One trip to the gym cost Morag Barrett $1,200. Specifically, one trip and no follow-up visits cost her $1,200 in membership fees.
While that’s an extreme example, a lot of gym-goers (or non-goers) are probably in a similar situation. Because unless you go to the gym religiously, the per-visit cost is probably going to hurt. (If you can bring yourself to do the math, that is.)
Big bucks, few results
Don’t get me wrong, there are people who use their gym membership enough to make it worthwhile. But 5.1 million Americans spend $1.8 billion in unused gym membership dues. That’s not how much we spend on gym memberships, guys. That’s how much gets spent on memberships that don’t actually get used.
With an average gym membership of $40 to $50 a month, even going three times a week means you’re still shelling out $3.33 to $4.17 per visit. Maybe it’s just lil ole workout-from-home me, but that doesn’t sound like the best deal.
Of course, your health is an investment. There’s no denying that. But there are still plenty of ways to get in shape for a lot less.
Feet, don’t fail me now!
This is one of the oldest tips, but it’s still worth mentioning. So let’s get this out of the way, shall we?
Buy yourself a pair of athletic shoes — on sale or at a Big 5, naturally — and the world is your exercise oyster! You can run or walk around your own neighborhood, an outdoor track or anywhere that tickles your fancy, really. Put on some tunes or call up your favorite podcast and get in the zone.
Or hey, buddy, go take a hike! No seriously, go hiking. Chances are there are some great trails near you. Don’t know where to start/want to do it alone? Check out sites like MeetUp to find hiking groups.
Other people’s failings
I feel like most workout equipment is bought with the best of intentions and some of the worst follow-through. So why not benefit from other people’s failed resolutions? Go to places like Play It Again Sports and other secondhand sports equipment stores. You can pick up big-ticket items like treadmills and elliptical machines for a significant discount – and you can bet that a lot of it has barely been used.
You can also check out Craigslist, OfferUp and LetGo for good deals, but secondhand stores have presumably given the machines a once-over to ensure that everything is in good shape. You won’t get that from a Craigslist seller.
But perhaps the best deal would be from your local BuyNothing Facebook page. Someone may be want to just be rid of that equipment that’s been mocking them in its disuse.
Speaking of disuse… A word to the wise: It’s fine if you get it for free, but it’s generally a bad idea to buy big equipment in order to make yourself start working out. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself. Why? Every time you look at that elliptical machine or treadmill, you’ll think about the money you spent. If you’re anything like me, that’s stressful, and whenever possible my brain avoids things associated with stress. Which could mean that you’d be less likely to work out if you invest too much money in equipment.
So if you already use a machine at the gym all the time, getting one for your home is probably a good investment. But if you buy equipment hoping to get into a workout routine… Well, there’s a decent chance it’ll end up at Play It Again Sports.
Pay per use
Of course, you could be one of those people who needs the gym in order to really work out. Some folks just won’t do it at home, or they love a particular piece of equipment and don’t have room for one in their home.
In that case, you can still potentially skirt the high gym membership fees.
FlexIt and POPiN lets you go into a gym and pay for exactly the amount of time you use. How “exactly”? The rates are by the minute. You check in at the front desk and check out as you leave. So definitely don’t dawdle over the machines, and maybe do your cool down stretches outside.
Work(out) from home
Of course, for some people even getting to the gym is asking too much. The commute can take energy away from even healthy people. And you need that energy to, ya know, work out!
In that case, exercising at home is a great alternative. You can do aerobics, yoga, weight-bearing exercises, even cardio dance moves all from the comfort — or in this case, discomfort — of your own home.
Of course, there are exercise DVDs, some of which you can rent from the library to see if you actually like them. Personally, I prefer to follow YouTube videos. (Swearing at the screen may or may not be involved.) I’ve found some videos that are actually just uploads of exercise DVDs, so I save myself both the money and hassle of getting a DVD player.
But of course a lot of YouTube videos are run by people who may just be fitness enthusiasts without any real training. If you’re not keen on a potential amateur guiding you, check out more professional fitness video streaming services, like Daily Burn. Or see whether your local library’s online selection includes exercise videos. If so, just stream those.
Quick note: Need some weights but don’t want to pay for them? Get two 16-oz water bottles for instant 1.3 lb weights. Need something bigger? Rinse out that gallon jug of milk when you’re done with it and fill it with water. You’ll have a weight that’s just a little over 8 lbs.
Practicing what I preach
I’ve been slacking on the workout front. I did well for the better part of a year, then took a week off when I thought I was getting a cold. That was… well, multiple months ago.
Granted, I’m not paying for a gym membership. So it’s not urgent from a standpoint of cutting expenses. But from a monetary standpoint, working out does keep me off cholesterol meds, which would be one more expense in the budget.
More importantly, of course, it’s good for me. Both physically and psychologically. Exercise is known to help with depression. And knowing that I’m getting toned helps with the body dysmorphia. because I know intellectually that I’m getting fit. So it helps me see that in the mirror. Conversely, the more I sit around, the easier it is to criticize myself.
So there are multiple reasons for me to get my derriere back in gear. Guess I’d better get to it on the YouTube videos, eh?
How do you workout affordably?