Ok, folks, this has been a long time coming. I’ve changed a lot of my spending and saving behavior over the past ten months or so since I had my *Aha!* moment of finally becoming financially conscious. I’ve started tracking my spending religiously, contributing to my Roth IRA each month as well as to my Betterment account, and, as you may know, I’m committed to a ban on purchasing restaurant food and takeout for the month of October.
BUT. There are still several* consistent monthly expenses in my spending tracking spreadsheet that need to be talked about, and the first one on the list is yoga.
I have many, many good things to say about yoga, but I will try to contain myself for the most part. Suffice it to say that doing yoga has had a hugely positive impact on both my physical health and my mental/emotional health ever since I went to my first yoga class back in October 2010 (oh hey, it’s my 5-year yogaversary this month!). The type of yoga I do involves stretching and breathing, but also a ton of strengthening work (I often have sore muscles the next day). So those are huge pros.
The major—actually, for me, the only—con of yoga is that it is expensive. Or at least yoga classes are expensive. I go to classes, rather than doing yoga at home, for a couple of reasons. The first is that even if I tell myself I’m going to do yoga at home, the fact is that I simply won’t, or I will only do it for five minutes because I have so many other things I feel like I need to do. (I have tried this many times.) The other is that I get a ton out of being in a space together with other students, and learning new things and getting encouragement and adjustments from a teacher. Not every yoga class/teacher is like this, but I’ve found several teachers whose classes I love.
So, how much does yoga cost me? Well, to be honest, I had never looked closely at this until now. I don’t have a monthly membership at a specific studio (there are two in Boston that I like and alternate between); rather, I buy classes in packs of 5 or 10, and I try to stock up whenever there is a sale (sale classes are $10 each; non-sale classes are $13-$15 each), so it varies widely from month to month, but here are the totals for the past ten months since I started tracking my spending:
So on average, I’m paying $83.30 per month, or just under $1000 for the year. (And I typically go twice a week, though some weeks I can only make it once.)
Ok, so $1000 is a lot of money, especially for someone like me whose paycheck is pret-ty small. Then again, health is extremely important, and if I choose to ignore my health—whatever that may mean—I will be quite literally paying for that choice at some point in the future.
So let’s compare my current yoga expense, at $1000 per year, to some alternative exercise-type options:
- Walking: $0 per year. Walking is my primary form of transportation, so I already do a ton of it, probably around 5-8 miles per day. And it’s fantastic, but for me it’s not quite sufficient as a sole form of exercise.
- Running: $0 per year. Or, let’s say maybe $100 per year for shoes, or $200 if you do a couple of races. I do run sometimes, but I find it difficult to fit it in during daylight hours, and I’m a little nervous to run at night. Plus it doesn’t involve strength training.
- Becoming a member at a nice gym: approximately $1200 per year. I’m sure this varies widely, but a friend of mine who belongs to a beautiful gym for women only that has tons of cool classes—i.e., the type of gym I’d join if I were going to join one—said that this is around what she pays. It could be a little more with annual fees, etc.
- Becoming a member at Planet Fitness: $264 per year. So this is a lot cheaper, but there are no classes. And at this point I know myself well enough to know that, for better or for worse, if there aren’t actual classes with an actual teacher, I’m either not going to show up to exercise or not going to work very hard.
- Buying my own weights to lift at home: around $30-$200 total, depending on how many and which weight(s). This is a cheaper option, but again, I’m afraid I wouldn’t actually use them much. Plus I hate the idea of bringing more large heavy objects into my house, and into the world for that matter.
- Taking advantage of some kind of yoga work-study program, where I would get free classes in exchange for working at the front desk of the studio: $0. Mrs. Frugalwoods of the amazing Frugalwoods blog does this and is a huge advocate of it (you can read her take on it here). I think this might be an option for me in the future when I have slightly more time on my hands, but probably not right now while I’m in the home stretch of my dissertation, ha!
So, to sum up those calculations, I’m currently paying less for yoga than I would for a nice gym membership, but more than I would for most other exercise options.
The upshot for me, at least at this juncture, is that I’m not going to stop going to yoga classes. The health benefits, for me, are just too compelling. I choose to view it as an elective, self-funded preventative healthcare plan. However, as soon as I get this dissertation finished and have a chance to take a breath and revamp my routine a little, I’m going to revisit this question again.
In the meantime, at least I finally know how much I’m spending. As always, awareness is everything.
*The others are my horrible Sprint phone bill of $86 per month,
and my T (subway) pass, which is $66.75 per month.
Do you pay for yoga or other exercise classes? Do you have suggestions on what else I could do?
Feel free to comment below!