When it comes to starting a new fitness program, there may be more than a few obstacles in your way. And while it’s easy to fix a shortage of motivation, it’s less easy to fix a shortage of cash. Let’s face it: Gym memberships can be expensive. But even if you’re broke, you can still find a way to get in shape and make your health a priority.
Whether it’s through working out at home, bargaining with rates, or using services that let you jump around from studio to studio, there are plenty of ways to exercise when and how you want—without shelling out major cash for that fancy gym membership.
Here are 6 ways to save on a gym membership and still meet your fitness goals. There goes your last excuse!
1) Use a service to bounce around
Gym subscription services are becoming really popular, as it’s a way to workout without committing to one gym membership and its hefty price tag. Companies such as Classpass or FitReserve provide package rates for a set number of classes per month, and they often offer introductory deals or discounts to entice you to stay beyond the trial.
Another is Localfit, where you can visit a full-service health club wherever you travel. This service is especially great during holiday travel or for those who travel much for work. Localfit costs $10/month and allows members access to 5,000+ gyms around the country. Think of it as your fitness passport.
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2) Work out online
You can get a sweat on right in your living room by using the endless supply of free videos on YouTube, or fitness apps that provide workout plans from trained professionals. ClassPass Live—which beams interactive workouts to your TV using a Chromecast and a bluetooth-enbaled heart rate monitor—is a great affordable option.
“Focus on high intensity bodyweight training. You don’t need to lift heavy weights to get into amazing shape,” says Jon Pearlman, an ACE-certified personal trainer and co-founder of Mission Lean.
3) Use the buddy system
“Join the gym with a friend and negotiate a discounted rate,” says Pearlman. “If your friend already belongs to a gym, gyms often have incentives for inviting new guests that give you both discounts on your memberships so use that.”
Otherwise, if you choose to go in together as a team, negotiate a cheaper price for both of you—you’re giving them two people at once!
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4) Check for deals
Sometimes gyms will offer discounted rates if you use the gym part-time or at non-peak hours. “If you are really adamant about joining a gym, then try to get a membership with limited hours at a discounted rate,” says Pearlman.
And remember, you have the upper hand. “Either ask for the initiation fee to be waived or extra personal training services or extra guest passes,” says Andrea Woroch, nationally recognized money-saving expert. “Sometimes it’s easier for the sales person to add on items than to give you a discount on your monthly price so think about how you can get more from the facility.” That could even include discounted massage services—who knows?
“Once you know you will use the facility and like it after trying it out—this is an important step—find out if they can give you a better monthly rate if you sign up for one or two years,” she adds.
You should also consider the month you’re signing up. Sometimes there are discounts during holiday season as an incentive for people to start the New Year on a healthy note, and also during the summer, when people tend to work out outside. (Think June and July.)
5) Join a sports league
You don’t need a fancy gym to get in shape when you can play traditional high-intensity sports—like basketball, football, or volleyball—in the park or on a beach, Pearlman explains.
Plus, joining a sports league is a great way to socialize and build friendships—while making some new ones with people who share your interests. Browse for leagues in your area and recruit a friend to join with you for support, if needed.
7) Set up an at-home gym
Some people swear they will go to the gym after they sign up, but just can’t commit. And there goes hard-earned cash.
“In this case, consider setting up an at-home gym where you can use weights and cardio equipment while you watch TV from the comfort of your living room,” says Woroch.
“You can find gently-used equipment from people in your community by shopping via Facebook Marketplace where you can search anything from dumb bells to treadmills based on your location and then negotiate the price using Messenger,” she adds.
You can also check out our guide to the best home gym equipment.
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