Fitness Articles

10 Fitness Items to Splurge and Save On

Tips to Save on Workout Accessories

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Getting fit can be a pricey endeavor. From having the proper footwear to the right sweat-wicking apparel to the gadgets, gizmos and equipment that promise to help you get fit and healthy, you can spend a small fortune on working out—but you don't have to! Whether you're trying to find the gear you need to hit the gym or are looking to outfit a workout room at home, here's what you need to know about splurging and saving on fitness equipment.

Splurge: 5 Fitness Items Worth Spending More On


For many, money is tight. But when it comes to these items (assuming you're in the market for them), skimping for a cheaper model might cost you more in the long run.

  1. Shoes. If you've ever bought a pair of cheap sneakers and tried to run in them, you know a good pair of workout shoes is worth every cent. The proper footwear isn't just a matter of comfort—it's a matter of safety! Wearing shoes that don't correctly support the activity you're doing can lead to muscular imbalance, decreased performance and even injury or overuse. If you're just starting out with your fitness routine and aren't sure what type of kicks to buy, try on a variety of cross trainers, which are designed for multiple activities like walking, boot camp, lifting weights and being on the elliptical. Stick to name brands and splurge a little on the pair that feels the best on your foot. Get more sneaker-buying tips.
  2. Sports Bras. I know, ladies, sports bras are almost as expensive as your regular bras! But, they're actually almost more deserving of the price tag, because the difference between a cheap sports bra and a quality one is huge. Most department stores now have a sports section for bras, so try on a variety of options and find one that fully supports you and is comfortable (jumping up and down in the dressing room is encouraged!). It's worth it to pay a little more for a sports bra with adjustable straps, so that it can size down as you do, too! Find the best-fitting sports bra with this shopping guide.

  3. Pedometer. Sure, you can buy a pedometer for $5, but it won't be very reliable, and will probably only work for a few months before you need to replace it. If you want to accurately count your steps, plan to spend at least $25 on a quality pedometer that comes with instructions and requires calibration. Or, go for one of the more robust activity trackers that also monitor other activities, calories burned and sometimes even heart rate. 

  4. Gym Membership. While you certainly don't have to pay for a "big box" health club with every amenity under the sun, you definitely don't want to join any old gym just because it's the cheapest option. Always ask for a five- to seven-day trial membership first (which should be free). While some chains do have low rates that offer good-quality equipment, it's best to shop around. From equipment maintenance to cleanliness to the quality of the staff, most of the time you get what you pay for. Psst—here are some secrets to saving on your membership!

  5. Home Cardio Machines. It may be tempting to pick up the cheapest elliptical or treadmill when you're on a budget, but when it comes to buying a cardio machine for your home, you definitely want to invest in quality equipment. Do online research, go to a fitness equipment store and try out a variety of models to find a piece of equipment that is sturdy, easy to use and has a warranty of more than a year. Be sure to check out consumer reviews. Buying a good cardio machine the first time is far more cost-effective than having to buy another model after the cheap one breaks down. A high-quality model will last you for years to come, making its per-use cost much lower than a bargain-basement model.

Save: 5 Fitness Items Worth Buying on the Cheap


There's no point in spending extra money if you don't have to. Look for deals on the following fitness items, and you won't go wrong, but will save a lot.

  1. Dumbbells: There's not much variance between dumbbells. Sure, you can spend extra money to get them plastic-coated in pretty colors or cool-looking shapes, but if your budget is tight, the basic dumbbells will work just fine.
  2. Workout Apparel: Nowadays, there is so much workout apparel on the market that's affordable and high in quality. The key is either buying the big name brands on clearance or purchasing the smaller-named brands at discount stores. Both Walmart and Target sell high quality technical shorts, shirts and socks for low prices.
  3. Small Fitness Accessories: From resistance bands and medicine balls to yoga blocks and Pilates circles, you could easily spend a whole paycheck on workout add-ons. When buying these little extras, start cheap. If you find that—after a few months—you really love and use a particular fitness accessory all the time, then you can invest in a better quality version of it (and even then, you may decide that you don't need to!).
  4. Heart Rate Monitor: Heart rate monitors can get pricey in a hurry. However, most of the really expensive ones demand a higher price point because of advanced features (many of which the average exerciser isn't likely to use). As long as it has a chest strap, timer and a way to customize your calorie burn by entering your sex, age and weight, you should be good.
  5. Yoga Mat: Hardcore yogis may disagree, but if you're someone who casually practices yoga once or twice a week or you just want a non-slip mat for stretching at home, don't bother spending more than $25 on a yoga mat. Even the cheaper mats should last several years or more with regular use. And by then, you'll have a better idea of whether it's worth splurging on a fancier model.

