In Defense of Spending Money on the Right Things

I have a gym membership.

Happiness - for me, right now, at this moment in my life - is a fancy gym where I can do just about any kind of exercise you could imagine.
Happiness – for me, right now, at this moment in my life – is a fancy gym where I can do just about any kind of exercise you could imagine.

A really good gym membership to a place where you basically can’t go wrong. It looks like an Olympic training facility: four pools, multiple weight rooms and cardio rooms, tons of classes covering everything from Zumba to TRX to Pilates to weight training, cross training, triathlon training, and just about any other kind of “training” you can imagine. They give you free towels, locks for your lockers, a steam room, a sauna, three whirlpools, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, disinfected combs, and hairdryers. There’s a spa, a coffee shop and a restaurant. And a dry cleaner and car-wash facility, too. We’re talking serious poshness.

And it costs four times what the cheapie chain gym down the street from my home costs per month. It is one of those things that in a previous life, I would have wrinkled my nose at and called a “waste of money.”

I have changed my mind.

Here is what I used to say, pre-Affordable Care Act, when people balked at spending any amount of money for things that were destined to make them healthier, like a good gym membership they would actually use, or pre-cut vegetables, or good workout gear that would make them actually want to use it.

“How much does a quadruple bypass cost?”

Finally we are approaching an era in our country where the term “medical bankruptcy” will soon be a thing of the past – but that’s not my point. If you don’t want to invest in your health now, you are asking for the costs to come back to you a hundredfold later – not just in dollars, but in lost life.

“A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” – Strictly Ballroom

I love this film. A great message about living your own life, no matter what anyone else tells you is best for you.
I love this film. A great message about living your own life, no matter what anyone else tells you is best for you.

I love that phrase from Baz Luhrmann’s film Strictly Ballroom – the story of an Australian competitive ballroom dancer who wants to express himself on the dance floor instead of following the same steps that have been prescribed for him all of his life.

And I say a life lived unhealthfully is also a life half-lived. Over time, this has meant that I’ve prioritized my budget so that I can afford to make healthy choices. It’s paid off: since getting healthy, I haven’t had a significant illness. And I’ve been vastly happier and more productive, too. (Contrast that with a scene from late 2007: Before I got healthy, I dealt with a tonsil infection that – after my cut-rate insurance was done paying what they were going to pay – set me back more than what I now pay for an entire year’s worth of my gym membership, race fees, and exercise gear, combined. For medical care that lasted less than two weeks, total.)

And that is why I pay for my fancy gym – and I get there. (I have a white board tracking how many visits I make to this gym per month, and it turns out that it works out to the cost of a regular ol’ yoga studio – $12 to $15 per visit if I show up ten times a month or so.) So in other words, that gym’s cost incentivizes me to actually use it. A gym workout once every three days. Add that to my outdoor workouts, and I have a great incentive to work out #every48.

Yesterday’s #every48 update: REST DAY after a bugaroo of an 18-miler on Sunday. Still so happy that that run got done. #roadtoBoston

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