Has the Recession Affected Your Workout Routine?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I teach a noon Pilates class at a nearby gym every Monday. While the number of students in this midday class varies, I usually have between one and four students who come to the class regularly. I attribute the low attendance to the time of day, assuming most people can't get away from work for a lunchtime workout. My hunch has proven right on "bank holidays," when attendance spikes up since people aren't at work. Recently, I've noticed another kind of student coming to class in the middle of the day: adults who lost their jobs due to the poor economy.

I saw a new face one day and struck up a conversation with this new-to-Pilates student, a middle-aged woman. She told me that she was recently laid off. Joining the ranks of the unemployed, she had more free time on her hands, saying, "I figured I could either get fat or I could get fit; so I chose to get fit!" What a positive attitude! But I didn't see her the next week or any week thereafter. I had wondered if she found a job, if she didn't enjoy her first shot at Pilates, or if, perhaps, she cancelled her gym membership to save money.

That led me to wonder: Has the recession affected your workout routine?

Millions of Americans are facing tough times, from salary cuts and layoffs. It recently hit close to home for me, too. My boyfriend lost his job two weeks ago. Fortunately for him, he received several weeks of severance pay, but that doesn’t' mean we aren't worried. In fact, both of us are tightening our purse strings to prepare for the worst. He's still paying for his gym membership and working out regularly, but if the severance runs out and he's still out of work, I'm sure that his monthly gym dues will be one of the first things to go. But as long as his spirits stay high, I don't think he'll have trouble making fitness a part of his life, gym membership or not. We often walk and run together; he plays in a weekly adult soccer league; and if all else fails, he can work out at home, doing pushups, abs exercises and other body-weight moves to stay in shape.

I'd guess that the recession would affect most people's exercise routines adversely—they stop paying for the gym, their personal training sessions, or the fees for their soccer leagues in an effort to save money. For those who have been searching, networking, and interviewing for a long time, depression and emotional eating might take over, leading to weight gain and a lack of energy and motivation to work out at all. Or maybe you're like the woman who chose to get "fit" instead of "fat." You continue to use free or inexpensive workout options, because you know that it's more important than ever to care for yourself and relieve the stress of joblessness.

How about you: Has the recession affected your workout routine? If you've lost wages or a job, tell us how you are sticking to your workouts and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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I had to freeze my gym membership last spring do to finances - right before I joined SparkPeople. But I've been working out at home and lost all the weight I wanted and then some! When my membership "unfreezes" in another 2 months I'll go back some days, but working out at home is so much easier - and it seems to be more effective!!!! Report
Fortunately, my spouse leads some classes at a fitness club so we get our membership free. However, I still have to use gas to drive there. So, I am concentrating more on just going for a run from my front door. I also enter less 5ks and look for races with lower entry fees. Same for triathlons and organized biking events. I swim less because of the price of admission also. Report
I think the stresses of the recession has increased the intensity of my workouts. After a stressful day at work nothing is better than a good hard run and pushing your body just that little bit further than the day before. And then by the end of the workout my stresses are gone. If I didn't have that "me time " away from my everyday life the stresses would be a lot harder on me. Report
I haven't had a job since last year, and since then, I have finally gotten into shape. Since I've had more time on my hands, I've been able to exercise like when I was in college. I don't have a gym membership, I work out at home with dumbbells, a band and fitness videos. One thing I did buy for myself was a year long pass to a local park, but I figure it's worth it since now I can run, walk or bike safely away from the crazy Orlando traffic. Exercise helps me from being depressed about not having a job, and I'm super lucky that my husband still has his. Report
I pay 60 dollars a month to workout at my gym, but most weeks I work out 4-5 days a week so it is worth it to me.
Although lately I have been considering taking advantage of the bare bones gym my school offers to save the money each month. I am thinking after once August hits, and I am back in school I will make the switch. Report
No change! Report
Acutually, no. I had so much stuff over the years anyway, I do it much more for keeping my stress down with all the stimuli around me. I'm glad I've invested in it so heavily before! Report
It hasn't yet, but it will be the next thing to go. My husband was laid off in early February, and my job doesn't pay much, so we've had to give up some things and tighten up our budget. It will be sad for me if we have to let it go, but it's not the end of the world. We can still find ways to exercise at home! Report
thankfully we have free fitness center where we live and I also have a gazelle and 15 speed so that has helped Report
The recession hasn't affected me because I workout at home. I belonged to a gym along time ago but I quit because of convenience. Report
I was hoping to join a gym. I recieved notice that my last day at work is May 11. So I guess I will stick with what I have. I am lucky though, I have a treamill and an eliptical machine. I also live out in the country. A walk around the block is 3.8 miles. Or for a change of pace I can walk to the little town I live close to(5 miles)

