Exercise Without a Gym Membership: 9 Tips.

Dear Davey,

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!

Sincerely,
Nic

Hey Nic,

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!

Love,
Davey

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.

Comments

  1. Excellent suggestions!

  2. Davey~

    I’m bummed that you don’t advocate for yoga very much. Including in this response. There are many resources that can help one to learn yoga. Nonprofits offer free & low cost yoga classes, the library has many resources, for free even, that can help learn yoga. And what about trading? There’s got to be something of value that one can trade in order to get workout needs met?

    Davey, what are your thoughts on incorporating a good yoga practice into one’s workout routine? Do you do yoga?

    Peace

    ~V

  3. ” I’d suggest that most people can’t afford not to workout.”
    Great quote!

  4. get a work out that pays 😀 if you’re unemployed it might help to find a job that needs some physical labor. not only will it help you get fit, you’ll get paid to do it 🙂

  5. Swimming. While you mention city facilities and leagues, you don’t suggest public pools or swimming specifically. It’s a great, full body workout for both strength and cardio all in one go. Plus since most people don’t do a lot of it, the novelty alone can provide enough of a challenge over the medium term. I also agree with Vincent about yoga, the different varieties of which can be used to target different fitness goals. Of course neither really replaces pumping iron, but they can stave off fitness decay while the piggy bank fills back up.

  6. Yeah, swimming is a great idea. Most city pools are free. And to add to that… Rowing! A few years ago when I couldn’t afford a gym membership I found a great deal for a rowing machine on craigslist. I wasn’t interested in building bulk, just staying fit & keeping the cardio system working good, so I bought it and started rowing at home, and still do. Incorporating yoga & rowing together. I think it takes more discipline to develop and dedicate yourself to a home routine as opposed to going to the gym, but the ends results are the same, if not better.

    Peace

    ~V

  7. I like to work out on a budget as well, and to be honest the cheapest workout is body-weight, yoga and running (shoes for $100). Cost-wise, you can also incorporate biking if you scour for a cheap used bike (mine was $30).
    This being said, my personal fitness goals include gaining lean muscle mass (I am female).
    Maybe also look into local parks for hiking trips. They are great for building endurance and are quite relaxing.

  8. Two great resources for building bodyweight workouts (in addition to this blog) are “You are your own gym” by Mark Lauren, which you can get fairly cheap, and Steve Kamb’s blog Nerd Fitness. I’m a poor student so I can’t afford a gym membership but I’ve been able to find ways to get a good workout with what I have lying around. Mark Lauren also has some great tips on how you can increase the resistance of bodyweight training.

  9. Rubbish Tips