How to Get Healthy Without Paying for a Gym Membership

Stop throwing your money away on something that you're not using and be smarter with your healthy living habits! Here are a few simple ways you can get healthy without paying for a gym membership and take back your extra dollars.

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I joke with my husband that we have this whole get healthy and commit to the gym thing backwards. Most people we know make a New Year’s resolution to join a gym, work out, and get healthy around a few days after Christmas as everyone begins making declarations of “New Year, New Me!” They go and sign up at the gym opting, of course, for the year-long contract because they are just certain that paying that money every month will motivate them to actually go to the gym. By the time March rolls around they have stopped going to the gym because it just doesn’t suit their schedule. Go ahead, show of hands if that applies to you. Uh-huh.

See, gyms bank on that and that is exactly why they waive application fees or membership fees. That first week of January a gym will give you just about anything to sign the dotted line and commit to a contract. Gift card for the shop? Sure! A free massage? Yes ma’am! Complimentary sessions with a personal trainer? Here, take 6! All they want is to for you to sign up for 12-months of automatic payments so they get paid even when you’re not going. It’s a great deal for them, not so great deal for you. When we first joined the health club here in Atlanta we were paying about $110 a piece for the membership. INSANE. 

So, I joke with my husband that we have it all backwards because we don’t make health commitments in January. That doesn’t typically hit us until about July. People start teasing and joking about “Christmas in July” which has us thinking about holidays which leads to thinking about family + food which translates to gaining 15 holiday pounds. We convince ourselves we have from July – November to lose 10 – 15 pounds so that by the time the holidays come around we don’t have to stress about what we’re eating or drinking. Of course, after the holidays are over we are out of our fitness routines and sloth around again until July when it starts all over. It’s a vicious cycle.

Well, we canceled our health club memberships about a year ago when we decided it was crazy to spend that kind of money when there were enough other ways to get healthy without paying for a gym membership.

Follow Fitness Bloggers or Fitness YouTubers

There are literally thousands of fitness bloggers or YouTubers you could follow who teach you exercises you can do right at home. You may need to invest in an exercise ball, a mat, or dumbells but that’s less than $100 and you can workout at home and save major dollars$ on a gym membership.

If you’re in need of fitness bloggers to follow just go to Pinterest or YouTube and search for at-home workouts or fitness bloggers. You’ll find thousands! You can narrow it down if you’re looking for a specific type of workout like pilates or running.

Bonus – You’re at home so there is none of that awkwardness that comes with being new to the gym.

You can also sign up with something like my personal favorite, YogaDownload.com. They offer a lot of online videos and yoga training that you can do at home. They are easy to follow (promise!) and it’s so relaxing to do at home. If you sign up here you can get 50% off an elite subscription.

Walk, Bike, or Run

We have the benefit of living in the city so everything is very walkable but no matter where you live you’re able to ditch the car and spend more time on your feet. There are a lot of little changes you can make to your life regardless of where your health is currently. You could try:

  • Walking, jogging, running, or biking every morning or evening
  • Park at the back of the parking lot at the office, the mall, or grocery store
  • Opt for stairs over the elevator
  • Take a walk on your lunch break

I recommend buying a a FitBit or a Spire Activity Tracker to monitor your steps and activity level throughout the day. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you add more steps when you’re paying attention and how those steps build toward better health.

Get a dog

Obviously, I’m assuming that you’re able to take on the responsibilities of a pet but if you’ve been thinking about adopting a dog, do it. You just don’t know how much activity you can get when you have a dog. It feels like you’re always walking them (usually 2+ miles per day), throwing toys, playing tug o’ war, or playing at the dog park. So, none only are dogs fabulous furry friends but they are exercise-motivation as well. 😉 

If you can’t a dog, you could consider volunteering at a local animal shelter as a dog-walker. They always need people to walk and play with the dogs so if you went down there once a week you could get in a few hours of outdoor activities and brighten the day of a pup. 

Join a local rec league

Yes, they have these for adults and they can be a lot of fun. Not only are they a lot cheaper to join than a gym but you are able to make great new friends as well. Sometimes you can find free events such as yoga in the park (bring your own mat!) or local groups who go cycling or hiking together. Meetup.com is a great source for finding groups that get together for activities. We once found a group that got together and went to different dancing classes each week. 

Most places have tons of options for everyone, whether you’re interested in joining a team sport like softball or you’re looking for something like cycling groups. As you connect with others in the groups, you’ll find that you begin to develop accountability partners as well, which is something I find that I’m usually lacking when I just go to a gym.

Now, take that money you were throwing away to the gym you were not attending and invest back into yourself. Add money to your savings account, open a Roth IRA, save for a vacation, splurge and treat yo’ self, or strike a balance and both save and splurge a little bit. Just remember that you don’t have to be paying for a gym membership to be healthy.

What are your favorite ways to workout and be healthy? Do you have a gym membership? 

Ashley LaMar
Ashley bounces between Atlanta, GA + Charleston, WV with her husband and two small dogs for life and work. If she’s not writing or blogging, she can usually be found cooking, reading, or watching baseball. Follow her on Twitter @ashleyfromfbl

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