But the depression of losing the job is hitting me right now. And it makes it hard to get motivated. Report
I don't work anyway, but my hubby and I have been tightening our belts to save for the worst, so I had to cut out my personal trainer last November. However, I was able (because I had the best trainer in the world!) to begin doing some trade work in exchange for continuing my training. Then last month when my trainer left the state to go take a different job, the trainer who took over his clients opted to keep me on the same deal. So with some creative thinking and a willingness to try some new things my workout is as good or better than ever. Of course, I recognize that I am very blessed not to have to work at a regular job for now, though I've been looking a bit just as a backup in case something happens to my hubby's job. Report
I am fortunate that not only have I been able to keep my job (I am dangerously close to the chopping block) but we have a gym at work. It helps me get a workout in and keep the stress of the poor economy and possible pending layoff at bay. Report
I have cut back my spending in many ways.
I cancelled my gym membership. I now walk during the week and hike to the top of a mountain on the weekends. The mountain is only seven minutes from my house. I love being outdoors. I walk in all weather. When it is 120 degrees during the day,(Las Vegas), I walk at 4:30 am when it is still cool,(95 degrees). I also have workout DVD's, a ball, free weights, a step, and a jump rope. I am setting up a gym in my home.

I can't believe I once paid for a gym membership, cable, a house keeper, lawn guy...

Freedom from 'stuff' is veeerrrryyyy liberating:)
I relate to this a little bit, only I haven't lost my job, my job went from full time to part time in Dec 2008. I was told it was b/c of the economy. Seeing that my gain weight in 2008 was due the stress of getting out of the Army in Dec 2007, I decided to get on the ball with a workout routine. You could say this national situation effected my workouts, it helped me actually to get a workout plan. Before the job change news, I was not working out, in fact depressed that I was destined to remain this new larger size and remembering that I tried to lose the now smaller amount of weight I gained in the Army, and barely moved the scale, either way. For the most part I maintained. The moment I got out (actually while in the process), I stopped caring about myself and started eating the "forbidden foods" they dictated to me.
Fast forward to present, I have to really look to see the benefits of exercising. I have been working out 6 days a week for the past three months, and see very little changes. I have gained some energy and strength, which is good, I notice I am slightly smaller. (I'm prone to avoid the scale to know my weight). But that's about it. I think it's my diet, which it not that bad (I buy healthy foods), but probably isn't all great (skipping meals, mainly lunch, too many carbs sometimes.) This diet and exercise thing is still pretty new to me (sans the Army), and probably until I can figure out what's going on, I'll still feel like a newbie. Report
I did not renew my gym membership. Walking is free and I am up to 6 miles a day and love being outdoors. Report
I quit the gym to save money, but have surprisingly found more enjoyable ways to spend my workouts anyway.. so no loss there! Report
I stopped going to one of my dance classes to cut costs. Hopefully, I won't have to stop going to my other one b/c I really learn a lot from that instructor and she is good at correcting my form (which I need). There is a local hiking group that often does hikes on Thursday mornings, which is when I had the dance class I cut. I'm going to start going on some of those hikes now to make up for the lost exercise. That, and doing extra dance practice at home on my own or with DVDs. Report
the recession has affected my work out. I dropped my gym membership for me and my daughter as it was money that i didn't justify spending, and I am working several jobs to make ends meet. I am finding it difficult to find the time to work out.I also have noticed that I am not doing what I need to do in my time at home either. I seem to have lost some motivation to work out since hubby lost his job in November.
I have to get back on track, so I am planning on walking more, using Coach Nicoles DVD's and sticking to some sort of program. I do like knowing what the coaches system is, especially since it means that flexibility is still working for them!
tina1 Report
I'd rather be fit, then fat.

