Running two miles. Lifting 50 pounds over your head. Holding the downward dog pose for a full minute. All these exercises can be difficult, both physically and psychologically.
Your body and mind aren’t the only things working when you exercise, though—working out can also take a toll on your bank account.
Gyms can offer everything from group fitness classes to pools to saunas to racquetball courts, so it’s no wonder being a member can cost a pretty penny. When trying to save money, it’s all too easy for gym memberships to be one of the first expenses we say goodbye to.
But our health shouldn’t suffer just because we’re on a budget. There are plenty of inexpensive exercise strategies that will keep you in shape.
1. Get Outside
We all know that exercising is good for us, but so is being outside. Spending as little as 20 minutes outdoors can improve people’s feelings and overall life satisfaction . If we know that both exercising and being outside are good for us, why not kill two birds with one stone?
You could try speed-walking or running outside. In addition, working outside can be a major timesaver to simply step outside and start your workout, instead of driving 10 minutes (or more) to the gym, finding parking, working out, then driving home.
Hiking is another outdoor workout that might be more accessible than you think. Even if you live in a city, one Google search could reveal nearby hiking trails you never knew existed.
Parks can be great locations for yoga, pilates, and plyometrics. Use a park bench for dips, step-ups, and incline pushups.
2. Join a Meetup Fitness Group
You can probably find a club that’s interested in the type of exercise you’re after. Meetup groups range from the super intense,, to fitness-related ones that are really just excuses to be social,
If you’re someone who feeds off others for exercise motivation, Meetup could be the answer to your prayers about how to exercise on a budget. Oh, and joining the website is free, too.
3. Put Together a Sports Team
Much like joining a Meetup group, creating a local recreational sports team is a great way to be fit and social at the same time. Plenty of cities have websites dedicated to recreational sports leagues, and you can put together your own team or ask to be placed on a team.
Not sure where to start? Take a look at the recreational sports pages for Atlanta , Chicago , Memphis , and San Diego . Even if you don’t live near these cities, the websites could give you a good idea of what you can look for in your own area.
You’ll have to pay a fee to register a new team or to sign up as an individual. However, these fees should be lower than paying for a monthly gym membership.
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4. Watch YouTube Videos
A little instruction can go a long way. There are numerous YouTube videos that teach viewers how to get fit at home.
5. Take Advantage of Free Gym Trials
Many gyms offer free trials for people trying to decide where they want to join. For example, Some gyms offer a free five-day guest pass.
Depending on how many gyms are in your area, this no-money exercise plan could be difficult to stick with long-term. It’s an ideal way to work out if you’re in the process of building your own gym at home, waiting for your next paycheck so you can join a gym permanently, or just wanting a brief change of pace from, say, jogging outside.
6. Search for a Cheaper Gym
Maybe it’s hot and humid outside, and you don’t want to go for a run or hike. Maybe you’re looking to get out of the house, so YouTube videos won’t cut it. Or perhaps the instability of hopping from gym to gym testing out free trials gives you anxiety.
Good news: You can still join a gym without breaking the bank.
Your options will vary depending on where you live, because even huge chains change their rates to match the cost of living from location to location. Plus, you may have access to locally owned gyms that offer more affordable packages.
Think about what you want in a gym. A health club with a pool might charge an arm and a leg, but you have no interest in swimming. Another gym may boast a huge weightlifting area, but you’re focused on cardio. There’s no need to pay for all the bells and whistles if they don’t matter to you.
7. Build a Home Gym
Creating your own home gym has the potential to be much cheaper than joining a gym—or much more expensive. It depends on what type of equipment you want.
Do you need a treadmill, stationary bike, sets of dumbbells ranging from five to 85 pounds, a bench, and a barbell? Be prepared to drop thousands.
Are you looking for sets of weights ranging from five to 20 pounds, a balance ball, a yoga mat, and a pull-up bar? These purchases might save you money in the long run.
A home gym can be especially useful if you already participate in one of the other money-saving workouts I’ve mentioned. For instance, you could go for a run, then come home to do pull-ups and bicep exercises with your dumbbells. Or you could follow along with a 30-minute yoga video on YouTube, then complete an ab routine on your balance ball.
8. Create an Exercise Budget
Let’s face it, whatever your approach to fitness on a budget may be, there’s still a chance you’ll spend some money.
Running shoes, yoga mats, sports bras—they all cost something. If you’re dedicated to being in shape, creating an exercise budget can help you manage your money.
You may choose to store money for your workouts in a separate account, like a SoFi checking and savings account. With this account, the Annual Percentage Yield is 2.50% APY and pay zero fees, which could result in more money to spend on running shoes or the joining fee at the affordable gym you found down the street.
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