Get Paid for Working Out

Last Updated May 19, 2010 6:41 PM EDT

The No. 1 excuse for not exercising more is "I don't have time." Sound familiar? Well, given that it's spring â€" the season for planting abs and cultivating new swimsuit dreams â€" it's time to counter that claim.

Since you're perusing this website, money is probably a primary motivator for you. You derive a satisfying sense of purpose and accomplishment from making it and managing it wisely. Given such a mindset, it shouldn't be surprising then that it's often difficult to consistently set aside time for an activity that, on the surface, isn't immediately profitable. Although exercise is a worthwhile investment in health and life quality, all that stuff is difficult to bottom-line and, as a result, is given less priority.

But I'm going to change that in the next 60 seconds.

To jumpstart your get-back-in-shape program, I want you to start paying yourself to exercise. That's right, every time you visit the gym, play golf, go for a run, or otherwise work out in any way, compensate yourself accordingly â€" $5, $10, $20--whatever is affordable yet motivating. Put the proceeds in one of those big spring-water jugs or a counter-top jar so you can watch it grow. As an added incentive, paste a picture of whatever you're saving for on it â€" a Prius, a new set of Big Berthas, a vacation in Napa. The idea is to quantify and be regularly reminded of what you're sweating toward.

In no time you'll see your view of exercise shift. It'll become a new, tax-free form of gainful employment, a worthy investment. Intrigued? Here are a couple of twists on the concept:

Dock yourself for missed workouts. For an extra incentive, "fine" yourself whenever you blow off an exercise session. Either take out double what you normally contribute per workout or, even more effective, pay that amount to an unworthy third party such as your good-for-nothing brother-in-law. If you exercise with a group, you can also agree to pay everyone if you stand them up.

Get others moving. If you have children who need to be more active, pay them to exercise. As they get fitter and start feeling the benefits, it'll transform from a "part-time job" into a lifestyle. If you're really brave, delicately offer the same incentive to your spouse â€" maybe volunteering to exercise and save for something together.

All in all, it's a foolproof and fun way to grow your health and your wealth.