Exercising on a Budget

Happy New Year! Have you made your resolutions yet? If getting in shape is on your list, here are a few ways to make sure accompanying costs don’t weigh you down!

Some rights reserved by Alan Cleaver

Some rights reserved by Alan Cleaver

Step outside!

  • A great place to start is to simply step outside and go for a walk, run, or hike. These activities are free and do not require any special equipment. If you have access, enjoy the outdoors by swimming or biking.

 Make everyday activities an opportunity for exercise

  • Park your car at the back of the lot, take the stairs instead of an elevator, dance around while doing chores, mow the lawn, rake leaves, shovel snow, walk the dog, play with the kids, take an extra lap around the mall. Any activity that elevates your heart rate is exercise!

 Use household items in lieu of expensive exercise equipment

  • Canned goods make great hand weights, chair backs double as support bars, and step stools or stairs are perfect for aerobic workouts.

 Turn on the TV

  • Check your local library for exercise DVDs. Netflix subscribers can access a variety of videos available for streaming and YouTube is full of gurus ready to whip you into shape. There are cable channels dedicated to fitness programs and video gaming systems have interactive games that are fun additions to your fitness routine.

Combine exercise and transportation

  • Take some extra time in the morning and walk or bike to work or school.  Walk to the grocery store, bank, or other errands. Stroll around downtown instead of driving place to place.

Borrow before buying

  • Consider borrowing a friend’s tennis racket or bicycle to try out before committing to the sport. If you don’t enjoy it after trying it out, that’s okay! No loss. And if you enjoyed the new activity, you can often find great deals on gently used equipment online or at neighborhood rummage sales.

Utilize local activities

  • Check with your local parks and recreation department for free or low-cost fitness activities. Many cities host volleyball, soccer, softball, and kickball leagues throughout the year. There may also be Zumba, yoga, and aerobics classes for a reduced cost and free family activity nights to get everyone involved in fitness.

Be social

  • We are more likely to stick to a fitness routine when there is an added social benefit. Grab a friend to keep you motivated. Look into local running clubs to meet new people with similar fitness goals.

If you are determined to use a gym, consider the following:


  • Gym membership fees are negotiable. Ask them to waive the sign-up fee or reduce monthly rates by signing a long-term deal. Be careful, though. Don’t lock yourself into a commitment unless necessary and unless you know for certain you will utilize the membership. Ask about friends and family discounts and membership sharing policies.

Check with your employer

  • Many employers have corporate discounts at area gyms. If yours does not, try to find a group of co-workers that are also interested in a gym membership and go to your human resources department. They may be able to strike a deal if there is sufficient interest.

Check with local colleges

  • Many colleges and universities have their own gym or recreation center and most are open to the public. Membership may be less expensive than other gyms in your area.

Be sure to tell someone your healthier lifestyle goals. This friend or family member can help keep you motivated and accountable, rather than paying a personal trainer to give you that boost.

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