How Much Does It Cost to Be Fit?

Six athletically inclined people—regular folks with regular jobs, just like you—divulge how much money they spend on their fitness routines

Shandi Kano estimates that she spends 15 to 20 percent of her income on outdoor recreation and fitness. (Brandon Flint)

We all know it’s not easy staying fit—you need time, energy, and resources on your side to squeeze in those predawn runs, post-work gym sessions, and weekend bike rides. But the other essential you need to get and stay fit? Money. We asked six average folks—people from around the country with normal jobs and varying salaries—how they manage to stay in shape and how much their active lifestyle costs them. What we found: sure, it costs a chunk of your salary to buy a new road bike or a monthly yoga membership, but there’s a lot about staying fit that requires absolutely no spending at all.

Eric Henderson, 43

2014
(Courtesy of Eric Henderson)

Hometown: Boulder, Colorado
Job: Sales and marketing director for outdoor brands
Annual Salary: Between $100,000 and $200,000
How Often He Works Out: Three times a week, 30 to 60 minutes each.
Percent of Income Spent on Outdoor Rec/Fitness: 10 percent.

A Typical Week of Workouts: “I’ll go for a 5:15 sunrise run four times a week, logging around 3.5 miles. I ride my bike 6.5 miles to work five days a week. I’ll do a long activity on the weekends—and did I mention I have three kids? So, trampoline workouts with the kids.”

What He Spends on Workout Classes/Gym Memberships: Nothing.

What He Spends on Wellness (Massage, Bodywork, Etc.): Nothing. “I can’t afford that.”

What He Spends on Outdoor Gear: $100 for an uphill ski pass, $500 for a season ski pass, $100 on clothes like socks, underwear, and shorts. Gets other gear for free or heavily discounted since he works in the industry.

If Money Were No Object: “I’d get a road bike, a personal home gym, take yoga classes, go on annual yoga and meditation retreats, hire a personal trainer, and go on surf trips.”

The Cheapest Thing He Does to Stay Fit: “Running. And sex. Without good sex, there is no good fitness.”


Ashley Cotton, 37

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(Courtesy of Ashley Cotton)

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Job: Public affairs for a real estate developer
Annual Salary: More than $200,000
How Often She Works Out: Two times a week, “for 45 minutes, tops.”
Percent of Income Spent on Outdoor Rec/Fitness: “I take an annual big trip to ski out west. Likely less than 10 percent.”

A Typical Week of Workouts: “I go to the gym in my apartment building usually once during the weekend and once on a weekday. I wish I went more. I do cardio on the bike or treadmill, and then work on strengthening exercises for my lower back, abs, hips, and glutes. I have chronic pain since I was a college ice-hockey player and recently started physical therapy to fix it. I walk to work and run around a lot, thanks to the pace of my job. I stretch every morning and try to breath every once and a while.”

What She Spends on Workout Classes/Gym Memberships: “I pay $65 a month to have access to the gym at my building in Fort Greene.”

What She Spends on Wellness (Massage, Bodywork, Etc.): $50 a month.

What She Spends on Outdoor Gear: “I buy new sneakers every year, and I like to get new workout clothing here and there to help motivate me to the gym. It’s definitely not my worst spending habit—I would say $500 a year at most.”

If Money Were No Object: “In-house massage therapist and acupuncture.”

What She Spends Too Much Money On: “These days, physical therapy.”

The Cheapest Thing She Does to Stay Fit: “Walking to work and up and down the stairs in the NYC subway system.”


Eli Simon, 32

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(Courtesy of Eli Simon)

Hometown: Bar Harbor, Maine
Job: Lead rock-climbing guide and owner of Atlantic Climbing School
Annual Salary: Between $30,000 and $50,000
How Often He Works Out: “I try to do something active every day. This could range from a 30-minute run to a ten-hour ski tour.”
Percent of Income Spent on Outdoor Rec/Fitness: 30 percent. “I travel a ton, which is costly, and basically all of my free time is spent recreating outside.”

A Typical Week of Workouts: “The most consistent physical activity in my life is my yoga practice. I strive to spend at least 30 minutes on my mat each day. If I’m home, I often do 30-minute circuit-training workouts in my basement. It’s usually a mixture of push-ups, core exercises, and laps on the HIT strips on my home climbing wall. During the guiding season, I have very little free time, so my workouts usually consist of 30-minute trail runs in Acadia or climbing a few pitches after work. The home climbing gym is great when it rains.”

What He Spends on Workout Classes/Gym Memberships: $64 per month. “I try to go to at least one yoga class every week.”

What He Spends on Wellness (Massage, Bodywork, Etc.): Not much. “I’m lucky that I’ve been able to barter climbing lessons for bodywork.”

What He Spends on Outdoor Gear: “This is a tricky one, because as a guide, my work gear and my personal equipment are all mixed up. I spend a ton of money on gear, though—maybe $5,000 a year?”

If Money Were No Object: “The Treadwall is kind of cool, but if money were no object, I would build a big home climbing gym.”

What He Spends Too Much Money On: Plane tickets and climbing gear.

The Least Expensive Item in His Gear Arsenal: “A yoga mat is super cheap and opens doors to a life of physical, mental, and spiritual fitness.”


