Get a good workout without a gym membership

Recently, my sister and I were discussing our love/hate relationships with exercise when she told me something that struck me as funny. Apparently, she has trouble convincing herself to jog as long as she should, so she devised a plan.

“When I know I’m not very motivated, I’ll have my husband get in the car and drop me off a few miles from home,” she said with a snicker.

Once dropped off, she had no choice but to push through whatever issues she was trying to overcome that day, she explained.

What’s so Hard About Working Out?

I thought her plan was both hilarious and genius at the same time. And sadly, I can relate to her situation. The truth is, I also have trouble staying on track when it comes to working out, and sometimes I have to trick myself. For example, I’ve push-mowed my own grass for a while now, but not to save money. In my eyes, push-mowing amounts to around 45 minutes of cardio and an upper-arm workout to boot. And when I don’t hire that work out, I have to do it.

But mowing the grass is just once per week. When it comes to traditional workout routines, I have a whole host of excuses, including these:

“I don’t want to pay for a gym membership.”

“I don’t have time.”

“I don’t want to sacrifice free time with my husband.”

I’ve said all of these things, and others, for years. But the truth is, none of them are 100 percent accurate all of the time. When you really want something, you make time for it. And there have been times when I have made time to work out and been truly happy with the results. Life may be busy, but it really is all about priorities.

Getting Fit Without the Gym

Of course, it is easy to get in the habit of believing that you need a gym membership to get into better shape. But with gym memberships ranging from $50 to $200 a month, it’s also easy to understand why many people shy away from the new expense. Fortunately, there are a wide range of ways to get fit without the gym and, in some cases, without any equipment at all. After spending some time researching all of the options, here is what I came up with:

  • Exercise in the great outdoors –– Spending time outdoors may provide much more than an opportunity to exercise; it can also put you back in touch with nature. Meanwhile, it is almost the perfect place to crank up some tunes and jog, walk, run, or bike. If you live near hiking trails, you can also push the limits with long or short hikes that test your stamina and boost your heart rate. And the best part is, exercising outdoors is free.
  • Buy some cheap, used equipment for home — Of course, there are times when outdoor exercise may be next to impossible, or at least more hassle than you want to experience. If you have room in your home, you could always consider buying a treadmill, elliptical, or weight bench new or used off of a site like Craigslist. If you have a room to spare and don’t mind sacrificing the space, set up a small, in-home gym with equipment you know you will use regularly — and not just for hanging ironed shirts.
  • Stream your routine — The Internet offers plenty of opportunities for those who want to stream exercise videos into their own home. For example, if you subscribe to Netflix, you have instant access to all kinds of free exercise routines that will play directly on your TV. Meanwhile, big name exercise gurus like Tracy Anderson have begun offering live streaming workouts and online tutorials that you can access from the comfort of your own home. You can also scope out YouTube for workout routines, although you should do so at your own risk since anything you find there is less likely to come from a professional.
  • Get back into video games — Game consoles like the Xbox Kinect and the Nintendo Wii were created to get kids moving as they play new games and explore. But they aren’t only for kids; these new technologies have also been geared to interest adults and offer many exercise games in addition to racing games and shoot-em-ups. With the Wii, for example, you can do anything from yoga to dancing to Zumba, and all with games and routines you can easily buy in-store or online. My daughter has the Wii game Just Dance, and it is one heck of a workout — not to mention the fact that it is really fun!
  • Break out the old exercise videos — I don’t know about you, but I have a ton of old exercise videos stashed away. Sadly, some of them are even on VHS, including some really funny Tae Bo and Sweatin’ to the Oldies tapes. In addition to whatever you have at home, you might also be able to check out free workout videos at your local library. Consider trading around with your friends. Most people have at least a few videos they have purchased over the years, and they might be willing to trade with you periodically as a way to keep things fresh and new.
  • Stop outsourcing — Housecleaning, yard work, and home repairs are all chores that can burn some serious calories if you do them yourself instead of outsourcing them. Bonus: You could also save money by in-sourcing those tasks instead of paying someone else. Try mowing your own yard (not with a riding mower), dusting, sweeping, and mopping your own home, or even cleaning out the garage or washing windows if you want to feel the burn. Even better, try wearing ankle weights or wrist weights while you clean!

