In today’s society, living healthily is no longer as straightforward as going for a run around the block every once in a while. The modern take on wellbeing, largely popularised by social media and the rise of ‘health influencers’, has transformed the fitness game. Exercise classes, vitamins and treatments are now hyped as necessary for living a healthy lifestyle, and this could be making a serious dent in our finances.
Australian women are spending more than men on health, according to a Roy Morgan survey from 2019. It reported that, in an average month, 76% of people who purchased exercise classes were women, and just 24% were men. The market is saturated with so many different workouts; from pilates and yoga, to boxing and strength classes. Popular fitness studios such as KX Pilates and F45 are now seen as more ‘on trend’ than the classes offered at your local gym, which are almost always included in the price of the membership. Many of us are now paying around $20 to $40 per exercise class, often multiple times each week, instead of $20 to $50 per week for a gym membership, classes included.
Now, with these new workouts we’re doing, we need new recovery treatments, naturally. Cryotherapy, a popular freezing treatment that involves standing in a chamber in temperatures around -140 degrees Celsius, is believed to help people lose weight and reduce muscle pain. While personally, I couldn’t brave those temperatures even if it was free, sessions range from $60-$80, even though customers are in and out in approximately 3 minutes.
If the seemingly never-ending COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne has taught me anything (besides how to make the perfect banana bread), it’s that we actually don’t need all of these exercise classes and treatments to lead a healthy lifestyle. I’ll admit, I initially struggled with the change to at-home workouts and walks in my local area, but now I actually don’t feel a loss for my former exercise life. I’ve discovered thousands of YouTube workouts that don’t require equipment and seem just as effective as my usual exercise classes, and all completely free! I now see expensive exercise classes and gym sessions as a luxury, rather than a necessity.
Let’s be real here, when gyms all reopen nation-wide, I highly doubt I’ll be cancelling my membership for workouts on my bedroom floor. However, it’s a good idea to mix up workout classes with free at-home workouts, so that you can still get your sweat on while saving.
Vitamins and supplements have become a staple in many women’s morning routines. Data from Roy Morgan reported that, in 2018, almost half of all Australian women purchased vitamins or supplements. Vitamins are seen by many as essential for health and wellness, and women quickly jump on the bandwagon without obtaining proper medical advice that they are necessary. Of course, vitamins can be beneficial for those of us who are vegan, vegetarian, or needing to fill nutritional gaps in their diets. However, they are not a magical solution to a healthy lifestyle, so stop skimping on your fruits and veggies.
Navigating health with busy lifestyles and low budgets can be a real challenge. It’s easy to see new treatments and fitness classes on social media and be convinced that they are essential, no matter the cost. Everyone is looking for the ‘quick fix’ to get their health on track but, sadly, there isn’t one. Expensive classes and treatments are not vital for living a healthy lifestyle, so do what works for you and your wallet.
Start from the basics (aka more vegetables and exercise), and work from there. Consider devising a budget for health and fitness and remember that wellbeing means financial wellbeing too. Invest in your health by all means, but try to find a balance between what’s good for your fitness and what’s good for your finances.
Important: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. Consider the appropriateness of the information in regard to your circumstances.