“Hey, what does wmembership cost here?”
“I’m not sure, maybe $50 per month.”
“Damn, that’s expensive!”
That was the beginning to a conversation I had one morning last week with an employee at the gym, concerning the price of gym memberships on Long Island. We named a number of cheap gyms in the area, from $30 per month, to $20, $13. Planet Fitness has won the race to the bottom with their infamous $9 per month deal. Wowie; that’s cheap.
I paid a dollar more, $10 to work out on Christmas Day. That seems to be the cost of the average day pass at most gyms that I visit, and if I were to train 4 times per week and pay per-diem, that would total $2,080 for the year, which saves me $661. Huh?
A recent AAHPERD Et Cetera email included a story from Newswise which said included the following:
Obesity now accounts for almost 21 percent of U.S. health care costs – more than twice the previous estimates, reports a new Cornell University study [published in] the January issue of the Journal of Health Economics (http://bit.ly/uhcEDr).
The study reports that an obese person incurs medical costs that are $2,741 higher (in 2005 dollars) than if they were not obese. Nationwide, that translates into $190.2 billion per year, or 20.6 percent of national health expenditures. Previous estimates had pegged the cost of obesity at $85.7 billion, or 9.1 percent of national health expenditures.
There are a whole lot of things I’d do with $190.2 billion, but for now, let me think about that $661 that I’m saving! If the average cost of obesity-related health care is $2,751, then allow me to theorize it as a goal/target investment amount for health/fitness to prevent obesity. Look at it as unavoidable spending; you can pay into doctors visit and health insurance, or invest in preventative measures that will likely allow you to feel and look much better. Either way, this is what’s going to happen:
In reality, that’s not how it works. It’s not mandated spending, and there are numerous decisions that go into how much we spend on our health and fitness. It seems that sometimes we’re spending double, buying services products that make us feel healthier or more fit, just to buy products that negate their effects. The training package you just bought might not be as successful as you want it to be if you’re starting your workouts with venti frappachinos and ending them with McDonald’s.
What does health cost? Should there be a price on fitness? I don’t know the answers to either of those, but I don’t believe that dollars are the best unit of measurement. Health and fitness is better measured in how you feel after you reach a performance goal. It’s better measured in how you feel when something that was previously difficult feels easy. It’s better measured in how you feel in your jeans, not by what size they are.
Can we put a price on health or fitness? No, but the price of obesity is $2,741. I’d much rather spend that money on something else, and I’m sure you would, too. I’d probably buy Meinl’s Benny Greb inspired cymbals, or visit Toronto, or Tanzania, or Thailand. There are some installations at the Museum of Modern Art that I’d love to get my hands on. I’d buy myself a squat rack, or a years worth of Chipotle.
There isn’t a financial cost to health or fitness, but the investment of knowledge and skills sets; of behavior. According to this study, sickness has a cost. Imagine having an extra $2,741. What would you spend it on?