Odds are, by this point in your life you understand how important exercise is to maintaining a long, healthy life.
This fact is constantly hammered home by many people; doctors, insurers, family, etc, and all for good reasons. Nobody wants to be stuck with health problems at any point in their life!
However, there’s another party that’s took notice as well, and they’re coming after your wallet.
That’s right, I’m talking about the more than $80 billion fitness and health club industry.
These people have a vested interest in you being motivated to be healthy, and they sure will charge a premium for it.
The average gym membership costs $58/month and that’s not including the typical annual fee you’d need to pay.
This is just for gyms, if you’re looking for something more specialized (such as yoga, spin class, cross fit, etc.) you could easily be paying over $100/month to attend on a regular schedule.
Not surprisingly, this can amount to a huge cost for people, and can be a significant portion of their budget.
To be clear, this post isn’t to bash on gyms or other fitness clubs (even if the statistic that 67% of people have gym memberships but never use them seems pretty wasteful). If you value your place of fitness and take advantage of it then who am I to say that’s wrong?
Instead, I wanted to point out a place to get your workout in that many people don’t consider.
The best part about it? It’s all free!
That’s right; I’m talking about a combination of the great outdoors, and your own home!
The $0 Gym Membership
There are so many ways to get free workouts in just utilizing what’s already available to you.
To get started with cardio, everyone knows it’s free to run/walk outdoors! Personally, I can’t stand the treadmill, so this has always been my choice of cardio.
Go for a walk/run/jog around your neighborhood, park, local trails, etc. if the only reason you use the gym for is the treadmill!
Using the elliptical/stair machine too? Most towns should have a school that has bleachers, use those instead! If not, surely you have some area of town with hills? Same thing!
I get it, when it’s cold outside many people don’t want to deal with the outdoors. I was the same way. But I found that if you dress warmly enough; as your heart rate elevates you will get super warm naturally and it’s a lot more bearable than you think!
Plus, in the winter, so many of us fail to get outside enough (due to the cold) which can lead to a whole other host of issues. Running outdoors has been found to help alleviate some of these!
Aside from running, another great outdoor workout is through biking. You can use any bike to get around (I still have my 20+ year old rusting bike from when I was a kid), but investing in a decent one could last you many years.
These two are probably the most popular, but you also could get outdoor cardio exercises through hiking, playing a sport, swimming, and really whatever you set your mind to!
The Home is an area that many people do consider for a workout space, but sometimes they think they need a lot more than they really do.
Many people end up getting a “home gym” where they’ll buy expensive machines and weights which could easily total up to a few years’ worth of gym membership payments.
Sure, in the long run it could save you on gym payments (if you utilize it) but I’m here to tell you, you don’t need all that fancy equipment!
Most people don’t realize that bodyweight training can sometimes be all you need! And newsflash, it’s really good for you.
Last I checked, for bodyweight training, all you need is yourself and a little bit of space. Whether that be indoors in your house/apartment or also outdoors is totally up to you!
I know what you’re thinking, “bodyweight exercises are too easy, they don’t push me like weight training does.”
To anyone that says that I’d like to see you try and do 100+ good form push ups and tell me how you feel afterwards! (emphasis on good form)
The point is, most people once they get to a certain age really don’t need to be lifting a bunch of heavy weights, it’s really about maintaining your current strength.
This can all be accomplished using what you already have. Not sure where you would start with bodyweight workouts at your home?
We live in a digital age where it’s insane how much free content is out there.
Take your laptop, tablet or phone and search YouTube for free workouts. There are literally thousands of professional trainers and fitness instructors that upload free workouts to YouTube to grow their following. Cash in on that!
You can search for anything, “leg workout”, “bodyweight arm workout” “free 30 minute at home workout”, etc. The possibilities are endless.
You can also just do a general google search for other bodyweight exercises if you want to target anything specific. Here’s a good guide if you are stuck.
Try out some of these workouts and you may be second guessing paying all that money for your gym/fitness club!
My Workout Philosophy
One thing that’s really helped my budget since graduating college is that I’ve never paid for a gym membership or any specialized classes. At an average of $58/month, that’s roughly $700 a year I save.
Now, I would be lying if I did not mention that for 3 of the 4 years, I’ve been at a location where my employer has an onsite fitness center (even though for some places it was just a small room with a couple machines).
It is nice to have that, and I’ve always tried to go at least a couple times a week when possible, but often times I fail to do even that.
When you have 12 hour days (9-10 hours at work, plus 2 hours commute round trip) it is tough to get to the gym even when it’s close by as tiredness (and hunger for dinnertime) kicks in.
Even when I fail to get into the gym though, I do turn to my trusty free workout spots. Enter my workout space:
Yep, a whopping area measuring 6’ by 6’ in my bedroom allows me to get just about all the bodyweight exercises in that I need to! It really comes in handy those nights I get home late.
They aren’t necessarily long workouts, sometimes I just have time for 10-15 minutes, but depending on what YouTube exercise video I choose, it sure can work up a sweat!
If I’m feeling motivated, I also will sometimes switch that out for a run instead. I’ve got a couple routes that I can run 2 miles in 15-20 minutes.. not a huge time commitment either!
It’s also the perfect area to get stretching and yoga practice in (I’ve never actually been to a yoga class, just self-taught from all the free videos out there!)
Ultimately, I’ve noticed I really don’t need a big space or machines at all to get a good workout in.
Not For Everyone
While I think this is a great way to get free workouts in for people on a budget, I want to be clear that this is not for everyone.
Some people thrive on community and working out with others, as this gives them the drive to get a better workout in.
Others may lack the motivation or discipline to actually workout in their own at home when the TV or other more fun activities are closer by.
A lot of people simply really like the trainers or classes they take as they feel they are getting their money’s worth to take care of their health/wellness.
If any of these situations describe you (I’m sure there are plenty of others I’m missing) then I think you should continue doing what you’re doing.
After all, getting good, consistent exercise in is extremely important and what we’re aiming for here.
As many of are striving for Financial Independence and potential early retirement over here, maintaining good health along the journey is essential.
It really comes down to what you value, and if you value your current place of fitness at the price you are paying, carry on!
Just remember, if you ever change your mind or need to cut back on your budget, there are endless free workouts out there!
Do you pay for a gym/health club membership? How often would you say you utilize this? Do you think you could only workout at home/outdoors? Why or why not?