Simple. Get a dog!
Obviously that’s not practical for a lot of reasons for a lot of people and I appreciate that, but bear with me for a minute.
If it’s not the latest fad diet hitting the headlines, it’s what we can do to get ourselves fitter, and so the subject of Gym Membership may come up.
I confess I’ve never belonged to a gym. In fact the only gym I did was at school where I couldn’t climb a rope, even if it had knots in it. I was no good balancing on parallel bars, pull or push ups, and standing on my hands or my head gave me a headache. At best, I could manage cartwheels and bunny hops. Maybe if we’d had proper weight training sessions instead of the torturous routines the teachers put us through, I would have seen things differently. The result was that I hated the thought of any type of exercise, yet enjoyed a keep fit aerobics class and swimming before I got married.
I’ve always been a bit of a walker though, but that never really registered as exercise. I didn’t learn to drive until my 20s, so I relied on Shankey’s Pony and the bus. Provided I had on a comfy pair of shoes, wasn’t loaded down with shopping and it was a pleasant day, I could, and did, walk for miles.
So, I have no idea what gym membership costs. Looking it up on the internet, fees seem to vary depending on how much or how little you intend to use the gym you’re signing up with. There are all sorts of horror stories about bugs and germs lurking on their towels and soaps etc, so you’re encouraged to take your own, but do all gyms have shower facilities then? In my aerobics class, we all got hot and sweaty to the beat, but there were no showers available and we took our own bottles of water to drink, together with our personal floor mats for the ‘warming down’ exercises. From what I’ve read, membership can be as little as £10 a month, or as much as £500 a year, if not more. Is it value for money? Again it comes down to how often you intend to go, whether you get a personal trainer, and how much of the available facilities you intend to use I suppose. Being on a limited income and low budget, for me even £10 a month would actually be pushing it.
We have a keep fit class in our local village hall once a week. For the outlay of £5.50, you get to bounce in time to a variety of popular tunes under the guidance of a ‘professional instructor’ for about 30 minutes. That’s £286 a year. To put that into some form of perspective, that’s more than my annual electricity bill, or 3 months food shopping, or almost half a tank of oil for the central heating system. That £5.50 a week would also cover the cost of my fuel going out to the woods every day to walk the dog, for as long as I like, not getting hot and sweaty in the process, and enjoying the peace and tranquility of bird song rather than an upbeat tempo bombarding my ear drums.
I agree that owning a dog is a great responsibility. Jabs, insurance, worming and flea treatments will set you back around £200 a year. If you decide to take your puppy to classes for socialising and training, that’s an additional cost of about £5 a week. We did our own training (praise and reward) and socialised her through play in areas where we knew there would be other dogs. Putting in the time and discipline in the early days has paid off tremendously and we are extremely proud of her. She is a good excuse to get out of the house, away from the TV/computer, and out into the fresh air to …. well, exercise. She also gives a lot of love back, something you don’t get from a gym.
Choosing the right dog for you, and your family if you have one, is important, and there are lots of articles available to help you decide. Small dogs aren’t always the easiest, and big dogs don’t always need the most exercise. If you’ve never had one before, don’t be afraid to talk to other dog owners. Most of them will be happy to chat, and if you do go ahead, you will always have friends. We have met so many nice people when out walking Maggie, all with a variety of breeds. It’s so much more interesting than a treadmill (even if you have a TV screen in front of it) or sharing sweat and body odour with a load of huffing red faces. I can probably tell you the dogs’ names in 99 cases out of every hundred, but as for their owners? We usually find that out by accident, if we find out at all.
Now that might be the only similarity. Do you know the names of the other gym users? Better still, how many of them have a dog?