Gym memberships can be a huge and expensive commitment, and it just doesn’t make sense for most of us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep our bodies moving in other ways and still accomplish the same thing without the monthly expense.

For me, that usually means deep-cleaning my house a little more often, push-mowing my lawn, and maybe having my husband abandon me in a random parking lot in the not too distant future. Hey, I’ll do whatever it takes to stay in decent shape and take care of the body that needs to carry me through several more decades. Because, as they say, an investment in our health is the best investment that any of us can make.

How do you save money on fitness? Do you work out at home or do you splurge for a gym membership?

More about...Health & Fitness, Budgeting, Frugality

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There are 57 comments to "Get a good workout without a gym membership".

  1. Beth says 06 January 2015 at 05:13

    Great tips 🙂 Gym memberships are pricy around here and I don’t find they’re a good value for me. Many of my coworkers switched to home gyms when they had their first kid to save time.

    I like to exercise outdoors, but I find it’s a challenge this time of year. (It’s -25 C here today!) I love the tip about checking out local trails. Some of the trails in my area have places to rent cross country skis or snow shoes too — great for a family outing!

    While I cringe at the idea of driving somewhere to walk or run, our local rec centre has a walking track that’s free to use during the week and cheap on the weekends. There are mall walking groups in my area too. Both have meeting times for parents with strollers too.

  2. Mrs. Frugalwoods says 06 January 2015 at 05:14

    Your sister’s method cracks me up! I haven’t had a gym membership in years but I workout almost daily. We have a weight bench that we bought off Craigslist, which I use to do my lifting (yes, ladies can lift too 🙂 ). And, my husband and I do the 7-minute workout together every morning–it’s a circuit of exercises designed to be efficient and effective.

    We also love to hike on the weekend and take Frugal Hound on long walks around the city. Plus, my husband bikes to work everyday and we both have standing desks in our offices.

    But, the absolute best workout deal for me is that I go to yoga for free twice a week in exchange for working a few shifts at my yoga studio. It’s a fantastic deal because I actually enjoy my shifts–I work at the reception desk for 30 minutes and I take out the studio trash. Ok, so I enjoy the receptionist shift more than the trash duty, but, hey, it’s free yoga!

  3. Young Millennial says 06 January 2015 at 06:24

    I think it is also a good idea to have a workout buddy who will motivate you. Also, you have to stick to your routine once you find what works for you. My wife’s excuse was that a gym membership was too expensive when we lived in a house. Now we live in a condo with a gym and she went there only 3-4 times since moving in.

    She wanted to use our Wii so I got her a used Fit board and a bunch of games. Well, that lasted only a few days. She also got an elliptical machine a few years ago which she used as a coat hanger for a year before selling it.

    In all those cases she didn’t have a workout buddy and didn’t stick to her plan. I went with her a few times to the gym to support her, but I honestly don’t need the exercise myself since I walk to and from work each day, which is around a 7 km round trip. I speed walk on the way back home which gets me sweaty and fairly tired by the time I get back home so the last thing I want to do is go to the gym and workout more. Some people just need support. Also, not sure how she would feel if I drop her off somewhere and make her run/walk home. She probably won’t speak to me for days.

  4. Cynthia says 06 January 2015 at 06:24

    Our town has two YMCA’s and also the city runs a lot of classes. All of them are very reasonably priced. I am a lot more motivated to work out in group exercise situations, so I belong to the recreation center at the university where I work. For $19 per month I have access to 80 free classes per week, a swimming pool, ping pong and a lot of other things. Knowing that I have already paid helps me to use it. Where I live you needn’t be affiliated with the university to get a membership.

