Get Fit For Less

9 Jan

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It’s the most popular New Year’s resolution, “get fit”, and it would have been yours had it not been for lack of coin. Well put aside your excuses, because I have a solution for every budget, interest, and ability, whether you are looking to get fit, loose weight, or just be healthier. There is also plenty of variety to keep you from getting bored and quitting. So squeeze into your spandex, lace up your tennies and let’s hit the ground running…after our warm-up stretches, of course.

  1. Free at the Library. You may know the library has no shortage of the latest health & fitness magazines, diet cookbooks, yoga DVDs, and workout music, but did you also know they have free classes? Check all your local public libraries for offerings since you are not limited to your city of residence as long as you have a valid library card.
  2. Free diet and fitness apps. There is no shortage of free apps to help keep you on motivated and on track.
  3. Free fitness videos. If you would rather see videos online, try sites like YouTube for clips on specific exercises or Hulu for full length routines.
  4. Free & cheap equipment. Whether you are looking for a treadmill, yoga ball, exercise DVD, skis, or  Wii Fit accessories, you are sure to find something free or cheap on sites like Freecycle, Craigslist, Ebay, and even Amazon. Some things are used, some new; I got new stuff free via Freecycle and used stuff cheap on Amazon, so you just have to look and ask. Craigslist lets you barter or swap. Make sure you check for recalled items, beware of shipping fees, and know the return policy. If you need to check out an item in person before buying, there are plenty of fitness resale shops.
  5. Parks & rec. This one is by far my favorite for the quality, value & variety! It is not only at the city level, but also area, state & national park systems.They offer a variety of all season, all age, all ability programs that are free or affordable priced including equipment rental. This is where you usually find sports leagues and other community activities. Most have fitness centers that rival or exceed any commercial gym or spa, complete with instructors. So whether you want to shoot hoops, learn bellydancing or how to snowshoe, there’s plenty to keep you from getting stuck in a fitness rut.
  6. Free groups. These are usually more informal. They can be anything from groups of individuals that like to go hiking with their dogs at the state park, to mall walkers, to bowlers. If you can’t find a group that fits your needs, make your own. You can find these groups on sites like MeetUp and Craigslist, but also check your local bulletin boards at your college, church or apartment complex. At my one job, we organized yoga at lunchtime, which was really popular. At another job we had a walking club. Don’t forget to use free support groups, which is not only a great place to get ideas and support to stay on track, but also meet people you can ask to join you in your exercise activities.
  7. Drop in. You can find this drop in option not only at fitness centers, but also studios for yoga, dance, and martial arts to name a few. Some let you try for free, while others charge you a pay per use free. Beware of anything that says “trial” since that means you have to cancel in order for them to stop taking from your credit or checking account, and depending on the contract, its not always as easy as it seems.
  8. Use your connections. Members can usually bring guests for free or cheap to fitness centers, city rec centers, even condo association facilities, so buddy up with one of your friends that is already a member. If you are an alum, you can usually get a great deal on use of the athletic complex if you still live near your alma mater.
  9. Alternative settings. Like city rec centers, these settings are usually much cheaper than commercial gyms. Churches have jumped on the fitness bandwagon, and while they may have been the setting for support groups for years, fitness centers are relatively new. Some owned gyms already through their affiliation with private school or ethnic social clubs. Some are open to the public, while others serve members only. Schools, especially universities are opening their fitness center doors to non students.
  10. Use your benefits. Did you know your employer or health insurance provider may offer free or discounted gym memberships? Good health is just good business. You can use your Health Savings Account as an eligible expense if you have a letter from your doctor, and most of us have at least some boarderline condition that would qualify.
  11. Gym Discounts. If you have decided to join a commercial fitness center, you may as well save some money. You can find discounts, promo codes and coupons on sites like Retail Me Not, Groupon, and Living Social. If you comparison shop, you can go with the best price, or ask your favorite gym to match it. When they offer you all the tempting extras and add-ons, just say “no”. And finally, don’t pass up the “pretty person discount”. Gyms have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to pricing, pretty, fit, and young members act as free marketing for them. People come to gyms for the hook-up as much as the workout, so if you’ve got it, work it to your advantage.

So get off the sofa and get moving; you’re starting to make the cat look like an overachiever.

Good news readers, you can now follow me on Facebook! Simply visit Real Penny Wise and click LIKE. Be sure to SHARE with your friends too.

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