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Budgeting

Gym Alternatives to Help You Save Money

We all know that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But we also know that moving our bodies is important too. If you rest, you rust . . . as they say.

These days, there are a million ways to get your body moving. From barre workouts to goat yoga to the hardcore stuff like CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting, there’s something for everyone. But sometimes, paying a gym to help you shed that winter weight is just so dadgum expensive.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with paying to do something that helps you get in shape (as long as you can afford it!). But if you’re trying to pay off debt, it may not be in the budget for a season. Don’t worry—you can still get your sweat on without paying those crazy gym prices. You just have to know where to look.

Check out these gym alternatives that will get you moving on a tight budget:

Gym Alternatives That Will Save You Money

1. Stream classes.

Instead of paying retail price for an elite workout, why not replace a few of those expensive gym sessions with workouts you can stream at home? You can find plenty of workouts on YouTube (for free!) to get your heart rate up. Or download one of the many fitness apps available on your smartphone. You’ll still get a great workout without getting bored!

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And if you start to miss the community you had at the gym, start a running club or an exercise group in your neighborhood. Not only is it free, but you’ll also be exercising with friends and have built-in accountability partners! Win-win.

2. Invest in used equipment.

One of the easiest, budget-friendly gym alternatives is just creating your own gym at home. Let’s be clear: We’re not telling you to go out and buy a brand-new elliptical.

Instead, try looking for that small set of hand weights, yoga mat or stationary bike at secondhand sports stores, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or your local buy/sell/trade pages. These small investments on the front end can be much cheaper than “renting” fitness equipment at the gym year after year.

money saving gym alternatives

3. Create a home gym.

Speaking of investing in used equipment . . . saving up for a one-time purchase of a treadmill or stationary bike is much cheaper than a reoccurring monthly membership. The average gym membership runs around $507 a year.1 You could buy a decent, used treadmill for under 200 bucks and apply that extra $300 toward your other goals throughout the year. Plus, you also get to save money on gas since you won’t have to drive to the gym. Talk about getting fit on a budget!

4. Hit up the park.

When the weather is nice, take advantage of running trails at your local park. And if running isn’t your thing (because . . . running) shoot some hoops at the basketball court, ride a bike, or make use of the tennis and volleyball courts. Get your whole family in on the fun, even if that means taking a nightly stroll around the neighborhood. There are plenty of gym alternatives to help you burn calories—at no cost.

And if you’re a dog owner, get that pup in on the action too! Your four-legged friend is so excited to see you when you get home—so put that energy to good use by taking them for an extra jog around the block. Their get-up-and-go enthusiasm just might rub off on you!

5. Move at work.

Just because you have a desk job doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in some time to get moving. If the weather is nice, grab your favorite reusable water bottle and use your lunch break to get some fresh air and take a walk outside. Or if it’s the dead of winter, listen to a podcast and walk laps inside your office building.

If you need a little bit of group accountability, team up with some coworkers and start an exercise group. This can be as intense as a marathon training club or as easy-going as taking a walk together.

Whatever you do, don’t sit all day. Look for little ways you can sneak some extra movement into your day. And don’t forget to opt for the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can!

6. Do yard work.

One of the most overlooked alternatives to gym memberships is gardening and yard work. Just taking care of the things around your house can give you tons of opportunities to burn plenty of calories. You can cut your grass with a push mower, pick up leaves, trim hedges, and more. The yard will look great, and so will your wallet!

Just make sure you’re not overinvesting in yard upkeep. Planting a few too many shrubs can add up quickly and end up costing more than any gym membership.

7. Rent DVDs from the library.

There’s nothing wrong with kicking it old school with some of Billy Blanks’ famous workout videos. Your local library is a great place to look for these fitness classics from yesteryear, as well as some new ones too. Rent a couple of different DVDs for free to see what suits you. (Are you more into kickboxing or do you like dance cardio?) If you find something you love, see if you can buy it on eBay at a discount. Don’t forget to look through the media section at thrift stores and yard sales. You never know what you might find!

8. Search for discounts.

If you absolutely can’t part with the gym or your favorite kickboxing or yoga class, you can still find ways to practice fitness on a budget. Look for discounts on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial to help curb some of the expense. Plenty of gyms and fitness studios offer deals through these sites just to get you in the door. A little hunting on your part can equal big savings!

9. Get creative.

Who said you can’t make up your own workouts? Not us. Get out your favorite internet browser and start searching. There are a million different ideas out there just waiting for you to try. And these days, you can find amazing free workouts on sites like Pinterest too.

10. Chase your kids around.

One of the cheapest ways to get moving is running after your kids. That’s right—throw on your favorite step tracker and watch that number climb throughout the day. Plus, if you pick your kids up while you’re running, you can check weightlifting off your list too!

11. Go for a ride.

A bike ride, that is! Sure, Peloton may be the new hip trend in the workout world these days, but nothing beats a good old-fashioned bike ride. Just make sure to follow the rules of the road. (Spandex and bike clips are always optional.)

The Best Way to Save on Gym Memberships

If you consider yourself a gym rat, you may not be a fan of our non-gym alternatives. If that’s you, don’t sweat! We’ve got some ideas that will help you make that expensive gym membership a little more affordable.

1. Budget.

The best way to save money on gym memberships (and gym alternatives for that matter) is by doing a budget. A budget keeps you on track with your spending—and your life goals. Download EveryDollar and set up your first budget today!

2. Ask for a discount.

You never know unless you ask, right? The worst they can say is no. And if they do, sign up for Rachel Cruze’s 14-Day Money Finder to help you scrounge up some extra money for your gym membership.

3. Cancel unused subscriptions.

We’re all guilty of it . . . signing up for apps and subscriptions only to let them sit unused. It’s time to do an audit. Go through all your weekly, monthly and yearly subscriptions and cancel the ones you don’t use. See? Easy gym money right there.

4. Check your health plan.

You may not know this, but some health insurance plans offer membership discounts to local gyms. See? All that money going to your health insurance is finally paying off!

Hitting your fitness goals requires consistent work and accountability. And the same goes for your money goals. EveryDollar can help you get on track and stay on track. Download it for free and start checking those goals off one by one.

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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