Frugal Fitness for 2014

At the end of every year, many of us make goals and resolutions for the next year, many of which focus on getting healthier. If you’re one of the many who say you want to get in better shape in 2014 but you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for membership at a prestigious gym, then there are several affordable alternatives to help you achieve your fitness goals:

Free Gym Passes
The competition between gyms is fierce and in order to entice you to sign up, most of them offer some kind of trial membership, such as a free day pass, 7-day pass or even a month pass to allow you to scope out the facility and its amenities. If there are multiple gyms in your area, then try each one out in different intervals (e.g., Gym A one week and after your pass expires, try out Gym B). Once you get a feel for which gym best suits your needs, you can sign up for a paid, ongoing membership.

January Gym Deals
Although frugality is the goal, the cheapest gym membership may not be the best membership for you. Cheaper gyms often have less equipment, fewer amenities, fewer class offerings, and lower standards for locker room cleanliness. On the other hand, you shouldn’t have to pay top dollar for a gym membership if you’re mostly there for basic cardio workouts or weight training. Luckily, most gyms have promotions going on in January (spurred by everyone’s fitness goals for the New Year) and you should be able to snag a sweet discount if you shop around.

AAA, Student, Senior Discounts
If you’re a AAA member, you may be eligible for a discount on your gym membership, so be sure to ask before signing on the dotted line. Gyms may also offer discounts for students and seniors with valid I.D. If you’re not sure, then it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Coupons and Daily Deals
Coupon sites like SumoCoupon and daily deals sites like Groupon or Living Social tend to offer several discounts on not just gym memberships and other fitness services (such as boot camps and crossfit programs), but also fitness-related products such as clothes, shoes, and equipment. As stated previously, January is a very popular month for fitness retailers and service providers, so you should be able to score some deep discounts if you stay on the lookout.

Alumni Discounts
Do you live near your alma mater? Many universities offer gym discounts for their former students, even if it’s not as cheap as it once was while you were attending the school. This may or may not be more cost-effective than simply joining a local gym. Even if the monthly membership dues are cheaper, don’t forget about potential parking costs.

Local Community College
Most community colleges don’t have a gym with regular membership per se, but if you sign up for a fitness class, you may be able to work out very cheaply for the duration of the academic calendar. For example, my local community college (in southern California) charges $46 per unit and offers a semester-long, one unit kinesthesiology class that requires students to work out for a minimum of 24 hours during the semester (16 weeks long). This is one of the most affordable options, though it does have its drawbacks, such as paying for parking ($30 per semester, in my instance), limited gym hours, and less equipment than what I’d have access to at a regular gym.

DIY Fitness
If all else fails, you could always go jogging or cycling at the local park or on trails surrounding your community. This is a mostly free option (just the initial investment into fitness gear, such as running shoes) that could help you save money and get fit if you decide that joining a gym or fitness program may not be your best bet after all.

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