Updated on 09.11.15

Five Ways to Get Your Workout Without a Gym Membership

Man doing push-ups in front of pyramids

You don’t need a costly gym membership to stay in shape. The truth is, you can work out just about anywhere and anytime for free — all it takes is some motivation. Photo: Andre

When my husband and I got home from vacation a few months ago, we were feeling more than a little out-of-shape. It felt as if our vacation schedule of eating at any time and any place had finally caught up with us, in addition to our penchant for sweet mixed drinks and sugary snacks.

So we did something we normally wouldn’t do; on an impulse, I ordered the workout series T25 off of Amazon.com for around $125. The fact that I had a bunch of Amazon.com gift cards leftover from Christmas made it easy to justify the purchase — plus it guaranteed results.

Almost 10 weeks later, I have lost around 10 pounds and my husband has lost 20. Since I hadn’t been able to lose the last few pounds of “baby weight” from my four-year-old until now, I pretty much consider this a miracle.

Plus, we’re both feeling the best we’ve felt in years, so much so that we plan to continue our workout videos as long as we can stand it. With nothing but positive results, why not continue? What’s more, our experience has simply reinforced an idea I already believed in – that a gym membership is not a requirement to get in shape. (In other words, the excuse that “I don’t have time” no longer works.)

Working Out, Minus the Gym

Of course, fancy workout videos aren’t the only way to get in shape without a gym membership. Thanks to modern technology, the great outdoors, and some creative thinking, there are plenty of other ways to work out for free – or for very little in start-up costs.

To find out some other ways people were saving on their workouts, I reached out to the personal finance community for their personal experiences:

1. Pay-As-You-Go Classes

Karen Cordaway from MoneySavingEnthusiast.com lives without a gym membership, but splurges for classes when the mood strikes.

“This way, I can go to different classes for variety and pay as I go without having to commit to one place,” she says. Further, not being a member of a specific gym makes it easier to price shop. “Different gyms have different pricing so I can map out how much I want to spend for the month.”

And when one gym has a sale or offers a special promotion on classes, not having a gym membership makes it easier to take advantage.

2. Get Outdoors

This one is obvious, but it bears repeating. No matter where you live, there are likely at least some options for outdoor recreation that could help you stay in shape.

“Go hiking, biking, rock climbing, walking, or whatever else you are interested in,” says Michelle of MakingSenseofCents.com, who often goes rock climbing with her husband. “Using the free areas around your town can be a great way to work out for cheap.”

Live in the city? That’s not a problem, says Jackie Lam of Cheapsters.org.

“Turn your city into a gym,” she says. “Use benches to do pushups and stairs for a great mid-day workout.”

3. Become a Runner

If you ask most die-hard runners, there’s a big difference between jogging through the neighborhood occasionally and becoming a runner. While the first option requires little commitment, the latter requires plenty of dedication, plus the right pair of shoes.

But aside from the price of a pair of running shoes, this hobby is cheap. “The cost is a pair of shoes, something you’ll
likely buy or already own anyway,” says Todd Tresidder of FinancialMentor.com. “There is no better value in exercise.

4. Free Workout Videos

You don’t have to shell out $125 for T25 to get in shape. In fact, you can often borrow workout videos from friends or even find them free online. Jacob from IHeartBudgets.net and his wife did exactly that with T25 and another video called 30 Day Shred, plus invested in some hand weights and a yoga mat.

“Even if you purchase all of these used, you’re out maybe $100, and are set for the year,” says Jacob. “Plus, you don’t need to hassle with leaving the house and driving to some sweaty gym full of people who crowd the mirror space to watch their muscles for hours on end.

Le’Chester Williams from InvestingDollarsandCents.com turns to YouTube for instruction from personal trainers.

“YouTube is helpful because trainers have full workouts that you can follow from the comfort of your home,” he says.

5. Use Apps and Social Media

In today’s modern age, there’s no shortage of apps to help us with every aspect of our lives — including our exercise routines. Kayla Sloan from Shoeaholicnomore.com, for example, uses free apps like Daily Workouts, Fitstar, and Pocket Yoga to find unique workouts and monitor her progress.

Magazines and newspapers can be another source, says Tracie Richmond Fobes from PennyPinchinMom.com. “I keep magazines because they often have workout tips in them,” says Robes. “I already paid for the subscription, so I make sure that I get the most out of it.

You can also use social media to keep track of it all, says Shannon McLay of Financially-Blonde.com. “I find awesome workouts you can do at home on Pinterest and pin them on my Frugal Fitness board.”

The Bottom Line

No matter where you live and what kind of shape you’re in, it’s not only possible to get in shape at home; it’s easy, and way less expensive than a gym membership. It all boils down to how much time and money you’re willing to invest, and what kind of tools you want to use to make it happen.

So don’t let the cost of a gym membership stand in your way of good health and a rockin’ body. With tools like the Internet, some basic hand weights, and a good pair of running shoes, you truly have no excuse.

Your high school body is in there somewhere; you just have to go in and find it. Hopefully, if I can keep up with T25 for a few more months, I’ll find mine too.

How do you get in shape at home? Have you ever tried any of these strategies?

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