  5. Jennifer Carey says 06 January 2015 at 06:50

    I wouldn’t knock a gym membership. Many offer steep discounts (Planet Fitness), Costco and other Big Box Retailers offer steeply discounted memberships to national gyms, buy a groupon for classes, etc. Your employer may offer discounted or even free memberships (if their employees workout, they often see a decline in medical claims).

    I personally need a gym because I need the variety of weights and machines that won’t fit in my home! I buy a Costco membership and my overall cost is about $11/month for 2 years and I can use a gym in this network anywhere in the country (I travel a lot).

    • Holly says 06 January 2015 at 07:42

      I tend to believe that gym memberships are worth it if you actually use them.

  6. Adam says 06 January 2015 at 06:52

    My wife has a $20 a month gym membership and went 0 times last year. I went on Craigslist and spent $200 a few years ago on p90x, p90x2, and all of the equipment needed, and it works great.

  7. TheFamilyFinder says 06 January 2015 at 06:58

    I try to do things with my kids. When we go to the park I play on the equipment. We watch dance videos on youtube and I dance with them. We walk to the creek to throw rocks. We go geocaching and try to find ones that are out in the woods so we can hike. They are learning to ride bikes and I will ride with them. I never exercise. I don’t like it. Staying active with my kids means that I am a better mom and moving at the same time.
    I recently sold off all of our home equipment. All it did was make me feel bad for never using it. Mocking me from the basement.

  8. Mrs PoP says 06 January 2015 at 07:18

    “I don’t want to sacrifice free time with my husband.”

    Why not make working out a family affair? Go hiking, running, bicycling, or whatever together!

    I think for people having a hard time building a work out routine into their day, should look into biking to work. It’s a really easy way to get a bit of exercise as bookends to your (for most of us) sedentary workday. It’s a pretty easy habit to develop and really enjoyable, too!

    • Holly says 06 January 2015 at 07:41

      When you have kids, you no longer have much quality time with your spouse until the kids are in bed. That’s why I’ve always been hesitant to make time for the gym at 8:00 p.m. That is really our only time to talk without being interrupted or spending any quality time together. Yes, we are “together” when the kids are up, but it is no longer the type of quality time you have with your spouse before you have kids. Fortunately, I can always get up real early and work out. That really helps!

      I think it’s easy to forget that exercising outside isn’t a possibility for everyone year-round. You’re in Florida, right? I’m in Indiana and it’s currently 7 degrees outside- we got five inches of snow overnight and school is on a two-hour delay. We won’t be going outside any time soon- especially not to hike or bike! Spring, summer and fall are easy for outdoor exercise. Winter isn’t. Thank goodness for the wii!

      • JoDi says 06 January 2015 at 10:41

        As someone who grew up in NY with lots of snow each year, I have to disagree that it is hard to get exercise outdoors during winter. We used spend hours playing in the snow, sledding, building igloos, and having snowball fights. I’m sure we burned tons more calories each hour than we did in the summer. Hiking in snow is great exercise too, and I love to shovel our driveway when it snows because it’s like a bonus workout! Once you get 5 minutes into it, you have to take off your coat except on the very coldest days because you’re too hot with it on.

        • Holly says 06 January 2015 at 10:48

          I agree and disagree. Shoveling snow and playing in the snow- yes! Biking- probably not until the streets are cleared. And the weather matters- a nice winter day is much different than a freezing, miserable one. I like to get outdoors as much as I can during winter. I get stir crazy being indoors to much!

      • Mrs. PoP says 06 January 2015 at 18:08

        It’s been in the low 80’s lately so it’s easy to forget other folks are buried in snow!

        But when weather appropriate, definitely outside fun together! Even as a family… there is a family that goes for a walk together every night, mom, dad and 4 (maybe 5 now?) kids (the oldest is maybe 8? youngest an infant) + the family dog. It’s great to see them getting fresh air and exercise together.

