Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011

10 Ways to Save on Personal Fitness

To stay healthy, adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five days a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not to mention strength training for all your major muscle groups at least two days a week. But these days, exercise doesn’t come cheap. Personal trainers and gym memberships can cost you a pretty penny, particularly since most of the January deals are over. To help you save money on personal fitness, I present the following 10 ways to exercise on the cheap or even for free:

1.) Take up jogging or brisk walking.

Nothing’s better than pounding the sidewalks in your neighborhood or hitting up some hilly trails to work up a sweat and get your blood pumping every day. Those who live in the south can often get away with this year-round, but those in the north may need to bundle up and invest in a neck gaiter to cover their nose and mouth for running in cold weather. Either way, it’s a great free exercise option for non-winter months.

2.) Use an apartment gym.

Today’s modern apartments are often equipped with fitness rooms with excellent exercise equipment and free weights. If you’re an apartment dweller, you would do well to take advantage of this free perk. If you’re a home-owner, chances are you know someone through your work, church or elsewhere who lives in an apartment and would let you have access to their apartment’s fitness room. The same is true of apartment pools in the summer time for swimming. Apartment managers generally don’t have problems with their residents bringing in guests from time to time, and you may even gain a workout buddy in the process!

3.) Stream workout videos on Netflix.

If you already subscribe to Netflix to save money on movies (it’s only $7.99 a month!), you get access to a number of streaming workout videos. This is a great option for those cold months when you don’t really feel like leaving the house to get a workout.

4.) Ask to borrow your friends’ workout DVDs.

If you have cable, you’ve probably seen infomercials for programs like P90X, Insanity and the Biggest Loser Workout. Instead of shelling out the money for expensive popular exercise DVD series like these, network with your friends and family to see if someone already has them. When I asked around, I discovered a former co-worker who had finished his round of P90X and had no problems with me borrowing it. My sister-in-law was happy to lend me her Tae Bo series with Billy Blanks. They’re still my go-to options when I don’t feel like leaving the house, and I never had to pay a dime for them!

5.) Hit up Craig’s List, garage sales and Goodwill for cheap exercise equipment and DVDs.

If you like getting good deals, chances are you already frequent Craig’s List and hit up your neighborhood garage sales on Saturdays. These are great places to find items like sets of dumbbells, ankle weights, exercise bikes, treadmills, and workout DVDs for dirt cheap. Even better, if you have a friend or family member who uses a piece of equipment more for hanging laundry than for exercise, you may want to make an offer on it. Chances are they’ll cut you a good deal to get rid of something that’s collecting dust in their home.

6.) Try the library.

Your neighborhood library may have workout videos that you can check out for free. Offerings may be slim, and they may only have VHS tapes, but it’s worth a shot. The library’s also a great place to check out fitness books or read fitness magazines to glean ideas for personal workouts, instead of shelling out money for them at the checkout stand at the store.

7.) Check out cable programming.

If you have cable, see if you have Discovery Fit & Health, formerly Fit TV. This TV channel has excellent fitness programming in the morning, including Bodies in Motion with Gilad and Namaste yoga. My mother and I love watching Shimmy, which teaches you how to belly dance while giving you a great workout. If you don’t have cable, check out local listings for any early morning workout programming.

8.) Play on gyms’ competitive natures.

If you’re more of a gym rat than an at-home or outdoors workout person, start doing some cost comparisons of memberships at gyms in your hometown. Once you’ve narrowed down the best deals in town, you’ll want to pick the one closest to you to save on gas. If that gym doesn’t offer the lowest cost, then ask to speak with the manager and negotiate. If you can show them that you found a different gym that offered a better deal, they will often meet or beat that gym’s cost, and you’ll get to save yourself a longer trip.

9.) Choose group sessions over a personal trainer.

Some people need the encouragement of another person when they exercise. Instead of opting for a pricy personal trainer, participate in group exercise at your local gym or YMCA. It’s typically a lot cheaper than a personal trainer and you’ll still get the feedback and support you need when you work out. Popular options are Zumba, kickboxing and cycling.

10.) Search for free workouts on YouTube.

You can find a variety of free workouts on YouTube, and have yet another option for working out in your home.

This guest contribution was submitted by Raine Parker, who specializes in writing about accounting degree.  Questions and comments can be sent to: raine.parker6@gmail.com.

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