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Expensive Health Trends Worth the Money (And Three That Aren’t)

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Expensive Health Trends Worth the Money (And Three That Aren’t)

MyFitnessPal and Ally have teamed up because they both recognize the connection between finances and physical fitness and the important roles they each have on personal well-being.

When resolution season rolls around, we’re all faced with the tough question: Is spending money on pricey, high-end wellness trends really worth it? Sometimes it feels like you have to choose between your personal fitness and the fitness of your bank account. The not-so-simple answer to this question is it’s complicated. To see which trends really are worth the extra cash, check out our list of worth-it picks — plus three to skip.

LUXURY GYMS: WORTH IT

Luxury gyms can seem like a waste of money — especially when you can get access to a treadmill or a set of dumbbells just as easily at your local budget gym. But according to economists, there’s merit to shelling out for a luxury gym. The theory is that paying more for your membership will actually make you more likely to use it. Since wasting a $10 per month membership feels much less painful than spending $300 each month for a membership you don’t use, going luxury may just be the motivation you need to stick to a gym schedule.


At Ally, we don’t just care about your finances — we care about you. That’s why we’ve dug deeper into what it means to be financially fit. Just like physical fitness, there are different ways to be financially fit. Your training program depends on what you want to accomplish, and you should approach your financial routine the same way. Learn more at Ally.com.


LUXURY BOOTCAMPS: NOT WORTH IT

At nearly $40 per class, these classes talk a big game that they doesn’t necessarily live up to. Yes, their HIIT-style workouts can be effective, but they use moves and equipment you can re-create yourself at a less-expensive gym. If you really want to get the full “boot camp” experience while still saving money, have your gym buddy yell at you drill sergeant-style throughout your sweat session.

MEAL DELIVERY SERVICES: WORTH IT

According to many estimates, meal delivery services tend to shake out to be about the same price as groceries. This means that not only will you guarantee yourself a healthy meal, you’ll be saving time (and time is money) by not having to make your weekly trip to the market. You might even pick up enough cooking skills to cross cooking classes off your list of resolutions.

ORGANIC FOODS: NOT WORTH IT… IN MOST CASES

As you probably know by now, buying organic isn’t cheap. Because organic farms are often smaller and don’t use chemicals in the growing and harvesting process, it takes them more time to produce the same amount of food as compared with larger, non-organic farms. Since time is money, you can expect a markup. Conventional wisdom has held that shelling out for organic alternatives is naturally healthier for you, but research has thrown that belief into question. According to the 2012 study, in most cases, there’s not enough scientific evidence to back up the better-for-you claims.

TRAVELING FITNESS MEMBERSHIPS: WORTH IT

Depending on your city, memberships that let you attend a variety of boutique classes can get quite pricey, prompting many potential users to hesitate before committing. Will you really make it to three classes a week? Luckily, many of these memberships help remove some of that workout doubt by adding an extra incentive. If you don’t make it to a class you signed up for, you’ll still be charged, effectively silencing all those last-minute thoughts of hitting the snooze.

LUXURY YOGA STUDIOS: NOT WORTH IT

Whether or not to pony up for a high-end yoga class is a fairly divisive topic. On one hand, many yogis find the practice to be about total wellness, including pampering yourself with the amenities that many luxe spots offer. However, others argue that the practice should be a bare-boned, egalitarian focus on the body. Since high-quality free yoga classes, outdoor yoga meetups and YouTube yoga tutorials are incredibly easy to find, skip the expensive memberships and treat yourself to the occasional spa day to round out your wellness routine.

LUXURY CYCLING STUDIOS: IT DEPENDS

The rise of pricey cycling options made the exercise bike cool again. But as most devotees will tell you, these classes are more about the spirit than the Spinning. Classes feature a distinctly clubby feel and DJ-curated playlists to provide the soundtrack to motivational mantras, distracting you to the point where you almost forget you’re working out. If going to the gym is a struggle for you, the added dose of fun and energy is totally worth the per-class price. But if you enjoy your gym time and don’t need fist-pumping music to get motivated, save your pennies to upgrade your gym membership and use the spin bikes there.

Written by Macaela Mackenzie, a writer based in New York City with a passion for all things active. To see Macaela’s latest work, visit macaelamackenzie.com.


