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 YogaVibes.com, 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.
Published or updated May 8, 2012.