Ballin’ on a Budget–Ditch the Gym Membership

Today, I’d like to continue a new series on the blog! One that highlights easy strategies for BALLIN’ ON A BUDGET. Each month, I’m going to propose something for all of us to ditch in order to free up some line items on our budgets with values that can go to more practical expenditures like paying down on debt and saving for special occasions. (You can catch up on last month’s suggestions HERE.) Whether you’re actively pinching pennies or simply want to re-direct some of those pennies to better serve you, this series is for you! So, let’s get started…

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Just because you’re ballin’ on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health, mobility, and all those sweet, sweet endorphins that come from working out. Tons of alternatives exist for making that monthly membership payment at the gym. But if we’ve learned anything in this series so far it’s that you’ve gotta do a little research. Once you identify ways to get movin’ that don’t involve taking out your wallet, you may actually find a new form of exercise you like way better than the costly options.

One of the easiest ways to fall into the trap of spending money you don’t have is boredom. Movement and exercise can be a great antidote in this regard. I’ve definitely been there. Saturday seems to stretch on foooooreeeeeverrrrr when you don’t have money to spend on an elaborate brunch followed by a trip to the movie theater or mall followed by a night out on the town. The urge to spend just for some small modicum of entertainment starts creeping in. My bank account would survive the weekend a bit more unscathed when I would round up a few friends and go “exploring” (long walks through town to discover hidden gems and new-to-us parks) or when I would pop on a dance dvd in the midst of a stir crazy, dark by 4 pm, Winter meltdown.

I agree there’s a level of camaraderie at the gym and a sense of community in group classes. If exercising with others is important to you then find a buddy, start a Facebook group, recruit class-mates or co-workers or family members. There are more than likely a fair few folk who wouldn’t mind getting their sweat on for free.

Either way, it’s time to get moving! Your body will thank you. Your wallet will thank you. Your mood will thank you.

Here are 4 easy steps to follow. Let’s do this…

Week 1. Think about your favorite ways to move.

Take this first week to reflect, brainstorm, and experiment. What do you like and dislike about ways you’ve exercised in the past or the workout routine you currently keep? What sort of movement did you enjoy as a child? Organized sports, gymnastics, riding your bike through the neighborhood, or just running around on the playground? What are your fitness goals? Staying active, gaining muscle, losing weight, self-care?

Take notes on your answers. Use them to start identifying trends. Are you leaning towards slow, mindful movement to help with flexibility? Do you need to pound the pavement? Or start a weekly pick-up basketball game? Do you value creative expression when you move? Or would you rather beef up those muscles?

Once you’ve isolated the trends and what sorts of movement they necessitate, brainstorm ways to achieve on the cheap. Consider the limitations of space, equipment, and instructor. We’ll deal with how to handle those limitations later in the month. For now, just think about the type of movement itself. Yoga, body-weight exercise, running, dance, basketball, cross fit, biking, hiking, plyometrics, pilates? You tell me! How would YOU like to move?

Week 2. Look for creative ways to add more movement during every-day life. 

Another way you can fit fitness into a low-cost existence? Choose the more active approach whenever possible. Look for sneaky ways to add more movement throughout your daily life. Small changes DO add up.

Are there places you go on a regular basis that you could walk to instead of driving or taking public transit? Can you swear off elevators? Choose to park further away from the store. Take breaks at work that involve getting up instead of just opening a new tab to scroll through your social media. Meet your friends at the park instead of the bar and play frisbee or lawn games or just run around like the weirdos you are. Can you walk the dog for just a little bit longer? Stretch while you’re waiting in line? Do squats while you’re brushing your teeth? Heel raises while you’re on hold? And what about chores? Vacuuming, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, and washing your car by hand aren’t necessarily fun but they’ll definitely burn some calories. So don’t put them off!

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Week 3. Go on a hunt for resources.

Ok so you’ve identified ways to move more, now we have to get around the fact that you don’t have a  gym, a plethora of expensive equipment, or a bunch of expert instructors at your disposal. While I’ll list a few of my favorite resources below, we all have different preferences and goals so go on a hunt! A great place to start is YouTube. There’s tons of awesome, free content right at your fingertips for any number of work-out styles.

Another thrifty resource is your local public library. You can check out all sorts of fitness DVDs and books to help you nail down some great routines. My library even offers a FREE yoga class once a week. Sign up for email updates; you never know what sort of programming may fit your needs and schedule perfectly! (Same goes for your university, local parks & rec, etc.)

If running or walking is more your style, a simple pedometer could go a long way. You can find these for fairly cheap or you could download a pedometer app onto your phone. And speaking of apps…why not try a running app that tracks your goals or helps you monitor pace. I’ve heard high praise for the free versions of the Couch to 5k/10k apps.

Tons of fitness entrepreneurs offer great free content. Find a few that fit your genre and follow their blogs and social media accounts. You might find an Instagram account that posts a body-weight work-out of the day or a blogger who shares a printable calendar with a 30 day push up challenge. Keep your eye out and snatch up those freebies!

Finally, for team sports you’ll want to find a resource that helps you stay organized and disseminate information to interested parties. This could be a Facebook group, a Google calendar event invite, or just a good ol’ fashioned group text. If you’re rallying a group of co-workers, consider talking to H.R. to offset the cost of joining a league. They often times will have money set aside in their budgets for such things as long as you make the opportunity available to everyone.

Week 4. Map out a feasible routine and STICK TO IT. 

I’ll admit–this is definitely the hardest step. Without a cost investment looming over your head you miss out on a level of accountability. There’s no internal monologue whispering, “You paid $50 to go to the gym this month so you better get your ass in gear and GO!” or “I have to go to dance class every Thursday because I can’t get my money back if I skip a week or two.” Hopefully by identifying exercise you actually enjoy you’ll have offset this a little. Nonetheless, examine your schedule and find the best times. Repeat. And start letting those habits sink in.

Everyone is different. I would much rather squeeze in 20-30 minutes of exercise every single day then commit a full hour or more a couple times a week. Your schedule might not shake down to allow for that.

Just do your best, show up for yourself, and then do it again. You’re well on your way. No gym membership needed!

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Resources:

Week 1 — 

Physical Activity: Choosing the One For You

Best Workouts For Your Body Type // Training Tips For Every Body Type

The 8 Colors of Fitness: A Fitness Personality Quiz ( <— Take this quiz! It’s actually really neat and enlightening!)

Week 2 —

9 Easy Ways to Sneak Fitness into Your Day

I Lost 84 Pounds Without a Gym Membership! ( <— INSPIRATION!)

Moves App Tracks Your Movement

Week 3 —

Yoga with Adriene

Fitness Blender

Men’s Health

Scola Dondo ( <— This girl is my new obsession.)

Week 4 —

5 Scientific Ways to Build Habits that Stick

3 Psychology Tricks to Make Your Workout Plan Stick

Print a Workout Calendar

Do you have your own tips or resources for staying fit without a gym membership? Is this an area of your “spending diet” that you struggle with? Do you think following these weekly steps could help? Let’s chat in the comments below!

And tune in next month when we tackle “here and there” purchasing!

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9 thoughts on “Ballin’ on a Budget–Ditch the Gym Membership

  1. Hi Beth, this is a great post! I save a lot of money by working out in my apartment to YouTube videos. There really are resources everywhere. xx

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