There is no denying that getting in shape can be expensive. Even an economical route will inevitably cost a few dollars here and there as you begin your fitness project. The deeper we go, the more we spend (because it’s fun and we want to, not necessarily because we need more.) So, what is the cost of muscle? As the only tangible thing that cannot be bought, what investment is needed to obtain this precious commodity?
More often than not we set our goals to a 30, 60 or even 90 day transformation. I am not poo-pooing these entirely- they can be a powerful tool to jumpstart our health! It doesn’t take long to realize that fat loss is significantly faster than gaining muscle. In 90 days a 10-15 lb fat loss goal is not unreasonable, depending on your starting point. Tell me you want to put on 10-15 lbs of muscle? Now that timeline hasn’t just increased, now we are talking about a lifestyle. At a muscle gain rate of 1 lb per month you are looking at at least a year before we get to the 10-15 lb muscle gain marker. *Keep in mind that in order to gain muscle you will need top be eating more (caloric surplus). Because of this it is inevitable that you will gain at least a little bit of fat. Even in a “clean bulk” excess calories are still excess calories, so the occasional fat loss diet is still needed to shed unwanted fat and reveal your newly hard earned muscle. This is a cycle of gain muscle, lose fat, maintain; and it takes years of work.
Estimated Investment: 3-5 hours per week / 20 hrs per month
This one depends so much on your time and schedule. I have a full home gym. Outfitted with an assortment of dumbbells, barbells, bumper plates, and squat rack from my favorite supplier *ROGUE . At a dollar per lb for weights, and a tractor supply store for some flooring (horse stall mats are legit) the cost adds up quickly, especially when you need to add more weight as you get stronger, which you will. All in, and over the years I have invested several thousand dollars into my home gym. I also have a gym membership (say it with me, childcare amiright?) At $50 a month for the whole family, and an included 1.5 hour childcare everyday I wouldn’t give up my gym membership for anything. There are certainly cheaper options starting at even $10 a month, however I have found for a little bit more money the childcare and extra equipment is well worth it. Want an even more posh experience? A boutique or Crossfit box could be over $150-200 a month easily.
Think about when, where and how you like to work out and remember that nothing is permanent! If you are in an area with no gyms you like, or you prefer to work out early in the morning before starting your day, then a couple of dumbbells and some floor space may be all you need for a killer workout (check out this post on my favorite home equipment*). If however you are a little more social, like having gym hype friends tell you how awesome you are, and a variety of equipment and people watching, then a gym just might be for you.
Estimated Investment: $20-50 per month
You know when you renovate your kitchen, but then your bathroom looks gross? I call it the remodel effect. As soon as one part of your life starts to get in order, it trickles over to other areas as well. So now that you are a gym rat, you are probably going to start paying more attention to your diet. I don’t mean eating only clean, organic, paleo, or keto – I mean eating more protein (also more expensive). You likely will gravitate toward healthier choices, lets be honest you will feel better and recover faster if you are fueling well. Remember that calorie surplus I mentioned earlier? Yep, that means you are eating more food. So even if you don’t change your food choices too much, because let’s be honest – you’re already pretty awesome – You will need to eat more of those foods to gain muscle.
Supplements are another area that have two schools of thought.
1. You are laying the ground work for your hard work and progress.
2. It’s the icing on the cake.
I tend to land somewhere in the middle. While supplements alone are not enough to make up for large nutritional gaps (hence the term supplement), they can certainly move the needle in how you feel, train and recover when used appropriately. A few of my favorites that I almost always recommend here are a high quality whey protein powder, caffeine, creatine, and a good multi and fish oil for your joints! *There are a ton of supplements out there, but for the sake of length we’ll deep dive into some of those on another post*
Estimated Investment: $50 to $300 per month *depending on how bananas you get.
I would be lying if I said it doesn’t matter what you wear when you workout. It matters. Not because of anyone else, but because as shallow as it sounds, when you look good you feel good. So get yourself something you feel good in, even if its just one outfit for now. It can be a sports bra and sweatpants, a hoodie and bike shorts, a tank a tee, it doesn’t matter what it is as long as you feel good in it!!
Depending on your chosen form of exercise, investing in a pair of shoes is always smart and can help save your joints in the long run. *Again, not deep diving which shoes today, but add that to your overall startup cost!
Estimated Investment: $200 / as needed
No matter where or how you choose to exercise, investing in a tangible commodity that cannot be bought may not make a whole lot of sense now, but your future lack of hospital bills and impressive quality of life will be well worth it. Keep in mind this is stripped down version of what you might choose to spend. There are tons of things that make your fitness journey fun and exciting, but may not be 100% necessary. But as I like to say, if it works it works- so do you boo boo.
Smart spending my friend!