March 3, 2011

It’s not a deal if you don’t do it

I don’t know about you, but I love Groupon and its competitors (Living Social, Buy With Me, KGB Deals, Bloomspot, etc). I’ve always loved getting a great deal, and Groupon caters to that by offering me the opportunity to try restaurants, goods, and services for a significant savings on the list price.

I’ve read a lot of personal finance blogs (see my list in the right sidebar) on how Groupon can be a danger to those trying to watch their spending. It’s ingrained in us to love getting a deal, so the idea of getting 50% off the list price – even if the list price is drastically overvalued – encourages us to buy more than we otherwise would. I, being a typical Type A, have a spreadsheet that tracks each of the Groupons I purchase, along with any restrictions on the deal (e.g., not available on weekends) and when it expires. Sorting by expiration date, I can ensure that I always either use my deal or sell it on Lifesta or the like before it’s no longer valid. In the past several months, I’ve noticed that I’ve been scrambling to use up deals I purchased months prior; this has prompted me to start thinking long and hard before buying a deal, so now I usually only pull the trigger if it’s a product/service I already use and therefore am more likely to use. It’s not a good deal to get something for 50% off if you wouldn’t have bought it in the first place!

But what I really wanted to talk about today isn’t personal finance related. I want to talk about the “should I or shouldn’t I” decision and how long it takes us to make, particularly when it comes to fitness. We’ve all seen them – those Groupon deals that offer personal training sessions for $30 a pop, or unlimited yoga for a week for $25, or a month of Zumba for $50. All good deals, but again, they’re only good deals if you’re actually going to take advantage of them.

My mother has latched on to the Groupon trend, and I now receive emails from her a few times a week, sharing a deal and asking me if I think it’s any good. Email of the day: Stroga, a class combining strength training with yoga. (Remember the days when gym classes didn’t have to have cute little compound names and they would have just called it “Stretch N Pump?” Which, in fairness, sounds like either a porn or a technique for breastfeeding, but at least it’s a bit more descriptive than “Stroga”). I’ll be honest: I got a bit snippy with her over that email, though, and here’s why.

My mother has been saying for months that she wants to get in better shape. She’s asked me for advice, signed up for her local running club, Googled every gym in her area, gone with a friend to check out a Planet Fitness (and gotten scared off by the high-pressure sales tactics), and carefully considered every fitness Groupon that’s come her way. The only thing she hasn’t done? Gotten a bit sweaty by actually working out.

It doesn’t matter how cheap the class is or how fancy the gym is. It doesn’t matter if you picked out the best gym in the world at the best price with classes that perfectly mesh with your busy schedule. All that matters is that you get it done. In the time you spend doing all this research to find the perfect gym membership, you could have done hours of jumping jacks, or pushups, or running, or whatever else floats your boat. One of the big trends today is to talk about how back in the day, people didn’t need gyms or equipment to stay in shape, because our lifestyles used to be so active. Guess what – even if your lifestyle involves watching TV (heck, I loved The Bachelor last night), you can adapt that to move your body without any training, equipment, or special clothing. (You actually don’t even need any clothing at all, if you forgot to pack your gym clothes and you close all the curtains in your hotel room and then experiment with what exercises don’t require a sports bra… not that I know from experience, of course…).

The point is? Just move your body. If that involves complicated routines and free weights that are 18.2% of your body weight for a set of 9 reps then 14 reps then 2 reps where you’re increasing the weight by pi squared times the weight of your right arm but only below the elbow… hey, good for you. If that just involves jumping up and down like a little kid (with or without springs)… that works too. Don’t let the pursuit of the perfect workout keep you from doing any workout at all.


8 thoughts on “It’s not a deal if you don’t do it”

  1. My mom just bought a treadmill even though I’ve been telling her she needs to do something EXTRA than just walking as her cardio! I’ve been saying the same thing about doing exercises with a workout video, etc (or getting a really cheap gym membership), but she’s only comfortable with walking. Oh well. At least she’s walking and not sitting on the couch.

  2. I love groupon, but I haven’t heard of any of those competitors. SUCH good deals.

    That is what this post was about, right? Awesome groupon deals?

  3. I had to stop buying fitness groupons because I was just stockpiling them. I’m not allowed to buy more until I use the 3 yoga groupons I have, plus two additional fitness ones. Geez.

  4. I actually think of groupon as a good way to try out things I never have, but at a much cheaper price than normal. (Which is why I got a jewelry making class, and ice skating classes!) I agree though, its a little to easy to buy them based on the possibility of using them for good…then letting them sit and expire. However, when you can pay $30 and go to dance class 5 days a week (as I did in January) it’s totally worth it!!

  5. Thanks for the extra sites! I agree about just moving. I’m amazed at the number of people who comment to me (after seeing me run during my lunch hour) that they wish they had the time to exercise. They somehow forget that a lot can be accomplished in less than an hour!

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