Cheaper Alternatives to Gym Memberships
If you’re like most people, you’ve also probably made a promise to stay fit and healthy this year and going to the gym may be permanently inked into your New Year’s resolution.
We can’t discount the fact that living a fit and healthy lifestyle is important for our overall well-being and exercise is an integral part of it, but is getting a gym membership really worth it or is it a needless expense?
Well, going to the gym has become the “go to” way to work out these days. A fitness gym lets you use equipment that targets specific parts of your body and you may not be able to have in your home because of how expensive they are, i.e. treadmills, stair climbers, weight machines, etc.
You can do cardio, lose weight, and build muscles in the gym. For an additional fee, you can even go to zumba, aerobics, yoga, and pilates classes (if they’re offered at your gym). If you spend a little more, you can even get a personal trainer to tailor a workout regiment towards your fitness goals.
The rub is that gym memberships can get expensive. Most people spend an average of $50 a month on their membership, but it also depends on how high-end your gym is. If it has state-of-the-art equipment and “fitness famous” trainers, you can expect to pay more.
There’s also the fact that most people are super motivated to go to the gym in January and February after they make their New Year’s Resolution to lose weight / get in shape, but then March hits and they go less and less or stop altogether. Lack of motivation and busy schedules get keep your from going to the gym and turn that membership into a needless expense.
Lucky for you, going to the gym is not the only way to stay fit. There’s actually a startling number of ways to be fit and healthy while still being frugal and not going to the gym.
If you mainly go to the gym to do your cardio on a treadmill, you can cut that cost if you just take your running outside. It’s a free activity that you can do whenever and wherever you want. You can run early in the morning before work or in the afternoon when you get home. You can run by the seashore, at the park, or even a nearby school track.
Running is an ideal exercise if you’re looking to burn calories and improve your endurance. Running outside also gives you the added benefit of a great scenery (whether it’s a beach or park) and take out the monotony of seeing the same thing at the gym every time you go.
Schedule a running routine a couple of times a week or everyday if your body can handle it. Running for even half an hour is already a great form of exercise and running while it’s sunny out will give you a nice boost of Vitamin D which is important for your bone health and battling depression.
The best financial benefit of running is that you don’t need an expensive piece of equipment to do it. You don’t even have to pay the monthly gym fee since you can run for free around your neighborhood or public tracks. The only piece of “equipment” you need is a good set of running shoes that supports and cushions your feet to prevent any injuries or discomfort while you’re running.
Wondering how to spend a free weekend or a couple of hours exercising without breaking the bank? Grab a friend or bring a group to play a game of basketball, soccer, tennis, or volleyball at a public court or field. You’ll have to bring your own gear and equipment, these free courts are a good way bring out the sweat and save money at the same time.
As a caveat though, consider buying second hand equipment and sports gear to cut the costs further, but do inspect the quality before making the purchase.
Before you set up shop on a court or field, make sure that it is public and not owned by the city. If it’s the latter, there may be rules on when (and if) you can use it.
BUILD A HOME GYM
Instead of spending a lot of time going to the gym, use that time working out at home by buying your own weights and equipment.
Let’s be honest, you aren’t going to use all of the equipment at your gym and you’re going to have to wait on other people using the next machine or station in your workout. Add that to the sheer number of people that flood gyms every new year before they desert it in February / March, it’s a hell of a lot more convenient to invest in turning a spare room or your garage into a gym.
You can workout anytime you want, whether it’s before / after work or at 1am. You also don’t have to wait and get waited on while you work out, but most importantly, your home gym is a sounder investment than a membership since you’ll eliminate that monthly fee.
To get started with building your home gym, figure out the type of work outs you usually do and the equipment you’ll need. You can purchase a treadmill and stationary bike for less than $200, though they won’t be near the same quality as the ones at the gym.
Other tools like dumb bells, kettle balls, and exercise balls can be expensive especially if you buy them brand new from a sports goods store. Take the time to find a deal on eBay, craigslist, and in garage sales, though you’re better off finding them locally to not pay a huge shipping cost. This will help you bring the cost down while still being able to afford the convenience and freedom of having a gym in your home.
Another cheap yet fun exercise you can add to your routine is bicycling. It’s a low-impact aerobic exercise that helps strengthen your muscles, improve cardiovascular health, and build endurance. Most of all, a bicycle is a cheap investment that can last you for years.
However, keep in mind that the cost of a cycling bike can range from a couple hundred bucks to a couple thousand. Seriously. Be sure to buy one that fits your needs and dedication. There’s literally zero reason for you to buy a $3,000 carbon fiber race bike when you’re just getting into cycling. Buy an affordable road bike to make sure you actually like it before dumping a ton of money into the activity.
Bicycling can be relaxing as you pedal through the park or can be incredibly demanding if you take your bike on trails or on long distance trips. Unlike using the stationary bikes in your gym, biking outdoors provides a host of other benefits like better scenery, fresh air, and sunshine. These all help reduce stress, improve muscle strength, and are beneficial to your overall health.
In fact, the American Council on Exercise examined indoor and outdoor cycling side by side. Indoor cycling uses the hamstring more while outdoor cycling also uses the hamstrings, along with the calves, shin, glutes and quadriceps. That is because outdoor cycling demands more from the cyclist — balance while navigating the path or terrain, while exerting power and energy when pedaling which makes it better for burning calories and improving muscle strength.
However, indoor cycling is ideal for when the weather is bad outside. Taking your bike out on a slippery road can be dangerous. But bicycling in great weather will always be a good idea as both a form or recreation and exercise. In fact, consider using your bicycle to get to work or running errands. This will give you the benefits of a cardio workout while you accomplish other things.
