Getting Fit on a Budget

Getting healthy can be expensive. A personal trainer costs money and a gym membership is a lot more pricey than sitting on the couch. But don’t use a pinched budget as an excuse for being unhealthy. Here are some great ways to strengthen your body without hurting your wallet.

Reevaluate your gym membership.

If you have one, do a cost-benefit analysis. Keep track of how many times you go per month, then use this equation: [Monthly fee + (initiation fee ÷ 12)] ÷ (number of visits per month). The result is your true cost per gym visit. Does that number seem worth it? If so, carry on. If not, drop the membership and try one of the following ideas.

Get outside.

Walk, run, bike, skate, hike, play pickup basketball—anything that gets you moving. It’s free, feels good, is great for your body and is much more fun than waiting for a treadmill while listening to idle gossip and the clang of barbells.

Stop buying bottled water.

If you work out, you need water. Lots of water. But bottled water adds up fast, not only for your budget, but for the environment. Drink tap water, or get a filter.

Ferret out free deals.

If you really prefer to work out inside (or live in a place where weather makes outside exercise difficult), many gyms offer trial deals to prospective members. You might have to take a tour or listen to a sales pitch, but that’s a small price to pay for one, two, or even seven days of free fitness.

Hit up friends and family members.

If they have gym memberships, chances are they get the occasional free buddy pass.

Stream it.

Several websites offer streamed workouts on a pay-per-view basis or membership, so you can work out anytime, anywhere that has Internet access.

Visit the library.

Just as you can check out books and movies free at your local library, you can also check out exercise videos. Vintage Jane Fonda anyone? Just kidding—they’ll have modern ones, too.

Check out cable.

If you already pay for an on-demand cable service, explore the fitness section for free workouts. You’ll likely find everything from kickboxing to yoga.

YouTube isn’t just for sneezing pandas.

Once you’ve had your fill of skateboard pratfalls and babies trying not to fall asleep, you might want to look for some exercise videos. There are millions, many of which are made by fitness celebrities such as Jillian Michaels and Tony Horton, and yes, Jane Fonda. But no need to go mainstream—try Zumba! Prancersize! Pilates! Salsa dancing! Targeted weight-lifting! Fitness with poodles! The options are endless.

Check out local groups.

If you want company for your workouts, ask around about local running or fitness groups. Visit local fitness retailers (running, biking, yoga, ski etc.) to see if they offer any free events.

There’s an app for that. Have a smartphone?

Check out the app store for free fitness apps to give you ideas, give you inspiration and track your progress. Getting Fit on a Budget

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