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  • MM

    As someone who has done all of these, save traveling memberships and not a yogi – I’m not sure I agree with some of the practical analysis here. Exclusive gyms can be great, but if you’ve got the $ to join one, you’ve also got the $ to become complacent about over spending. After decades of low, mid & high end gyms – and home gym, I actually found a proper and dedicated bootcamp approach has hands down provided the best result (don’t like the term bootcamp and wish my guy just called it group cross training). It’s in the calendar at a time that is a lock for me, I feel accountable, I don’t have to think about what we’ll be doing, and that 60 minute anaerobic workout twice – max three x’s a week has provided far more total benefit than anything else … including that big nasty lux spin class, which can feel really satisfying, but nothing says pass me a big box of donuts like burning a rapid 1000 calories of crazy cardio. My $0.02, do something sustainable that fits into your routine – keep it there, and spend more timing learning about how / what / which foods react to your body versus analyzing exercise programs … if you’re sweating, you’re doing it right. Pro-tip … get up to speed on sugar / insulin levels in the blood.

    • W Foley

      I’m not going to argue which is healthier, organic versus non-organic. I happen to eat both. Farm to table eating is much more important. You should know who and where your food comes from and what was used to get it to your table. Most large super market produce taste terrible because it is picked green, the time from farm to your table could be as much as 30 days. Most of my produce is only hours from the ground, some maybe a few days. You should be able to visit most of your food within a day’s drive. For me, my food taste better when the trip from source to my table is the shortest.

  • Kelci

    What about supplements – a trend that’s worth it or no??

    • Brandon A.

      I’m over 30 and I quickly realized that when I started training again after 5 years of inactivity that I needed supplements. The whole thing is that there are some supplements pushed as some miracle for your health. Watch out for those. Maybe let your doctor or a nutritionist recommend some viable supplements. I added calcium citrate, collagen, coq10.

  • SSPoulin

    I can’t believe you’d say organic food isn’t “worth it.” Maybe you should note who paid for the 2012 “studies” … Monsanto?

    • Da

      Agree!

    • Kerry Palmer Vistisen

      I was going to say the same thing.

    • PeterBrown77

      Organic food isn’t worth it.

    • hokietrax

      I guess the question is do you have studies that show organic food is worth it?

      • Kevin

        how can it not be? It’s grown and nourished like earth intended. Not processed, chemicals, anything

    • I see you! People are dying from FOOD alone. Sigh, but hey – the fancy gym WAS worth it.

  • *Thank you* for noting that organically grown foods are indeed not any more nutritionally sound than a non-organic product!

  • You’re my hero for posting this. Thank you 🙂

  • arpit agarwal

    fitness is very neccessary for health generally …….

  • Elizabeth A

    Yes! We just had a (very short) discussion on this in my Human Nutrition class. So many people thought Organic meant they couldn’t use any pesticides. Nope. There are still a fair number of approved pesticides. They’re not inherently safer just because they are derived from nature.

  • Talya Solomon

    Workouts I can do on the cheap at home at home like fitdeck , DVD or hula hoop is my favorite and bring me great results . Geting assembled to go out takes extra time from my buissy schedule and is a block and why spend if you don’t really need to ?

  • Ricardo Carrion

    Well I’m amazed to hear all that comments, my understanding and I’m not nutritionist as far you eat healthy you keep a balance you will have a healthy life I understand that organic food it’s awesome but as far you eat the right thing and the certain amount of food as you look to get fit that’s what matters. Healthy food and good workout that’s good enough to live healthy. Organic food and healthy diet also will make you life a healthy long life as well. It’s how I see it. If something different let me know i’am willing to learn about nutrition.

  • The Organic craze came about because of GMO in our food. The ever growing population has put the farming community to it’s knees and the government stepped in to help them produce crops more resistant to insects & spoilage. The poultry industry needed added hormones & antibiotics to produce more meat. The reality is your body is better off without all these added products in our food. Less inflammation, bloating, food sensitivity & allergies. Standard food processing is a thing of the past and is not what is used today. Yes organic products to a degree are better for your well being. Quality over quantity is always better. People take better care of their cars & electronics than their own bodies. Take a good look around & there are more instances of acid reflux, Cancers & diabetes than ever before and I am convinced that GMO is part of the problem.

  • debbieb

    I am so disappointed that you were so unsupportive of yoga. Free yoga classes could be good but most likely you are not being taught by a yogi who will be watching and correcting your form. Doing yoga improperly can lead to injuries. Very disappointed that you don’t find the value in a good instructor. It doesn’t have to be a fancy pants studio but you need to find a knowledgeable instructor.

  • amy

    I disagree with the yoga studio. I agree that you don’t need to go all out with luxury, but having been a video practitioner for 2 decades, I have learned more in 2 weeks about how to work with MY body that the membership has more than paid for itself. Living in MT, we don’t have the “hang out” option, we’re lucky to have a studio! I have hurt myself so many times trying to follow and keep up with a video. A live teacher can see you struggle, even when you don’t feel it, and give you appropriate modifications to help you get more out of it while not hurting yourself. I think about the $1000’s I’ve spend on videos and how much better that money would have been spent on memberships. Perhaps the middle ground is make sure you spend some time with a teacher before jumping into videos. I can tell you that there is no such thing as a “beginners” video. I also benefited greatly from a few individual sessions with Yoga Therapist when I struggled with a permanent disability. (Long story short, no yoga is one size fits all, so spend the time to find YOUR yoga. That means trying different styles and working with humans until you are confident/safe enough to go it alone!)

