Costs associated with gym memberships and equipment can be a deterrent for some in their fitness goals. There are ways you can work out for free or cheap though. In this post we will talk about ways you can Get Fit and SAVE Money.
Some ideas discussed will be obvious to you, and some not so much, which is why we’re here.
Table of Contents
- Your Local Gym
- A Few Pieces of Equipment Can Go A Long Way
- Get Fit for FREE
- Save Money in the Future
Your Local Gym
You don’t want to spend a lot of money (which is why you’re here), but you are willing or able to part with some money. Luckily there are many cost effective options.
Refer a Friend
You’ve already got a membership, why not refer a friend? Many gyms have a referral rewards program. These vary by gym of course. You could receive money off your next month’s membership. Be sure to inquire at your local gym to see if they offer such a program.
Some nationally located gyms with referral programs:
- Planet Fitness – Refer a friend using your unique code, found in the app, and you’ll get a free month! They’ll also be able to sign up for just $1. See more here.
- LA Fitness – You can send a friend or family member a 7 day VIP Guest Pass. If they join within 90 days, you’ll receive 1,000 points towards your account. For reference 1,000 points earns you a stainless steel water bottle, but 25,000 points earns you an Apple Watch. See more here.
- 24 Hour Fitness – From what I can see, it appears referrals earn you $5 each. If you’re a member already and can access further you’ll be able to find that information here.
A few gyms, like 24 Hour Fitness, have programs where you can add friends and family to your membership to share your benefits. They also have a Buddy Pass where you can bring a friend each time you workout. These may have some added charges, but you could split those costs with a friend.
Get Fit and Save Money with Flexible Memberships
With the FlexIt app, you can access different gyms across the country without a membership to each. While the app itself appears to require a membership, this seems like it would be a great app to use for someone trying to decide between gyms, or those who travel often either for work or leisure.
In the UK, it appears they have a similar program called Gymflex, incase you’re joining us from there!
Bring Your Own
Many gyms offer a snack/drink bar full of protein and granola bars, pre-workout drinks and shakes, and of course water bottles. BUT they are (as expected) up charging as this is a convenience. I think everyone that has gone to a gym or workout class at some point has forgotten their water at home. So, obviously I’m not against this, but if you’re purchasing from they gym itself, that is going to add up over time. A friend who stayed with us a few weeks recently, was telling me how she was paying $5 every day at the gym on her pre-workout drink.
A quick Amazon search later, and she ordered a 24 pack of the same beverage for under $50! At the gym, the same quantity would have cost her $120 in the long haul. So check out Amazon to see if your favorite pre workout beverages are available at a much cheaper per item price. Also, invest in a good water bottle, or a few if you tend to forget them in your car like I do.
In regards to snacks, protein and granola bars are available at your local store for way cheaper than the gym. You can also order them on Amazon. Check ibotta (referral link) to see if your favorite brand has a cash back or even freebie offer. If you’re new to ibotta, our review can help explain the app to you in full. This article from Men’s Health also gives some ideas of snacks you can enjoy pre-workout to help boost your energy and give you the nutrients you need before a workout session.
Insurance and Employer Savings
Some insurances will pay towards gym memberships or for them. Because this varies so much by plan, or add-ons to your plan, you’ll have to look into it through your insurance website. However, this article from GoodRX Health, will help you get started.
Check with your HR at your place of employment for deals. Some bigger companies have deals with certain gyms as an incentive to the gym to get more members. This also looks good on behalf of the employer for health initiatives and with the insurance companies. For a bit of time when I worked for county government, we received a discount at the local YMCA on certain fitness classes. This was great, and walkable after work to get a workout in before heading home. If you have enough people interested, you may be able to petition for such a program if your employer is able to work with a local gym. You’ll never know unless you ask!
Other Local Gym Savings
If you’re looking to purchase a gym membership but want to make sure you’re choosing the gym that’s right for you, see what gyms offer try before you buy deals. Some offer a free day or weekend pass for new potential clients to see what services are available to them at their facility.
Another way to save on gym memberships is through Groupon (referral link). From time to time, local gyms (usually smaller) will team up with Groupon to offer deals to possible new members. If you’re new to Groupon be sure to read our review here.
Check out the recent review from the website verywellfit, where they give their recommendations for the best gym memberships currently available. For each gym they give a bit of information, basic amenities, and a pros/cons list.
A Few Pieces of Equipment Can Go A Long Way to Get Fit and Save Money
For this section, I would say to start slow. Don’t just go and buy up every piece of equipment you see, thinking you’re going to have a fully functioning home gym by next weekend.
Equipment to Start With
Start with something as simple as a jump rope. These can vary in price, from just under $1 to over $150 for a “smart” jump rope. I searched for you and sorted by price. In December and January you can usually find gym equipment deals targeted at the “New Year New Me” resolution crowd. This includes jump ropes, hand and foot weights, smaller dumbbells, waist trainers, etc. Also keep an eye out for discounts this time of year on those pre-workout beverages and snacks!
Local sites like Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, Ebay, Craigslist, may have equipment available at large discounts. Slightly used, the owners are moving and don’t want to take with them, estate sales, purchased with good intention but never used. You can probably find most anything.
Sometimes when gyms close or upgrade equipment they’ll have sales. You’ll have to keep an eye out for this online or through word of mouth. You’ll be able to get professional high quality equipment for a fraction of the price.
Go with the equipment you know you’ll use. If you work from home at a desk all day, consider a standing desk and small desk treadmill. Use your allotted break times and right before lunch to get a few quick minutes in to save yourself some time.
