Fun Ways to Workout and Get Fit Without Joining a Gym

According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, gym memberships are up 10.8% from 2009, when the yearly cost was $775. And if you’re anything like me, you don’t get a chance to work-out every day, so it’s easy to waste money on a health club. However, you don’t need an expensive gym membership to workout! Here are some creative and fun ways to get fit, while saving money.

Workout and get fit without joining a gymSpend time outdoors. One of my favorite ways to stay in shape, is to be active outdoors. If you have running or hiking trails near you, take advantage of them. Get on a bike and go explore! The fresh air is not only good for your health, but it can make you feel more relaxed. Some other ideas for exercising outdoors, are to go kayaking, rock climbing or skiing. My family and I each have our own kayaks so we enjoy river rafting during the Summer.

Use free online tools and streaming video workouts. One of my favorite ways to workout at home or while traveling is with The Gym Box. It costs $10 a month (less than a brick and mortar gym, and I can stream it on my TV or computer anywhere there’s an internet connection. It’s important to keep track of your diet and workouts too. Stay motivated with free online tools/apps like MyFitnessPal and Loseit!

Try Exergaming. The American Council of Exercise chose exergaming as one of the top fitness trends of 2010. Exergaming refers to playing video games that also provide exercise. It’s an easy way to have fun while getting a good workout at the same time. Try “playing” workout games for consoles like Wii or Xbox with Wii fit or AE Sports Active. It’s a perfect way to get active with a partner, and get your competitive workout game on! And if you already have one of these gaming systems (or have a friend who does) then there’s not cost to you.

Sign up for a local dance class. I grew up taking dance lessons – everything from ballet to ballroom to hip-hop. Dancing is perfect for working up a sweat, but it’s also great for self expression, working with a partner and having a ton of fun. Not only is it good for staying healthy, it makes a nice date activity for you and your partner. Get fit and in shape together. Of course, there’s also the option of shutting the door to your room, cranking up the radio, and dancing your heart out while no one is watching!

Join free exercise clubs in your area. Nike offers free local running clubs for people who enjoy jogging and running. And once a month Lululemon turns their stores into yoga studios and offers complimentary yoga classes. The local Racquet & Jog club in my area provides free fitness classes every Saturday morning at the city park. Do some research in your area, and you should be able to find some excellent free activities.

Become a part-time fitness instructor. One of my girlfriends studied to become a fitness trainer, because she really enjoyed working out but needed to offset the cost of a membership. The main benefit of being a fitness instructor is getting a free or discounted gym or health club membership; plus you get paid to workout!

Try donation based workout classes. Yes, believe it or not many local fitness and training clubs offer workout classes based on a small donation. They will participate in fundraisers where they try to raise a certain amount of money for a specific cause. In exchange they offer classes for yoga, martial arts and even holistic fitness.

Volunteer to be a fitness instructor. Depending on your area, many cities are looking for volunteer exercise instructors to teach senior citizens, high school students and adult fitness classes. You can interact with the community and even make some new friends. Local organizations like the Boys and Girls club are looking for volunteer assistants and coaches. You can make a difference in the community while getting some great exercise.

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Find sneaky ways to get fit. As we all know, little changes can really add up over time and this is especially true with getting healthy. I like to find sneaky ways to get in shape without even thinking. Reebok has an awesome set of workout clothes and shoes with built in resistance bands. They are perfect for running errands, cleaning the house, or doing yard work. You won’t even be focused on toning your body, but at the end of the day you’ll feel the burn.

Getting healthy and staying fit doesn’t always mean you have to pay for an expensive gym membership. All you have to do is be creative and look for a few non-traditional avenues to get exercise. For me, working out in a gym can get boring anyway, and by using a few of these tips, I get free (or low cost) workouts and have more fun.

This article is part of our Budgeting Tips Resource Center.  If you’re looking for additional information about budgeting tips, be sure to pay a visit!

Image credit: lululemon athletica

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  • I need to find more ways to fit some exercise into my day.  I’m definitely not a fan of going to the gym, especially with the price involved.  I do try to go for walks throughout the week and I have some weights at home that I use while watching tv.  I hadn’t considered some of the other options listed here though. I guess it’s time to mix up the routine a bit.

    • Doing exercise while watching TV is a great way to go! After all, most of us watch a little TV anyway, so it makes sense to use that time to get in your daily workout. Glad you found the article helpful!

  • this is true. you dont always have to join a gym. i love the term, “exergaming.” i never knew there was a name for exercising to video games. great article. 

    • Thanks! Yes, “exergaming” is a great word, isn’t it?

    • I love exergaming! Most of the time I’m having so much fun I don’t realize I’m sweating and getting a good workout.

  • this sounds interesting, its great to achieve that same weight loss goal while doing something interesting. am not sure of swimming is fun for all people but it burns a great deal of calories

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  • Croft&Gray

    Dance and tennis sessions are fun ways to get fit, without compromising savings. If you’re lucky, a local group might provide free dance lessons in your area. All you need is to make a small bit of donation, definitely much cheaper than hitting the gym. Plus, you get to help charities the group is supporting.