Consumerism is one of the biggest reasons why I’m so selective about which health and fitness sites and social media accounts I follow online.
Many of these sites are filled with pictures of people exercising with colour-coordinated outfits and gear. These photos are pretty to look at, but that approach to fitness is also completely different from the way I do it.
This is how my reasoning on the topic goes. If it isn’t missing, broken beyond repair, or otherwise in genuine need of a replacement, why bother matching anything? That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.
Exercise isn’t about looking attractive while you’re working out. It’s about taking care of yourself and hopefully reducing your risks of many common diseases in the years to come.
Therefore, I replace my gear as it wears out or as I find myself growing strong enough to need, say, a heavier set of hand weights.
It Saves Money and Time
The average store is designed to be as enticing as possible, an this is even more true for stores that are part of a chain or that are run by people who have a lot of experience in marketing . Everything from the background music to the lighting to how the products for sale are displayed is carefully calibrated to squeeze as much money out of the customer base as is possible.
Even people like me who deeply dislike shopping can be swayed by this kind of marketing. While not every impulse purchase is going to turn out to be something that you regret making, you can avoid spending more than you intended to in the first place by only shopping when you genuinely need something and by condensing your trips as much as possible.
Shopping also sucks up a lot of time because it was designed to work that way. There are many stores out there that routinely change where they keep specific items in order to get their customers to look around for a while before they find what they needed. Hopefully, their thinking goes, you’ll find something interesting that you weren’t planning to purchase and add it to your cart while you’re trying to find that one thing you were actually planning to buy.
The best way to win this game is to avoid playing it in the first place.
It Demonstrates Why Quality Is More Important Than Quality
One of the other biggest reasons why I don’t replace my exercise gear regularly is that I do my best to pick the highest quality items I can afford the first time I buy them.
For example, there is a store in my neighbourhood that often has sports bras on sale for $10 or $15. Will they work okay in the short term? Yes, they’d be fine as a short-term solution. With that being said, they’re made of incredibly flimsy material. If I bought one of them it would almost certainly wear out and need to be replaced in six months.
The sports bra I ended up buying three or four years ago cost about $60. It’s barely shown any wear since then, though, and I expect to get several more years of use out of it before I need to begin thinking about replacing it.
Let’s be generous and assume that all of those inexpensive sports bras lasted a full six months each. After ten years, I will have spent between $200 and $300 on them.That doesn’t include the time needed to repair them or to replace them when they finally fell apart.
In the same time frame, I would have spent $120 on the more durable bras. I would have only needed to gone shopping for one replacement in that decade, and I probably wouldn’t have had to spend any time repairing ripped seams or other issues in the meantime.
It’s Environmentally Friendly
Buying inexpensive gear doesn’t only hurt your bottom line over the longterm, it also hurts the environment. Reusing and recycling are important steps in the process, but reducing what you consume in the first place is even better.
Why throw away ten used sports bras over a decade if you can toss out one instead? This might not seem like a huge deal when you’re looking at the purchasing decisions of one single person, but it has a dramatic effect on how well our renewable and non-renewable resources are managed when you look at the decisions made by a large group of people.
Every little bit helps.
Incidentally, I am in no way intending to embarrass anyone who can’t afford to pay more upfront in order to save money and renewable resources in the future. Shopping at secondhand stores or swapping with a friend are both excellent ways to cut down on the expense of exercise gear and help the environment at the same time. Do what you can when you can, and don’t worry about the rest if your finances are tight.
It Encourages Problem Solving
Not every problem needs to be or should be solved with money.
When I get the urge to buy something that isn’t a basic necessity like food, I sit with that urge for a while and take note of how often I wish I had bought it.
For example, several years ago I found this plastic reusable water container that could be folded up and put into your pocket when it’s empty. It was nifty.
I came very close to buying it that day, but I decided to keep track of my thoughts about it as I was out and about over the next several months to see how regularly I might have used it.
How often did I wish I had a water bottle when there were no drinking fountains nearby? Well, it turned out that this mostly happened on hot, humid summer days. I can only think of a handful of situations when that device would have been handy to have because of how much I avoid spending a lot of time outdoors during a heat wave. Becoming more familiar with where all of the water fountains near my neighbourhood were located solved 80% of my problem, and always drinking a big glass of water before heading out on those days solved the other 20%.
If I were someone who spent a lot of time far away from public drinking fountains or other sources of free water in the summer, my answer to this question would have been completely different. Due to my current habits, this isn’t a worthwhile purchase for me for the time being. I am keeping that bottle tucked away in the back of my mind if this ever changes, though. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
I would have eventually figured this out if I bought it on a whim, but I’m glad that I didn’t have to learn that lesson that way.
How often do you replace your workout equipment and clothes? How much, if at all, does it matter to you that they all match? What’s your philosophy on this topic in general?