    • Beth says 06 January 2015 at 16:01

      I’m all for exercising outdoors, but I’m with Holly on this one — it isn’t safe for everyone. Where I live, low temps (especially with a windchill) and ice and snow on the streets make winter cycling hazardous. I don’t live that far north, but we’ve got fewer of hours of daylight too so many people are travelling in the dark.

      If you can cycle to work, that’s great 🙂 Even the dedicated cyclists I know stow their bikes and opt for public transit during the worst of winter.

  9. PJ @ NetWorthNirvana says 06 January 2015 at 07:27

    When people tell me they want to quit their job to follow their dream, the first thing I ask is how they spend their free time. If they’re not already hustling on their dream in their free time, they’re pretty much doomed to fail. I tend to find that exercise is just like everything else. If it’s truly important to you, you’ll make time for it no matter what. Buying fancy equipment or an expensive gym membership won’t magically turn you into a gym rat. I’m currently trying to up my fitness game. For me, that means either following along to a free yoga video I got from work or walking for an hour every day. When I can consistently do that for 4 days a week, every week, then I’ll consider joining a gym or buying some fitness equipment. Until I can build the routine and commit, there’s no use spending any money. The library has plenty of free fitness DVD’s if I get tired of yoga.

    • Laura says 07 January 2015 at 07:13

      There are some great comments in this thread but this is one of the best. You are so right about following your dream, whatever it may be, while you’re in your current life circumstances instead of waiting for it to magically change. Thanks for the inspiration (even knowing this, I still need to work on following it!).

    • Julie says 07 January 2015 at 08:20

      “If it’s truly important to you, you’ll make time for it no matter what.”


  10. Kalie @ Pretend To Be Poor says 06 January 2015 at 08:23

    These are great ideas for saving on exercise. I like to get exercise videos from the library. Also, a large local church has a great cardio/strength class for $2 with amazing free childcare. We are very fortunate to have this. Or sometimes the kids and I just have a dance party! Walking with the double stroller or running with the jogging stroller is also a good work out.
    My husband likes biking to work, chopping wood, or playing basketball for exercise.

  11. Shari says 06 January 2015 at 08:36

    I do bodyweight workouts and I’m loving it. I have a phone app that guides me through a 10-week program that gets progressively harder. The app cost $3. I like it because I can work out at home while (sort of) watching TV. It also doesn’t require any special equipment.

    • Nicole says 06 January 2015 at 18:45

      What’s the app called? That sounds right up my alley. 🙂

      • Shari says 07 January 2015 at 09:31

        It’s called “You are your own gym”. There is a book to go with it that describes the exercises in more detail, but you don’t need the book to use the app.

  12. Cognitive Dissonance says 06 January 2015 at 09:01

    I’m a little confused by this post. In one section you say “Gym memberships can be a huge and expensive commitment, and it just doesn’t make sense for most of us”. The it doesn’t make sense for most of us is what I’m stuck on. That comment was followed by this comment “Because, as they say, an investment in our health is the best investment that any of us can make”. Best investment is what I’m stuck on here.If it’s the best investment we can make, it has to make sense for most of us on a financial independence site in my opinion. With exercise and healthy eating, you pay now or pay later. I’d rather pay 50 bucks a month for gym membership and lifestyle change now, than the 300,000 US for heart surgery down the road, that totally destroys my life’s saving ( Drugs and follow up care). But we never look at it in those terms. So which is it? If you ask me, with 60% of all bankruptcies in the US due to heath related issues, I’m wondering why this is the not (exercise and healthy eating) the most important financial independence advice out there. Health literally is Wealth. If you’re not healthy, you can’t earn income,and if you can’t earn income, you can’t save or invest the surplus. Not trying to give you hard time, or sound self righteous, but this makes me sad that we often don’t connect the dots of financial independence with health. For me they’re inseparable keystone habits

    • Holly says 06 January 2015 at 09:56

      Sorry if I wasn’t clear- I tend to believe that gym memberships are a great investment if you actually use them on a regular basis!

