Trying to lose weight? One of the smartest things you can do for yourself is to start exercising. Any form of movement, from doing housework to running on a treadmill counts, as long as you're moving, burning calories, and stepping up your metabolism. Like yoga? That counts as exercise. Like to ride your bicycle? Try biking to work to get your workout. Start with once a week and then up the count as you get into shape. Again, it's important to find something you like to do so that you'll stick with it and form a long-term plan for staying in shape.
Why a Gym?
For lots of us, working out at a gym is the most convenient way to get in shape or stay that way. Winter is an especially difficult season for staying in shape. Snow and cold weather can get in the way of your exercise regiment but a gym is always open and the climate is always right. Not only that, but some people prefer the social atmosphere of a gym. There are classes to take where you can meet other people. Studies have found that socializing in a gym helps to keep you going back. Believe it or not, the idea of not showing up for a class and disappointing your gym friends can affect your decisions on whether or not to go to the gym that day!
#1 Reason for Not Joining a Gym: Negated
Number one reason for not getting a gym membership: cost. The cost can set you back hundreds of dollars a year. The average cost of a gym membership is about $50 per month. That means purchasing an annual plan will be average of $600. Slapping down $600 is a pretty tough move these days with the economy what it is. Here's the good news, though. If you're joining a gym to lose weight, you may be able to deduct that $600 from your taxes. How does that work? If you've done your own taxes, you may recall that gym membership dues are not considered medical expenses, and therefore not deductible. A direct quote from the IRS:
You cannot include in medical expenses health club dues or amounts paid to improve one's general health or to relieve physical or mental discomfort not related to a particular medical condition.
Get Your Doctor Involved
If you are obese or have hypertension, your doctor may prescribe working out at a gym. If this is the case with you, your gym membership dies can be deducted on your federal tax return. You must be diagnosed by a doctor to have a medical condition or a defect or an illness that would be alleviated or cured by working out at a gym. You must also use the gym the way the doctor prescribes. For example, if your doctor orders you to work out at a gym, and all you do after joining is pull up to the juice bar and chat, that's going to be a problem with the IRS.