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A Private Sports Club Membership Is Well Worth The Cost

Now that cash flow is tight, I’ve reviewed all the expenses where I could potentially cut. One such expense is a private sports club membership.

I joined the club in February 2023 when it was raining nonstop for three months. I was getting cabin fever so I decided to pay $180 a month for access to indoor pickleball and tennis.

To regain my financial independence, I’ve strongly considered cancelling my membership to save money. However, after much deliberation, I’ve decided that canceling is not worth it.

I’ve significantly reduced my food expenses and ceased clothing purchases, anticipating monthly savings ranging between $500 and $1,000 along with potential weight loss. However, retaining the sports club membership is non-negotiable.

Joining A Private Sports Club Is A Worthwhile Expenditure

Being a member of a private sports club might sound fancy, but paying $180 a month is less than what some people pay for coffee and treats. There wasn’t even an initiation fee.

In my mind, a sports club membership is worth it. Here are the reasons why.

1) Greater happiness and health

The other Sunday, I played pickleball indoors on a reserved court from 8 am until 9:30 am. It was wonderful to play continuously without the elements or a wait. After 9:30 am, my friend and I ended up playing against another friendly couple until 10 am because there were available courts.

Every time I play sports (without getting injured), I feel a tremendous amount of happiness. The endorphins kick in. Connecting with other players is fun. I’ve gotten to know at least 25 new people after joining this club. It helps keep the loneliness at bay. Then taking an afternoon nap after lunch feels glorious!

Before I joined the indoor sports club in February 2023, I was getting a little depressed for three months beforehand due to the rain. But once I joined the indoor sports club, my mood immediately improved.

Being able to play pickleball indoors in a thunderstorm felt like tremendous value. I would gladly pay $500 a month during the winter for this privilege!

Engaging in activities that elevate my heart rate and prevent weight gain is crucial for maintaining my long-term health. In fact, prioritizing health benefits played a significant role in my decision to retire early. I was grappling with various chronic pain issues at work, ranging from TMJ to sciatica, and the stress was taking a toll on my overall well-being.

2) More quality time with the kiddos

I got home from pickleball at 10:18 am to eat some brunch. Then at 10:38 am, I drove both kids 20 miles south to Redwood Shores, to another private sports club that is part of the network I belong to. My $180/month gives access to three clubs down the San Francisco peninsula.

I ended up playing and teaching my kids how to swim for 1 hour 45 minutes. In between 25-30 minute pool sessions, we would relax in the outdoor hot tub for 5-10 minutes. Then it was off to swimming and playing again. As an older parent, I’m trying my best to make up for lost time.

If I wasn’t a member of this sports club, I would have had to pay up to $70 for a half-hour of swim lessons. The teachers told me kids usually need at least 40 sessions to be able to swim. Therefore, by joining my private sports club, I was able to save about $2,800 by teaching them myself.

Although it’s tiring to be in the water with beginner swimmers for over an hour and a half, it also felt immensely gratifying. The bond you develop by spending so much time teaching something new is something kids will never forget.

As my kids grow older, I’ll take them to the sports club to play pickleball, tennis, basketball, or work out as well.

Average amount of time parents spend with their kids a day in America and other countries - why a private sports club is valuable and increases quality time with kids

3) More childcare relief for my wife

After swimming, I gave the kids both showers, and we headed to Five Guys Burgers for some cheeseburgers, peanuts, and a shared milkshake. It’s either there or In-N-Out Burger during off-peak hours. By the time I got home, it was 2:25 pm, providing my wife almost four hours of relief.

If my wife had hired childcare help for four hours, the cost would range anywhere from $88 – $120. The thing is, I do this Sunday morning combo almost every week. Let’s say I average 3.5 hours an outing and childcare help was $25/hour. That’s $87.50 saved by taking the kids out. Now multiply $87.50 by four, and we get $350.

$350 a month is cheaper than the $180 monthly membership cost. In addition, I go to the indoor sports club at least one other time during the week, which brings me more joy and health benefits.

4) More business and social connections

When I used to work in finance, being a member of a private sports club provided opportunities for building business relationships. For example, I regularly played tennis with clients and golfed with clients at my colleague’s golf club membership.

Developing relationships based on mutual interests tends to make them stronger. Consider all the relationships you’ve built outside of work because your kids go to the same school, engage in similar activities, or share an interest in a charitable cause or sport.

Even though I no longer have a career, I’ve made many social connections at my club as well. I’ve established a network of friends who are willing to help out whenever needed. This could include writing a letter of recommendation for school, making introductions for business, assisting with fundraising, hosting a book event, and more.

5) Greater chance of my kids adopting a healthier lifestyle

Being healthier involves incorporating more exercise into your lifestyle. If you make going to the gym or sports club a habit three times a week, your kids will likely become accustomed to it and follow suit as they grow older.

When I was growing up, going to college was a default assumption made by my parents. It was all I knew, and I had no idea that 65-70% of Americans at the time didn’t have a college degree.

By regularly taking my kids to the sports club, I hope they will adopt a habit of regular exercise. If they surround themselves with people who exercise regularly, they may also meet new friends and develop better eating habits. All this might lead to longer, healthier, happier lives.

Engaging in sports as an adult has been my top hobby. It’s a rewarding experience to strike a balance between mental and physical activities, contributing to an overall better life. Should my kids decide to have children, they might carry forward this ethos as well.

For the sake of my mental health and physical health, having regular access to sports and fitness is crucial. Being a member of a sports club is akin to having an insurance policy for both mental and physical well-being. Exercise is one of the most reliable ways of improving my mood.

Aside from my routine of going on long nature walks, I also want the flexibility to play sports whenever I desire. Securing reservations for public tennis courts in San Francisco is an ongoing challenge. Meanwhile, even the public pickleball courts, which I still frequent, are often crowded with long waits.

With time so valuable nowadays, I’m willing to pay for a sports club membership to save time. Now that I think of it, saving time might be the best benefit of all.

Out of all my recurring monthly expenses, I firmly believe that my sports club membership provides the best value. Consequently, I have no plans to cut this expense any time soon.

Reader Questions

Are you a member of a private sports club? If so, how much does it cost a month and how often do you go? Have you ever quit your sports club membership and regretted it or felt great about it? If so, why? What other discretionary expenses have you been forced to cut to save money?

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