      Likewise though, they are a waste of money if you never go. And some gyms cost a lot more than others. My local gym now costs $35 per month, but I’ve lived near others that cost 3 or 4 times that much.

      I do agree with you. Without good health, what do we really have? I am personally willing to invest in anything that results in better health for me and my family- healthy food, exercise equipment, bicycles, etc. Totally worth it.

    • Cynthia says 06 January 2015 at 17:54

      I completely agree with you. I see my gym membership as an investment in my health. I could be healthier, but I am much more active than I was four years ago when I first started going. Each year I feel more comfortable doing more things. This weekend I took a boot camp class for the first time, took a zumba class and played ping pong and went swimming with my daughter. It was great.

  13. Laura says 06 January 2015 at 09:03

    I would love to be able to go hiking/walking as part of my exercise. Unfortunately, tendinitis and vicious heel spurs make walking painful. I have a gym membership so I can swim in the pool; great exercise without hurting my ankles, heels, and feet any further. $460/year to be able to swim as well as use exercise equipment such as strength-training machines and stationary bikes is a lot cheaper than trying to install a pool of my own. 😀 Also nice to exercise indoors when it’s crapteen degrees outside.

    Another factor why some people do better with a gym is allergies; I know people who need the gym because in spring and fall, if they exercise outdoors, they can’t breathe anymore.

    Gym membership really is a “YMMV” expense. I agree with Holly that you have to use it to make it worth your while.

  14. Steve K says 06 January 2015 at 09:12

    Some tips:
    1. Keep a log. Record what you did, how long you did it, etc. It will motivate you to keep the log current, and it will please you later to see the progress you’ve made.

    2. Use free weights. Different size dumbbells are much better than a single barbell. I don’t have a barbell at all.

    3. Try to include both aerobics and weight training in your routine. If that’s not possible — time, money, weather, etc — go with weight training and flexibility exercises (poor man’s yoga).

    4. If it’s pounds we’re trying to lose, diet is far more important than exercise.

    5. Have some great music ready for when you exercise. It helps take away the boredom and sometimes pain. For me, it’s not music with just a beat, it’s music I really enjoy.

    6. A personal trainer is fine if you have money to throw away.

    My credentials:
    — At age 68, I do 50 pushups straight through, then about 20 minutes later another 50. The first 50 on the second lap of my daily walk, the second 50 on the third set.
    — Am neither rail thin nor obese (5’8″, 160).
    — Take no medications, ie, for diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

    Am not bragging. I know I could come down with cancer tomorrow, or be killed by a drunk driver. Just trying to help others get in shape.

    Finally, be aware that good health is a lifetime endeavor, not like getting on and off a bus. I saw the light at age 38, and have been robust ever since. My dear wife was gifted with far better genes but was not as determined to keep her health, and hasn’t.

  15. SomeGuy says 06 January 2015 at 09:22

    Walking, gardening, lawn mowing, et cetera are not cardio. They are basic exercise and that is better than being a couch potato, but nowhere near as good as true cardio.

    • Barb@livingrichlyinretirement says 06 January 2015 at 23:11

      I figure it elevates your heart rate and you do it continuously for thirty minutes it counts as cardio. In my case and at that pace, walking does it for me-on land or sea, as does the kind of gardening i have to do. JOgging in my case would do more damage and give me less results.

  16. Mike says 06 January 2015 at 09:27

    I have a bowflex that I bought in 2003 and eliptical I bought in 2012, both of which I use but I get the best cardio when I use Xbox Kinnect, you end up working all kind of muscles that you normally don’t work when doing other things because you are hoping around like a jester playing fun games.

