Lose Weight Without Losing Dollars: The Budget Workout
Gyms that offer all the bells and whistles—a pool, personal trainers, daycare and even spa services—can be a great one-stop shop … when you are able to use them. Whether you have signed an expensive gym contract and then not used it enough or can’t justify the high price tag, consider these less expensive options for getting your sweat on.
1. Workouts on demand. Exercise videos have come a long way since Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda. Instead of going to the store or library, you can find a new workout any time of the day or night from the comfort of your home.
Many cable services offer fitness on-demand channels, either as part of your subscription or for a low monthly fee. Video services such as Amazon Prime Video and Hulu Plus, which you may already be paying for, also include workout videos. Sites like Fitness Blender curate workouts based on your preferences. You can watch single videos for free or purchase complete workout plans.
If you’re willing to spend a little bit of money, companies like Beachbody, Gaiam and Daily Burn offer subscriptions for substantially less than a gym membership. Crunch, which operates health clubs across the country, has an on-demand subscription so you can access recordings of their popular classes anytime, anywhere. And Booya Fitness partners with local gyms and studios to stream classes for subscribers.
2. Equipment-free workouts. Just because you don’t have a gym membership doesn’t mean you can’t get your heart pumping and strengthen and tone your muscles. Many workouts use your own body strength or items you already have in your home rather than requiring expensive equipment.
Go for a run or climb stairs. Do exercises like planks, squats and chair dips, in which you increase strength by holding your body weight. Fashion empty water bottles and milk jugs into weights by filling them with sand, rocks or even water.
3. The great outdoors. The possibility of fresh air and sunshine may entice you to keep up your fitness routine. Find a running or walking partner, and hold each other accountable. Change things up by trying different paths and trails, or stay on the same one and challenge yourself to finish faster or go further each time.
If you have a group of friends looking to get in shape, meet regularly for DIY boot camps or yoga in the park. Take turns downloading new workout plans and leading the “class,” or follow a video or app-led workout together.
4. Community resources. You may remember playing soccer or t-ball through the park district when you were a kid, but did you know that many also have gyms and fitness classes? Residents living within the park district boundaries often get discounted rates because their property taxes help fund the facilities and activities. In addition to traditional equipment, your community resources may include indoor tracks, swimming pools and basketball or racquetball courts. Along the same lines, college and university fitness centers will sometimes offer resident rates to people who live in the area but are not enrolled students.
5. Free trials. Many fitness studios and health clubs offer free trials to new members. Some are one class or one day, but some last a week or even a month. By trying different studios out before committing, you can start working toward your wellness goals while finding the best fit for yourself.
When you try out a new place, think about the things you like and don’t like and whether they would influence how often you came back. Make a list of the places you really like, and if you feel like joining would be a good investment, you can come back to one when you’re ready.
If you’ve found that you’re not taking full advantage of everything your mega-gym has to offer, or if you would like to join a gym but it’s just not in your budget, you have other options for getting in a workout without spending much money. Check out on-demand videos, equipment-free workouts, outdoor options, community resources and free trials before signing a contract and paying a deposit.