Getting fit often can cost money, but it doesn’t have to be a lot – sometimes it can even be free!
No one likes getting sticker shock. Getting around to joining a gym can be hard enough, and when we finally get there, finding out they want a three figure down payment can be a big surprise. Thank god there are other options.
- Join a budget gym. It doesn’t cost too much to bring your own towel and water bottle, and if you don’t mind basic or minimal amenities, a budget gym can be all anyone needs. In the US, these gyms can range from ten to twenty-five dollars a month, and frequently have 24-hour access. You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you can find a gym with free weights, open space to exercise, and other fun toys like suspension trainers and battle ropes. My local favorite in the Portland area is Workout Anytime – they have all the toys and great space to use them.
- Join a group. Most areas offer some sort of recreational sports leagues with various levels of competition. And if organized sports aren’t your thing, Meetup is becoming increasingly popular worldwide/ Groups get together to enjoy golf, hiking, running – you name it, and usually for little or no cost. Can’t find one in your neck of the woods? Sign up and start your own.
- Get outside. You don’t need a gym membership to get fit. Walking, running, cycling, and swimming might require a small investment to get started (new shoes, a bike, a pool pass). But you’ll get a lot out of them if you are consistent in using them. Plus there are an increasing number of parks with exercise equipment built right alongside.
- Make your own gym. Keep an eye out for sales at sporting goods stores, online classifieds like Craigslist in the US and Gumtree in Australia, and second-hand stores. You’ll find all sorts of deals on everything from cardio equipment to kettlebells. Don’t want to shop? There are plenty of household items that are great substitutes. Run up and down the stairs, fill up some empty milk jugs, do step ups on a step stool, or grab some buckets of paint or bricks from the backyard to add extra weight.
- Check out your health insurance. You may have fitness options that you weren’t aware of. In the US, the Silver Sneakers and Silver and Fit programs cover gym memberships and other fitness programs for adults 65 as part of many major health insurance programs. In Australia, exercise physiology services may be covered by Medicare or your private health insurance company. It’s worth checking out your health insurance coverage to see if they offer any exercise-related preventative health benefits.
The old saying “if there’s a will, there’s a way” hold true here. Explore your local options, get creative, or just take yourself outside. If I’ve missed any good low-cost fitness options, please feel free to share in the comments section!