I recently moved with my partner to a larger city. While eventually I plan on joining a gym, moving is expensive and it’s just not possible right now.
What would you suggest I do? I don’t want to lose the progress I’ve made, but I simply can’t afford a gym right now. Please help!
Thanks for your email and I understand your situation. While living in New York City during university and working an unpaid internship, I found myself in the same situation. Fortunately, the City of New York offers fitness recreation center memberships through it’s Parks & Recreation department. For about a hundred bucks, the facility wasn’t fancy – but it got the job done.
If you city or town doesn’t offer a fitness recreational centers, there are plenty of other inexpensive or free options to stay fit and active. Here are a few ideas.
- Use your bodyweight. Bodyweight exercises like push-ups and pull-ups don’t require fancy equipment or gym memberships. Unfortunately, your results may eventually plateau as it’s difficult to progressively increase the amount of resistance your working against; your bodyweight is your bodyweight. Nonetheless, it’s a great way to stay active and it can produce great results – especially for beginner exercisers.
- Go outside! I love working out in parks and public spaces. Playgrounds – in particular – can present a wide range of exercise activities. Moreover, you don’t need a treadmill when you have sidewalks or running trails. Make the most of the great outdoors!
- Join a sports league. Not only are sports leagues a lot of fun and a great way to meet people, they’re inexpensive and can provide a fantastic workout. Most cities have sports leagues and they’re welcoming of all fitness and ability levels. It’s a win-win situation.
- Use a workout video. I created a line of Davey Wavey exercise videos to show that it’s possible to get a phenomenal workout without leaving your home, office or hotel room. Guided by trainers and fitness professionals, exercise videos can help get your heart pumping and your muscles moving. And, they’re much cheaper than a gym membership.
- Build a home gym – using Craigslist. While home gym equipment tends to be expensive, there’s no shame in buying second-hand. Craigslist is often chuck-full of used and dusty gym equipment that needs a little love – and it tends to sell for pennies on the dollar. If you have the space, build a small home gym of your own.
- YouTube it. Search YouTube for some at-home exercise ideas. My Davey Wavey Fitness channel has a bunch of at-home workouts that you can try – and there’s a lot of great, free material out there. Just make sure you trust the source.
- Make use of promos. Many gyms offer free trial periods. Though it’s not necessarily a sustainable or reliable way to get fit, it can certainly buy you some time while you prioritize your finances. Be careful to read the fine print.
- Public courts. Your city or town almost certainly has public courts for basketball, etc. Take up tennis as a new sport this summer. While reserving a court is free, you’ll probably need to provide your own equipment.
- Ask your healthcare provider. Many health insurance programs offer reimbursements or discounts for gym memberships. It might not be a huge discount – but it will certainly help!
While joining a gym can seem expensive, it’s worth noting that it’s more of an investment than an expense. The upfront cost of a gym membership is certainly less than what you’ll pay in healthcare expenses related to a sedentary lifestyle, decreases in longevity or a deteriorating quality of life. Indeed, there’s a hidden cost of not investing in your health – and it’s one that has a way of catching up with people. I’d suggest that most people can’t afford not to workout.
Having said that, getting in shape doesn’t need to break the bank. And, as you know, not having a lot of extra cash isn’t an excuse for doing nothing. If you have any additional ideas for an inexpensive or free workout, then please share them in the comments below!