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Workout on the Cheap

Working out can be expensive. A gym membership may cost $50 per month. A treadmill will set you back at least a few hundred dollars. Something like the Bowflex could cost thousands, plus interest on financing. Then there’s the countless unopened exercise DVDs and that spontaneous ab roller purchase that never really got used. It’s almost ridiculous how much money can be blown on fitness. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

A gym membership can be a great investment. They tend to have a lot of equipment, making it easy to get a good workout in. Some gyms even offer free group classes that you can join . It may be a recurring monthly cost, but if used to its fullest, a gym membership can be sublime. However, don’t be fooled by that brand new Super Mega Health Club that just opened. It may be big, but it will probably also be costly. Lower priced memberships can be found at other less lavish gyms and while the larger clubs may have the latest and greatest elliptical machines, there are some really great reasons to choose the less ostentatious abode. The smaller places are generally more accessible as their memberships are lower. You may find that you are less intimidated at a smaller gym and even though it has less equipment, the equipment that they do have might be free more often. It’s also far easier to get to know the staff at a smaller place and take advantage of some of the programs that they may offer. All of this will actually help keep you motivated and keep coming back.

But if you can’t afford a gym membership, there are alternatives. However, don’t fall for the infomercials and all the costly gimmicky equipment. You can easily get a good setup at home with low (or no) cost.

  • A great way to keep in shape is running or walking. And not on the treadmill. The only cost you will incur for taking this up is the price of a decent set of sneakers. Make your investment count, however, by visiting a shop that specializes in running, such as the Running Room.
  • Find some used weights. All you really need is a bench, a barbell and some plates. With just these few items, you can pretty much do any weight training you’d ever need to do. Check you local classifieds. Go garage sale hunting. Check out your local freecycle group – watch for equipment that someone just wants to toss. Scour around your parents place for some old weights that your Dad has long since stopped using.
  • Find a good workout video and use it. All sorts of people have gotten amazing results with the likes of Billy Blanks. Tonnes of Tae-Bo videos are available used from online sources like Amazon.com for as low as $5!
  • Get a skipping rope. You can find them super cheap, but a good skipping rope workout pays off huge. Jumping rope is a seriously great cardio exercise.
  • Work on body-weight exercises. Do circuits of situps, pushups, air squats, calf raises and lunges. If that gets boring, try adding in handstand pushups, dips and clappers.
  • Build some homemade equipment. Fill up a sandbag or get a heavy rock or object. Curl it, throw it, press it, put it on a sleigh and pull it.
  • Check out your local public swimming pool. It may offer free public swimming at certain times of the week.
  • Get a basketball and get your sweat on by shooting some hoops with a few buddies.

There are probably a billion other ways to keep fit, with either very little or absolutely no money down. What would you suggest if you were cash strapped and couldn’t afford the gym membership?