How to Work Out Without Over Working Your Budget

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Last updated on July 25, 2019 Comments: 14

This is a guest article by Jennifer Calonia, Junior Editor at GoBankingRates. In the article, the author offers suggestions for staying fit without breaking the bank.

It’s that time again: Beach season is fast approaching and franchise gym promotions are in full swing to lock you and your checking account into a pricey workout regimen. It may be tempting to jump on board the latest exercise trend, but expensive programs and spa-like facilities are not only unnecessary, they’re a hazard to your financial well-being.

Instead of signing up for a pricey membership, consider low-cost fitness options and free workout routines that don’t muscle hundreds of dollars out of your pockets monthly.

Skip the treadmill

Purchasing a treadmill can cost at least $400 (or much more) and an annual gym membership runs about the same amount for a mid-level fitness center. A frugal alternative to the treadmill routine is simply running outdoors. If your neighborhood isn’t necessarily runner-friendly, seek out jogging paths near park facilities or visit your community track (typically you can use a local community college or high school track during off-hours) for a free run.

At most, you’ll want to purchase a quality pair of running shoes (which costs anywhere from $75 to $150) to withstand the rougher elements of the outdoors. Not only do you save hundreds by avoiding a gym contract with free workout routines like this, you also get a more challenging workout due to the added wind resistance and have interesting scenery to look at as opposed to the back of someone else’s head.

Editor’s note: See ten things your gym won’t tell you.

Tap into the web

The internet offers a range of free exercise videos that focus on a variety of muscles and help raise your heart rate. These videos are also a great alternative to specialized exercise studios, which charge upward of $100 per month for workouts.

For example, unlike the financial demands that yoga studios can inflict upon your budget, YouTube can satisfy all your yoga needs with beginner to advanced poses at no cost. A simple search using the keyword phrase “yoga workout” bring up a list of 20-minute to full 45-minute yoga classes at varying skill levels. This workout routine will, at most, require you to buy a yoga mat at under $10 from a local sporting goods store.

If you really must have a more standardized yoga practice, try visiting, which offers unlimited yoga class streaming for $20 a month. While this option requires that you join a membership program, it is at least cheaper than the $100 or more you’d pay monthly at a boutique yoga studio.

Join the community

For active bodies that are motivated by the perseverance of others, a community fitness event may be more to your liking. Joining group activities like trail hiking or a community basketball league are great ways to get engaged in a fun workout while meeting new people.

These group settings typically come at a low out-of-pocket cost. For example, I joined a paid basketball league and the registration fee was only $20 for the three-month season. To get the same group atmosphere, you can also visit your local recreational park for a free pick-up game at the basketball or tennis courts.

Keep on swimming

If your apartment facility already has a pool, or if your home has the luxury of an average size swimming pool, you might as well use it as an in to free workouts. You’ll get a low-impact workout that is great for muscle definition, just in time for the summer months.

Workout junkies who don’t have a pool at home can visit public swimming pools in the area. Generally, a low entrance fee of about $5 is collected at the door for each swim.

Preparing yourself for a beach-ready physique doesn’t have to topple your finances. There are legitimate and effective free workout routines and free exercise videos that can be used to achieve comparable results and maintain the motivation you need to reach your fitness and health goals.

Article comments

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Anonymous says:

I walk and I recently purchased a bicycle so I use that. I have paid $45.00 for the use of a pool at out local fitness center. But it was cheaper than paying the $5.00 per visit that our local senior center offer for non senior members. I can swim early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Especially, in view of the heat from the Georgia summer.

Anonymous says:

What I do to save money when working out is to just go out and run. No need to buy expensive gym equipments, you’ll get a breath of fresh air everyday and you’ll get to meet new friends too. Cheaper and much more fun and exciting!

Anonymous says:

Make sure you are always willing to help people move. You can get a decent upper body workout moving all the boxes for people. As an added bonus – some people will have things they no longer want and will offer to you. You can get free treadmills or exercise bikes some times since people often don’t want to move them (since they usually did not use them)

Anonymous says:

not sure why the rest got cut off.

Even if you never have anyone offer you free exercise equipment from helping people move you got to help others out. A good way to get additional exercise in without the workout is to join a sports program or league. You get out and have some fun. Most leagues also have people that get together weekly or more often to play pickup when league is not running. You pay for the league and get to join the pickup games the rest of the year for free.

Anonymous says:

My wife also uses our netflix streaming subscription to do workouts because they have some workout videos availalbe streaming, as well as some yoga videos streaming. She seems to like this a lot.

Anonymous says:

My friend Z launched a platform of workout videos online. Your wife might like. These are kind of geared towards women, I think. But the videos are really good. I have handful saved in bookmarks for “problem areas” like arms, and fire up her video a few times a week. You need weights, but never “machines.” The videos are less than 10 mins each.

It’s nice to have someone showing you how to do the exercise. Here is my favorite arm video. Zelana my friend, I obviously don’t work with her. But I really have found results with her videos (I know it sounds like I’m plugging her. Well, I guess I am, since I really have liked her videos).

Anonymous says:

my apartment complex has a free fitness for tenants which I use and there are plenty of mountains & trails for hiking. The worst part is forcing myself to hit the gym after coming home from work.

Anonymous says:

Going before work is easier, I think. I roll out of bed and into workout gear set out the night before, and have walked halfway to the gym (about 1.2km from my house) before I’ve properly woken up. Then by 6am it’s done for the day!

Anonymous says:

For what it’s worth, most Planet Fitness gyms offer memberships for $10 per month (plus tax). $120 a year (plus tax) for a gym membership with enough equipment for people at all physical activity levels is a pretty good way to go. (I’ve been a member for 5 years).

Anonymous says:

Hand weights and exercise equipment are everywhere at yard sales. Having had both, I have to say that an exercise bike holds up much better and longer than a treadmill. We got a second-hand reconditioned bike at a fitness shop and have had it for ten years. It is good for nasty weather. So are cheap(again, yard sale) dvd’s. Otherwise, outdoor exercise is great, running or walking. Enlist a friend if you like the social aspect of exercise.

Anonymous says:

We bought an elliptical machine for our home and it was a good investment for the long term. Much cheaper than a gym membership. I also try to walk a lot throughout the day…little things like that add up over time.

Anonymous says:

Craigslist just about anywhere I’ve lived has a zillion used benches, racks and free weights for sale for cheap or even going free at any one time. I picked up the bench and some free weights I have in my basement for days I don’t feel like going to the gym for almost nothing. I still think a gym membership is well worth it though (if, of course, you use it and working out is actually a hobby) – certainly of all the bills I pay every month, my membership is the best value.

Anonymous says:

My whole home gym cost less than $400. I have a weight cage, bench, free weights, dumb bells, mag trainer (for my bike)and a treadmil. I also walk, ride my bike and swim. There are a lot of things to keep you active.l