Working out can cost as much or as little as you’d like, but that’s not what many big box gyms would have you believe. From costly memberships to personal training “you need” to expensive equipment, suddenly it seems like you have to be a millionaire to get a six pack (or even get remotely in shape). Get creative with your workouts, and you’ll see that you don’t need to be rich or even “comfortable” in order to get and stay in shape. It’ll take the right resources and a little digging, but you can make it happen.
Yes, it’s important to consider working out a priority and not optional. However, that doesn’t mean endless expenses are a priority and not an option. No matter what your budget, current fitness level or goals, there are ways to get in shape without hurting your bottom line. Here’s how:
1. Set a reasonable budget
No matter how much money you have, everyone should have a budget that’s in writing and works with their input/output. Once you factor in your income, your necessities (like rent and utilities), your necessary savings from retirement to college funds, and are working towards an emergency nest egg, you’ll know how much wiggle room you have for working out. This should dictate how much you spend, but remember that it’s also wise to be frugal.
2. Take advantage of discounts
Groupons, Living Social deals and other avenues for saving are fantastic if you would have paid the full price anyway. However, it’s not a “deal” if you’re spending hundreds of dollars each month just because it seems like savings. Sites like Groupon have a lot of problems according to Forbes, and sometimes that can trickle down to the customer. Write down classes you genuinely want to try before scouring these sites, and don’t get distracted by smart marketing.
3. Take advantage of the outdoors
In some instances you really can’t work out outdoors, like if you like in a sketchy neighborhood. However, for the most part the best workouts are literally right at your doorstep. From jogging trails to using playground equipment for body weight training, get creative. If you need some inspiration, Shape dishes up the best playground equipment for adult fitness and how to use it. You don’t need a gym when there are tools at the local park.
4. Don’t do contracts
Fortunately, many big box gyms have moved away from contracts since they’ve realized they were losing customers. However, smaller gyms haven’t received the memo and this won’t end well for you. There’s absolutely no reason to lock into a contract, so avoid them (and get out of them when you can). If you’re currently in a tough spot, read the fine print and look for loopholes. There’s a good chance you’ll find an exit strategy.
5. Just move more
All cardio and lifting counts, whether it’s taking the stairs or parking far away from store entrances. If you want to stay on track, get a cheap pedometer and set goals each day. Moving more all adds up, and that’ll decrease your need for those extra classes. Plus, it sets a good precedent and ultimately saves you time and seemingly effort.
6. Join local groups
From running to cycling, people who are passionate about a certain type of fitness often manage these groups for free. Unlike gym glasses, you don’t have to pay for them and you know the leaders are there because they genuinely care. Eventually you might want to kickstart your own group, too.
Fitness doesn’t need to come at a high price. What’s in your backyard?