  17. Etreju says 06 January 2015 at 09:48

    I like the lawn mowing idea. The key is to add some resistance and aerobics to the path of least resistance. Everyone thinks their future self will go to the gym and what have you, but mine just wants to park it in front of the TV. Ditching your car will increase your activity level for sure. This only works if your job is transit accessible or there is housing within walking/biking distance. You can hike and bike in 7F weather if it is not icy. You only feel cold for the first few minutes.

  18. Ely says 06 January 2015 at 09:53

    I just started wearing a pedometer again. It challenges me to look for ways to get in ‘just a few more steps.’ I take transit to work, so I have the option to walk a bit more rather than transfer, or get off at a farther stop. I can go to a nearer or farther place for lunch. I also stopped taking my bike, which is a labor saving device; if I walk the same distance I used to bike I get more of a workout.

  19. Carla says 06 January 2015 at 10:19

    I go to the gym. Since I see the same people at the gym every morning, we are probably the top 10% that actually use our membership.

    I lift (very) heavy weights and its difficult to safely and effectively duplicate that at home. Though I have some health challenges, my goal besides fighting my chronic illness is obtaining a level of fitness (and body) that I can’t get strolling in the bark and sweeping grass. I can do some body-weight exercises at home (pushups, etc) but I’m still a bit limited there.

    I think it depends on what your goals are.

    • Carla says 06 January 2015 at 10:23

      I meant “…strolling in the park…”. 🙂

      • Steve K says 06 January 2015 at 10:37

        Actually, I liked “strolling in the bark.”

        • Carla says 06 January 2015 at 10:53

          Now that you mentioned it…:)

  20. JoDi says 06 January 2015 at 10:59

    I have spent time as both and at-home exerciser and a gym member, and you really need to find what works for you in each stage of life. While I was raising a child, working out at home was the best option for me so I invested in a good treadmill and eventually added workout videos, an elliptical, and a Total Gym. I used them all (still do), sometimes more often, sometimes less often, but they all worked for me at the time.

    Once my son was grown, I really wanted to try a boot camp class so I signed up for a 6 week boot camp through Groupon a couple of years ago and loved it so much I decided to join a gym so I could go to the classes. It has been great for the past 2.5 years, and it really reignited my excitement about exercising again. I like variety so having different types of classes to choose from is really ideal for me.

    Recent schedule changes have made it hard for me to make it to the gym for the scheduled classes though so I was going to give it up and sign up for DailyBurn streaming workout videos. They have lots of great classes available for a very low price. I can stream them on my Roku, tablet, and even phone. When I mentioned the scheduling problems with the classes to my husband, he said he’d really like to start swimming (joint problems) so we decided to keep the membership and do some swimming together, and I can still go to the classes that work with my schedule.

    So I really feel that what works for you will change throughout the years, and you DEFINITELY should try different activities until you find one you enjoy. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, and you can turn into a gym rat by joining a gym and trying the different things they have to offer. I knew I would enjoy boot camp classes, but I had no idea how much I would LOVE them – I had to try them to find out!

  21. Michelle says 06 January 2015 at 11:12

    A gym membership is definitely not needed in order to get a good workout in! For me, I don’t even like to work out in gyms. I prefer to go outside for a run or a hike.

    That being said, we do have a membership to a gym, but it’s an indoor rock climbing gym. We get a good workout in and are able to have fun.

  22. Pearl says 06 January 2015 at 13:52

    My health insurance gives me a steep discount on gym access. This was not made known as a benefit to me until I called my health insurance and asked, then talked to my local gym and asked if they were partnered with any health programs, then called my insurance back to see if they were partnered with said program. Obviously YMMV but if you’re looking for a gym membership, or if you already have one, it’s worth a few phone calls to potentially cut the cost.

  23. Pixie says 06 January 2015 at 15:12

    I’ve recently moved house and got super excited about the gym around the corner. Then I realised I could easily ride my bike to work, and to roller derby training. Now I’m riding 15+ kms every day, saving $34p/week on the bus, and $22p/week from the gym. Kicking butt on my fitness and finance goals!