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Member Comments

  • ANNE-IN-GTX
    A few comments about buying shoes.

    Just buying top brand shoes will do little if anything for you...you absolutely SHOULD buy those brands, but only after you have been correctly fitted for the shoes that SUIT you, your feet, and how YOU move. (Do you wear thin/thick socks for exercise? Do you pronate or supinate? Will you be walking/running/d
    oing aerobics? All these things factor in!)

    I wear Brooks Adrenaline shoes...I've worn them since they were in the 8th generation of the model (GTS8) they are now in the 17th generation (GTS17) I can go in to any store and buy those shoes whether a sports specialist, running specialist and occasionally a consolidation store (DSW etc.) Because those shoes fit ME, MY feet, and the way I move.
    Could I buy another model of Brooks with the same certainty? Or another top brand?
    NO!!!
    Not without being properly fitted for those shoes.

    So please, let's not talk about shoes, and the importance of good quality shoes without first acknowledging that fit, and use are just as important as the shoes themselves.

    And ladies...BTW: Same thing applies to sports bras!!!
  • I couldn't agree more about splurging on the shoes and exercise bras. So many women don't bother with the sports bras and you can really tell! It has to be uncomfortable too.
  • As a man I just want to lose enough weight that I do not need a sports bra! ha ha
    My favorite home purchase was my Bowflex. I love the rowing machine ability.
  • From my experience gym memberships are a waste of money - big time.
  • I disagree on the concept of a pedometer. If you're tracking the steps you take in a normal day, and counting it as exercise, it means you'll do less in the way of an actual workout.
    I find the whole thing counter-productiv
    e and self-defeating. Seems like money better spent on a gym membership, IMO.

    If you have a Gabriel Brothers near you, and you're not going there for your running shoes and workout gear, you're doing it wrong. I paid $25 for my last pair of Nike Flex Fits.
  • I have only found sportsbras in my size online and only one brand makes them. Sadly the idea of a sportsbra was a fantasy for me until two years ago when I had to buy one for a bike trip. Amazing what a difference the correct size makes!
  • I had shoes that wore out quickly they where a top brand supposedly they where best. So i went back after getting major blisters and lots of cramps. The new shoes where brooks and cost me over a hundred and now no blisters and cramps. I am able to walk close to twenty thousand steps a day . Its great to get out and walk. The gym is expensive but if i chose to get into one i would only pay for one that has a track good equipment and offer water fitness.
  • I still think its a better deal when buying free weights to buy handles AND plates as opposed to buying fixed weight dumbells.
  • Sometimes when you buy the more expensive clothing or equipment what you're paying them for is the expensive advertising and marketing campaign that convinced you that their product is better. But sometimes the more expensive one is better. You have to do some digging to find out, but don't just assume that the more expensive one is better.

    I don't see the point in treadmills and stationary bicycles. Why not just take a walk or ride a bike outside? I do it all year and I live in Nebraska (you know, hot and humid in the summer and cold and snowy in the winter). Even inside you can run up and down stairs and that kind of thing. All exercise develops some kind of skill, and skill at walking or running over various terrains is infinitely more useful than skill at walking on a treadmill. The same thing applies to bicycling, and it might even save you some money on gasoline. And then there's the Vitamin D you get from not being a shut-in...
  • Tracking 10,000 steps a day you need a pedometer. I agree with buying a better HRM as I did buy two cheap ones which wasted money.

    I think a Kettlebell should be added but a small on you will outgrow. Mine is 12k (26 lbs) a little on the heavy side but a good workout.
  • DAZEYMAE1
    Not sure I agree on spending money on the home cardio machines. Gym memberships can be under 20 bucks a month, so the money spent to get a decent piece of home equipment can be years at a gym.
  • I have found that you can get fitness gear on the cheap at discount stores all over the place. Many of the items are name brand goods. I just got myself a yoga mat last week at Ross on sale for under $10. Great buy and works great too.
    I agree about getting good shoes. If you don't get a pair that fits right and is the right kind, you can hurt yourself. But it is not always necessary to spend a lot for them.
  • I disagree with this article. Quality and the price of all of these products are different things. My best running shoes were the cheapest I've ever bought and the worst aerobic shoes were quite pricey Nike's. When buying a sports bra, try it on and jump around. Read the reviews, check the quality etc. Some of the high-price stuff is really overrated and there's no actual difference if you compare the quality.
  • Quality shoes are essential.

About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

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