the city, and it was free, so I attended sporadically but I know that I don't like going to the gym. So this is not a ringing endorsement of paying for motivation, a strategy that funds weight loss programs everywhere, but a ringing endorsement of... the om feeling of stepping out for lunchtime ashtanga. Indeed.

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