Getting and staying in shape can be expensive – but it doesn’t have to be.  If you’ve ever found certain fitness activities to be cost-prohibitive, you’ll want to check out these tips.  They’ll help keep your body fit and your wallet fat!

1.  Look past the fancy (and expensive gyms).  The last time I shopped around for a gym, I was astonished by the monthly fees.  There was a huge range – anywhere from $10 to $100+ per month.  It’s easy to get caught up in how magnificent some gyms seem to be and all of the amenities they offer.  But ask yourself – are you going to use all of those amenities?  One of the gyms I belonged to offered a racquetball court, basketball court, swimming pool, sauna and steam room.  Sure, these are great amenities, but I don’t play racquetball, basketball, and only rarely swam or used the sauna and steam room.  There was no reason I needed to pay for those options.  Decide before visiting a gym what features are important to you and if those are worth the cost.  Try out a free pass before committing and try to negotiate a lower rate if you can.  Try out a lower cost gym too.  It may not be as fancy but you can sweat just as much and save a ton of money.

2.  Share a trainer with a friend.  I know many people like the accountability of working directly with a personal trainer and getting that direct attention to focus on specific needs.  Try splitting the cost with a fitness-minded friend and share the time.  Working out with a friend can be fun and provide another accountability partner.  If your personal trainer works at a gym that offers classes, try a few classes to see how those workouts compare.  Many gyms offer small classes and you’ll still get plenty of attention to make sure your form is correct.

3.  Exercise at home.  When I suggest exercising at home, the first thing I usually hear is “I don’t have room for a home gym and can’t afford the expensive equipment”.  Body weight exercises can be done almost anywhere, even if you don’t have a lot of space, and you don’t need any equipment.  Adding in a set of weights is relatively inexpensive.  If you enjoy taking classes at the gym, consider a program like Beachbody on Demand, where you can workout with hundreds of streaming videos whenever you’d like.  Thousands of dollars of popular workouts are available for a very minimal cost ($2.99 a week) and you can do them in the privacy of your own home.

4.  Exercise outdoors.  The great outdoors offers so many options for being active.  Running, doing yoga, biking or hiking outdoors is a great way to get some fresh air, enjoy nature and save some money.  Running or walking outdoors is a great way to see a city in a way that you would never see it in a car.

5.  Check your benefits.  Some larger companies encourage employees to maintain a healthy weight and encourage them to be active.  Many offer wellness programs that may pay for part or all of a gym membership or other fitness activities.  Companies can really benefit by incentivizing employees to be more active – medical costs are reduced for the individual and the company as a whole.  Everyone wins!

6.  Know when to splurge and when to save.  Be cautious about what you think you need before making a purchase.  Those cute workout clothes may be cheaper elsewhere so it pays to shop around.  You don’t have to go to a high dollar athletic store either – Target and Walmart have a good selection of clothes that are reasonably priced.  Quality clothes are a must but that doesn’t mean they have to be name brand designer yoga pants.  That fancy running watch?  Wait until you’re running regularly before dropping the money on it.  You don’t need all the fancy gadgets or expensive accessories to get in a great workout.

Do you have any additional money-saving tips?  How do you stay fit?

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