Quit the gym, get a year of your life back
The Grizzlies used to belong to a gym. It was the type of gym that people like us usually belong too. A gym with a name like Equinox, Club Oracle, or The Setai. The personal trainers are all fit 20 somethings. The climbing wall is newly installed and in constant use. The exercise equipment gleaming and always filled by an endless stream of young professional types. All the patrons seem to be in a constant hurry to bang our one more set on the weights or get in one last minute on the treadmill before trudging off to their jobs.
Our gym had a room that Mrs. Grizzly and I liked to refer to as The Hamster Cage. It was a spin class: about 30 bikes crammed into a small glass-walled room. Every morning it would fill up a with a throng of other yuppies like the Grizzlies. They would all take their place on the bikes. The class would start and they would begin peddling to a steady thumping beat in the background. A class leader would call out commands, and everyone would try their uncoordinated best to follow them. I always like to think of the leader as a much fitter version of the big fat guy banging the drums on a Viking ship. The room would steam up, sweat dripping off everyone onto the floor. Everyone would peddle in place, occasionally looking up from their bikes to peer around at the other poor souls in The Hamster Cage. After about an hour they would stop, trudge out of the enclosure and a fresh new group of prospective rodents would file in. A fun way to kill an hour before work!
Our particular gym cost $300 per month for the two of us. The Hamster Cage and a host of other classes were an additional $100 per month. $4800 per year. According to our Money vs. Time calculator this was over 1 year of our life. One year of time with our daughter in exchange for some fancy exercise equipment and the opportunity to watch other rich people try to get rid of their love handles in a sweaty glass box. Looking back it doesn’t exactly seem worth it.
So what do we do now? We want to stay fit. After all, it is good for you. But most importantly, being relatively healthy enables us to do all of the awesome things we have planned for after we reach financial independence. Our routine now is very simple.
We both rediscovered the simple joy of feeling your legs pound up and down. Pushing yourself to go up just one more hill, just one more mile. It turns out we currently live in a beautiful area with great weather and running outside all year round is actually possible! We each log about 5-6 miles a day now. Grizzly Mom runs in the morning while Baby Bear and I sleep in. I run at night after everyone else is tucked in. It’s a system that works pretty well.
We go on TONS of family walks. We cover an additional 2-3 miles per day just strolling around our neighborhood, pushing baby bear in front of us. She’s gotten more insistent recently that we let her out of the stroller so she can walk too. It slows us up a bit, but we’re in a lot less of a hurry these days.
A set of free weights and a bench
A simple set of adjustable free weights and a bench purchased for around $75 off Craiglist is all you need for a ton of simple Strength training. Unless your plan is to look like Arnold Swarzanegger in his prime, it’s all you really need.
Perhaps the simplest way to exercise is to use your own body: pushups, pullups, planks, burpees, etc. Nothing beats just moving and using your own weight to help train you. On every run, I throw in about 100 pullups and 100 pushups at our local park. If you want to push your legs find a local high school stadium to run stairs.
This is a bit of a joke. The costs of our workouts today are about as close to zero as you can get. I suppose you could include the price of a pair of sneakers as they wear our every year or so: $50 per year per person. $100 total. But on the other side, I’ll add in the benefit of getting outside every day, seeing the sunrise or the sunset, long walks with your family, and not being trapped in the Hamster Cage. I’ll pick our current gym.