There is a community excersize group in the area for the elderly & well.......although I'm not elderly, I've been going to it. It's a dollar a day, which may not seem like much, but these days a dollar a day is a lot. So, I figure I can do like they do, they watch a video/while I can watch You-Tube & do the same thing @ home & get my jazzersize in. Besides, I have a rebounder @ home & I have a jump rope & I also walk with my husband. Report
My layoff has lead to having more time to work out. That's a good thing. It's difficult though, to fit in my new normal routine when I have a lot of things to do in the day, or go to training or something. I think it'll take constant adjustment to stay on top of managing time to fit it in - just like always. Report
My DH lost his job a few months ago. He is a shipbuilder which is a very active job with him climbing and toting heavy equipment all the time. I'm a very active housewife as well with my yoga and walking 5 miles every day. Once he was out of work though I found myself networking and typing up resumes, which means lots of sitting. So we started noticing a slight weight gain. My DH found a job and my exercise went back up, but then he quit that job because it just wasn't what he was qualified for, so back to networking we went. But this time he started exercising with me. After about two more weeks of hit or miss jobs, his original job called him back, so now we are back on our regular shifts. He shed all his weight, but I'm still working on mine. I really enjoy the SP exercise videos in addition to my usual routine. Report
We have an awesome family membership at a hospital-sponsored gym that has something for everybody and I just love it! When I made the case with my husband to signn up with my employee discount of 20% it was that it cost only 1/2 of what we spent on TV every month, and it still does! As a member we get 3 free trainer sessions plus a ton of free classes every week. I do like to get outside, but the 9 days a year that I'm off from work that are warm and sunny aren't enough to get me in any kind of shape. And I'd rather go to the beach those days anyway. Report
In times of economic crisis, our non-essentials are always the first to go. We've been blessed to have some exercise equipment in our home, so that along with Leslie Sansone DVDs is what I've always used - and also what I prefer. And I've also mapped out some great walking routes with Spark fitness maps. Report
I used to belong to a health club so I could do the water aerobics classes, but it was pretty expensive. When hubby got ill I gave up my membership and I exercise at home, and I much prefer it. No crowds, no expense, I can do it when I want to even if its 2 am. I love to be outside when the weather permits, and indoor exercising is nice, easy and effecient. Report
Since I was laid off I have more freedom to schedule my one hour workout into whatever time of day I choose. I do wish that I had the extra money available to get a gym membership, but that would have been a tough to manage expense even when I was employed...forget about it now. Luckily the weather is changing here in the northeast and I am able to get outside and walk, bike or rollerblade rather than being confined to the treadmill like I was all winter. Report
In my everyday world, I usually walk and exercise alone. But because of the economy, I have some new company to workout with cause they are laid-off. I do like their company, but I wish they hadn't lost their incomes! Report
I am fortunate because I still have my job, but I have always worked out at home because I prefer the convenience. I have, however, cut back on the number of times I go out to dinner as cooking at home is so much less expensive. SparkPeople and Weight Watchers both have so many recipes to try, that it's been a lot of fun experimenting with new foods! Report
I workout at home on my treadmill but I also have workout dvds, Just bought another dvd after not buying one in a really long time, I have scalled down on buying dvds Report
I've always been frugal, so the economy isn't a worry for me. I just find it interesting that people "Tighten their purse strings" after they lose their jobs. What happened to having a savings account, and paying CASH for items? No wonder the economy is in the mess it is in. Growing up my parents taught me that if we couldn't afford it, we didn't get it. Report
Not at all. The strangest thing is that I notice there are more people working out in the gym than ever. I believe people are trying to gain control of what they can... like their body. Report
I thought I would exercise everyday when I became unemployed in early February. Well, today is my first day of exercise - so do not underestimate the 'down in the dumps' factor. But I am now embracing the other way of thinking, which is that I can get fat with this additional time or I can get fit. I have 10 classes remaining on a paid exercise card. I have lots of exercise DVDs and the weather is getting nicer every day. Lots that I can afford to do! Thanks for the article - always good to feel that you are not alone! Report
I would have to say, no it hasn't. I've always preferred to workout at home. Report
I have started walking and excersizing just to get rid of my money troubles. Report
I definitely feel for all of the people affected by the economy. My financial difficulties have been short term and planned. I went back to school for 4 years (at age 38!) to become a registered nurse. Our regional campus does not have any gym facilities. We had to cut down on expenses like going to the gym to afford my tuition - and for the last 2 years we've been helping out our daughter as she's now in university too.