    My favourite gym irony is people driving their cars to the gym, and then walking/running on a treadmill. Why not just run to the gym and then run home? Same exercise is free!

    • Carla says 06 January 2015 at 20:28

      I don’t have children but I see a lot of parents at the gym that utilize the childcare service that’s provided. I can imagine with 1-3 kids its difficult to run to the gym in the rain without having to constantly attend to them. I am heat intolerant so (sadly for a lot of people) I prefer to work out indoors than give myself a heatstroke.

    • Barb@livingrichlyinretirement says 06 January 2015 at 23:15

      Not everyone can jog, or should jog, says the woman with the permanently damaged knee. going to the gym to use an elliptical machine, rowing machine or the pool makes sense. As someone who was a manager at a health club for years, some people come straight from work (or straight to work), some come with kids, and some live in areas were walking or running doesnt work, at least some of the year.

      I do an aerobic program through utube in my living room, but I also do yoga at a gym and walk in the water.

    • char says 09 January 2015 at 09:21

      I am surprised on how quickly people are judging other gym users. Can’t you just go enjoy yourself and not compare yourself to others? I run on the treadmill to do speed workouts. It is a lot easier to control your pace when a treadmill is forcing you to run faster 🙂 Other possible reasons include: it is icy outside, it is less than 15 degrees outside, or I am planning on taking a class immediately after my treadmill workout.

  24. Nicole says 06 January 2015 at 18:49

    Where are these streaming exercise routines on Netflix? I just did a search for exercise and workout– found some interesting movies, but not exercise videos! Would MOST love some free at-home Zumba! 🙂

    • Barb@livingrichlyinretirement says 06 January 2015 at 23:17

      Search you tube. You have to search through the chaff to find longer routines (as opposed to shorter ones that are marketing tools) but they exist. I have a forty minute seated yoga routine and a half hour speedwalking program bookmarked

    • Ekoh says 08 January 2015 at 07:33

      I agree, I would be interested in finding out what exercise routines Netflix streams. While I can of course find stuff on YouTube, as it mentions in the article, YouTube workouts vary in quality.

  25. Kristen says 06 January 2015 at 19:06

    As usual, whatever works for you and you will keep doing. A few years ago, I discovered bellydancing classes at our local community center. I take class once a week, and now have joined our instructor’s private, more advanced classes at her private studio. I pay about $80 a month for classes twice a week. But I have never had so much fun exercising in my life. The group of friends I’ve made in class make it a joy to show up twice a week, every week, and there is always something new to learn. I’m pretty sure I will be a dancer for the rest of my life. Now, if I can just get the self disclipline down to do a couple of home weight-lifting and yoga sessions a week… It’s easier when you have people expecting you to show up, too!

  26. Kasia says 06 January 2015 at 20:23

    I used to pay $20 per week for the gym when I was training for a half ironman race and that was only because they had a pool that I could use and I could train during my lunch hour. Now I simply walk and run outdoors, use kettle bells in the garage and youtube for yoga. No need to spend a fortune. Although I do miss the access to the pool.

  27. KC says 06 January 2015 at 22:16

    I do a few different things (gym, Tamilee Webb’s I want that body! which is surprisingly straightforward and effective, especially for $15 off Amazon), but my favorite recent discovery is a kid’s hula-hoop–6 bucks from Target and has already done wonders for my back and waist. And it’s fun!

  28. Jon says 06 January 2015 at 23:42

    Youtube is a great source for learning the basics of a workout program (and more current offerings/fitness knowledge base than the old VHS tapes). There are many extremely knowledgeable people making videos in pretty much any type of exercise you’re interested in.

    Personally, I would encourage workouts like Yoga or Body-weight Lifting, as they require very little in terms of equipment. You can do them at home or at your local park, etc… Yoga in particular has a wide variety of styles that cater to different goals and abilities.

