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Get Fit for Less Dough

Trim Your Waist, Not Your Wallet

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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.
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

  • I am moving into a Sr Living apartment complex next week and was very excited to see they have a treadmill and exercise bike available in the community dining room. The director stated they do belong to tenants that let everyone use them as long as they are not held responsible for any accident or injury. Can't beat free!! - 12/2/2013 9:03:13 PM
  • Actually, walking and running just cost the amount for a pair of shoes. If you can do those consistently, you're really on your way. Glenn - 10/5/2013 7:05:47 AM
  • HOOKTONTRAVEL
    where I live the YMCA is the most expensive 'health club' and the only place besides the university that has both workout equipment and a reasonable pool for swimming laps. Planet Fitness is only $30 a month or even less if you get a deal, but no pool. So we pay way more, but also feel like we're giving back to the community because of all the programming the Y offers to low income folks. etc. - 4/27/2013 8:27:11 PM
  • For the multi-page comments--if you guys don't care about getting the sparkpoints for the article just click on the print icon to the left. You'll be able to read the whole article on one page. - 7/28/2012 6:05:38 AM
  • CEKNIGHT
    I agree with WALKZWDOGZ. Two pages are too many! I do not understand all these mutlipage articles. You must be getting paid by the page. - 7/3/2012 9:43:50 AM
  • Great tips, but having to click through SIX pages for about as many paragraphs? - 4/15/2012 5:58:36 PM
  • Great tips on machines, exercises eqiutment and where to look to buy hat you need. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. - 4/15/2012 6:45:21 AM
  • VHBECKER
    Great tips! - 10/31/2011 2:22:45 PM
  • Don't forget about freecycle either. Post what you want, since it's all free lots of folks have this stuff sitting around and want to get rid of it as long as you pick it up. Happy New Years everyone. Donna - 1/1/2011 1:47:58 PM
  • great tips... it can cost very little at home too
    I was just thinking I have no "proper" running attire other than shoes.... I wear yoga pants I got on clearance for $6, i do wear a dri fit shirt I got at NIke for $10 on clearance, and thats it!... regular hoodies, coats and socks.... bargain shopping love it - it may not always be the colour you want but it WORKS
    SPark on friends! - 1/1/2011 11:53:39 AM
  • Here's a good tip for people on a tight budget:

    pushups and squats and core exercises at home in front of the TV. Zero cost, great workout! - 11/8/2010 5:02:16 AM
  • I guess I am pretty lucky because my gym membership is just 20 dollars a month. There are no fancy swimming pools or workout classes, but I use the treadmill, bikes and machines. My gym is called YouFit (formerly Planet Fitness). I recently decided I wanted to take aerobic dance classes and so signed up for Jazzercise, which was more expensive, but since I had to pay ahead of time, it motivates me to go. - 9/6/2010 8:54:49 PM
  • SILLYJILLY8
    The gym I'm considering costs less than $1 a day. I think it's worth it, I'M WORTH IT, even if I'm/you're on a tight budget. Try to give up a weekly/daily visit to the coffee shop for that fancy latte or something that's less important than a workout. Like the article says--negotiate for your best price. You can also join for a period of time, learn some routines and do them at home on your own mat or rent or tape a fitness video. There is a Fitness Channel on Comcast and I'm sure on the others, as well. Goes back to...No Excuses i.e. I can't afford it, it's too far from my house, I'm too tired. NO EXCUSES - 7/22/2010 2:54:52 AM
  • None of these "tips" are very good for a person on a very tight budget. What about freecycle or craigslist for free items or going for a walk? I can't afford a gym membership even at the Y. I have gotten a recumbent bike and some 2 lb weights free from craigslist. - 7/12/2010 9:20:24 AM
  • I don't see a comment here regards to Play it again Sports. That is were I got my mini tramp. Perfect condition for alot LESS than new! - 1/4/2010 9:23:52 PM
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