For this week’s Thrifty Thursday column, I thought I’d look at something that also helps with healthy living, and weight loss. (I’ll be starting a new weight loss day next week.) We’ll talk about food some other time because there are some great ways to save money there as well, but I just started a new exercise program, so I thought I’d talk about ways to save money on gym memberships and exercise classes first. Gym memberships are expensive, and a luxury that not everyone can afford. As a full-time graduate student, I certainly couldn’t afford to join the local gym, but there may be other options available to someone looking to be a little thrifty.
First ask yourself a question. Am I self-motivated? If you are, you may be interested in any number of workout videos or video games that are available today. Research the program you are interested in thoroughly, and make sure to check on the company you are purchasing from as well. Some companies that sell through infomercials are signing you up for a monthly DVD club, and it isn’t always well explained at the time of purchase, so make sure you ask all the right questions when placing an order. But before you buy that DVD, are you a member of Netflix? Do you get their streaming services? If so, you may be able to avoid that DVD purchase all together. There are a variety of workout videos on Netflix through the streaming service. They’re located in the Sports & Fitness Genre under workouts. See if any of them appeal to you before you buy that DVD and you may not have any additional output to start working out at all!
If you aren’t great at self-motivation, or if you don’t have room in your home for a workout (my apartment is really too small for all except the most basic routines), it’s time to start looking for other options. Does your community have a workout room? If so, it may be included in your rent or condo fee, or cost only a minimal amount to join. Try going there. They don’t always have the most state of the art equipment, but there are usually some useful pieces in there, best of all, you’re already paying for it, so stretch your dollars as far as they’ll go.
If you’re a student, look first at your school’s health and wellness center. Membership in the main program is often included in tuition, so there’s no additional cost to you. My own school offers membership to the health and wellness center as part of my tuition, but group classes such as Zumba and BodyPump cost extra. How much extra? Only $20 a semester. That’s an incredibly good deal when you consider the cost of a basic gym membership at any of the major chains.
No workout room for you? Well, look at the other options. Does your work offer any type of fitness program, or special membership to a gym? This is becoming more popular these days, as employers realize that by encouraging a healthy lifestyle, they can avoid high health care costs for their employees. See what it’s like and if the rates are competitive. Look into your local YMCA or community center. It is often cheaper to join one of these organizations than it is to join a gym and many of them offer the same, or similar classes.
Finally, look at your local gyms. Find out if any are offering a special to new members currently. The economic situation may have caused some people in your area to drop their memberships to save money. Gyms are like any other business, and you’ll sometimes get a deal if they’re new or need members. Before signing up, look at the gym. Ask for a tour of the facility, and get information on the credentials of the trainers. Look at the class lists. Do they offer any classes you’re interested in? There’s no point in paying for a membership if you aren’t going to take advantage of it because you hate your gym.
Finally, whatever you choose, have fun with it. If you hate it, you’ll quit, and if you did have to pay to join that money’s gone. Try different classes to find what you like and then stick with it.
The Thrifty Thirty-Something Grad.