Financial Lessons from my ATAS Gym Membership

Updated: Oct 11

In 2019, I hit a weight high of 86kg. I was officially overweight for the first time in my life.


Back in NS, when I was really fit - I was safely ranging from about 64 to 68kg. It’s not too difficult to trace how it happened - I got hit by a car, started this job and you know the rest.


READ: How I Make Friends And Accept Myself: My Story


Whether or not you went through anything like me, or had something as simple as getting married, first child, a promotion at work… In just a few short years, or even months, your health takes a huge hit.


Bad habits take over when you put everything else in your life first, whether it’s your family or your work, over your health.


So, I knuckled down.


And to live out my New Year’s Resolution of 2019, I got myself… An ATAS gym membership.

Lesson 1: Financial Ego May Be Better than Physical, or even Medical Ego


An ATAS gym membership costs 3 figures a month. You can name a few - Anytime Fitness, Fitness First, Virgin Active, etc. I go to Pure Fitness.


You have to understand that Money Maverick isn’t particularly hypocritical, despite being a controversial consultant.


Otherwise, I’m like everyone else – I don’t want to spend more than necessary to achieve specific goals.


But I didn’t have physical ego anymore. I was a fairly accomplished athlete back when I was younger, but as a Consultant I didn’t seem to feel any need to have pride in my body, or my health.


It takes Financial Ego to motivate me now.


What’s Financial Ego?


Well – Financial Ego is when you shell out $4000 for a 2-year subscription to Pure Fitness.


Then you get into ‘what have I done mode’ before you end up attending classes 4, 5, even 6 times a week.


This is what we call the ‘re-commitment’ phenomena – which is sadly still a phenomenon (something that rarely occurs) because most re-commitment gets wiped out by the Leceh Principle.


Since I’ve joined Pure, I’ve lost about 4kg. O_O



Miss this placeeee

Lesson 2: Leceh Principle is Super Real


The Leceh Principle that I mentioned just now is detailed here.


READ HERE: CPF 70 Years Old...and the Leceh Principle

You can read about it here, but it’s basically the opposite of pre-commitment.

For example, someone sells you $50 worth of vouchers to a pizza place at a price of $35 in cash. Most of us would take up that deal.


But statistically, the majority of people who purchase such deals never end up maximising the entirety of $50, or even spending it at all. It becomes wasted, because it can be too tiring – or Leceh, to go through the trouble of that deliberate spending.


The comparison to gyms is even worse – a mere FIVE PERCENT of the signed members alone would fill up the entire capacity of the gym if they attended on a regular basis. You can filter out the fact that even regular attendees don’t live at the gym, or may use different facilities, or the statistic may not be as pronounced in Asia – but the overwhelming majority of people with pre-paid memberships for months or years rarely or never utilize said memberships, before resulting in a cancel.


In the last few months alone I’ve seen quite literally a thousand different faces - and only a few regulars come to mind. The rest are typically to never be seen again.

Lesson 3: People with Successful Behaviour Tend to Congregate


If you go for many classes a week and many of the same classes, you’ll start to see familiar faces and get a little familiar with your instructors, etc.


Typically, I would be so winded after a class that I would sit from a high point at the gym and just observe.


[This is less creepy than it sounds, plz.]


Some people clearly came as couples. Other people are the type to hit a class, hit the showers and rush straight back down the lift later. I’ve observed and spoken to all sorts of people and if they’re not simply physically successful (e.g. the non-working Tai-Tais) they’re insanely focused and driven.


These guys show up first and leave last. They get a tremendous amount of work or business done in between rest timings.


Some of them attend multiple trainings in a row, continually pushing themselves to a maximum before rushing off to work. They show up at 7am, at 9pm – it does not matter.


They’ve made a commitment to their health.


When I was younger, I tended [hopefully like most people] to get really jealous of like… Some movie star like people. The kind of people who were rich, intelligent and physically gorgeous. They seemed to have it all and it seemed so easy for them.