AT-HOME EXERCISE VIDEOS
For little to no cost, you can exercise at home with the help of instructional videos. With no traffic, better privacy, and little to no equipment required, you’ll find that at-home exercise videos are not only cheap, but also effective.
These videos typically have you follow exercise routines demonstrated by the instructor and, depending on the brand & workout, don’t use a lot of equipment. Some can even be performed with just your body weight. Aerobics, yoga, and tae bo are some examples of such routines.
One of the best things about doing at-home exercise videos is that you can use it on demand. If you’re too busy to fit working out into your schedule today, you can just pop the DVD or stream online then exercise. It also gives you the privacy to work out in your own space which is a perfect solution if you’re anxious about exercising with other people around.
You can find rental DVDs or even borrow for free from your local library. You may also consider recording the exercise video from the TV. And to get you even more motivated, ask a friend or family member to exercise with you. That way, you’ll feel more accountable about your fitness goals and not slack in working out.
WALK WITH YOUR FAMILY
Walking is a free form of exercise that is low-impact and not even remotely intense. If you’ve always thought that an exercise needs tools and equipment, you’ve probably forgotten about the benefits of walking. In fact, walking for a certain duration and pace can give you a great cardio workout.
You can walk during your free time without the stress of commuting to your gym. Just tie up your shoelaces, grab a bottle of water, and then hit the park or the sidewalk. You can do it literally anywhere. It’s also a great exercise for people with certain conditions that prevent them from working out at the gym.
Walking alone can be boring so you should get your family to walk with you around your neighborhood or the park. Alternatively, you can join local walking clubs. These clubs provide great motivation and inspiration.
If you want to bring walking to a whole new level, consider step climbing. This will demand more energy and help you burn more calories. Brisk walking also gives you these benefits and all you have to do is quicken your walking pace.
Walking is also extremely flexible in that you can pick a paved road or go for a hike. Trekking is great for people who want to walk with a challenge and have become bored with the usual scenery at their walking route. Trekking can provide the benefits of walking, plus several more, because you’ll be exerting more energy trekking over difficult terrain. This can give your heart a good workout and the scenery can lift your mood. Importantly, it can build your abs, core, and legs.
GO TO THE PARK WITH YOUR KIDS
You might not have thought that going to the park can be a workout or exercise, but when you count the times you ran after the kids or played with your dogs, you’ll realize that you’ve been burning a ton of calories.
Sure, going to the park is not as intense as running on the treadmill or lifting weights, but on its own, the park can offer various physical, social, and mental benefits. According to the report of the National Recreation and Park Association, the environment a park provides can help beat depression / bad moods, encourage recovery faster recovery, and is a great place for socialization.
Bringing the kids and pets to the park a couple of times a week can be good for the well-being of the family. You can run and play with your kids and burn calories in the process. The kids can bond with the family and pets in a more relaxed setting. That’s even better than seeing them glued to their gadgets or you staying idle in front of the TV, right?
Going to the park is also a great way to release stress from work. You can walk around the park or even do some light exercises. The fresh air also adds to the park’s healthy element as well. So the next time you wonder where you can kill some time working out, but not having to spend a dollar, make your way to the park with your kids and pets in tow.
JOIN A SPORTS TEAM
Rekindle your love affair with the sports you’re most passionate about from your youth and use it as gateway for a great workout. Being on a sports team helps you build strength and endurance, fight obesity, and burn calories while having fun. The gym may help you exercise, but sometimes, a team sport is all you need to get your blood pumping.
Most cities allow you to join a wide range of amateur sports team from basketball, volleyball, and baseball to frisbee. It’s a great addition to other no-cost exercises like walking, running, and exercising at home. Sports add variety into the mix and provide you the opportunity to socialize with friends and combat stress.
From walking to yoga and Tai Chi, YouTube has become a great go-to for workouts that you can do in the comfort of your own home and at your own time. YouTube is free to use and provides various workout options to choose from. Pick based on your workout level, fitness goals or even “fitspiration” (a lot of fitness gurus and personalities have their own channels in YouTube).
One of the best things about YouTube is that you can play the fitness video of your choice anywhere with an internet connection. You can do Yoga during your lunch break or dance zumba first thing in the morning. It can be played on your TV, smartphone, computer, and/or tablet. This is a type of versatility you can’t enjoy with any gym membership.
If you want to get started with YouTube fitness videos, simply type in the keyword into the search bar and pick videos. Or you can head over to some of the well-known channels like Blogilates, FitnessBlender, Zuzkalight, BeFit, Yoga with Adriene, and Six Pack Shortcuts to name a few. While YouTube is free of charge, it’s good to invest in a good pair of workout shoes, exercise mat, and some exercise equipment like an exercise ball and dumbbells.
The cost of working out at a gym can be an unnecessary expense especially if you’re unable to use it to the full potential. Unless you’re a gym rat who can constantly carve regular time for gym workouts, it’s often better to explore other cheap and no-cost exercise options. You can pocket that monthly fee and use it to invest in a great pair of shoes or exercise gear.
The thing is, you can still achieve a fit and healthy body without shelling out $50-$100 each month. But you should still go back to your fitness goals and zero in on the best exercises for them. It’s also good to mix your routines up to enjoy variety and prevent the threats of boredom and monotony. Perhaps you can run in the morning and do aerobics to the tune of at-home exercise videos.
On the weekend, you can bring your family to the park and play a game of frisbee. You might also want to gather up your friends for a game of baseball or softball. When you come to think of it, the options are basically limitless. Being fit doesn’t start and end at the gym. As long as you bring this goal anywhere you go, you’ll find various exercises that you can do based on schedule, convenience, and fitness goals.