    Another thing I would add to this article is that riding a bike or even walking for 20 minutes a day is the easiest way to get some exercise and be healthier. You won’t see huge differences in your weight or physique, but you will notice a difference in energy levels and general well-being. If you live in a city, this could even be a functional commute rather than time set aside for exercise.

  29. Tim says 07 January 2015 at 08:13

    About 15 weeks ago I decided to try something out – doing 5 minutes of bodyweight exercise each day at home in my bedroom.

    I wanted to build the habit of exercise and I wanted to eliminate as many barriers as possible.

    So I decided to do 5 minutes of bodyweight exercise each day – only 2 different exercises. Keeping it simple.

    Since then I’ve exercised every single day for the past 15 weeks.

    I’ve saved $$$ (no gym membership, no equipment, no commute to/from gym etc) and I am moving toward the best shape of my life.

    Gotta love it! Keep it simple…you’ll save time & money!

  30. Donna Freedman says 07 January 2015 at 12:28

    I always said that the only way I would maintain a regular running program would be to hire a big scary dude to chase me. Never cared for it.
    Right now we’re iced-in pretty severely and even with ice-grippers I am terrified of falling. (Injured an ankle that way some years back and it’s never been the same, which makes me even more fearful.)
    So I set the timer and walk all around my house. While I’m not exactly zooming, I can get up a pretty decent speed. When spring comes I’ll go back to walking (faster!) outside; in the meantime, I figure at least I’m moving:

  31. cathleen says 07 January 2015 at 17:45

    we get free onsite gym membership at work which is awesome
    and we pay $160 per month for our local pool and tennis club which is so much cheaper than building my own pool!
    we spend a lot of time at the pool/club year round as we are in California and it has a fun retro social feel, not ritzy in any way
    we have BBQs, bocce parties, etc or just hook up with neighbors
    i even use it as my “third place”, not work, not home, strong wifi
    worth every penny!

  32. Alexandra says 08 January 2015 at 08:05

    Your sister’s method is great! It’s way too cold where I live for that currently, so I’m more apt to go your route — yesterday while doing laundry I took extra trips up and down the stairs.

    I also find ice skating a fun, inexpensive activity that I can do for fun and health.

  33. Brad says 08 January 2015 at 11:53

    I’ve been doing Beachbody workouts (P90X, Insanity, etc.) at home for years. Sure they cost money up front but after using them so much the cost is basically nothing and the results from the workouts are great.

  34. Lisa S says 10 January 2015 at 15:38

    One thing that kept me from exercising was feeling like I had to be miserable in order to really get something out of it. Then I developed insomnia after having kids and discovered that just 20 mins a day of walking helped me stay asleep thru the night. That did two things- first, I realized that I didn’t need to run to get a good workout. Secondly, since it helped my insomnia so much I was motivated to do it every single day. It’s been a year now and even though my insomnia is mostly gone, I’ve developed the habit of walking so I still do it. I use a Craigslist treadmill during the winter. I usually talk on the phone while I walk to make it more fun. I also try to do squats at some point during the day but I’m realizing I need to come up with some sort of trigger to remember to do them.

  35. Beard Better says 26 January 2015 at 13:04

    This article hit me where it hurt: my pride. I am one of those foolish people who actually got a lot better at exercising regularly when I lived in an apartment right near a gym. Now that I no longer live there, I find that the two most common excuses I give are i) won’t I look foolish just walking around aimlessly? and ii) ugh, it is just too hot/cold/wet/dry outside to do anything; better eat a snack and watch another episode of 30 Rock.

    And that’s assuming I even think to do any exercise at all, which is not something that can be taken for granted.

  36. Lorraine says 29 July 2016 at 20:44

    I do not think that gym membership is expensive, I spend 35 dollars per week for gym membership but if I do not go to gym, I spend more money on coffee, clothing, foods and movies! I can save more money because I go to gym everyday to destruct myself for spending on online shopping, coffee, movie and eating out!!! These costs more than 35 dollars per week, I am sure!

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