A great gym membership can be expensive, especially for those who don’t use it very often. Studies show that only about half the people who have gym memberships actually use them on a regular basis. But even if you make it a regular habit, health club memberships can put a crunch on your bank account. (No pun intended.) Here’s the good news—getting fit doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. There are many ways to get fit and healthy without making a big dent in your monthly budget.
1) Create A Home Gym
If you do have a few dollars to put toward building a better body, here is some of the fitness equipment that my fellow trainers and I believe provides the most benefit for the least amount of money. Keep in mind that shiny and new doesn’t make it work any better! Try shopping online for used equipment, visit the second-hand sporting good stores or check out garage sales—they’re usually rich with fitness items.
- A dumbbell set that represents a realistic range of what you need to lift (5-30 pounds for most women, 10-50 pounds for most men)
- Resistance Bands
- Stability Ball
Still beyond your budget? Try these substitutions for the real deal:
- Use Can or Bottles as Weights. Make your own weights by using canned goods, filling used soda bottles or milk jugs with sand or water.
- Make your own Resistance Band. Any type of lycra or stretchy material, including an old pair of tights, can substitute for resistance bands.
- Use Chairs or Benches. Tricep dips, step ups, legs lifts…these can all be done on any flat, sturdy surface instead of an expensive weight bench.
- Hit the stairs. Boost your cardio AND get your strength training done on a flight of stairs. Skeptical? Check out these ideas in our Full Throttle Run-The-Stairs Workout! Stairs are a an amazing training tool.
- Use technology. Need a little help planning your workouts or staying motivated? Use smart phone apps or computer programs to help you plan and track your workouts. Many are free, and some cost just a small amount of money.
2) Use Your Own Bodyweight
Of course weights, bands, and balls are all helpful tools, but remember that bodyweight alone can be your very best way to exercise. Plus, it’s free! The Mayo Clinic says that the resistance training you get from using your bodyweight can be as effective as training with free weights or weight machines. So pump out some push-ups. Squeeze out some squat jumps. Try some tricep dips. Not comfortable coming up with your own plan? Try one of ours, like The 30-Minute Anywhere Body Weight Workout
3) Try Your Community
Most communities are filled with ways to get your workout in for free and at a very low cost. Check out some of these ideas:
- Community Centers: Privately-owned fitness centers aren’t always the only game in town. Many communities offer classes, indoor tracks or even equipment to use at a cheaper rate than the local mega fitness center. Check out your local recreation department or make a call to the city or town hall. See what they have available.
- High Schools and Colleges: Another option is the local high school, community college or other colleges with a fitness center. Give them a call and ask if the facility is available to community members.
- Local Pools: Local pools are often open for lap or lane swimming for a low fee. The same is true of the high schools and colleges.
- Outdoor Fun: Don’t forget about all the other outdoor recreation options that might be available like jogging or hiking trails, bike paths or even ice skating rinks. Inclement weather? Mall walking is warm and toasty and gives you some fun things to look at.
4) Online Training
We saved the best for last! Like most in our lives, the internet has become the tool of choice for most fitness enthusiasts, even if budget isn’t an issue. The offerings are endless and the variety fits any level of fitness and area of interest. Obviously the very best out there is Get Healthy U TV! Okay, so I’m bias. But there is truth to the statement. GHU TV offers workouts from beginner to advanced, dance to athletic, cardio to strength and everything in between. Some require basic equipment, many are body weight alone. Great instructors like Chris Freytag take you through every moment of every workout and ensure your enthusiasm and success. These babies are infectious!
The price of a GHU TV membership is only $59 for the whole year ($6.95 a month), a stark contrast to a gym membership that can easily cost more than $500 a year. Best yet, you get all the variety of workouts and motivation you would get from belonging to a gym. Plus, the convenience of joining GHU TV is that you can stream workouts at home or on-the-go—whether you’re traveling, need to squeeze in a quick workout at work, or want to get it done before you even leave your house in the morning.
From cardio workouts to HIIT classes and every Pilates, yoga, and strength training program in between, you have every workout you need to get fit and stay motivated right at your fingertips. If you are a beginner, try Move to Lose or Walk & Tone to begin your journey. If you are looking for a kick-butt total body workout, try the Power 20 or Bodyweight Fusion.
So save your excuses and save your money—the easiest and least expensive way to workout is right at your fingertips! What have you got to lose?