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Pay for your gym membership by credit card if you can. Many credit cards offer cash back or travel loyalty programs—if you pay for your fees with such a card, you could earn back a percentage in air miles or discounts, which cuts the cost of your membership even more.
Don’t forget to look into your health insurance coverage. Many insurance providers offer reimbursement for gym fees, as long as you can show proof of your membership with a contract and all of your payment receipts. The amount you receive back from your insurance provider will depend upon your particular policy, but any amount of cash back is money in your pocket.
If the gym still is too expensive, consider using your local community recreation center or YMCA. If you’re not looking for a full-service fitness facility, these venues will likely be all that you need. Their rates are often lower than other gyms, and sometimes their fees are on a sliding scale (based on your income and/or what you can actually afford to pay). The YMCA is also known for never turning away a person who is unable to pay.
For a checklist of things to look for before you join a club, read 8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Gym.
Pinch Pennies with Personal Training
Booking a few sessions with a personal trainer is a great way to get your exercise program off to a good start. But at $30 to $65 per hour (or more), regular sessions with a trainer can put a big dent in your pocketbook. If you’re really strained for cash, pay for just one initial meeting with a trainer. He or she will be able to set up an exercise program that will help you meet your goals and ensure that your form and technique aren’t putting you at risk for injuries.
Many personal trainers will let you buddy up with a friend, allowing the two of you to take part in the session for one fee. Split the cost with your friend and you’ll save 50% right off the bat. Also look into group training rates, as many trainers offer packages for groups that range from two to eight people. Typically, the more people you have on board, the less each person pays per session. To find out if a personal trainer is for you, take our quiz.
Gently Used is Good as New
Have you ever gone to a friend’s home and found a treadmill stuck in the corner gathering dust? Now think of how many other people are doing the same thing. Because people buy treadmills, bikes and elliptical trainers with the best of intentions but then don’t use them, you can find really good deals on lightly-used equipment. You'll find everything from small equipment (stability balls, yoga mats, resistance bands, and dumbbells) to large pieces (like cardio equipment and strength training benches, barbells, and machines) and fitness videos.