Other Ways to Get Fit and Save Money With Equipment At Home
Other ways having equipment at home can save you money are gas savings, you’re not spending gas and putting wear and tear on your vehicle commuting back and forth to the gym every day. Speaking of that, you’re saving on time. The time in traffic you spend, depending on the distance from work or your home to the gym, is time you could be spending working on your side hustle, reading, making healthy meals, making memories with your family, and more.
You’ll also be at home where your healthy snacks and pre/post workout drinks are. No more forgetting those items and having to purchase at the gym’s snack/drink bar. No driving home from the gym absolutely famished and giving in to temptation as you pass McDonalds. That’s wasted money and calories.
Get Fit for FREE
There are so many ways you can get fit for FREE and do GOOD not only for yourself but for your community!
As simple as that, get outside. Take a walk through your neighborhood, local park, a trip to the big city near you for a day of sightseeing. If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA/POA that has a pool for residents, see if they have hours for lap swimming or perhaps free aqua aerobics classes.
I’ve also seen some local parks (including one by our house) which have fitness stations. They usually consist of pull up bars, or a sign recommending you to do so many jumping jacks or push ups.
Hiking is of course a great way to get in shape for free (for the most part). You’ll want to make sure to have proper footwear though, so there is at least an initial cost.
Some areas or neighborhood social media pages advertise local walking and running groups. These are perfect for those who really do want to get out, but may need an accountability partner. Perhaps you just don’t feel safe going by yourself, or you maybe go too slow and mosey along while alone. These are both situation where going with a group will be helpful. You’ll meet new people, get out, and save money while getting your steps in!
Local FREE Events
The city I live in has free 5k events throughout the year, notably a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot and a Christmas dress up themed Santa Dash. These are totally free events the city holds to get people out and enjoying the outdoors. Your town, or a local town may also hold some similar events. Maybe you could even start one within your own neighborhood and see how it grows from there!
I love a good YouTube workout, I can workout at home with my see through leggings, or the ones with a hole in them. I’m not worried about dancing around like a fool or feeling the need to do the advanced version of a move when the beginners movement is perfectly fine. They kept me pretty occupied at the start of the 2020 situation we’d all like to forget. You can find videos for pretty much every type of workout.
Some of my favorites, if you’re looking to get started are:
- The Fitness Marshall – Dance Fitness – here’s my favorite video from his channel (probably because it’s a favorite song of mine too).
- Chloe Ting – Programs designed to work the whole body or certain areas. Follow a single video or a curated program available on her website.
- The Body Project – Workouts for all levels with and without equipment. Their beginner video is seriously no joke.
- Billy Blanks – Remember Tae Bo, the kickboxing centered workout from the late 90s? Billy hasn’t gone anywhere, his videos are INTENSE for every level. Some videos are a heart pumping 60 minutes, and some will have you burning in just 15 minutes.
Try a video from each of these channels and let us know in the comments which was your favorite!!!
Volunteer with Animals
Animal rescues and shelters are ALWAYS looking for volunteers! At a shelter you can take the dogs on walks and play with them but that may not save many because if you’re like me, you’ll want to adopt each one. Animal rescues could always also use helpers. Those with farm animals could use helpers to go out and walk with animals, check on them in the field, help to get them inside for the evening, feeding times, etc. Those with dogs could also use walkers and volunteers to play with the animals during the day. If you love animals as well, check out a local rescue.
Two near and dear to my heart that I know would greatly benefit from volunteers are:
- Lake Elsinore Duck Pond in Lake Elsinore, California
- Erin Regan Animal Sanctuary in Picayune, Mississippi
Sidenote – if you’re not near either and have some money budgeted for donations, both organizations could use your support!
Other Volunteer Opportunities
Another way to get fit and save money is through local clean up events. Many towns ask for volunteers to come and give a few hours of their time a few days a year to participate in trash clean up events. You’ll get outside, get some steps in, and help beautify your town.
If you’re into events like Spartan Races or Iron Man competitions, many offer volunteers a discount or free entry into future events. So if you enjoy participating in these events, consider volunteering at one of the events near you so you can participate in another one for free or cheap! Some larger running events have pace runners, so if you regularly run that distance at a consistent speed, you could apply to be a pace runner.
Habitat for Humanity is a way to do good and stay active. You’ll also learn some new skills.
Some cities have community gardens, and while many think of gardening as a hobby for food, it is a great way to stay active. Think of all that squatting you’ll be doing! You could also volunteer with your local food bank, they need items unloaded daily or loaded onto trucks which would for sure require some upper body strength!
What are some other ways you can think of that volunteering will also help you with your fitness goals?
Get Fit and Save Money in the Future
Working out regularly can save you in the long haul on medical costs and medicine. Think of avoidable conditions like (some) heart diseases and (some) cases of Type II Diabetes. Keeping fit saves you on hospital bills, higher insurance premiums, prescriptions, doctor’s visits. Being sick means more appointments, more co-pays, more medicines, more time off of work, more gas spent heading to doctors, hospitals and specialists.
Exercise can help reduce your risk of colon or breast cancer, losing bone density, and more.
Think of the mental health benefits by exercising as well. We all have stress in our life, and built up stress can affect us mentally and physically. A simple walk or even a full fledged workout session can help to relieve that stress and clear our heads.
Now I say the above with the disclaimer that yes, I realize not all medical conditions are avoidable or can be prevented by exercise alone. But for those that can, why wouldn’t you want to?
Get Fit and Save Money – Final Thoughts
This was a lot. I know. But getting into shape shouldn’t empty your bank account! This is a journey you can take without spending much or any money at all.
If you’re looking to make a little money (or a lot) while getting fit, check out our post on that – Get Fit and MAKE Money!
What do you think of this list? What are some ways you can think of to get fit and save money? Let us know in the comments!