How to Get Fit Without the Gym

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The average cost for a gym membership is $40-$60/month.  Not frugal.  Especially when there’s so many ways to exercise without it.

Floor Exercises
A great way to exercise is to replicate what you’d be doing at the gym.  In the gym or not, there are generally two schools of thought:  weight training and resistance training.  To do weight training in your own home, you can either purchase handheld weights or use books or other household items in replacement.  Resistance training is when you use your own body weight or elastic resistance bands to build or tone your muscles.  Examples are crunches, push-ups, leg lifts, etc.  Every once in a while I’ll pick up a fitness magazine to get ideas to mix up my work out.

Work Out Tapes

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I was a child of the aerobics era.  I remember my mom popping in a tape and doing step routines in our living room.  Spandex, wristbands, big hair and all.  Today you can get access to work out tapes of a wide variety for free.  Think yoga, pilates, tae bo, hula dancing, zumba, and, yes, aerobics.  You can get them off NetFlix (order or streaming,) or OnDemand.

Walking for 30-60 minutes a day decreases your risk for diabetes, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and a myriad of other ailments.  Obviously, jogging is even better.  It’s also free.  You can use Walk with Walgreens as a motivational tool.  You can log your walk, plotting it on their interactive map that shows you exactly how far you went and how many steps you took.  As you start accumulating more steps, you’ll be rewarded with coupons.


Use Your Parks

Parks aren’t just for kids.  They provide free access to tennis courts, basketball courts, and baseball fields.  Utilizing any of them will burn calories.  When it gets colder out, some parks offer indoor facilities for a small fee (i.e. $20/an hour or two at a tennis court.)  (This is only a money-saver if you do it once or twice a month and supplement your fitness routine with other activities.)  A lot of times they provide trails you can hike.  To add a little excitement to your hikes, try geocaching.

                                                                                       Winter Workouts

Just because winter is on its way doesn’t mean you have to put the brakes on your non-gym workouts.  I love skiing.  It’s not going to save me money over a gym membership, unless I reallocate a portion of my entertainment budget towards it.  Because it is something I truly love to do.  A lot of resorts even sell tickets or season passes at a serious discount to college students.  After it starts to snow, when you’re shoveling out your own spot do a good deed in order to shed pounds:  shovel a spot out for your neighbors,too.  If you’re living in the suburbs, do you neighbors’ driveway for free.  A great way to get a good workout anytime of year is playing with your kids.  Winter is no exception.  Instead of a game of tag you might play in the summer, go sledding or engage in a snowball fight.

*Part of Frugal Friday at Life As Mom*
*This is a Frugal Tuesday Tip*

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33 thoughts on “How to Get Fit Without the Gym

  1. Dmarie

    I actually enjoy shoveling snow, and raking leaves, but the opportunities are few now that Hubby’s retired. LOVE it for you that you have the exercise bug. I have been sporadic about it all my life…on for a year or so…off for a year or so. These days I def get on my stationary recumbent bike whenever the Grandbaby is over. Wish I had modeled that behavior for our DD, if I had exercised in front of her maybe she’d have grown up to love exercise!

  2. John S @ Frugal Rules

    There are so many ways you can exercise without having a gym membership. Walking, doing stairs, weights at home are all good things. We have an exercise boke for that very reason, plus it allows us to work out in the winter when the weather is bad.

    1. femmefrugality

      Brings back memories, doesn’t it? 🙂 I like the convenience of a gym in that it has everything right there, but I think a lot of times the fact that it’s not in your living room keeps people from using the membership they’ve already paid for.

  3. Pauline

    I remember by mum exercising in front of those tapes! I had the gym and all things routine, so walking, swimming, roller skating, skiing, whatever activity outside is good for me. I used to cycle to work too, so my exercise was done getting home.

  4. Tackling Our Debt

    For me walking is the best exercise. Even when I had a gym membership years ago a bunch of us from the gym would head out for a walk to enjoy the sun. Some of the parks in our neighbourhood have tall stairs too and I when I was really fit I would do those. In the winter I shovel snow and sometimes use our Elliptical machine.

    1. femmefrugality

      Woo! Good for you! Even at my peak fitness moments, I hate doing stairs. Walks are great, easy, and so healthy. I remember Richard Simmons! He lived in our living room for a while. 🙂 I think he’s still around doing things?

  5. jefferson @SeeDebtRun

    Love this post.. We love to take walks with the family whenever we can. Not only is it great exercise, but it is great quality time to catch up..

    I also have some P90x tapes that I got from a friend, and they make for great workouts when needed.


    I work out every single day and no you don’t need a gym unless you want specific equipment, a trainer, or you want heavy weights you might not normally keep at home. I go for a run, walk, or use the park sometimes to do push ups, or stretch on the trees, etc. There is so much one can do for free. Come January gym memberships skyrocket as people make their resolutions, but for the gym they are banking on the ones who never stick to them. They are the money makers for a gym. Great post, and tips. Mr.CBB

    1. femmefrugality

      Agreed! I don’t think I’ve used a tree since I was a kid, but floor exercises are my best friend. I think New Years Resolutions can be silly: if you have a goal, start it right now! Why wait for numbers on a calendar to change?

  7. Meredith

    I have never worked out at a gym because of the cost. Now with kids, it wouldn’t just be the membership cost, but also the childcare cost. I love my exercise DVDs and like you said , often rip out magazine pages (Self has good ones too) for other ideas. I definitely am not super-buff, but this has worked pretty well for me!

    1. femmefrugality

      A lot of gyms have childcare centers inside them, but with the price of the membership…dang, they better! I don’t do the gym anymore, either, though. I’ll have to check out Self…thanks for the recommendation!

  8. Ms. S

    Great reminders since I recently cancelled my gym membership. The hard part is being self motivated. And then there’s swithcing things up so I don’t get bored. Happens all the time with running for me. I get bored and stop running for a month and then I regret it when I have to start again and have to start all over at 3 miles. The cycle never ends! 🙂

    1. femmefrugality

      Whoo! Starting at 3 miles is amazing in my book! I’m not much of a distance runner. I know what you mean about motivation, though. I’ll run into an Oprah rerun with a crazily overweight person and the struggles they’ve gone through and that’ll get me moving on the spot, though. (Not making fun…it’s just a motivation that works for me.)


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