    • debbieeberlin

      There actually is a beginner’s yoga program now, through Beachbody On Demand, called 3-Week Yoga Retreat. 🙂

  • MzTeaze

    While I applaud your attempt to address this issue, I do take issues with some of your assertions. Over the last 20 years, I’ve had membership at every possible type of gym – budget, mid- and high-end as well as boutique yoga, Pilates and boot-camp memberships. Sadly, while there are a FEW gyms that attempt to provide a one-stop shop membership for those who love yoga/Pilates and other classes. The greater majority of gyms DO NOT offer those types of classes at all. Sadly, the ones that offer it tend not to have sufficient scheduling, necessary equipment and/or qualified instructors that keep the classes safe, fun and interesting.

    That being said, gym memberships need to fit the individual needs. High-end clubs are great for folks that use the showers as they tend to have the amenities that appeal to those using the showers. But, if you rarely shower and only use the locker room to store your daily stuff, paying for high-end services (and amenities) really isn’t a must have. A decent, clean mid-end gym works just as well.

    If you are a person that does boot camp, Pilates, yoga or the latest fitness craze more than 2-3 times a week, you need to have access to a class schedule that works for your schedule. Most “one-stop shop” gyms just don’t schedule enough classes to meet the needs of that person, so in comes boutique gym memberships. I’ve been there a number of times – I want to do yoga at 6 am and something else at another time but the gym doesn’t offer it at the times I need or want.

    Lastly, traveling memberships are ok. However, for the person that travels infrequently, you might do better asking for courtesy usage at a sister or brother chain gym in the travel area. Or find out the cost of day membership. I’ve had decent success showing my home membership card at travel locations and working out a deal for usage while on vacation for a short duration trip.

  • Kevin

    How would eating organic foods not be healthier than eating not organic foods. I don’t think I need research for that. I say do matter what you will meet and most of your produce should be organic at least

  • Theresa

    I don’t

  • Theresa

    I don’t buy the luxury gym memberships. I pay $10 a month and LOVE Planet Fitness. It’s clean, machines are great, lots of variety, great staff, etc. I’d be too stressed paying $100 a month to belong to some of these elite gyms. I don’t need lattes, massages and dry cleaners.

    • Cynthia Johnson

      But you need tanning, massage chairs and pizza on Tuesdays?

    • Amy Lachen

      I agree that the high priced gyms are probably not worth it because usually you never use all the amenities that these gyms offer. Perhaps the mid priced gyms with nicer and more amenities are better… like Anytime Fitness or Snap Fitness. But Planet Fitness is a POOR excuse to be called a fitness facility or a place to pursue wellness. I joined there and quite after 2 weeks because the gym was so skanky. They offer you saturated fat, preservative filled pizza. How is that pursuing wellness? Sure you only pay $10 or $19 but you’re basically renting a treadmill and that’s about it. It has an ugly warehouse feel. They don’t have any functional training equipment and most of their strength machines are old and antiquated. Moreover the gym is usually dirty and the staff is unqualified when it comes to health and fitness issues. This is the type of gym that suckers people into spending $10 or $19 a month (yes I was guilty of this but then saw the light) and then they pray you don’t show up. It is NOT a good place to pursue wellness. It usually attracts the bottom feeders!

      • Betsy Harris

        Our Planet Fitness is brand new, and very clean. The staff is super friendly and helpful too. I find it a great place to work out. Love the flexible hours too.

        • Amy Lachen

          Good to hear you found a place to workout that works for you. Give this PF a year and you will think again about staying. Most of these gyms… if you can call PF a gym are just warehouses filled with cardio machines and little functional strength straining machines that work.

          • Betsy Harris

            I guess if that happens then I can leave since I am not under a contract.

  • Sue

    Thank you for posting this. I scrolled down here to do exactly the same. This is a terribly pervasive misconception that needs to be squashed. Many pesticides approved for organic farming are more toxic than the ones used in non-organic farming or they have to use more of the pesticides they are using because they aren’t as effective.

  • manthony

    Water is a chemical? – you know damn well that’s not what the use of the word “chemicals” means. It means pesticides, organophosphates and specifically glyphosate/roundup You’re evading the point. Why do oncologists say those using pesticides will eventually be one of their patients? Why is roundup classed as a probably carcinogen by most other industrialized nations? Do you even know who determines whether a synthetic chemical can be labeled as “safe”? The manufacturer…who has a profit motive. Roundup ready by definition makes plants more tolerant to glyphosate.