We still have been doing drop in at the local rec centre for swimming, weight room & aerobic/water aerobic classes but not as often. I've been using my skipping rope (a good one I got a few years ago), dvds, yoga ball, an incline bench and hand weights and a treadmill at home. I've been trading/sharing dvds with friends to get some variety. We bought the treadmill on sale with a small inheritance my husband received. Its been a great investment - the whole family uses it.

I'd love to have some help from a trainer and go to some classes - hopefully once I'm working and we've caught up on our finances I'll be able to do it. I must thank SPARK people for the help and motivation they give me - I wouldn't be able to keep up with my healthy eating/lifestyle without the help of my 'teams' and the information they provide. Report
I'm lucky in the fact that our borough has pools/gyms that i have bought a 6 month pass for. I figured it up and if I go do something... swim, walk, lift weights, whatever I want... then the membership has cost me less then $1/day. The major cost to me is getting across town to get there. There is a gym where I work but the price is much higher and i would have to wait longer to use machines because of more people using that facility. I am lucky also to have a job that give small incentives for utilizing their health program. I go to meetings with a health coach and after going 3x in a row I got a one month membership pass to BIG gym outlet here in town. With no expiration date I will save that until my 6 month pass runs out and then go to this other gym for a month. Report
It has greatly affected me. Not only have I had to cancel my gym membership, but now I have to work 2 jobs to make ends meet. I leave the house at 6:30 AM and don't get home till after midnight, and I keep this schedule up 5 days a week. Weekends are spent catching up on lost sleep, cleaning house, running errands, and spending time with my son. I literally have NO down time anymore - if Im not sleeping, Im working or doing chores. When I have my son on weekends, we try to do physical activites (like walking at a nearby park, or going to large flea markets where we can walk) but that is not anywhere near the activity level I had before when I was working out 5 days a week. This economy stinks!!! Report
Luckily my college tuition fees include the gym membership fees, so the recession hasn't affected my workout routine! Report
Although my personal finances are OK with the recession, I still worry and plan for the unexpected. What I find that has changed, is that I'm taking much longer walks. Technology is what has affected my workout more. I put audio books on my IPOD and once I'm lost in a good book, I forget how long I have been biking or walking. Also, I use a blue tooth when I walk to talk to my mom or my sister-in-law. Report
We are self-employed and things have been terribly slow. April is the 1st month that I did not pay my gym membership. Despite having DVDs and equipment at home I am finding it almost impossible to workout at home. I have no motivation and know when I do do something I do not do it for the length or intensity that I do at the gym. Think I'm in a funk :) Report
I had a really difficult time with exercise while I was out of work. I felt guilty if I took time for myself--I felt like the time I took to exercise was time I should be hunched over the computer looking for a new job. That wasn't the best approach, but for some reason or another, i really struggled to find a balance. Now that I have a job, I take time to enjoy my day and take time for myself. I wake up early to exercise (at home with Exercise TV and SP DVDs, not at the Y which is my dream, since I'm the only one working in my family) or go for walk after work with my husband, who's stuck at home all day doing his freelance work and/or looking for a job. On the weekends, I spend time doing something active (and free) with my family, like playing Frisbee in the park or hiking canyon trails or going for a bike ride, all of which I really enjoy as a release from work and financial stress and all that crap. I feel much more balanced and not guilty at all since I now have a relatively stable job. Recession, be gone!! We are done with you!! Report
I am retired. So watching where my money goes is important. I haven't hired a PT for that reason. I have also changed gyms twice. I'm a shopper ! Not to mention the price of what gas used to be and may become again. It keeps me close to home. With the savings from switching gyms , I enrolled in my favorite water aerobics class. I'm presently getting ready for hard times. I have purchased a Total Gym, & already have several pieces of equipment- weights, ect. So when I can't afford the nice equipment at the gym I will always have something to fall back on. Report
Recently laid off. It hasn't affected my exercise routines much. When I began this change, one of my priorities was being able to exercise on the cheap--very little equipment, no gym membership, like that.

