10 Ways to Save Money on Exercise
Working out should help you break a sweat, not break your bank account.
For some people, money is no object when it comes to paying for exercise—things like gym memberships, hi-tech gadgets to track your progress or the latest trendy workout gear.
But for others, money could be the one thing that keeps them from working out every day—and reducing their risk of preventable diseases like obesity and diabetes.
One survey by the Mental Health Foundation in the UK found that 13 percent of people named “lack of money” as a reason they weren’t exercising more.
While that doesn’t match the top three reasons for not working out—lack of time, it’s boring, I can’t be bothered—money is likely to be more of an issue when your budget is tight.
This makes exercise even more important if worrying about money is keeping you up at night. Regular exercise can lift your mood, something that counteracts the depression that comes with having to keep up with your bills.
If money problems are preventing you from staying active, remember that you don’t need to take out a loan in order to get a good workout. You can set a budget and stick to it (as outlined in my post about dining out while losing fat).
With these ten tips for saving money on exercise, you can build muscles and lose weight without slimming your wallet at the same time.
Get exercise throughout the day. You don’t need to do a standard “workout” in order to get enough exercise to be healthy. Try adding more physical activity throughout your day—walk more stairs, get off the subway a few blocks early, clean your house, mow your lawn, or stand instead of sit at your desk.
Tag along with a friend. Most gyms have bring-a-friend days. Don’t be shy about making the rounds with your friends. Just be sure to go the extra mile while spotting them during their workout. You and your friend can also skip the gym altogether and head outside for a free run. The best part of having a workout partner is that you can motivate each other to keep going. Plus, you’ll be able to spend quality time with your friends.
Look for free or cheap fitness classes or gym memberships. Check out daily deals sites like Groupon, Living Social and Yipit for discounted gym classes and memberships. Be sure to read the fine print before buying. Some offers may be available only at limited times, or have other restrictions.
Save more on gym memberships. If the traditional gym route is for you, be sure to ask about current specials. January and September are both times for big deals. This may include free lessons with a personal training or a discount if you pay per visit rather than monthly. You may even be able to negotiate a better deal with the gym manager—the trick to this is to do your research in advance and come ready to talk numbers.
Rent or borrow exercise videos. Exercise videos are a great way to work out on your own—and without the expensive price tab of a gym membership. But even the cost of buying DVDs can add up. Your local video store or public library, though, may have an extensive collection of exercise videos to help you stay active. Your library’s website may even offer videos that you can download to your computer or iPod.
Exercise at work. Check to see if your employer offers free or discounted access to the gym at work (or one nearby). If not, you can still get a good workout at your desk. For example, try doing leg lifts while seated at your chair to work your lower abs. You can also swap out your chair for a stability ball which will exercise your core.
Ask your health insurer. Many health insurance companies offer discounts on gyms, or even money back when you work out regularly (this usually requires checking in each time you go). In some cases, the insurance company may pick up most of the cost of your gym membership. Why? Exercise keeps you healthy, which is cheaper for them in the long run.
Go old school. You don’t need the latest exercise gear in order to get a good workout. Look for sales on last year’s models. For example, new designs for running shoes come out in the spring, which is when the older versions will go on sale. Also check out websites that offer steep discounts, like overstock.com.
Go low-tech. Skip the high-tech gear (which probably has more features than you’ll ever use) for cheaper equipment, like a simple watch with a heart rate monitor and timer. They are still effective, with a much shorter learning curve.
Take care of your gear. Exercise clothing and gear can be expensive, so make them last longer by taking care of them. Don’t leave your electronics lying around where they can be damaged. Let your sneakers dry in an open space rather than tossing them in the bottom of your closet. Wear your exercise clothing only when working out, not while lounging or shopping at the mall.