Robbie Stout, 32

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(Courtesy of Robbie Stout)

Hometown: Park City, Utah
Job: Co-owner and co-founder of Ritual Chocolate
Annual Salary: $30,000
How Often He Works Out: “I don’t work out—I play. Around one to two hours per day.”
Percent of Income Spent on Outdoor Rec/Fitness: 10 percent. “But if I earned a lot more money, I probably wouldn’t spend that much more.”

A Typical Week of Workouts: “I’ll mountain bike one to two hours after work, Monday through Friday, in the summer, then go for a longer, two- or three-hour ride on Saturday and Sunday. In the winter, I’ll go for a 30-to-45-minute lunchtime skate ski during the week, then snowboard or alpine ski all weekend.”

What He Spends on Workout Classes/Gym Memberships: Nothing.

What He Spends on Wellness (Massage, Bodywork, Etc.): “I get about four $100 massages per year.”

What He Spends on Outdoor Gear: About $3,000 a year.

If Money Were No Object: “If I were rich, I’d buy things I wouldn’t use often, like a fat bike for the winter. Better winter cycling gear. My road bike is ten years old, so I’m ready for an upgrade there, too. I might also hire a coach, and maybe buy an expensive power meter.”

What He Spends Too Much Money On: “Tires start to get expensive with mountain biking and cyclocross. Different tires for different conditions. A new tire can also get slashed by a sharp rock, and that’s $70 down the drain. Training and racing food gets expensive. I try to cut corners by putting maple syrup in my bottles rather than an expensive mix.”

What He’s Learned: “Time is money. And to get super fit on the bike means spending a lot of time, and that may or may not have financial ramifications.”


Dusty Olson, 43

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(Courtesy of Dusty Olson)

Hometown: Tabernash, Colorado
Job: Carpenter, Nordic ski team coach
Annual Salary: Under $30,000
How Often He Works Out: “When I’m feeling good, I’ll run twice a day or do multiple workouts of different sports—around 12 to 30 hours a week, depending on my life and work schedule or what I’m training for.”
Percent of Income Spent on Outdoor Rec/Fitness: “I live in Colorado, so I can run and ski in the mountains. I’m always traveling to events. It’s hard to say how much of my income I spend on recreation, since that’s pretty much what my life revolves around, but I’d guess 20 to 30 percent.”

A Typical Week of Workouts: “I have a Nordic skiing background, so I grew up working on training my whole body. Often I’ll go for an hour run, then paddle a marathon race canoe for up to five hours in the summer. I often use my commute to work as a workout and run or bike there. My typical morning run before breakfast is around an hour. A training run for me is usually two to five hours. In the winter, I’ll go for a two- or three-hour Nordic ski, then go rip laps at Mary Jane for a couple hours. Or classic ski in the morning and skate in the afternoon.”

What He Spends on Workout Classes/Gym Memberships: Nothing.

What He Spends on Wellness (Massage, Bodywork, Etc.): “I’m currently dealing with Lyme disease, so I spend $500 to $700 a month on acupuncture and different supplements to keep my body moving.”

If Money Were No Object: “I have most of the things I need. But I guess I’d like a new Huki solo outrigger or a sweet LaMere Cycles mountain bike or some Flylow gear. I could always use some new skis of some sort.”

What He Spends Too Much Money On: “Gas getting to cool places or events. That’s the most expensive part of my fitness.”

The Cheapest Thing He Does to Stay Fit: “Running out my front door.”


Shandi Kano, 31

Backcountry
(Brandon Flint)

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Job: Self-employed brand producer, marketing manager, consultant, and content producer
Annual Salary: Between $75,000 and $100,000
How Often She Works Out: “It totally depends on the season and the weather, but as a general rule I work out every day, ranging from an hour to several hours. I take one day off a week and do little to no exercising, maybe a walk or a really chill hike, if anything.”
Percent of Income Spent on Outdoor Rec/Fitness: “Including all the travel, lodging, gas, and food related to outdoor recreation, likely around 15 to 20 percent.”

A Typical Week of Workouts: “My work is freelance-based, so every day is different. In the winter, if I’m not touring, I’ll definitely go running. Often, even after a backcountry tour, I still like to run that day because it feels like a great shakeout, stretch, and cooldown for me. If I snowboarded all day, I’ll usually run four-plus miles afterward, sometimes more to keep the cardio fitness up. In summer, I run as many hours as I have time for, always keeping balance in mind when it comes to training and recovery and if I have any races lined up. I get in a good uphill mountain bike climb every once in a while, too.”

What She Spends on Workout Classes/Gym Memberships: Nothing.

What She Spends on Wellness (Massage, Bodywork, Etc.): $200 to $300 a month.

What She Spends on Outdoor Gear: $1,000 for a season ski pass, $600 for a new snowboard, $200 for new boots, $150 on new snowboard pants. “On average, maybe $3,000 a year on new gear.”

If Money Were No Object: “I would buy a full-suspension bike and all new climbing gear. I would also buy a road bike and probably a couple more snowboards to try out in powder. I’d definitely buy an SUP. And if money were really no object, I’d get a personal masseuse or a Snowbird spa pass with unlimited massages. But really, the things I don’t have can be rented or borrowed for a good time.”

What She Spends Too Much Money On: “After you have what you need, gear-wise, it’s all pretty cheap. Travel, for sure, can add up. I’m blessed that I don’t have to travel to recreate, but when I do, it’s definitely costly. There’s just so much out there to do and see.”

What She’s Learned: “Nature is free. But the gear can get spendy.”

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