6 Ways to Exercise without Buying an Expensive Gym Membership

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By Kim Jackson

We know: you have every intention of taking better care of your body. But what you don’t have is the additional budget for an expensive monthly gym membership. Never fear, there are plenty of ways to get fit without stretching (pun intended) beyond your financial means. Here are 6 ways to exercise right now, without buying a gym membership.

  1. Right in your backyard

    If you live in a moderate climate, or can easily stand the cold, the simplest way to exercise (for free!) is to walk or run outside. You get fresh air in your lungs, lots of gorgeous scenery and a full body workout all in one. And you can go as long or as short a distance as you choose. Go alone and take the time to think, or grab a friend or two for group motivation.

    If you’re on the East Coast or other areas where it will get cold soon, try layering in athletic Cold Gear that is designed to use your body’s movement to trap the warmth that you generate naturally when you’re physically active. Some are a bit pricey, but there are brands that have budget-friendly alternatives as well.

  2. Utilize your TV

    Many cable providers have platforms that allow you direct access to programming at any time for watching shows and specials on your own schedule (i.e. Comcast On Demand). Some also have fitness categories that are filled with a variety of workouts from kickboxing to Pilates to dance fitness, that are timed anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour–so it’s easy to find one that fits into your schedule. DVDs are also a tried and true method for getting in your favorite workout when it is most convenient for you.

  3. Get app happy

    There are free fitness apps available for iPhone and iPad that will guide you through custom workouts, whenever you have the time. You can download programs like Daily Ab Workout, Daily Arm Workout or Simply Yoga from the iTunes store. Many are free, and still others are priced at less than $5–you certainly won’t get a monthly gym membership for that price! Maybe this is a good way to use that iTunes gift card you received for your birthday?

  4. Just drop in

    Many fitness centers will offer drop-in or community classes that are available to everyone, including non-members, at a discounted rate. You may have to do some research to find them, but a quick survey of the websites or Facebook pages of fitness centers in your area will likely turn up some info. They want to bring people in so they are definitely advertising these offers. Using sites like Groupon and Living Social is also a fantastic method for snagging special discounted rates on a series of classes (i.e. 10 classes for $60 or one-month trial for $30) without getting locked into a membership.

  5. In your community

    Some apartment and condo communities offer free access to a resident fitness center. If you live in such a community and are unsure if this is an offering, reach out to your leasing center for more information. If you don’t live in one of these communities, perhaps you have a friend who does. Find out what their guest policy is–maybe you can tag along for a few workouts!

  6. Trade Services

    Do you know someone who is a personal trainer that’s just starting out or looking to grow their business? Trade their physical training services in exchange for that special talent you’ve got that can help them out. Are you a graphic designer who can work on their website? A marketer who can give them great advice on grassroots promotions? A social media wiz who can make their Facebook and Twitter pages sing? Let them know! Maybe there is an opportunity to create a partnership that will be mutually beneficial for you both.


Have you recently set any health or fitness goals? What’s your plan for achieving them?


Kim Jackson is a Baltimore-based integrated marketing consultant and writer. She has written style and beauty posts for websites including Curly Nikki, the ‘Fro Fashion Week blog, Madame Noire and Carol’s Daughter’s Transitioning Movement. You can find her regularly writing tips for living a healthy, style-savvy and well-organized life at her site, Pish Posh Perfect

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