The only thing that's changed is since I don't have a set schedule any more, I set timers and alarms to let me know when it's time to do my exercises. Report
I didn't have a gym membership prior to losing my job about a month ago. But had I had one, that would have been one of the first things to go, along with home phone, cable, etc. I'm pretty simple and thrifty anyway, so there wouldn't be much else to cut otherwise. I prefer to either workout at home or in nice weather go for a walk/hike. Now that I'm not employed, I spend more time looking for work then the amount of time I used to work. If I don't find employment in my field soon w similar pay as I had, I might be forced to take two lesser paying full-time jobs to stay afloat, in which case I'm sure I will have difficulty keeping up my workout routine. :( Report
I haven't lost my job or taken a pay cut but we've cut back on some unnecessary spending just to be safe, especially since we're planning on selling our house and buying a new one before the end of the year. The one thing we haven't cut spending on is things that will help us get/stay fit. We don't have a gym membership but we've made a home gym, we buy fresh foods and don't eat out much... and fast food for MANY reasons is a NO-NO. Report
Mentally- yes. I lost my job last Aug. and yet to find one. I am worried about what lies ahead there. I joined SP and decided that my health was the one thing I had some control over. I've been at it since 1/4/09 and am down nearly 30 lbs. I want to keep going. I work out at home and walk when it's pretty. So as far as that goes, no I'm not affected as I already had what I needed to do so w/little $ invested. Now, if I could get my mind on the same page as my body I would be all set. Report
I'm actually in Investment Banking, but I'm taking the plunge and just going the New York Sports Club (NYSC) yesterday. It's expensive ($80 a month!), but I'm tightening the purse (man bag?) strings significantly in other areas. Limiting eating out and making more healthy meals at home. I'm sure that it'll be worth every penny when I start seeing those results.

Maybe it's just here in NYC, but I was shocked to see that the YMCA was actually the same price (MORE if you count the fact they charge almost $200 just to join!) as NYSC. And my mother is paying $10 a month upstate at Planet Fitness. Sigh. Maybe it's time to move?

Keep well. Report
Thankfully, I've always been cheap when it comes to my exercise routine. I love fitness DVDs, and I buy them used from Amazon, so it's a really inexpensive way to stay fit. I also have a few pieces of equipment that weren't too expensive to invest in (and I bought them one at a time here and there) like a exercise ball, dumbells, jump rope, exercise bands, and a step. Having all this stuff at home at my disposal works great for me - I have no excuse not to fit a workout in, and I have no trouble staying motivated to do it everyday (the results keep me going).

So the recession hasn't affected my routine at all, and I'm so thankful for that! Report
I haven't been let go (yet), but my hubby has (last Thursday, part of the 5,000 at IBM). He has never been laid off before (he was with IBM for almost 13 years, and before that he was self-employed), so he's taking it hard. I'm dragging him to the gym, and yes, we're keeping our membership because we pay yearly fees (he bought a Lifetime Membership in 1992), and we're paid up for at least another four months. Hopefully, he'll get another job before August!

Meanwhile walking is cheap. When I was laid off last (2000), I was out of work for several months. During that time, I walked every morning and every night around my apartment complex, and by the time I got a job, I'd lost 80 pounds! I cannot emphasize how much it hit home that as I took off the weight, my confidence increased. And as my confidence increased, I made a better impression at my interviews! So keep up the healthy lifestyle, folks. It will pay off in the end... Report
The recession has affected my workouts, but in a good way. Although my husband and I are fortunate that we still have our jobs at this time, we have been cutting back on spending. Therefore, with more time spent at home (no longer going to movies or museums with the kids), I have more time to exercise at home. We do not live close to a fitness center (the closest one is 30+ miles away), so my husband and I have amassed a home gym in our basement over the past five years. Therefore, while my workouts haven't really changed, I have been able to lengthen my workouts, which is good. Report
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