And while this might be the case for a rare few, the reality seems to revolve far more around discipline and hard work – and staying in the company of people who will make sure that you stay that way.

Lesson 4: Health is Wealth When It’s Most Convenient


At the time of writing, the gyms have been closed down for two weeks. It is unknown whether this closure will continue, but I really hope not.


After the gyms were closed, I went back to working out at home like I used to.


As you know, this obviously wasn’t a very successful venture - or I wouldn’t have joined a gym to begin with. I started to notice other reasons why I had been able to commit to my gym so readily:


1) Convenience of Location: It is not very easy to get motivation to work out after you arrive back home. The idea of going to work out after you’re so tired from work when your home is just a short walk from you (if you live near a gym or condo) seems inane after a while, so you stop doing it.

A lot of fancy gyms have chosen strategic locations to open their outlets, so that workers can hit the gym during lunch or breaks or dinner. Such a range of options created from the convenience of location creates much more incentive to exercise.

2) Convenience of Time: Most ATAS gyms have ways to streamline your time – they provide nice showers, washing machines, ironing, free clothes which they wash for you, available post-workout meals…

While some of these things are undoubtedly part of the pretty expensive package, it’s a service level that obviously have significant Financial value, because time is really money. Successful business owners in particular are hyperaware of that.

From both of these factors, it became a much better value proposition to attend the gym then try to save money and work out on my own. Many of us would do activities that we’d been putting off if they were streamlined so effectively for us.

(Like Financial Planning with a Consultant. I do this!)

Conclusion


All in all, I’ve really felt that people underestimate the value of community, professionals, convenience and equipment when it comes to these ATAS gym memberships.


As I get older, I really recognize how much time is money and while it obviously doesn't work for every person, this works for me.


Having such a membership has taught me quite a bit about myself and people – well, specifically its opened my eyes to the reality of my own behavior sometimes and how it could be harmful to my Financial and Personal future.


I am not a Pure Fitness representative or whatever -


(Though I do have a glorious referral code which you can use if you decide to enroll at the gym that will entitle you to quite a few free extremely delicious smoothies...)


- But my attitude towards Finance has been to crack down on myself hard, invest 80% or more of my income until I achieve FIRE for myself and future wife.

As a result, I always assumed that an expensive gym membership was frankly speaking, a ridiculous, rip-off concept that was really only for people who didn’t value their health with their lack of discipline.

I’m not super pleased about being humbled to such an extent, but hopefully you can see how important changing your Financial behavior is, and opening your mind up to new concepts can create tremendous value for you.

As your consultant, we will continue to grow together and create great financial value for you.

Money Maverick

As one of the Top Financial Bloggers in Singapore (Feedspot, Withcontent.co), I would be happy to answer any emails and questions you may have, as I have been doing for my readers over the past few years - especially about Insurance and Investing, as it is my forte of personal and professional knowledge.


If you have any such questions about the articles and how it may apply to your finances, you can feel free to leave a comment, or drop a message through any preferred medium (if you prefer privacy).


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Money Maverick is a Licensed Financial Consultant with MAS, who specializes in Investments and Critical Illness Insurance.


The views on his blog are strictly of his own opinion and have no affiliation to any of the companies he works with.


Here are some of my resources on:


1) Investing: Why you should invest aggressively NOW (and how you still can have peace of mind)


2) Insurance: The Newest, Rising Critical Illnesses in Singapore (2019)


3) Retirement and Leverage: Leveraging a Private Annuity, Pros and Cons (ft. Jamus Lim)


4) Spending and Saving: The Biggest Spending Mistakes You DIDNT Even Know you were Making (and how to avoid them)


5) Job Assessment: A Case Study on How a $6k/mth GIrl makes MUCH more money than a $10k/mth Guy


6) Financial Optimisation: How I Avoid the Largest 'Fees' of All


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The views, opinion and information in all articles are those of the author. These materials do not represent or reflect the views of Manulife Financial Advisors nor is endorsed by them. Manulife Financial Advisors shall not be liable or responsible for the materials of the author. 

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