9 ways to work out without wearing out your bank account - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

9 ways to work out without wearing out your bank account

© iStockphoto.com / Karen Roach © iStockphoto.com / Karen Roach

By Andrew Housser


The average gym membership costs $40-$50 per month. That price is not much to pay in return for better fitness and health – if you actually use the membership. In 2012, almost 30 percent of gym members canceled their memberships because they were not using them. Because many membership fees are charged to a credit card automatically, an unused membership can drag on for a year or more without being noticed on your monthly statements. And if you do not pay off your credit card balance in full each month, that membership can rack up debt. Here are some suggestions for lower-cost ways to get in shape – without chancing going into debt.

1. Find a cheaper place.

If you don't mind bringing your own towel, Planet Fitness, Curves, a local YMCA or recreation center may offer far better deals on a place to work out. Also check whether your employer or health insurance offers a gym discount.

2. Take advantage of the great outdoors.

Spring and summer months often are good times to take your workout outdoors. Walk, jog, bike or swim, explore nearby parks and trails, or simply climb stairs at your home or office.

3. Borrow videos.

Apps are springing up that let would-be fitness buffs subscribe to a no-cost or low-cost workout series, but beware that many of these can become pricey. You also can check if your library has fitness DVDs on loan. Or watch free fitness videos on sites such as Sparkpeople.com (which also offers free nutrition tips). These options let you mix up your routine without breaking the bank – or accumulating a stack of unused videos.

4. Repurpose video game systems.

Piggyback on a video game system to create an affordable fitness routine. Since the early days of Wii Fit, people have been working out with video games. Today, Xbox 360 with Kinect, Sony Playstation with Move, and Wii still offer plenty of fitness programs. Some provide funs way to get moving, while others pack a serious fitness punch. Many games cost $40 or less for endless use, or you can rent them, or check them out from the library.

5. Turn your TV into a personal trainer.

When you are watching television, instead of fast-forwarding through commercials, let that time be your timer for a workout session. Do crunches during one ad, lunges during the next, and pushups during the next. In the next break, alternate jumping jacks and bicep curls. In one evening, you can get a good workout.

6. Sample the bargains.

Watch sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and local deal sites for bargains on gym memberships and yoga studios, or check specific gym websites. Many places offer one-month or one-week passes for a nominal fee. Sometimes, they are even free. Some yoga studios also offer “community classes,” often free or by donation. These options can help you jump-start a program, or offer variety to a program you have established.

7. Ask about financial aid.

Financial help is not just for students. Some community recreation centers and even fitness centers offer reduced rates or sliding-scale fees for people on low incomes. Ask to find out if this applies in your area.

8. Use student benefits.

If you are taking classes at a local college or university, know that student fees often cover recreation center costs. Alumni can ask about discounted rates. Some schools even offer memberships or discounts to local residents, regardless of alumni status. Some high schools offer community lap-swim hours when school is not in session. Also, ask local universities about student personal trainers. Some may work with clients for a fraction of what you would pay a personal trainer at a gym – a great way to get a customized workout plan.

9. Get a part-time job.

A job that involves physical labor can help you get fit while you make extra money to pay off debt or save for a future goal. If you spend most days in a cubicle, spending evenings or weekends doing yard work, moving, dog walking or house painting can get you and your bank account in better shape.

Getting fit requires time and attention – but it does not require a major outlay of cash. Finding frugal paths to fitness can keep you – and your bank account – happy and healthy.


Andrew Housser is a co-founder and CEO of Bills.com, a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about personal finance issues and compare financial products and services. He also is co-CEO of Freedom Financial Network, LLC providing comprehensive consumer credit advocacy and debt relief services. Housser holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University and Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College.
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